• Researching Operations on Reading Philly Branches

  • 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 GonzoCRfan

I just joined this group after Google led me to several good discussions on here about some of the less-glamorous Reading freight branches around Philly. I've been enamored with these lines since I bought a 1986 Conrail ZTS map and began exploring their remnants shortly after I got my drivers license a little more than a decade ago. I've finally decided to put all the research I've been doing to good use and get cracking on a model railroad that will depict the following:

The yard throat and extreme southern edge of Port Richmond Yard where it turned south along Richmond St and Delaware Ave. I also plan on including the Commerce St Industrial, which will give me an excuse to model the fascinating Cattie & Bros. metal finishing business, which according to my maps featured the crossing of their two sidings inside one of their buildings. This will progress south to the Delaware Ave. terminus of the old Northern Liberties and Penn Twp at Noble Street, where the real-life track layout provides a crucial turning-around point. Also included at this location will be a short representation of the Canal St. industrial track that runs along one of the most peculiarly-shaped buildings I've ever seen. From there, the layout will proceed up Front St/Germantown Ave/Second St to the American Street corridor. The only modeler's license I plan on taking with the project is the inclusion of a connecting track at the southeastern quadrant of Fairhill Junction to connect the former North Penn mainline to the Richmond Branch. This will allow for continuous running when I'm not in the mood to switch. I'm planning on cramming all this into a roughly 12-foot square space in N scale. The timeframe I've chosen is the late RDG/early CR era, before the old El had been torn out on Front St.

First off, can anyone point me towards a set of maps of those lines circa the mid 1970s? My 1986 ZTS maps are a good start and I plan on hitting the Philly library in a week and checking out their set of 1974 Sanborn maps, but I know those Sanborns can't always be taken as gospel.

I've so far been able to turn up a respectable amount of research materials on focal points of the layout like Jack Frost Sugar and Schmidt's brewing. However, I am hurting on photos of the American Street line during that timeframe. If anyone has any leads, I would greatly appreciate them.

I'm also generally clueless on how the lines would operate, except for what I've been able to glean from photos and accounts of the Jack Frost operations. In the 1970s, would the Reading have kept any power to run locals out of either Noble Street or the former North Penn yards at Berks St, or would everything have been based directly out of Port Richmond? I will also need to back-date my freight car fleet a little bit to pull off this layout; does anyone have any recollections of what would be commonly seen moving in an out of industries along these lines? For instance, what did Schmidt's ship/receive by rail. My 1986 map shows sidings for their Pallet Building, Bottle House, and 2 parallel tracks near the north end of the plant. I'm assuming this would be inbound pallets and empty bottles, but I'm clueless on what else would have been seen moving in and out of there.

Thanks in advance for any help you might be able to provide, I hope this topic will spark some interesting discussion.