Frank's Photography Site
Wickes Lumber siding - CNJ Franklin Branch - 5/20 & 5/21/2013 - Wilkes-Barre, PA
The CNJ Franklin Branch ran from Franklin Junction in South Wilkes-Barre to the Franklin Breaker area just east
of Wilkes-Barre Township Blvd, and the Lehigh Valley also had trackage rights over it.
Franklin Junction was along the main CNJ/LV tracks at the East Division Street/West Liberty Street crossing.
Just north of Franklin Junction, the CNJ Buttonwood Branch crossed a bridge over Solomon Creek and joined the mainline
from the northwest. At the grade crossing, the Franklin Branch split off to the east. There was a tower there at one time.
After that, the line crossed Gilligan St just below the corner of Spruce St. From there it approximated the path of Luzerne St
and went under the still extant underpass below Hazel St just south of McLean St.
After continuing on its private ROW (still there but devoid of tracks), it crossed Blackman at New Frederick.
You can see the ROW in both directions here, a gravel road going west and a wide grassy strip heading east.
Just past that, behind the car wash and school bus yard, it ran in what is now a thickly overgrown creek bed area,
crossing Casey St (where it once crossed over the CNJ Nanticoke Branch), and continuing in the creek bed to W-B
Township Blvd. After crossing the highway, it ran to the coal yards a short distance further,
crossing between Allan Rd and Johnson St under the I-81 overpass to the coal field/breaker just southeast.
Please also visit my second page on the Franklin Branch for additional photos of both the west end and the Franklin Breaker area.
The industrial siding which once served Wickes Lumber (later Valley Lumber) off Blackman St begins in the ravine
behind PNC Bank just north of Blackman on Wilkes-Barre Twp Blvd. In the first part of this set we begin there
and head towards the fenced-in area of the abandoned lumberyard.
Here we approach the gate under which the tracks run...
Looking through the fence, we can see that the siding is in a depressed area so that the doors of the boxcars
were level with the lumberyard pavement. A gentleman I've worked with also worked there at one time,
he told me he believed the line was in operation into the early 1980's and they were still receiving carload lumber.
According to a Conrail assets map, the branch was sold to Pocono Northeast Railway on 9/24/82,
but it's unclear how long it remained in service. Now, only this industrial siding remains.
At the end of the siding are two iron "stops", to prevent the cars from rolling any further.
On Casey Ave, you can see where the branch line itself would have run, there are two hunks of concrete here,
and inside, just a narrow rocky trail along a creek bed.
Looking east at Blackman & New Frederick, this grassy strip was once the Franklin Branch ROW...
...and looking west towards the street corner from further in.
At Blackman & New Frederick looking southwest where the line once crossed diagonally, an abandoned power pole is still standing,
and behind the tan house you see at the corner, a gravel road continues on what was once the ROW.
I spoke with the woman who lived there, she said that though she's only been there since 1999, she believes that the tracks
came out around the time that the Mohegan Sun Arena was built (1998), and they buried a new sewer main for it along the ROW.
At the Hazle St underpass (just below McLean)... the first view shows the east side of the bridge. The second view looks east,
where the former ROW is a grassy strip interrupted by a side street. The wooden pole you see appears to be a clearance warning for
the underpass. The third view is looking down from the west side of the underpass, a lot of trash thrown down on the bed,
but you can also see a bit of the stonework of the original abutment.
Here's a map of the vicinity, the Wickes siding is at the lower center, the grassy trace at the left...
...and an aerial photo with annotations. This was taken from a portion of a Penn Pilot photo dated May 6, 1959.
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