• Reading's Frankford 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 Schuylkill Valley
Hi all,
Here is a scaned copie of the real Reading Blue prints of the frankford branch, this one shows the 100' round table.




  by cdruhl
""My dad use to tell me stories of the runaway box car that smashed thru the wall of the giant warehouse that sits between Griscom and Penn street. I never believed him even though you can clearly see then new brick where the car came out. I did manage to find a picture a few years ago of it. Wish I could see it again.""

I remember seeing that boxcar hanging over Griscom Street -- that was the Unity-Frankford Stores co-op warehouse, if I recall. One, maybe two, tracks went into it. I recall those old-style high switch stands in the yard across the street.

I want to say that this accident happened in 1974 or so? I always got the impression that this accident put an end to the branch past the Blvd. I never recall seeing anything after that and it seemed like the line was severed under the Boulevard overpass soon after. The old main was now a tail track to swich back into two sidings just north of Sommerdale Avenue near Sears.

By the early 1980's I knew the branch was gone except for Sears when they eventually cut the line at two siding switches north of Sommerdale such that getting into the sidings was impossible and the Sommerdale crossing was removed. They didn't waste much time removing everything else once Sears was imploded. If memory serves me right, all of CP-Crescent was removed at the same time, including the old Philadelphia, Newtown, and New York railway trackage down towards Erie Avenue that more or less paralleled Mascher Street and Rising Sun Avenue.
  by JimBoylan
I think there were 2 different runaways through that wall in the 1970s.
  by AlexC
Is this the spot?

Some of the brickwork looks "newer"
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source= ... ,,0,-34.33
  by BuddSilverliner269
JimBoylan wrote:I think there were 2 different runaways through that wall in the 1970s.
Jim, only 1 runaway that resulted in a car smashing into the wall. Alex C, thats the building that we are talking about. I grew up right on Sellers and Penn and have passed that building many times thru my life.
  by RDG467
The City Archives have some great photos of the bridge replacement over Tabor Rd. in 1950. It also shows some of the local industries, such as ABC Coal and Kelly& Meehan Lumber, who were customers of the Reading. I think the RDG also had a few team tracks on Tabor just north of the bridge. Go to http://www.phillyhistory.org and search the photo page for Tabor Rd.

There are also a few pix of the Summerdale Ave. grade crossing from the Streets Dept. There was a building here on the NW quadrant that had a siding, but the company name escapes me at the moment.

I believe the largest shipper besides Sears was the Exide Battery Plant at Rising Sun and Adams. This plant specialized in batteries for submarines. There are still some tracks in the pavement behind the few buildings which still exist. This used to be a Forman Mills, but I think it moved across the street into the old Hechinger's bldg.

The Bond bakery on Godfrey, near the start of the branch, was still a customer in the mid 70's, as I remember getting a cab ride from the Heintz plant at Front and Olney up to the Bakery. The bakery bldg still exists and I think it's still a Boscovs store.

Stokes Vacuum is just south of the Tabor Ave. bridge, which was removed in the late 90's- early 00's, but I don't know if they were a customer or not......Here's a sample pic- Stokes is on the near left and Exide is the far left set of bldgs.
40698-14 Frnk Br over Tabor Rd..jpg
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  by phillybill59
Hello All;

I am new member, and not very railroad savvy, and I read all of thread with great interest, but had to wait nearly two months to get approval. I thought the board might be closed. However, today I was approve to post, and I will tell you that I know this branch (Frankford) like the back of my hand, and have done a case study, with lots of photos, maps, etc. If there still is an interest in this discussion...I will be very glad to share hat I have, and what I know. It's a shame that the line went the way of trolley, but it's to be expected considering the dramatic dropoff in industry, and well as the need for passenger service. I did in fact ride this line as a passenger two times as a boy. Once to center & back, and once to Summerdale (Sears stop), and back. For instance...the last post that I see in this forum is one of the great shots that I too have (from the city) looking west right before the Tabor road bridge. The interesting thing about that photo...is just the left, there is an old foundation that was in fact the platform of the old Cedar Grove stop, and years before that...where a small station once stood. Like I said...I will gladly share, chat, and exchange thoughts. I played and walked on this line from one end to the other for years...back when it was still fairly active. Hope to see some posts...it was a great little branch line. Bill H - Taipei Taiwan, formerly of Crescentville (Philadelphia). All the best...Bill
  by RDG467
Bill, I'd enjoy learning more about this branch and seeing some of the steam engines that were used there. I think the Branch was served from Erie Ave. until that yard closed in the 70's, and then the shifters came from Wayne Jct.

Much of the Frankford Branch r-o-w is still visible from aerial photos. The overhead bridge at Rising Sun was converted to fill, severing the branch just past its starting point.

In case you haven't heard, Septa and CSX now each have their own line running from Newtown Jct. to Cheltenham Jct. They 'split' the double track to completely segregate the freight and passenger operations. I think the third track leading to the branch from Olney may still exist in the weeds, but can't say for sure.
  by nmueller
Here is a screen shot of a 1920 map from historicmapworks.com . After the Frankford El opened, the line was cut back. In the 1970's it ended in the Frankford Grocery warehouse. I do remember the Frankford News Gleaner reporting twice that boxcars ran past the end of track and through the wall. I wish I had saved the articles. One was a 40-foot Buffalo Creek boxcar.
Frankford Branch 1920.jpg
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  by bth8446
I lived just 2 blocks off of this railroad. it was a 'play' site for some of us. I didn't see anyone set in stone as to when the last time this section of railroad was used. My main entrypoint was an empty lot at Harrison and Rutland streets.
the area was good for dirt ball fights and sledding down he steep but brief hill, if you wanted a quick sledding fix without traveling far. During that time, the bridges were still intact. I did many walks over to sears (and once, beyond sears;Summerdale area.

I may have been the witness to the last set of wheels rolling on that rail.
This is an estimate, but it was probably 1973, and I'm 8 years old. I forget the season. but there I was, my friend and I on the rails. To our knowledge, there just wasn't any rail traffic on this line. There was no watching out for trains or anything like that.

Yet, there was a sound, My friend and I looked at each other, sure it was coming from 'on the rails' (this area had a curve and had some serious thicket/shrubbery in the area very close to the rails), so we dove for the nearest greenery to hide. Along rumbled some kind of vehicle. I can't remember the exact details. was it a rail utility vehicle or
a street-worthy vehicle that could prop itself up on rails with a second set of rail wheels? I can't remember because my friend and I were scared because the operator of the vehicle started yelling at us to get off the rail, and we gladly obliged the upset operator. The moved by slowly. I guess they were checking out the rail status (not too good by then) or visiting assets down by Oakland/orthodox area

That was the last vehicle EVER that I saw (I lived 2 blocks from that area, I'm sure something could have slipped past without my knowledge, but that's the last known event)

Still as I grew, it was a nice walk.

2 favorite bridges were Castor Avenue crossing. It was interesting to watch trucks go under. some drivers questioned if they should. On rare occasion, they guessed incorrectly and passed under, full speed ahead. I was minutes away from one incident. I was going out and was going to pass under that bridge. I didn't hear it (2 blocks away) but it must have been recent as the backup of traffic was new, no police yet, but some truck was decapitated (not the driver, just the trailer). There was candy all over the road. There were a few other incidents, stuck under, partial peel-back of the roof . . . but that one I saw was a full decapitation of the trailer roof. I think the sign read 11 foot 6 inches or about that height. Not the usual 13 foot underpass.

Other bridge was crossing Arrott st at the Simpson playground. that crossing had the rails and the ties but no bottom to it, so, as you crossed you could see car/truck/trolley/bus traffic passing just a few feet underneath your feet. It made for a challenging crossing
  by glennk419
The last rail traffic that I recall anywhere on the branch would have been sometime in the mid 80's at Sears. I recall having to visit the site for work on a Sunday evening and there was some switching going on inside the complex and the crossing signals inside the gates at Whitaker Avenue were activated. By that time, the rails were truncated at Summerdale Avenue with a bumper inside the fence line. There was what appeared to curbing for a station platform just east of Summerdale still in existence. A couple years later, I also recall the bell for one of the crossings inside of the Sears complex inexplicably ringing one morning with no train in sight. If you do a Google earth view of the area, you can still see some rails in the pavement behind the Home Depot from one of the numerous sidings that served the warehouses.
  by JimBoylan
glennk419 wrote:I recall ... in the mid 80's ... the rails were truncated at Summerdale Avenue with a bumper inside the fence line.
McHugh Bros. unloaded some kind of large transformer at that bumper about that time, probably the last rail traffic that far East.


  by dinwitty
Schuylkill Valley wrote:Hi all,
Here is a scaned copie of the real Reading Blue prints of the frankford branch, this one shows the 100' round table.

Can you re-up these pics?
  by olneytrains
In the 1980s I recall covered hoppers parked on the siding at Mrs. Pauls factory on Tabor Rd east of the Tabor St. bridge. Ed