Frank's Photography Site
Lehigh Valley line west side remnants - Exeter to Kingston - July 2013
On this page, I will cover the remnants of the Lehigh Valley line on the west side of the Susquehanna River,
which covers the area from the Coxton Bridge to the one-time terminus in Kingston. I have already covered the Coxton Bridge
(and the junction with the former WP&E there) on the "West Pittston & Exeter" page, so now we are continuing southwest on the line.
The majority of this line was still intact (at least) into the 1980's. In 1980-81, Conrail decided to sell off its trackage
known as the "Wilkes-Barre Cluster", and around 1982 the "Pocono Northeast Railway" started up, purchased, and soon began operations
of many of these lines. According to a Conrail assets map from April, 1983, the PNER acquired the WP&E line on 9/24/82.
According to a Conrail bulletin dated 11/22/83, the PNER acquired operating responsibility for the rest of these lines,
as well as ex-Erie and ex-L&WV trackage (Avoca and Scranton areas). In the early 80's, the PNER re-aligned 12 miles of track
on the west side, installed 7600 new ties, along with new switches and bridge repairs, at a cost of $1 Million.
Due to the total mileage, I'm assuming that BOTH the ex-LV trackage (formerly the Conrail "Pittston Industrial")
and the ex-DL&W trackage (formerly the Conrail "Kingston Industrial Track") along with a few other spurs
were included in the work. Note that the DL&W trackage west of Edwardsville (Kingston) had already been abandoned by Conrail and
dismantled by the late 70's. By the early 1980's, the Coxton Bridge was also put out of service due to structural damage,
and the rails removed. The WP&E line under the west side of the Coxton Bridge approach probably operated until around 1999 or so,
when the Celotex plant in Harding was shuttered (see my WP&E page for more info).
This left two main lines operating across the west side in the 80's, the former DL&W Bloomsburg Line segment and the former
LV West Pittston Branch, originally about 7 miles each. It also seems likely by this time that 4 miles of the
LV west side trackage were already abandoned and never used by the PNER, the segment from just west of 8th Street in Wyoming
to the end of the line in Kingston, though some tracks still remain. I'm not sure how much of this segment was simply abandoned
by Conrail or portions of the trackage removed as well. Just west of 8th street, a "new" connector was put in place
across to the ex-DL&W line, eliminating the need for that segment.
In Kingston, just the 3/10 mile comprising mostly the industrial area along Brook Street was listed as active LV trackage in 1983.
For much of the distance, the two lines paralleled each other, sometimes coming as close as a block (or less) apart.
In addition to these main lines, there were also three spurs of note, each of which still retain a few rail remnants:
1) A segment of the ex-LV Bowman's Creek Branch - from Luzerne to Forty Fort, about 1/2 mile in length.
Also part of this line was the "West Side Connecting Track" (1.2 miles).
2) The ex-DL&W Pettibone Branch (.8 miles), from a switch just west of Route 309 east to a building materials business just off Route 11.
3) The ex-DL&W "Harry E" branch (.5 miles), from the DL&W line running northwest (just east of Slocum Street) in Kingston,
though the breaker went inactive around 1970. I will cover these three spurs on a separate page.
Having covered the Coxton Bridge area on the WP&E page (see section index page), I will continue west along the line.
With the bridge approach a short distance behind us, the Lehigh Valley West Pittston Branch passed through this cut to Exeter.
Looking back northeast towards where we were in the previous photo, the line would have come straight at us...
...and turning around would cross the smaller (parallel) Exeter Avenue (right) just off Route 92 (left).
Shortly afterwards, the tracks resume in the woods as we head southwest towards the junction of Route 92 with Slocum Avenue.
Here's a map of the general area we are now covering (just above point A). Just above the top of the letter "A" was the location
of the PNER "headquarters", and "B" is the location of the (removed) Hicks Creek bridge (both covered below).
Looking north (still north of Slocum Street), the tracks were left intact through a flood gate, with some sandbags over
the rails on the other side. When this was installed, there may have been a possibility the rails would see future use.
Looking southwest from just below that point, the rails pass behind a building. You can see the Slocum Ave. crossing in the distance.
This small, nondescript building was once the headquarters of the Pocono Northeast Railway. The first photo is a current view,
and the second photo (cropped from a Hank Rogers photo) shows the PNER headquarters in the 1990's, with their railbus and
locomotive 87. Here's a snippet from Mike Rushton's "PNER Timeline": "Early 90's - Steamtown sells Railbus to PNER.
Plans were to run service from Downtown Wilkes-Barre to new mall in Scranton, or from Parsons and Plains to downtown Wilkes-Barre.
Plans fell thru, Railbus broke down and they could not get parts because it was a prototype unit - one of a kind.
The railbus unit is now housed at the Connecticut Trolley museum." The PNER went bankrupt in September 1993.
At that time, I'm assuming the entire LV line from just above the PNER headquarters to the connection with the DL&W
Bloomsburg Branch (just west of 8th Street in Wyoming) was still operable and in fairly good condition.
Here you can see the tracks cross Slocum Avenue, at the point where it meets Route 92. Crossbucks are still in place.
At Stevens Lane (further west), the crossing is still in place, and you can see a siding leading directly into the building at the right.
Turning around and going just east, the tracks disappear into the brush. Just beyond this point, the railroad bridge over Hicks Creek
is gone and the rails removed in that vicinity heading northeast. Now, some flood control apparatus in in place, severing the line.
From this point southwest, from all indications, the tracks continue through the woods uninterrupted to Wyoming.
Here's a current aerial view of the vicinity:
After this, the ROW continues through the woods for about 1/2 mile, paralleling the back side of the Fox Hill Country Club,
also keeping east of Hicks Creek. The next crossing is at Packer Avenue, and here we're looking north. A neighbor there said
he recalls when a brush cleaning operation came through, but that was probably at least several years ago.
The map below covers the area from the above photo to the end of LV track just west of 8th Street, covered in the next several photos.
Since the line still shows as "existing" on Google Maps, you can easily follow it without any added highlighting.
We are now tracing the portion from top right to lower left on the map as we head west along the line.
At Jean Street (next 2 photos), thought was given not to cover over the tracks in recent sidewalk work.
At Lincoln Street there's an older crossing, then you can find the tracks (digging through the weeds)
looking west towards Schooley Avenue in the distance.
Here are three views of the crossing at Schooley Avenue, looking across, then east, then west.
After that, there was a long stretch (well over 1/2 mile) with no crossings, partly running in the woods adjacent to
another golf course and behind a trailer park, then past a junkyard. The line would have been a bit tricky to access,
so I skipped it for now. The next street crossing was West 6th Street in Wyoming:
Between West 6th Street and West 8th Street, an old LV Bridge still runs across Abraham's Creek. The first photo looks back (east)
towards where we were in the last photo, and the second shows some newer retaining wall work, looking north at the bridge.
At West 8th Street, there are number of buildings now comprising "Diamond Perforated Metals", formerly Wyoming Shovel
and Nelson Furniture. They were already in place well before 1940, as they show up on the 1939 Penn Pilots aerial photo.
The DL&W line is nearly adjacent to the LV at this point, and there were once "Wyoming" passenger stations here
for both lines, less than a block apart. With our back to 8th Street, looking north into the Diamond property, we're looking
east. The company put a section of concrete barrier on top of the track, a bit beyond that point is the bridge we just saw.
Here's the LV West 8th Street crossing, then looking west from it:
From a bit further west looking back towards West 8th Street, the rails are intact through the weeds.
Turning around towards the west, the dark area at the left is the connector over to the DL&W line, which is intact.
This did not exist traditionally, but was put in place at some point probably during the Conrail timeframe, to allow for
abandonment of the LV line west of here. Send me some feedback if you know more details on this. The former LV ROW
continues straight ahead, trackless, and there's a flood control building ahead in the distance.
Here are three shots of the connector, each looking east. The first is of the switch on the DL&W line,
and the next two as we progress through the woods back over to the Lehigh Valley side. So basically, the line going
from this point back to the crossing at Stevens Lane (earlier) is the only main segment which could be potentially reused.
Next, I'm going to cover the rest of the LV line from Wyoming to Kingston. This segment was probably abandoned during the Conrail years
prior to PNER taking over, as it was not on the mileage list that PNER picked up in 1983. This segment is 4 miles long, but plenty
of remnants remain to this day. Here's a map covering part of this next area, following the red line (abandoned LV segment):
Though I couldn't find any other tracks on this segment, here's a piece crossing Swetland Lane,
a dirt road at this point. This is at point "A" on the map above.
At Stiles Street (point "B"), looking east there's just a trail into the woods, with no trace of the ROW, except for cracks
in the pavement. But looking west, we can see where the ROW once passed through this neighborhood.
At "C", Owen Street, looking east, we can see the path of the ROW coming towards us. There's a building to the left with a
"sidewalk disruption" in front of it, and just beyond the fence you see, there are still some ties in the grass (third photo
looking west). Beyond this point, a trace of the ROW is still visible in aerial views, but a few homeowners have encroached
onto it. From Kossack Street to a few blocks north of point "D", the ROW runs through a wooded strip, which I haven't checked yet.
On the west side of Shoemaker Street (point "D"), the remains of a crossbuck or gate next to the sidewalk. The ROW crossed
along the dirt area where the sidewalk ends. Going to the right here (west), there's actually some trackage to be found for a while,
going into the woods. On the east side of the street, though (not shown), a newer house was built right on top of the ROW,
and behind that a recreation park where the land was reworked for a couple of blocks.
Here's a map of the next section:
At Dana Street, looking east towards Shoemaker, there are still a few sections of track in the grass here.
Turning around (west), the tracks end, but we can follow the ROW for a long block to Tripp street, where there's another
couple of sections visible. There's another county "railroad property" sign, looking west from Tripp Street in the third photo.
At Slocum Street, looking east, several ties remain in the grass here, and there's an industrial parking lot to the right.
In the back of the parking lot, the LV ROW followed these power lines ahead (east) towards Tripp Street. Just beyond this point,
the DL&W "Harry E" coal branch crossed perpendicularly across the LV line and then made a long curve east for its junction
with the DL&W Bloomsburg branch, which I'll cover on another page. There are still some extant tracks on that branch.
At the back of the parking lot though, there is also a series of ties curving to the right, which indicates that there was once
an LV connector here to the DL&W, merging onto the last section of the "Harry E" branch before its junction with the Bloom.
This was not a traditional connector, but probably put in place as a "fix" when the old connector ("Maltby Junction") was razed
to build the apartments you see there. Actually, the label "Maltby" is probably not correct for this spot, as Maltby was another
colliery almost 2 miles northeast - sometimes these errors crop up on my source information.
After this photo is an aerial view from Google Earth dated 3/31/2005 to clarify.
Looking west at Slocum Street, the LV line continued ahead into the area of large trees you see at the left. There was also
a short connector branching off to the right (at one time), where you see the gravel road. This connected to the LV Bowman's
Creek Branch which ran perpendicular to the West Pittston Branch a short distance ahead in the woods. The DL&W line is just a few
yards away through this area, so the main Bowman's Creek tracks would have crossed both lines on diamond crossings.
In this wooded area a few hundred feet east of Eley Street, I didn't find anything left of the Bowman's Creek branch,
but there were some sections of LV West Pittston Branch track, and this partially buried culvert with a date of 1890:
At the end of Miller Street (center of the map above), is what remains of "E. W. Roberts Sons, est. 1888 - Roofing", and it looks
like the loading door at the left was once served by rail. There are some track remnants in the ground here.
A block away from the above photo (looking east), track sections on both sides of Charles Street (and vicinity).
Looking east at Bennett Street, then east from a block below (Walnut & Vaughn), where there's a block-long drainage facility.
Looking west from the same spot, you can see the reserved ROW area as it passes under the 309 Expressway,
a mail carrier has parked his truck under the bridge and is taking a nap there.
On the other side of 309, there's no trace of the ROW. It ran along Factory Street for one block, then an unnamed street across
Union Street. After that, a huge levee project obliterated the area. Just east of Division Street, the levee comes to an end.
In the second photo, you can barely see the DL&W ROW in the far distance, straight ahead at a switch. The DL&W is now abandoned
below this point, and the track you see is a connector coming across onto the LV ROW. This area is still fully connected via
the DL&W line and could be put in service again, but has not served any customers for years.
A closer shot of the switch coming off the ex-DL&W line, also looking east:
Turning around to the west, this last remaining segment runs alongside Brook Street into an industrial area,
terminating inside the gates at Mid-State Lumber.
Turning around east again, there's another spur going off to the north at what looks to be a Wise (chip) warehouse.
This spur circles around these buildings and soon ends at a fence further up north off Division Street. An interesting fact
about this spur was that it once continued just a bit further north to the East Boston Colliery off Division Street.
Here's the final map showing the end of the line:
The Brook Street Industrial area on the former LV side ends east of Pringle Street and there are no more (extant) LV tracks to the west.
The DL&W line is abandoned west of Division Street, and there are several areas of ties as well as a few track remnants all the way
to Main Street in Edwardsville, the site of the DL&W roundhouse that was razed in 2007. There was quite a bit more trackage still
in place on the DL&W side through here at least through 2008. The industrial track which remains along Brook Street was always a spur,
as the main LV ROW was slightly south, on the other side of a row of trees and a quite a few line poles that still stand today.
Here, looking west from just below Division Street, the LV line continued straight ahead, with the DL&W just offscreen to the left.
Additional information from the (then) "Borough of Kingston" dated 5/5/1954 may indicate that the Brook Street spur was put into
service that year: "The Lehigh Valley Railroad shall be permitted to have access and egress for railroad siding across Brook Street
as shown by sketch bearing the legend "proposed side track to serve warehouse vicinity of Division Street, Kingston, Pennsylvania,
scale one (1) inch = one hundred (100) feet, April 29, 1954," now on file with the Borough Secretary and incorporated by reference thereto."
Looking west from Pringle Street, the LV line once continued straight through here, also with the DL&W (further) off to the left.
This last area is where the history gets a bit uncertain for me, and if anyone knows, please fill me in. Take a look at this crop
from a Penn Pilots aerial view dated May 6, 1959. It's very similar (and also not quite clear) as the one from 1939:
Both the DL&W and LV coal spurs into the Kingston No. 4 Colliery are drawn on accurate paths, but I'm not sure about the timeframe
of the LV line west of Pringle Street. Also, the dotted red line at the lower left was supposedly the continuation of the final leg
of the LV line west to a small industrial area west of Main Street in Edwardsville, which may have paralleled another DL&W coal spur
coming off the Bloomsburg branch further west. The source map I got this from had some major inaccuracies in this area, and even if
there weren't a rail line through there, you would still see the gray line due to Toby's Creek following the same path.
But I'll continue through here with what may be some photographic evidence.
Here's the last 1959 aerial view of the area in question:
At Laurel and South Roosevelt Streets, I found this huge concrete pillar, and the ROW would have passed about 40 feet behind us.
That would have put the LV ROW running in the front of these buildings (seen from near the end of Lawrence Street),
looking east in the first photo and west in the second (from the same location). In the second photo, it would have
passed between the two fences and to the left of the large white house.
Further past the end of Lawrence street, looking east, the main ROW (I believe) did not pass through here, but did continue
straight ahead in the distance, after passing by on the left side of the buildings ahead.
Turning around here, the grassy area continues, and just past the trees to the left is a short gravel path coming onto Cuba Street,
so I can't rule out there once having been a short spur here, if indeed this area was ever rail-related at all.
Looking east on Main Street in Edwardsville about mid-way between Zerby and Center Avenues,
the ROW would have passed through here:
After that, it would have crossed over Russell Street and into this nearly abandoned industrial area, though it may have passed
behind these buildings rather than in front of them. The end of track would have been north of Plymouth Street,
with a DL&W coal spur running (possibly) parallel to it a bit to the west.
That's all for this long set, thanks for visiting, and please contact me if you have anything to add or correct...
Please close this window to return to the previous page, or
HERE for the section index page...