Frank's Photography Site

Ashley area rails - 5/21 & 5/22/2013 - Ashley, PA

The Ashley area had a somewhat complex rail map at one time, but only a single through track in the area is still in use.
Most all of the information on this page is regarding the CNJ (Central Railroad of NJ) lines (in yellow).
The Lehigh Valley is shown in red, however the line marked "N" on the key below was actually also a CNJ line,
over which the LV had trackage rights (the Franklin Branch to the Franklin Breaker area).
There's a more detailed map at the very bottom of this page, but here's a "key" to the layout, and a short description of the lines.


The CNJ and LV shared the same ROW coming south from downtown Wilkes-Barre to the split you see just below the letter "A".
The right side of the teardrop shaped area you see along "B" was the old main line, with the right fork heading to
the original Ashley Planes line ("G"), and the left fork connecting to the Nanticoke Branch just above "C".
This line ran through the very center of the shop/terminal/roundhouse area, and one track (still in use) follows this path.
The Ashley Planes line was abandoned in 1948, and there is little or no trace of it in this particular area.
The line from A to B to C is the only line still in use, and only continues as far as the Hanover Industrial Park, ending short of Route 29.
The yellow area to the left of "C" was the CNJ yard behind the Huber Breaker, but now only one track passes through here.
The right fork from "B" to "D" is long gone, as well as all other lines you see,
except for sections of the Nanticoke Branch ("F"), which I've documented on a separate page.
The green line ("M") was the Wilkes-Barre & Hazleton interurban (abandoned 1933), which early on ran from Ashley rather than downtown.
The yellow and blue lines near the letter "I" are long-gone coal lines.
"K" was the one-time LV passenger main which kept a bit to the west through here, and ran again next to the CNJ further south at "L".
"J" was the slightly newer CNJ main line which connected with the "Backtrack" line "H",
and there was an Ashley passenger station at the star you see just to the right of the letter "D".
The area right around the letter "D" was the onetime location of the CNJ engine shops, roundhouse and terminal.
Today that area has completely been made over, and is the location of Ehrlich Pest Control, a modern building.
You'll notice just below the letter "E", crossing Main Street in Ashley, there are two yellow lines close together.
The upper line crossed at grade adjacent to the Ashley Municipal Building and ran to the "Backtrack" line to the east.
The lower line was the Nanticoke Branch which had an underpass under the main line a bit behind the Municipal Building (buried now),
and also ran under the underpass along Main Street which you can still see today.
At the top of the map, "N" was the Franklin Branch, and "O" was the CNJ Buttonwood Branch to the PRR Buttonwood yard.

In the first photo, we are looking south on Main Street, Ashley, towards the bridge under which the Nanticoke Branch ran.


Looking down through the fence on the east side of the bridge, it's a bit wet, and all that remains are a few ties.


This is the point where we arrived in the last photo of my (central) Nanticoke Branch set, which I'll repeat here:


Looking down from the west side of the bridge, we can see the land has been graded/reconfigured, and there's a dirt trail there now.


Before exploring this area any further, I drove west on Ashley Street (a bit further north) to the junction of West Ashley Street,
where the CNJ "old" main line crosses over on a bridge. Firemen's Memorial Park is just on the other side and to the right.
This is just above the letter "B" on the key above, and carries the single track still in use from downtown W-B to Hanover Industrial Park.


Looking underneath, we can see the date "1913" near the top left of the right support leg,
and also that there was a second bridge here at one time.
This was just above the "terminal" area (ahead of us) , where the railroad property expanded.
In the third photo, you can see the date "1917" for the (now gone) second span,
just to the left of the roundish area where the smooth surface work has fallen off.
Above, we see that the extant track runs across the south side of the remaining span.




Further north on the line, just above West Hartford Street, we are at the junction where the LV line split off
from the CNJ - the dirt road at the left was the former LV ROW, along with a possible signal tower base.
You can see the extant track (barely) at the far right.
The CNJ old and new mains also split apart here, a bit off the photo to the right.


In this aerial view, I was standing approximately where you see the yellow dot, and north is to the left.
The points A, B, and C are along West Ashley Street, which becomes East St. Marys Road to the west after the curve (bottom).
The big white building at the top is Ehrlich Pest Control, the site area of the former CNJ shops and roundhouse.
You can see the configuration of all three lines etched into the landscape:


From this Bing "birds-eye" view (north to the right), it appears that until recently, the center ROW
(the "new" CNJ main to point "B"), still had a bit of trackage as evidenced by the cars in storage here.
The dotted line is the extant track, which continues to the bridge by the street junction at the bottom left.
This is point "A" on the aerial photo above, and the yellow dot is also where I was standing in the (above) photo.


A bit further north, we see some abandoned ties belonging to the former LV passenger main.
In the far distance, you would eventually come to the Blackman Street underpass, also shared by both lines.


Going west on West Ashley Street, we come to the north abutment of the "new" CNJ main.
This is point "B" on the first aerial view above. The south abutment is gone.
From here you can see the existing bridge at the Ashley St/West Ashley Street intersection in the distance.


And not to be outdone, just a bit further west is the north abutment of the old LV passenger main,
point "C" on the first aerial view above. Also in this case, the south abutment is gone,
but on the south leg of the ROW (behind us up a "hill"), a power line follows the ROW trace
and it's clear for a good distance going south towards the Hanover Industrial area.
After a while, the power line veers a bit to the west, where the LV line ROW curved to the east,
keeping north of North Preston Drive, to the point where it joined the CNJ again just above the crossing.


Along the west side of South Main Street in Ashley you will come to the Family Dollar store across from Planes Avenue.
In the back of the parking lot is the original gate for the Huber Colliery offices.
The Huber Breaker opened in 1939, as a replacement for earlier breakers in the area.


Here are four photos I took of the front side of the Huber Breaker on October 23, 2011:





Beyond the south end of Ashley, we come to North/South Preston Drive as we approach the Hanover industrial vicinity.
This is south of the Huber Breaker and where the former LV main joined up from the west to the CNJ Nanticoke Branch again.
The gravel path just to the left of the tracks would have actually been on the LV ROW.
Here we are on North Preston Drive looking north on the Nanticoke branch with the Huber Breaker in the distance.


Here we are looking back (south) towards the North Preston Drive crossing from a bit further north.


South of the Huber Breaker, but east of the tracks, there's a huge amount of abandoned machinery. This is just part of it.


As we approach the back (west) side of the Huber Breaker, one lone track remains at the former CNJ yard location.




Just a bit further north, I came to a concrete shanty along the tracks, I'm surprised it's still here.


At this junction, just north of the back side of the breaker, the line which is still in use forks to the left,
and will soon pass through what was once the roundhouse and shop area, as it heads towards the West Ashley St bridge.
The line at the right was the continuation of the Nanticoke branch. Here it's used only for a very short distance
as a siding or back-up point. The rusty rails continue, though, for a bit, right up to the edge of the area surrounding Ehrlich Pest Control.






This is just off the south edge of the Ehrlich parking area (point B in the next aerial view below), and (photo 2) looking south.
This is the end-of-track point of the (now) spur, but previously part of the Nanticoke Branch.



OK, so here's the "infamous" Ehrlich Pest Control building, built on the site of the old CNJ shops,
roundhouse and engine terminal, along with a current aerial view.



The area we have just visited above runs from point A to B in the above view.
The roundhouse was approximately at point E, with the open side of its semicircular shape pointing directly at the shop building at D.
The extant line (coming north from A) ran through a very busy multi-track terminal area continuing up to the F & G areas.
A side leg of this triangular area also ran from G to D and I, connecting with the mainline.
The mainline once ran around the loop trace you see at the very left, and to point H, the site of the Ashley Passenger Depot.
The street crossing was at "I", with the line then heading east onto the Backtrack Line.

This orphaned track segment was in the pavement in the front of the Ehrlich area at point C,
not exactly the same path as the A-B segment we explored earlier, but definitely connected to the Nanticoke branch.
I wonder why it was so carefully left in place in the modern asphalt work.


There was also a roundish piece of concrete in the ground just below point B,
in the clearing area above Coulter Street, but I have no idea of its origin...


In this photo, the entrance to the Ehrlich Pest Control site is at the left, and Cemetary Road to the right.
This would have been the junction of the G-D-I connector mentioned above (right triangular leg) coming from the area of the trees ahead.
The mainline would have come from the direction of road to the left, with the Ashley Depot just beyond the car.
Right behind us is Main Street and the site of the CNJ grade crossing.


Here we are looking east across Main Street at the site of the former CNJ grade crossing.
The Ashley Municipal Building is the large brick structure dead ahead, and an east-facing signal tower has been left in place.
The tracks would have passed just to the right of the tower.


Looking west from in front of the signal tower, silhouetted by the bright afternoon sun.
It would be best to get a morning shot here...


Here's a shot from 1997 (credit to John C. Scupski), showing that a track still remained there at the time:


In the woods just east of here, this (main) line crossed over the Nanticoke Branch which ran through a short tunnel,
and then continued east to become the "Backtrack Line". See my (central) Nanticoke Branch page for more info on this.
Just to the east of this crossing are fields and woods through which the line continued, please refer to my "Backtrack Line" page
for more info and photos. Here I'll end with one last photo of that area... we are looking east where the line
would have continued along the left side of the photo, left of the power pole.


The aerial image below is a great overview of the Ashley area in its prime,
cropped from a Penn Pilots aerial photo dated June 21, 1939.
You can see the shop, roundhouse and yard areas, as well as the Ashley Planes line still intact.
Behind the Huber Breaker (bottom left), the CNJ yard soon became much larger,
as this was right around the time the breaker was built...
... for example, check out this photo (external link) from the site mentioned below...
(In the external photo, the LV line is shown approaching the CNJ ROW at the left) - the view looks north...
This was taken from just north of the same location of my photo (looking north from North Preston Drive) above.


A "must see" are the other great shots of the area on the lower half of THIS  page on the site.

And finally, a more detailed annotated area map, expanding on the "key" map at the top of the page.
I hope you have found this information to be informative, and I welcome feedback in the form of additional background info/dates
or any corrections that may be needed. Additional info and/or photos may be added to this page later...


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