• Lehigh Valley Lehigh and Mahanoy Branch/Quakake Br Questions

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Pennsylvania
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Pennsylvania

Moderator: bwparker1

  by frankgaron2
Hi All:

The more I follow this line, the more questions I have!

1. Was there ever an actual switchback at/near Switch Back (right by Route 309, east of Hazelton Junction?

2. When did the line come out west of Black Creek Junction and why?

3. Anybody ever walk back into Black Creek Junction recently, and if so, how?

4. Anybody ever walk into Pine Junction/Morea Junction and Delano Junction in Delano, and if so, how?

5. The now-gone bridge over the Little Schuylkill River just west of Rt 309/just east of Hazelton Junction -
why was it built like it was? Meaning, the bridge has piers/abutments, but there's also this enormous sort
of culvert running underneath it as well?

Hope that makes sense - I'll be posting a few pics over the next couple of days.

6. When was the L&M bridge over Route 309 demolished? You could drive right through there and never
know it was there.

Any info greatly appreciated!


  by pumpers
I cheated (Wikipedia under "Lehigh and Mahanoy RR").

1. As far as I know, I don't think there was ever a RR switchback there. My guess it referred somehow to the layout of the planned connection with the Catawissa RR at that spot: "The original plan took it to the Catawissa near the Lofty Tunnel [meaning the Switchback location I believe], and an inclined plane was graded near the hairpin curve on the Catawissa, south of the tunnel. However, that plan and the inclined plane were abandoned prior to completion, and instead the junction was moved to the south to Quakake Junction, near Tamanend. "

Or maybe there was an old wagon road there with a switchback (a switchback with oxen and a wagon does sound tough to maneuver though!)

2. 1963: "The decline of coal mining brought about the piecemeal abandonment of these lines. The Ashland Branch was cut back to Girardville in 1951, and in 1953, from Girardville to Weston Colliery. One mile of the Mahanoy City Branch was abandoned in 1957, and the line from Delano to about Gerhards in 1963. The line to Mt. Carmel was cut back to Aristes Junction in 1965, and from there to Raven Run in 1971. The remaining trackage was all abandoned by 1976."

5. Somewhere on the web I think I have seen pictures of the bridge over the creek at Switchback, but who knows where. I think originally the bridge may have also gone over an old road or path next to the creek , (related to your culvert somehow?), before the modern 309 was built.

6. between 1963 and 1971. The bridge is gone in the 1971 http://www.pennpilot.psu.edu" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; photo

By the way, I think the whole modern use of the term "Hazleton Junction" for that spot near Switchback as found on some topo maps, is a bit of a misnomer. H.J. is really 1/2 mile west I believe. Neither the Quakake RR (which later was called the L&M) or the Catawisssa RR, which were originally supposed to be connected at Switchback, went to Hazleton. About 1/2 mile west of "Switchback", on the north side of the sideways "U" of the Catawissa, was a junction between the Catawissa and a later line that then crossed back over it heading east, just north of the junction, between the town of Lofty and I-81. This line was the Tamaqua Hazleton and Northern, also Reading-owned - which did go to Hazleton. The spot is where today's Reading and Northern branches off from the old Catawissa (Reading RR) ROW to connect to the old LV to by I-81 get to Hazleton.

  by carajul
I walked the lines in the Delano area back in the early 1990s. There was no google earth then so I really didn't know what lines went where. However, EVERYTHING was rusted. The R&N wasn't using them at all.

The old pax station was still standing in Delano and what an awesome victorian structure it was. So unique. The tracks went past the station, crossed the main st, and then just stub ended in the mud. Now R&N stores unused cars on this stub. Hard to believe the old arials from the 50s and that huge yard that was there jammed with coal hoppers. The Delano engine house was gone by 1972 and the white building in its place - the same one that's there now.

The line that goes south from Delano is now refurbed and in use by R&N to service a coal customer. Modern arials show a few dozen coal hoppers on their siding. Back when I explored it the mud and weeds completely concealed the tracks.

The branch over the Rt 309 bridge was abandoned in 1963. I used to drive under it on 309 every day in the 90s. The bridge was gone but there is still abutments.
  by pumpers
I still can't find the Switchback arch picture I was thinking of (it might be from the Steve Payer patchtown site which seems to be dead), but i found another, looking towards the south I believe:
http://www.distancescalculator.com/US/d ... Oberlin-PA" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; Click on the 2nd Quakake image from the left.

Also, this Bing map birds-eye image is pretty good. http://binged.it/NMBSyT" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; , looking towards the north. My guess is that the old road was on the east side of the divider in the arch.

Finally, it sure looks like a higher set of abutments just beyond the original arch. Probably for a slight realignment of the line (to the new abutments) to go higher to clear the new road (now 309) just to the east of the arch. Anyone know when these new abutments/alignment were put in?

  by carajul
I was just following the branch on live maps from Black Creek Jct (Weatherly) to where it crossed 309 and connected to the existing R&N line. There is still a space in the woods where the row was. Also you can do google street view and see some of the grade xings. Although the railroad is obliterated you can definately see a flat area inbetween the trees where the row was. It came very close to old farmhouses just a stone's throw away. The row land must have been chopped up and sold by the rr as there are now farm fields built over the row in some areas.