Frank's Photography Site
CNJ Nanticoke Branch (central portion) - May-June, 2013 - Wilkes-Barre, PA
The CNJ Nanticoke Branch ran from Gardners switch in Miners Mills to Nanticoke and Wanamie.
On this page we will be exploring the section of the branch from south of Coal Street to where it entered Ashley.
Just south of Coal Street, the line ran through what are now the properties of Walgreens, Pep Boys and Sheetz
along Wilkes-Barre Township Boulevard. According to a source, the line from the Pep Boys property southward
was still in use into the late 1980's, while everything north of there was abandoned in the 1960's.
Adjacent to the south fence of Sheetz we can begin following the old ROW just off the highway towards Northampton Street.
In the second photo you can see some ties, as well as a few track plates and spikes in the ground if you look carefully.
The gravel road soon veers off the ROW onto S Diamond St, so there is nothing more to see after that point,
although there may be a few things hidden in the tall weeds.
At the "Electro Mecanico" repair shop on Northampton, the line actually ran very close to the east side of the building.
Now, with our back to the shop, we are looking across Northampton Street southward,
and a gravel road marks the continuation of the ROW where my car is parked.
Just behind the guard rail you see at the left of the above photo, I found a pair of (removed) tracks in the brush.
Beyond that point, the dirt road continues, but the tracks have all been removed and the land reconfigured as it passes through a junkyard.
Further south, the ROW joined Casey Avenue at the curve in the road,
and ran along the west margin of the road as it approached Blackman Street.
If you drive down Casey Ave from K-Mart to where the road straightens out and begins to head directly towards Blackman,
there's a junkyard property gate, and you can find some tracks in the woods along the fence to the north (right) of there.
They only go a short distance, and most are buried. In the second photo you can see both tracks clearly,
as there happened to be a narrow walking path at this spot.
Further south, looking directly south towards Blackman, we can follow the tracks for a good bit along the west shoulder of the road.
They seem to have been left in place here, but being a wet area, much of this stretch is covered in grass and silt.
In the last photo above, you can see that we are approaching a driveway for a small industrial area.
The tracks continue to that point and a bit beyond, but were removed after just a short section beyond the driveway.
A bit beyond this point would have been the crossing over the Franklin Branch, but no trace remains of that.
At the corner of Blackman Street and Casey, there's a school bus yard entrance, and the tracks appear again here,
looking north with Blackman behind us (photos 1 & 2), and from a point a bit north off Blackman (third photo) looking south.
Going across Blackman Street, there is still a hump where the grade crossing once was, but the tracks seem to have been long paved over.
Looking south from the edge of Blackman, the tracks begin again in earnest, and there is still a sign guarding the freshly mowed ROW:
"NO TRESPASSING - Railroad Property & Private Property - Violators Will Be Prosecuted - Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority"
You will see instances of this same sign many times all over the county where I took photos on my other tours.
Actually, the tracks are intact from here all the way to the next street, Nicholson Street, and run alongside a small public park.
The tracks end at Nicholson St, and the street ahead of us was redeveloped (looking south towards the Nicholson St crossing).
A few blocks further south, the tracks appear again going across East Liberty St (looking south) next to a small commercial building,
and continue across the street where someone buried quite a bit of the ROW with yard waste as we progress further.
I believe the tracks are buried along here as you cross the next street (Columbia Ave) and head towards Newport.
At East Newport Street we're in for a pleasant surprise, the tracks come out of the woods on the north side of the street
and cross the street with the rails intact and fully exposed across the pavement, plus the concrete bases for the crossing gates
are still present on both sides of the street. Then the line continues exposed, well manicured and looking seviceable for an entire block
to Marcy Court, where the rails to the south succomb once again to the neighbors' yard work.
From there south, the ROW climbs in elevation with respect to the adjacent streets. After one long block with the tracks buried
in private backyards, we are in for another surprise. At Conyngham Street, there is actually an old bridge carrying the abandoned rails
over the street. I took these next 5 photos on October 23, 2011. These were all taken in the immediate vicinity of the bridge.
On May 22, 2013 I approached this bridge from the south again. Here you can see the level of Conyngham Street
with respect to the ROW, judging by the yellow house at the right. One of the neighbors had recently come through here with a weed eater.
South of here, the rails continued uninterrupted through the woods, although heavily overgrown with brush.
The ROW distances itself further back from Ashley's North Main Street and drops back down to ground level.
After a distance of about 500+ feet we come to the next street, West Hartford Street,
and the tracks can be found just past the last homes on both sides of the street, though interrupted or buried across the street.
These three photos show just north of, across, and just below West Hartford Street.
Just below Church Lane, the rails end again in a large pile of fill, shortly after this point...
...and the reason for this dawned on me when I came back the next day.
Just to the right of the Ashley Municipal building on North Main Street,
the CNJ Mainline (to the "Backtrack" line) crossed the street at grade at one time,
while the Nanticoke branch crossed under the street,
under the bridge you still see there today. So at this spot in the woods,
the Nanticoke Branch had another underpass under the main line.
This was buried and filled at some point due to safety concerns,
and all you can still see is a bit of the stonework protruding on one side.
On the other (southwest) side of the fill, there are still a few rails in bits and pieces as we continue toward the extant street underpass.
Then, just some ties remaining before arriving at the bridge, after which the land was graded into a bit of a trail.
I will stop here, and continue with a page specifically for Ashley, as the trackage in this town
was a bit complex and requires a discussion of its own...
Here's a map of the lower part of the area explored, to help with approximating the photo locations.
On this map, "north" is to the left side of the map.
We are following the course of the yellow line (CNJ Nanticoke Branch) from the top left to lower right:
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