• Hiking the Newtown Branch

  • Discussion Related to the Reading Company 1833-1976 and it's predecessors Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road and then the Philadelphia and Reading Railway.
Discussion Related to the Reading Company 1833-1976 and it's predecessors Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road and then the Philadelphia and Reading Railway.

Moderator: Franklin Gowen

  by kp5308
Can the branch be walked from the Fox Chase station to Bethayres, & if so how difficult is it?
  by limejuice
Well, there's construction trailers and fencing blocking up the north side of Rhawn Street now. Not sure if you can get around it. If so, you can walk from there to Shady Lane without too much trouble. At Shady Lane, there's a missing culvert which may be difficult or impossible to circumnavigate. I did it back in 2000, but I think the vegetation on that hillside might now be a significant barrier. From there to a bridge just below Ayres is now a trail, so that's easy. That bridge I do not recommend. I crossed it once a few years ago (and was subsequently attacked by the adjoining property owner's rooster. The neighbor was friendly, but his rooster, Hank, was vicious!) but I wouldn't do it again. The timbers were really rotten. On this style of bridge, the main support beams run above and beside the track - unlike most on this branch which run beneath the timbers. Therefore, if you were to step on a bad piece of wood on this bridge, you'd very likely end up in the creek. Walking down from Welsh Rd. is now the only (relatively) safe way of getting into Ayres.
  by kp5308
Thanks for your help LJ. I'll report on how it works out.
  by kp5308
Started at Rhawn St after riding the R8. Easy access to the abandoned portion:
http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1833344
http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1833343
The track ends around Signal 705:
http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1833340
After the bridge over Shady Lane, the crossing of Pennypack Creek has been taken out, but there is a trail down to the creek, which can be crossed at the downstream end. I didn't consider it difficult, & no one dropped out of the group at this point. A trail leads back to the ROW on the opposite side:
http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1833338
At this point the ROW is maintained as a trail, with bikes & horses in addition to walkers:
http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1833336
Which ends at the bridge over Pennypack Creek near Ayres, which can be crossed by navigating rocks upstream. Bridge looks solid enuff to cross if you are willing, as it is a plate girder type w solid enough ties for support. Again, no one dropped out. BTW no sign of Hank the rabid rooster:
http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1833332
Next crossing of the creek is right before the R3 crossing site, which is open:
http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1833331
It is a ballasted deck plate girder type:
http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1833322
After the R3, a poured concrete enlarged bridge is crossed:
http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1833321
And the ROW gets rougher:
http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1833320
http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1833318
Until Welsh Rd:
http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1833317
Hike ended atTerwood Rd:
http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1833316
Rail on the bridge is dated 1922:
http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1833314
Rode the R3 back to Philly after lunch at a strip mall near the Bethayres station:
http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1833328
Most, if not all the signals are still in place:
http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1833335
http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1833333
http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1833442
Personal opinion....good hike, the kind I like with a train ride at both ends! If you are in decent shape the creek crossings that do not have bridges are no big deal. But then again I'm 48 & have been doing this my whole life.
  by trainwayne1
Nice and interesting photos! I guess the price of scrap was way down when they abandoned the branch? Seems like a lot of rail left on the right-of way. Who actually owns the right of way now?
  by JimBoylan
S.E.P.T.A. owns it, and had been claiming that it was only temporarily out of service.
  by Franklin Gowen
JimBoylan wrote:S.E.P.T.A. owns it, and had been claiming that it was only temporarily out of service.
[pokerface] And Al Capone claimed that he *never, ever* cheated on his taxes. [/pokerface] :-D
  by nomis
A few additional photos from the day ...
  by glennk419
I've noticed tree clearing taking place above the Shady Lane underpass. Are they extending the trail or is this just scheduled utility tree trimming? I know that Asplundh has been out and about in the area recently.
  by jfrey40535
That was PECO getting the risky trees on the bridge out of the way so they don't fall on the wires below. In the present economy, and Montco's shape, I doubt there is any money for any more trails. The existing trail was paid for with the rails lifted and cashed in by the county. So there's no free money left for more trail, let alone a bridge over the creek there.