A brief history of the Quakertown and Eastern covers two pages in the book Railroads In The Lehigh River Valley, first published in 1956, revised in 1962, by the Lehigh Valley chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.
Some of the more salient points from the book:
The Quakertown and Eastern was chartered in July 1896 with construction beginning in August of that same year. The line interchanged with the Philadelphia and Reading's Bethlehem Branch in Quakertown. There were grandiose plans to extend the line to Easton and a connection with the Lehigh and Hudson River Railway to shorten the connection between the Poughkeepsie Bridge and Philadelphia by 23 miles.
The line finally reached Riegelsville, the roads' terminus, five years after construction began, in August of 1901.
The iron furnaces in Durham closed temporarily in 1906 which, in turn, caused the Q&E to shutdown. The iron furnaces shut down permanently in 1908 after 181 years of operation.
A local doctor, John J. Ott, had a four-wheeled gasoline propelled vehicle built using a 1902 Oldsmobile engine. He attempted to use this vehicle to carry local produce over the line between 1908 & 1910 but the experiment was a failure. The doctor also operated a smaller car for charter retention purposes.
The line was reorganized in 1911 as the Quakertown and Delaware River Railroad. This line suspended operation in early 1916.
The line went to a sheriff's sale in July of 1917 and was reorganized once again, this time going back to the original name of Quakertown and Eastern. In 1930 the Q&E rehabilitated track in conjunction with the opening of a sand pit and quarry in Riegelsville. This upturn in traffic was brief and in July 1936 the Q&E applied to the Pennsylvania Public Service Commission for abandonment with operations ceasing on December 18, 1936.
This line operated some unique equipment. The few photos show an 0-4-0T pulling a combine (passenger car with baggage compartment) in 1916. Another photo shows a smaller tank engine pulling a train of three former Washington, DC four-wheel trolleys. Two of these trolleys were later outfitted with marine gasoline engines and were operated as self-propelled units. The line leased numerous steam locos from the Reading over its history. It did own one 2-6-0 that was only used for about one year before it was returned to the builder (Baldwin Locomotive Works) due to the frequent derailments-the loco was too long for the sharp curves on the line. A later loco was reclaimed by Baldwin in 1907 due to failure by the Q&E to make payments. The last two locos on the line were 0-6-0s purchased from the Union Railroad (near Pittsburgh, PA).
Hope this helps.
Art Audley, AA3RT
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