• The Liberty Bell Route

  • General discussion about fallen trolley and interurban lines in North America, past and present.
General discussion about fallen trolley and interurban lines in North America, past and present.

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by RDG484
 
Well, today marks the 55th Anniversary of the abandonment of the Liberty Bell Route that once ran from 69th St. Terminal to Allentown. So I marked the occasion by driving to Allentown and tracing the route from there. For 55 years, an amazing amount of ROW is still visible; most of it marked by an electric company pole line. A few places it had been obliterated, like around the PA Rt. 309/I-78 interchange, a few blocks in Telford, where there is a new housing development built on the ROW, and ditto for Normandy Farm, which is about mid-way between Norristown and Lansdale. In addition, a recent intersection relocation at West Point makes it impossible to trace the ROW there. The stations in Quakertown, Perkasie, Sellersville, and Hatfield all still stand, along with a former substation at Washington Square, just above Norristown. Of particular interest is the tunnel under the Reading Bethlehem Branch in Perkasie, which my 4-year old and I walked through today. The fill that occupies from there to the 9th St. undergrade bridge still has ballast on it, and the upgrade speedway from there to 3 Mile Run is recognizable, but overgrown with mostly thorny Black Locust trees and like shrubs. We walked at the western edge of the neighboring cemetary. The ROW is visible for almost the entire way from there to Quakertown, where it ran at the east shoulder of Old Bethlehem Pike for the entire distance. The Trolley Stop Deli in Hatfield was the old LVT station. Inside there are a lot of photos of LVT cars doing station work at the location. At Sellersville and Hatfield, the ROW was made into a short trail at both locations. Needless to say, we walked both trails. In Quakertown, we spotted a mural of a 1000-series car painted on the north side of the old station building which is now a hair salon. All in all, a great day was had by both my son and I.

Long live the LVT!!!

  by bellstbarn
 
Many thanks for the update on what remains from the Liberty Bell Route. An annual summer treat about 1947-1950 was Dad bringing me to Allentown (or once to Easton) for a trip to 69th Street. I don't recall which steam road we traveled on (Jersey Central or Lehigh Valley), but I have good memories of the runs to Upper Darby and that one trip on the Easton Limited. In the 1960's and 1970's I traced the route by car, so your report in this century is most helpful. The books published on this route and at least one video have also assisted and been most enjoyable.

  by RDG484
 
You're quite welcome. The only long section where I really couldn't look for the ROW is between where it goes away from Lanark Rd., through Center Valley and Coopersburg, down to just before you get to the old Zion Church. This section, A.K.A., "The Cutoff" is too far away from roads and the only little places where I could make it out is from a few bisecting streets. Otherwise the ROW is fairly easy to trace.

  by SteelWheels21
 
RDG..as a kid I lived in Perkasie from 1979 to 1982 and played many times on the old ROW, especially the underpass. I recall having a dentist appointment in Sellersville that was located in the old station there, and the Perkasie station was right next to the barbershop where I'd get my hair cut. I often wondered where the ROW went after it crossed Ninth st. and curved around the base of the ridge. I may have to google earth it and see if its visible.

  by RDG484
 
Oops, one other place that's changed is the last block of St. John St. in Allentown before you get to the Trout Creek (or Aineyville) Viaduct. which is now an extension of the parking lot for the adjacent hospital.

  by Schuylkill Valley
 
Hi all,
Here is a small video production I just done on the Liberty Bell Transit.
The film was taken by George W. Gerhart, in the 1950's.

Len.

http://www.dailymotion.com/Conrail6370/ ... -transit/1

  by drewh
 
Great video - well done.

I think when you say 7th & Hamilton Sts., you mean Allentown, PA though not Norristown.

  by walt
 
Great video---- the short segment in which the car is running backwards, is an example of the unique method used to turn southbound cars in Norristown for the return trip to Allentown after 1949, when the southern terminus of the Liberty Bell Route was cut back from 69th Street to Norristown. Because of the single track, and the fact that the 1000's were single ended, southbound cars ariving at Norristown would run up the incline to the second story P&W Norristown station and discharge southbound passengers. The cars would then be run backwards back down the incline and through Norristown streets to the LVT freight yard on Markley Street where they would be Wyed. They would then run, again in reverse, back through the streets, up the incline to the station where, now facing north, they would entrain passengers for the trip north to Allentown. This is also one reason why the single ended cars carried a front trolley pole (which they did not have in their earlier lives as C&LE "Red Devil" cars)

  by Gerry6309
 
Car 1030 was an interesting exception. Not only did it come from the Indiana RR instead of the C&LE, but it lacked a backup controller, though it had the same brake stand at the rear as a C&LE car. To back up, you:

Turn off control switch on forward end.

Put reverser in reverse.

Put controller in first point, series.

Hang a switch iron over the controller handle to disable the dead-man.

Remove brake handle and take to rear end of car.

Open compartment and install brake handle on valve. Release brakes.

Operate spring loaded control switch to apply power to car.

The brake valve is straight air, not self lapping, so it requires a totally different technique from that on the front end, though this was tdentical to that required on a C&LE car. Rumor has it that LVT operators used the second point instead of the first to get more speed. (1030 has manual accelleration. C&LE cars were autometic.)

  by CarterB
 
Where on Markley St. was the LVT yard? Anything still visible?

  by walt
 
Gerry6309 wrote:Car 1030 was an interesting exception. Not only did it come from the Indiana RR instead of the C&LE, but it lacked a backup controller, though it had the same brake stand at the rear as a C&LE car. To back up, you:

Turn off control switch on forward end.

Put reverser in reverse.

Put controller in first point, series.

Hang a switch iron over the controller handle to disable the dead-man.

Remove brake handle and take to rear end of car.

Open compartment and install brake handle on valve. Release brakes.

Operate spring loaded control switch to apply power to car.

The brake valve is straight air, not self lapping, so it requires a totally different technique from that on the front end, though this was tdentical to that required on a C&LE car. Rumor has it that LVT operators used the second point instead of the first to get more speed. (1030 has manual accelleration. C&LE cars were autometic.)
In addition, No 1030 was an ACF product while the former C&LE "Red Devils" were built by the Cincinnati Car Company. No 1030 is now housed at the Seashore Trolley Museum, and is mounted on trucks taken from C&LE No. 126 ( LVT No 1002 I believe) - the car that raced an airplane in 1930----and won.

  by Gerry6309
 
All your additions are correct. Although 1030 has the same trucks and motors as our C&LE/CRANDIC 118, the latter is a tamer car to operate. The automatic control on 118 is set for a fairly low current, reducing the accelleration rate. Operators on 1030 tend to take the third point too fast, causing an objection from the circuit breaker in the power station. The starting resistance was designed for 600 volt motors in parallel, whereas the C&LE trucks have 300 volt motors in series. The resistance connections probably need adjusting to lower the current in the third notch. Such small increments are difficult to measure but make a big difference when you are switching hundreds of amps.

When you run 118 wide open, it seems faster, though. A volunteer is rumored to have reactivated the field shunts on the car, but on a mile & 1/2 run you can't get up to full speed anyway. Both cars have excellent brakes.

The arch bar trucks are kind of rough riding. 1030 originally had a heavier truck which may have produced a better ride. The lightweight bodies must have bounced around well on the LVT.

  by walt
 
Gerry6309 wrote:
The arch bar trucks are kind of rough riding. 1030 originally had a heavier truck which may have produced a better ride. The lightweight bodies must have bounced around well on the LVT.
The P&W Brill Bullet Cars had the same problem, though the somewhat rough ride, IMO, added to the uniqueness of riding in those cars. Since the trip over the P&W was the fastest portion of the Allentown-69th Street Run ( P&W was, and is, completely grade separated, and was/is mostly double track, while the LVT portion was single track and not grade separated) I suspect the riding qualities of the 1000's weren't much different from those of the Bullets whose rails they shared south of Norristown.