• Questions/Discussion about the Easton & Northern branch

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

Moderator: bwparker1

  by carajul
One of my fave lines was the E&N. I remember how devastated I was in 1995 when driving over the tracks on Rt 22 and seeing them recentely torn up. I have a few questions if anyone cares to answer...

1. The LV moved lots of interchange coal over the bridge in Easton, but CR abandoned the lower end of the line in 1983 due to them saying the bridge over the Lehigh River was unsafe. How was it that the LV handled all that tonnage for 100 years but CR made that claim about the bridge in 5 years? Was it just an excuse to abandon the line? Did anything actually happen to the bridge? An old time railroader who worked that area once told me "the bridges were no good". Can anyone elaborate?

2. Was the south end of the line from Easton to Dixie Cups siding 'abandoned' or just 'oos'?

3. When was trackage removed from Easton to Dixie Cups?

4. Did CR ever run anything over the bridge from Easton northward from 1976-1983 or was the line served from the north only?

5. If the bridge is so unsafe how has it managed to stay up from 1983-present day. That's a lot of years!

6. I know the final coffin for the branch was in 1984 when Dixie Cups and Crayola moved to the new factory in Forks (still rail customers today). I'm told there was still one customer on the line who got a boxcar of paper rolls once a week. Does anyone know where this boxcar was spotted?

7. Is it true that CR gave up on the line after the bushkill creek flooded out parts of the track?

8. Why was no effort made to restore service to the Pfizer plant by 13th St Jct? They are still active today and could use tank car service.

9. I know CR sold the row to the municipalities it went thru for $1. Why were they in such a hurry to get rid of the branch? Almost give it away?

10. Does NS still own the bridge over the Lehigh River?

I say the line still has potential and I can't beleive CR threw it all away.

Former LVRR customers that still exist: Schaible's Bakery (would be end of line), Mack Printing, Times-Express newspaper, Pfizer/CK Williams, NorthamptonFarm Bureau, Equipto. They could all use rail service. You're going to tell me that a short line wouldn't be able to lure these shippers back to rail vs. Conrail who chased them away?
  by wis bang
The bridge was an unusual design [Pin Truss].
The large 'hot' cars built by Treadwell came over that bridge along w/ all that coal and other goods.
Conrail experienced a failure and condemned the bridge for revenue traffic.
I think it was a structural problem at the track level.
Conrail made an decision to stop serving all the 'marginal' branch lines allowing trucks to take over.
The news print rolls were off loaded at a small building just east of the bakery thrift store and was trucked downtown to the Express building on North 4th street.
The bakery is now moving; most of the former customers , except the pigment plant, are already gone.
When i think of the effort the LV put into serving the businesses of the Easton area, i have to agree it is a shame it is all gone.
I'm sad to see the switchback to southside is obliterated and now growing McMansions.
Both branches overcame interesting terrain to originally serve a large variety of customers for many years before becoming a dinosaur
  by 3rdavenueEL
Hello, I've been on this website a while but never thought to see what was "out there" regarding the E & N. I am out of work and have time on my hands. I have been wlaking the old lines along the Lehigh River as I live in Wilson Borough. The Balata plant is acorss the street from where I live. I walked the old CNJ, under that lovely E&N bridge and wonder this: What is left up there on the grounds as the bridge ends? And how far does it go? I have tried to see it from above, but the property lines and lack of public street access down that far prevents me from getting close enough to see. I considered climbing up there from the tracks but I am not as fit as I'd like to be. I think it would be risky to do that. I cannot see any other way of getting up onto that level. I have walked the CNJ all the way down to where it crosses a small bridge next to the plant that's there. But I am not sure about where an access point would be, except maybe the clearing across from the switch to the tracks that lead to the street. I didn't feel comfortable walking up that hill because I felt it might be private property. The walk I took was unplanned and spur-of-the-moment. I have read some cool things on here regarding the E&N. And since I was a lowly trackman on Conrail (1976-9), I have a little rail in my blood. That plus the fact that I was born a block away from the 3rd Avenue El. ;) Oh and one more thing. Across the river in Glendon sits the site of the old Glendon Iron works. Along the canal are elctric/telephone poles along the walkway. Was there a railway there?
  by charlie6017
For what it's worth, The Railroad Press' new issue is out (Issue #101) and Mike Bednar's contribution
this time is on the E & N Branch. His articles for each issue are worth the price of TRP all by itself.

The rest of their magazine is also darned good, BTW. :wink:

  by carajul
I walked across the E&N bridge from Easton across the river to the CNJ side in the late 90s before NS fenced it off. Prob not a smart thing to do. The ties are still on the bridge but no rails. The bridge looked so wimpy and delicate I wondered how the hell trains went across. The entire structure under the ties (that I was hopping accross) was completely engulfed in spider webs. Real creepy. The structure was like a massive spider coccoon. When I got to the small bridge over the CNJ tracks I got stuck. The grade down to the CNJ tracks is like straight down. I spent 45mins or so on the bridge trying to figure out how to get down when I finally decided to jump. Thankfully didn't hurt myself too bad but couldn't walk for a day due to sore ancles. I could have easily broken my legs. I actually contemplated calling the EMS for help. The E&N row along the mountain side is gone... washed out. The side of the mountain is like washed downward so there is nothing left. Then you get to the wooden bridges in the town of West Easton that are so rotted they look like they are going to fall over.

Mike Bednar told me about 10 years ago that's why CR abandoned the E&N. The bridges were no good.
  by obsessed railfan
Indeed the bridges were somewhat problematic. Mike also said the West Easton bridges on the E&N were 10 mph even back in the 1960's. From a railfan perspective I think I'd be standing a good distance away if a heavy LV coal train was going over them. And by the time CR came along supposedly one of the bridges (I don't remember if it was one of the wooden trestles or the big bridge over the CNJ & Lehigh) had shifted out of place a few feet and of course that made even more nervous and then abandoned the south end of the E&N.
  by carajul
I've always heard, but never heard from CR, that the pin truss bridge over the Lehigh River shifted a few feet and they condemned it. I don't know if that's true. How the hell do you know if a bridge 'shifts' and what does 'shift' even mean? The darn thing is still standing to this day.

Once Dixie Cups and Crayola moved to their new factories in Forks, that killed the E&N as they were all that was really left of any significant traffic.

They shouldn't have torn out the line it would have made a great tourist run. The route along Bushkill Creek is so nice. And there is still Pfizer and the paper co that were customers CR chased away.
  by obsessed railfan
Another thing to consider regarding the E&N is that once the south end was abandoned, it could only be serviced from the north at Stockertown by the Cement Secondary LNE job. Prior to '82 or '83 Conrail had its own local called AB-2 that ran from Allentown over the Lehigh Line and did work at Easton, then accessed the E&N from the south end and worked its way north doing all the work. I've seen a great photo of CR AB-2 using the former Ironton Baldwin #751 heading north over the pin truss bridge.

The south end of the E&N was the primary access point for trains entering the branch all through the years and with its abandonment caused the demise of the daily E&N local. CR did not want to send a separate crew all the way up the Cement to access the E&N so the Cement job did the E&N work but probably often outlawed trying to get the E&N work done in addition to their regular Cement Secy. assignments. I believe if the south end would have remained in service, the E&N would have lasted much longer or possibly even to this day being served by its own local job if enough business remained.
  by carajul
Yes I've also been told serving the E&N from the north was a pain in the ass as instead of a quick trip from A'town yard it was now days to get the branch work done from the north. I doubt the E&N would have survived there are no customers left. Don't you find it odd that the same time Dixie Cups and Crayola moved to Forks, PA that's the same time the bridge became 'unsafe' ???

A shortline could have served the remaining customers from the north easily but CR ripped the tracks out so quick and sold the row to the municipalities for $1. Then a large warehouse was built directly on the row just south where the E&N connected with the LNE so the row got severed permanently. Also NS sold the row near 25th St to Walgreens who tore down the bridge over 25th St and built a drug store on the row.

All I can say is that in the 1980s CR sure as heck made it very convenient for branchlines to disappear, obliterated, and never be served again.
  by obsessed railfan
Also look at the Ironton. Into the CR era unit coal trains for Essroc were still being delivered to the Ironton. That was pretty much the only thing keeping the Ironton going at this time. The coal arrived via the C&F Branch. Then, also in 1983 just like the E&N, the C&F is severed as a through route and the Ironton was left to rot.
  by obsessed railfan
I took a bike ride on the E&N today. As a whole, it's about 85% public trail now in various segments. A year or so ago, they extended the trail about a mile from Penn Pump Park to Hackett Park. The trail goes right through the old Crayola plant. The best part is all three tracks are still there in the pavement, the main and two sidings. I thought by now they would have been covered so it's cool they're still there. You can continue on the original right of way almost down to 13th St. Jct. where it becomes Elementis (old Pfizer) property and they won't allow the trail to go through the plant, so you have to take a bypass through Hackett Park to get around it and it picks up on the original row again near Wilson.
  by wis bang
Conrail also condemned the other Pin Truss bridge, the LV bridge over the Delaware around the same time, lucky they had the CNJ bridge next to it.

In it's day the pin truss was strong enough. My Pappy told stories of how, in steam days, some engineers would try and avoid calling a pusher to make the grade on the E & N Bridge. He said when they didn't make it, the wheel spin would shake the whole bridge causing the diagonal twin stays connected by the pins to the top/bottom of adjoining upright 'bents' under the loco to slap together. Anyone who has walked underneath this bridge and studied the structure would say this is impossible but I believe the story.

Now I also can believe that age and the unusual design would eventually allow something to shift but this bridge withstood almost 100 years of trains backing up to P'burg and getting a running start
  by carajul
Just out of curiosity... how do you "condemn" a bridge? Is there a legal process where the state takes ownership and you no longer have to deal with taxes or maintenance?

I followed the E&N row on live maps. No way service can ever be restored. It's completely paved and the bridge that went over the Bushkill creek has been cemented over.
  by CNJ Fan 4evr
What year did Conrail abandon the south end? My friend moved to Wilson in late 1980. First time we went there we played basketball in a small park right next to one of the wooden trestles. They looked unused then.I never saw or heard a train on that line any time we went there.
The Dixie plant was the only time I remember seeing a LV engine that close.We were at the Burger KIng on 25th st. It was one of the yellow and cornell switchers around 1975. I saw one mainline train from a distance in Bloomsbury around 1974 but that is all I remember. I wasn't around the LV as a kid. Mainly CNJ, L&HR, and EL. Saw a couple RDG trains when went went to Reading for soap box races in '75.
  by carajul
From Easton north to Dixie Cups (Wilson) abandoned in 1983.
Rest of line in 1994. Tracks removed 1994 or 1995.

CR chased Pfizer away as a customer they used to bill hundreds of tank cars. Dixie Cups and Crayola moved to newer facilities in Forks, PA in 1984. CR then chased away last customer, got huge rolls of paper transloaded. Don't know when Tatamy Farm Bureau got chased away they use to get grain, fertilizer, feed. E&N went right thru their property and buildings. I think the rail-trail loops around the property now.

Spur that went east under Rt 22 "S" curves from Pfizer abandoned late 1970s. That was for all coal except for the scrap metal place, which 10x as big as it is now, CR chased them away too. It's a rail trail too now but I walked it in the mid-1990s all the ties and plates were recently torn out and in big piles.

If you were there in 1980 track was still used. Although not for interchange traffic anymore just to serve Dixie and Crayola. I think CR served it once a week on Weds.