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 Post subject: The "Reading Subway" Abandonned Philadelphia Tunnel
PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 2:40 pm 

Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2006 2:21 am
Posts: 535
Location: Yardley, PA (near Phila)
I'm looking for clarification of some facts regarding the "Reading Subway" which is a now a partially abandoned tunnel with a portal near the Art Museum in Philadelphia.

There were at one time, I believe, 6 tracks going under ground at Pennsylvania Avenue and N 27th Street near Fairmount Park.

Four were from the Reading - all have been removed. I believe this was called "the City Branch" and was originally a spaghetti bowl of tracks above ground built to service industry in Philadelphia, primarily Baldwin Locomotive Works, along with a passenger route to Reading. The tunnel was finished around 1900 (dig and fill) complete with ventilation for steam (it was after all 1900).

Another two tracks entered this portal as well but branched off towards the Art Museum and on towards the Schuykill River bank. This line is active and serves CSX.

Questions:

What is the history of the CSX line?
Was it a Reading line or a B&O line, or some combination of shared rights?
Was this part of B&O's main route from Baltimore to NY (NJ)?
Why was it reduced to two tracks (clearance, I suppose). But did this not
create a bottle neck for this CSX mainline corridor?

Clarification of the Reading Line.
I read that two tracks were for freight and two were to be used for storage.
Was there passenger service on the line (note, the line went on to connect to
the Reading Viaduct and into Reading Terminal). If so, what were the station points on the line exiting Philly?

Any information (including answers to questions not asked!), appreciated!

Image

Image

/Mitch


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 Post subject: Re: The "Reading Subway" Abandonned Philadelphia Tunnel
PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 3:08 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8356
Location: Baltimore, MD
*sigh*

I'll get to you when I have more time--while pointing out with the proper disclaimer that this isn't, technically, "preservation"........... but start here:

http://www.communityheritagemaps.com/ph ... 1922rs.jpg

http://www.communityheritagemaps.com/ph ... index.html


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 Post subject: Re: The "Reading Subway" Abandonned Philadelphia Tunnel
PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 3:25 pm 

Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2006 2:21 am
Posts: 535
Location: Yardley, PA (near Phila)
There are a lot of places where it is "fun" to talk history but when it comes to insightful and accurate information from seasoned historians - RYPN is the place I can count on.

The maps are nice and I've seen several but I am most interested in answers to the questions posed.

Here are some more links with pics: Philadelphia Speaks

Since so little of the history of this subject is readily available, I figure the members of RYPN could help corroborate the facts in an effort to preserve a bit of Reading Railroad History.

Thought y'all might enjoy the pics, too!

/Mitch


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 Post subject: Re: The "Reading Subway" Abandonned Philadelphia Tunnel
PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:52 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 9:14 am
Posts: 217
Location: Baltimore, MD
Quote:
Questions:

What is the history of the CSX line?
Was it a Reading line or a B&O line, or some combination of shared rights?
Was this part of B&O's main route from Baltimore to NY (NJ)?
Why was it reduced to two tracks (clearance, I suppose). But did this not
create a bottle neck for this CSX mainline corridor?



The CSX line was B&O south of Park Junction (the north end of the tunnel?) and Reading north of there. It was the north end of the B&O Philadelphia extension built in the 1890's and used by B&O passenger trains to New York, which continued on the Reading and Jersey Central to Jersey City. This line was always double track from Baltimore to Philadelphia, reduced to single track throughout after passenger service was discontinued in 1957.

Quote:
Questions:

Clarification of the Reading Line.
I read that two tracks were for freight and two were to be used for storage.
Was there passenger service on the line (note, the line went on to connect to
the Reading Viaduct and into Reading Terminal). If so, what were the station points on the line exiting Philly?



There was no regular passenger service on this line in modern times. Local switching only. I THINK the line may have been the original Reading line between Philadelphia and Reading, but was superceeded by the line due north from Reading Terminal. Passenger trains to Reading used the current SEPTA commuter line to Norristown, where they crossed the bridge to the original line.

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 Post subject: Re: The "Reading Subway" Abandonned Philadelphia Tunnel
PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:01 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2010 1:57 am
Posts: 151
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
*sigh*

I'll get to you when I have more time--while pointing out with the proper disclaimer that this isn't, technically, "preservation"........... but start here:

http://www.communityheritagemaps.com/ph ... 1922rs.jpg

http://www.communityheritagemaps.com/ph ... index.html


Dude, what is up with you? This isn't just about preservation, it's about history, too. It even says so on the board description. Why do you get so nitpicky about this kind of stuff? This is at least the second time I've seen you do this.


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 Post subject: Re: The "Reading Subway" Abandonned Philadelphia Tunnel
PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:19 pm 

Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2006 2:21 am
Posts: 535
Location: Yardley, PA (near Phila)
Zak Lybrand wrote:
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
*sigh*


Dude, what is up with you? This isn't just about preservation, it's about history, too. It even says so on the board description....


The Railway Preservation News (*RyPN) website is dedicated to the preservation of railroad history, including documents, artifacts and infrastructure.

Thanks Pete, Zak, and, Mr Mitchell, the maps were a start - have more to share?


/Mitch


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 Post subject: Re: The "Reading Subway" Abandonned Philadelphia Tunnel
PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:07 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5254
Location: southeastern USA
How can preserving, conserving and restoring old maps not be part of what we are about? And, a fine resource for the areas they have historic maps for. I just wish they went north through germantown - I'm making a trip up next month to find some old addresses and a few graves.

dave

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 Post subject: Re: The "Reading Subway" Abandonned Philadelphia Tunnel
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 3:07 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:07 am
Posts: 661
Location: Philadelphia Pa
I'm going to go with my gut and say Mr. Mitchell was not referring to your post, but rather the links he provided, which are in fact to a business that sells historical maps, not to preserve them for free public use, but rather to make money off them, hence "not preservation."

....???


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 Post subject: Re: The "Reading Subway" Abandonned Philadelphia Tunnel
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:46 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8356
Location: Baltimore, MD
*sigh*

My intention was not to deride Brother Goldman for asking a broad-based railfan-history question about non-preserved railroads (and further, lines/ROWs which stand little to no chance of actual preservation per se).

But the fact remains that, as highly as he regards the participants here, there are (by my count) at least eight other forums, including several Philly-rail-specific Yahoo Groups, several Reading-RR-specific forums at Railroad.Net, Railfan.net, and the like, and the RCT&HS itself (no bulletin board), better suited for so detailed a query.

I could hash out the answers to the specifics that Mitch asks about, but even with the resources at my (well-appointed) desk and the Maryland Rail Heritage Library, it would take me half a day or more to go beyond what Brother Schmidt posted, which is the stuff that's at the heart of his inquiry. Do you realize what a place like the RR Museum of Pa. or B&O Museum charges for such research?

I once went up to the NRHS National HQ Library in Philadelphia shortly before it was packed up for storage. They had a willing and able bunch of volunteers working there, including answering e-mail queries. I took the liberty of going through a back archive of their inquiries. A few were "no-brainers": "What railroad was the O&W?" A few were so general as to be aggravating: "What's the best railroad book to get my father?" A tantalizing few were questions exactly like Goldman's, which the folks sitting practically across the street from Reading Terminal just happened to be experts on.

But 90% or more of the questions were of the "My great-great-grandfather, Benjamin James MacPherson, born in South Hanover County, East Virginia on May 21, 1879, worked for The East Virginia and Northern Carolina Railroad from March 1897 to June 1915, when he was conscripted for war duty by the United States Railroad Army. I need to find everything I can find out about his railroad employment, including where he was stationed, how much money he made, who his co-workers were in Jeffersonia, etc. Can you help?"

About half of the remaining questions were of the ilk "I have a share certificate from the Susquehanna and North Branch Railroad for fifteen share, issued May 12, 1881 to Andrew K. Norton. How much is it worth?"

That was before they set up the following part of their "Research" page: http://www.nrhs.com/library.htm#genes

We had an issue here quite a while back where one particular member here--in fact, one of the co-founders--would persist in posting 10-30 links every couple days to old photos found on other forums, eBay, library archives, etc. It started as vintage photos of now-preserved equipment, but then progressed to almost any old railroad photos that struck his fancy. Occasionally (but rarely), there would be a question about the subject ("where is it now?"); other times it was just a photo link.

This divided the regular readers here somewhat. Many loved the "cool" old photos. Others found the occasional flood of 10-30 posts at once a bit tedious, as it pushed current topics down 2-3 pages and many of the photos had tenuous links at best to actual preservation. The eventual answer was for him to set up his own Yahoo Group, which was perma-linked at the top of the forums here (albeit with a misspelled name!) for several years.

Now, please, do I REALLY have to go dig out those lost Reading and B&O track charts and maps I saw somewhere? Or will Brother Schmidt's answer be enough?


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 Post subject: Re: The "Reading Subway" Abandonned Philadelphia Tunnel
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 9:52 am 

Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:58 pm
Posts: 1195
Location: Chicago USA
Um...suggesting better places to ask a question is a useful contribution. Going on ad nauseum about why you are unable or unwilling to provide further information really is not.

Steve


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 Post subject: Re: The "Reading Subway" Abandonned Philadelphia Tunnel
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 9:53 am 

Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:07 pm
Posts: 453
Location: B'more Maryland
Mitch, you should come down to the Library of which Sandy speaks. It's an eye-opener, and well within walking distance of Baltimore's Penn Station. They're open on Wednesday afternoons.

It's well worth the vacation day.


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 Post subject: Re: The "Reading Subway" Abandonned Philadelphia Tunnel
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 12:57 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2007 7:58 pm
Posts: 111
Location: Hershey, PA
Mitch,

While it was difficult to track, I did find the path of that tunnel leading up to Reading Terminal. It appears it went down to 2 tracks on approach to the terminal, going through shorter tunnels and a few cuts north of the Rodin Museum, roughly parralleling Callowhil Street. Pictured below is that final approach area into the terminal. You can see it does descend into a tunnel. I would be curious to find out when service on this portion ended (I would guess around the time of the birth of Conrail, as RDG trains did run to Pottstown and points north?).

Image

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Visit the NKP 765's website: http://www.fortwaynerailroad.org


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 Post subject: Re: The "Reading Subway" Abandonned Philadelphia Tunnel
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 2:29 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8356
Location: Baltimore, MD
Ed Kapuscinski wrote:
Mitch, you should come down to the Library of which Sandy speaks. It's an eye-opener, and well within walking distance of Baltimore's Penn Station. They're open on Wednesday afternoons.

It's well worth the vacation day.


Correction: The library *I* was speaking of is this:

http://www.nrhs.com/library.htm

Current status: "The NRHS library holdings are presently in retrievable storage in Massachusetts. The facility in Philadelphia which housed the library is under renovation for another use and the NRHS was forced to vacate the premises. The references in the library are available for access but the fees to access the holdings are significant. Contact us by using our e-mail form for further information."

The volunteers there are/were Philadelphia-based and therefore Philadelphia specialists.

The library that Ed is referring to the the Maryland Rail Heritage Library, a joint effort of the Baltimore Chapter NRHS and the Baltimore Streetcar Museum. It's worldwide in scope but focuses specifically on the State of Maryland and surrounding states. Open most Wednesdays 10 AM to 4 PM, Sunday afternoons once a month, and by appointment if the cause is good. IF I get the chance, I may poke in and see IF they have maps good enough to divine out anything further than Schmidt's answer. We're pretty bloody good in comparison with the other options in the area (O'Rourke in Bowie, Hagerstown NRHS, etc.) and a bit more user-friendly than the B&O Museum or RR Museum of Pa. (or will be once we get that website and Internet access to the building up!), but we're not as comprehensive as NMRA in Chattanooga or the NRHS National.

Meanwhile:

http://www.trainweb.org/phillynrhs/
http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/phillynrhs/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/csxphillysub/ (183 members, more than most NRHS Chapters)
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NSHarrisburgLine/ (412 members, extends into Philly)
http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/PhillyAreaRails/
Even, at an extreme, http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/rdgco/ (fomer employees)

And that's just YahooGroups. I presume you need no introduction to Railroad.net or Railfan.net............ or Trains.com ............


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 Post subject: Re: The "Reading Subway" Abandonned Philadelphia Tunnel
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 3:09 pm 

Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2006 2:21 am
Posts: 535
Location: Yardley, PA (near Phila)
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
*sigh*
My intention was not to deride Brother Goldman for asking a broad-based railfan-history question about non-preserved railroads (and further, lines/ROWs which stand little to no chance of actual preservation per se).


Actually, from what I've read, the ROW is still owned by what is left of the company that was Reading and there are /have been talks of preserving the right of way as a park - similar to that which exists in NYC with the conversion of thier "High Line".

Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
Now, please, do I REALLY have to go dig out those lost Reading and B&O track charts and maps I saw somewhere? Or will Brother Schmidt's answer be enough?


Pete's response (and further e-mail) covered the specifics and was much appreciated. Brother Mitchell, you do not HAVE to dig out those lost charts, but if anyone else would like to contribute to the thread I (and I assume others) would be most interested in hearing what there is to be said.

Discussion is preservation of knowledge.

/Mitch


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 Post subject: Re: The "Reading Subway" Abandonned Philadelphia Tunnel
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2010 6:09 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:01 pm
Posts: 1438
Location: SouthEast Pennsylvania
Mgoldman wrote:
I'm looking for clarification of some facts regarding the "Reading Subway" which is a now a partially abandoned tunnel with a portal near the Art Museum in Philadelphia.
Was there passenger service on the line (note, the line went on to connect to the Reading Viaduct and into Reading Terminal). If so, what were the station points on the line exiting Philly?
There was passenger service at the beginning, when it was part of the Main Line. When the Main Line of Public Works was relocated to run via Overbrook, the Philadelphia & Reading RR bought the line to also preserve passenger access to their Philadelphia station. I'm not sure when those trains were rerouted over the Philadelphia, Germantown & Norristown RR's Norristown branch.
When Reading Terminal was 1st built, the viaduct North of it was only 2 tracks, so some trains used this line. Chestnut Hill East trains had a station at Lemon Hill, near 33rd St. & Girard Ave. Dick Short remembers that normal position of some of the switches at Wayne Jct. tower were between the Chestnut Hill East branch and the Blue Line Connector. He was told by old timers that some Chestnut Hill trains used that route via the Port Richmond branch, West Falls, Belmont Jct., Lemon Hill and the Callowhill St. Subway until electrification.
At the East end, the other 2 tracks continued on Noble and Willow Sts. to the Delaware River. The last customer in the subway was the newspaper company at 400 N. Broad St.
Try [url]PhilaHistory.org[/url] and use Pennsylvania Ave. as the search term for photos of the building of the tunnels.


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