• Questions: Wilmington and Northern

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

Moderator: bwparker1

  by Tom_E_Reynolds
Hi all,

I have a few simple questions about the Wilmington and Northern RR.
As I understand, the Wilmington & Reading line was built in 1869-70, the line was reorganized and renamed the W&N RR in 1877, and the Reading RR leased the W&N line in 1900.

1. Did the W&N ever have their own engines or rolling stock before the Reading lease?
Or did they just always lease Reading Engines?
Are there any pictures online of W&N rolling stock?

2. When was the Warwick branch built from Elverson (Springfield) to St. Peter's to service the Knauer's granite quarry?

  by rcthompson04
2. My understanding is that the Warwick branch ran from 1880 to the late 1920s.
  by choess
Yes, the Wilmington & Reading, subsequently Wilmington & Northern, was an independent operation until 1898, when the Reading bought up a controlling stock interest. I believe RL&HS Bulletin #118 has a complete roster (looks like mostly 4-4-0s with some 0-4-0s and 0-6-0s for switching, according to the reproduction in Taber). The equipment got transferred to the Reading roster after the sale.

The French Creek Branch was completed in May 1880. The main reason for building it was probably to serve the French Creek Mine and haul iron to Birdsboro (George Brooke was a director of the railroad.) It looks like the siding was laid to Knauer's quarry in 1885. He was one of the principals in building the ephemeral Delaware River & Lancaster Railroad from St. Peter's to Kimberton, which was briefly operated under lease by the W&N. Black granite from that quarry seems to have been the main business on the French Creek Branch after the French Creek Mine closed for the last time in 1928. The line from Warwick to St. Peter's was abandoned in 1970; it looks like there was a siding, probably a public delivery track, on the west side of Pine Swamp Road at Warwick. The French Creek Industrial Track (Elverson to Warwick) was not recommended for inclusion in Conrail and I presume was abandoned in 1976.
  by Tom_E_Reynolds
Thank you for the answers.

Does anyone know if a book or detailed write-up was ever done on the Wilmington and Northern?
  by Cykaforlet
Not quite sure, but there is a very good (albeit long) video of a YouTuber walking the line out from St. Peters Village. There are some good tidbits interspersed in the dialogue, but what's more interesting is that the line is still owned by the county almost completely into the town of Elverson. It was aquired from The Reading Co (according to land records) in 1979 by Conrail, then purchased by The Reading Rail Co again in 2000, which I am assuming is the Reading Estate in actuality. It was then bought by two different trail conservancies, and finally, in 2014, by Chester County.

A few locals are attempting to re-purchase or lease the land and begin clearing a path on the old roadbed on all the county land this summer after/if the rights are aquired. If you have any interest (I see you are from Pottstown) in helping out with the work or have any info to share in that regard, feel free to respond an I'll give you my number.
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