Frank's Photography Site
West Pittston & Exeter Railroad & Lehigh Valley Coxton Bridge area - July 2013
On this page, I will cover the remnants of the WP&E, as well as the area around the Lehigh Valley Coxton Bridge.
The West Pittston & Exeter Railroad was constructed between July 1, 1925, and March 1, 1927 as a coal supply line
for the Stanton, PA power plant, a distance of 2.245 miles north from the junction made with the DL&W line
just south of its West Pittston bridge over the Susquehanna River. In later years it was operated by the PP&L (electric utility)
until the power plant closed and was demolished. One source mentions that the power plant was destroyed in the 1972 Agnes Flood.
One or more of the piers of the Coxton bridge was also damaged by the flood, and was taken out of use (& rails removed) around 1982.
The most damaged pier lost even more stone blocks in the 2011 flood. After PP&L, the Lehigh Valley operated the WP&E line for a while,
until it fell into the hands of Conrail in 1976. Conrail sold it to the Pocono Northeast Railway on 9/24/82.
In 1988, the line still served the newsprint warehouse on Ann Street, as well as the Celotex (ceiling tile) plant in Harding.
The PNE, in turn, went bankrupt in September, 1993, and the Luzerne Susquehanna assumed operation of the line, while it lasted.
The Celotex plant was still operating in 1999, closed down shortly afterwards, and was demolished prior to 2008.
The WP&E rails under the Coxton Bridge (known as "Forest Castle Junction") were removed in 2008.
Here's the junction along the former DL&W Bloomsburg Branch, where the WP&E branches off to the left.
Looking northeast here, you can barely see the DL&W Susquehanna River bridge in the distance.
Here's a closer vantage point where the WP&E line curves off to the north:
Just north of the junction, looking back south:
Here's the crossing at Ann Street, a block away, and the building ahead is now a parcel handling facility.
In the past, it was a newsprint facility served by the WP&E line, service was restored to it (reportedly) in 1988.
Here you can see the switch set for the siding, which ends at the end of the building.
The main track continues at a slightly higher level, which you see among the trees in the second photo.
The next photo is the Elm Street crossing, and this is the end of the contiguous track. In the following 3 photos,
we can see the line crossing a field, where there was a brief section of double-track at one time. Some ties remain in the ground,
but there's also a huge pile to the right (all photos looking north). Beyond that, we pass between some back yards and a cemetary.
Between the houses and the cemetary, the rails resume through the woods until we arrive at the next street.
Here we cross Wilkern Street, with "Big Top Rentals", and the rails come to and end. I found no more rails
north of this point along the line. In the third photo we are looking back at the same crossing, with the cemetary
entrance to the left. Reportedly, the rails were removed beyond this point in 2008.
Beyond this point, the ROW passes alongside the levee system, but there are still quite a few ties in the ground.
After this section, the ROW passes into the woods once again as a trail.
After this, I went up to the LV Coxton Bridge area, where there are quite a few interesting things to see.
In this photo, taken from Route 92 just north of the bridge, you can see the pier that's suffered the most damage,
and has lost quite a few more stone blocks just during the 2011 flood.
Some of the stonework through the trees, and across the road is a building that many believe may have once been a beer factory.
To get a great perspective of what this spot looked like at one time, here's a photo (probably taken in the late 1960's)
looking north on Route 92 at the Lehigh Valley overpass. Someone found this photo at the Luzerne County Historical Society.
Straight ahead, the LV line crosses over the road on an angle off the bridge and proceeds into the woods southwest (left).
The line you see to the right is the WP&E connector, which ends at a switch going off to the right onto the bridge approach.
This connector is elevated through here with concrete retaining walls on both sides, but the WP&E main track (which continued north
from here) was down (unseen) at a lower level off to the right, with an underpass under the bridge approach. The switch for the split
would have been several hundred feet behind us, to allow for a gradual gain in elevation.
Here's looking back (south) from just north that same spot today. The gray wall at the left was installed after the rail overpass
was removed. You can also see the walkway port which passes under the WP&E elevated grade, with its open gate swung out.
Across the road, near the abandoned beer building, there are some concrete ruins in the woods, and it seems that
there was a spur leading up to it (third photo), which would have been a backup move.
Just south, you can see the main LV (northeast) grade that once continued across the road heading directly for the bridge.
Route 92 is just ahead of us at a lower level, running left and right in the area just past the end of the trees.
Turning around to the southwest, the LV line continued through this cut to Exeter & Kingston. I'll cover that line on a separate page.
Back on Route 92 (south of the bridge looking north), the WP&E connector emerges from behind some properties and begins its climb.
Going through the walkway, and turning left (north), you can see where the WP&E main track passed under the bridge approach.
Before proceeding ahead, I turned around and went south for a while to see if I could locate the spot where the switch would have been.
If you look closely at the first photo, you'll notice a "clearance" or "tickler"-type metal frame over the ROW.
No luck finding the switch spot, as the neighbors seemed to have altered the land a bit. But I did find a long-faded sign
(third photo) where the connector had already separated from the main track (looking north again at that point).
Approaching the bridge again, I took a couple pictures from the south (east) side.
In the second photo you can clearly see the very damaged second pier.
The underpass had some concrete missing from the ceiling, but there were still some ties inside. The first two photos
are looking north, and the third is looking back from the other end.
On the elevated WP&E approach, almost all the ties are in place, but the weeds and trees are overgrowing the railbed.
This photo looks southwest along the exact path where the LV highway overpass once was in place.
Turning around, the bridge deck is just ahead, taken from the edge, and zoomed in from the edge in the second photo.
There are still some sections of inner guard rail in place.
Going north, I didn't find any remnants of the ROW anywhere I tried. This picture looks back at Route 92 along what was once
the entrance road to the Celotex plant in Harding. There's a very faded stop sign ahead where it meets the highway. Behind me,
and in most of the surrounding area, were quite a few huge cornfields, and the farmers seem to have plowed away most of what was left.
Further north, past the power substation and around another curve, large power lines cross the river.
This is where I'm fairly sure the old power plant once was. In the second photo, I turned to my right, looking south
along Route 92 from the same spot. There was a very tall, older metal tower here.
Left of the first photo (just above) was a good-sized cleared area, with quite a bit of sawdust or mulch spread around.
At the left of that area I quickly spied this old bumper stop... a good possibility that someone left this here
as a reminder of the end of the line, as this is pretty much where it would have been.
Heading back, I took one more photo of the bridge in the distance off Route 92, this time from the north side.
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