back to trains    email alex.charyna@gmail.com

Perkiomen Branch / Perkiomen Railroad

The Reading's Perkiomen Branch was a parallel route to the North Penn Branch between the Philadelphia area and the Lehigh Valley. The Perk branch ran between Perkiomen Junction (near the confluence of the Perkiomen Creek and the Schuylkill River) and Emmaus, near Allentown. The branch parallels the Perkiomen Creek for most of its length. Geographically, it runs north-south, but timetable wise, it's east-west. West bound is north.

  • Railfanning

  • History

    The Perkiomen was incorporated on 23 April 1852 as the Norristown & Freemansburg Railroad. In 1854, the company changed its name to Norristown & Allentown Railroad. The company finally settled on the name Perkiomen Railroad Company on 23 March 1865. The P&R acquired control of the line and leased it in 1865, but cancelled the lease in 1879 after the acquisition of the North Pennsylvania Railroad. The Perkiomen went bankrupt in 1887, and the P&R reacquired control. The line was formally merged into the Reading Company on 31 December 1945.[2].
    The railroad's construction was financed by 20 year bonds costing $100/each. The Philadelphia and Reading bought 60% of these, giving them a controlling interest.
    The first phase from Oaks to Collegeville was completed in 1868.[12] Tracks were laid in Schwenkville the following year. In 1872, the line was extended to Green Lane. The railroad arrived in Red Hill in 1874. It was completed to Emmaus in September of 1875.

    More history from a Perkiomen Trail court case.

      1. The Perkiomen Railroad Company acquired the Perkiomen Branch pursuant to the General Railroad Law of 1849, Act of February 19, 1849, P. L. 79 §18 by releases obtained from various property owners or by condemnation during the period of 1867 to 1883.

      2. On September 9, 1852 - Act 265 of 1852 is passed by the Pennsylvania legislature. This act provides for the incorporation of the Norristown and Freemansburg Railroad Company, a predecessor in interest to the Perkiomen Railroad. This act grants the corporation the right to build or locate a railroad and provides for the capital stock of such company.

      3. On April 6, 1854, Act 618 was passed by the Pennsylvania legislature, under which the Norristown and Freemansburg Railroad Company changed its name to Norristown and Allentown Railroad Company.

      4. On March 23, 1865, Act 741 was passed by the Pennsylvania legislature, under which the Norristown and Allentown Railroad Company became the Perkiomen Railroad Company.

      5. During 1868, the Perkiomen Railroad acquired rights of way through the following instruments:

        15 properties - fee parcels
        6 properties - condemnation
        94 properties - releases
        2 properties - preliminary agreements
        1 property - jury award
        Total of 118 original properties

      8. The Perkiomen Railroad Company by agreement of merger dated July 24, 1945, effective December 31, 1945, and recorded in Montgomery County Recorder of Deeds Office at Norristown, Pennsylvania in Charter Book 5, Page 390, merged into and became part of the Reading Company.

      9. From the dates of acquisition of said right of way until December 18, 1978, the Perkiomen Branch was owned and operated as a railroad by the Reading Company or its predecessors in interest as a public highway as a railroad for the conveyance of passenger and/or freight pursuant to §18 of the General Railroad Law of 1849, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Interstate Commerce Act, as amended, 49 U.S.C. §10101 et seq.

      10. In 1976, the Reading Railroad Company filed for bankruptcy and transferred most of its assets to CONRAIL.

    In the steam days, it was a major freight route. After dieselization, it served only local industries. [3] A major factor in it's demise was the loss of Allentown-Philadelphia traffic due to the opening of the Blandon Low Grade line. It was cheaper and easier to go farther to go through Reading than through Schwenksville. The branch survived until Conrail, and was used into the early 1980s.

    The lower end between Oaks and Red Hill was abandoned. Ken Houseal comments,

      As for track and tie removal, Reading lifted all the rails to send them to a plant to weld them into ribbon rail for mainline use. They were desperate to rebuild the crumbling mainlines and the rail on the Perky had been re-laid with heavy rail when it was rebuilt to handle the Reading's biggest locos. This was just before the Great Depression. The branch never saw heavy use after the depression and the stick rails were perfect for reuse on the mains. Local businesses and communities were outraged at this "Back Door Abandonment" as it was called. This was due to the rail salvage operation not requiring PUC approval. Reading Company countered that when the railroad was needed all they had to do was relay it with new rail as all the ties and equipment were still in place. That lasted a few weeks. As soon as people got wind of all those landscaping ties that were available free for the taking the roadbed was stripped in short order. Gradually fans and scrappers soon removed the crossing signals and other signage along the ROW. Conrail and Mother nature has taken care of the rest.

    The upper end of the branch is still being served by the East Penn Railroad.

    Between Oaks and the Green Lane reservoir, it is now a hiking trail.

  • Assorted Documentation and Commentary

    • 1836 Map of SE Pennsylvania

      Found on an old Pennsylvania map site. It may be wishful thinking on my part, but that red line paralleling the Schuylkill then making a right turn near Trappe and then up towards Allentown could be the first thoughts of a Norristown & Freemansburg Railroad.

    • 1852 Map of the planned Norristown and Allentown Railroad

      From part of a Library of Congress map.
      Not a map of the ROW, but somewhat of a plan of it. The plan looks like it was a an extension of the Norristown & Philadelphia RR up the east bank of the Schuylkill River. This configuration was later adopted by the Pennsylvania railroad as part of it's Schuylkill Valley branch. Somewhere near St Gabe's the railroad would follow the Perkiomen Creek on the east side, opposite to the current layout.
      It would follow the east bank of the Perkiomen Creek until somewhere between Collegeville and Yerkes, cross to the west bank, then follow the Goshenhoppen and Saucon Creeks to meet the North Penn (Bethlehem Branch) railroad.[12]

    • 1873 Map of the Perkiomen Railroad

      From part of a Library Of Congress map.
      At this time, the Perk Branch reaches only as far as Green Lane. The Perkiomen Railroad had decided to connect to the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad at what's now called Perkiomen Junction. This was at the urging of the P&R.[12]
      This map also shows a plan to connect the Colebrookdale branch with the Perk at Hosensack. Looking at the some topo maps show that if the Colebrookdale Branch been extended from Barto to Bally, then Clayton, it could have picked up the Perkiomen Creek and met at a junction near Palm. But the map shows Hosensack right? The confluence of the Hosensack and Perkiomen Creeks is just south of Palm.
      Also, the map shows a connection to the Bethlehem Branch with a junction planned on the Perk just south of Vera Cruz, north of the tunnel. I'm no expert on the Bethlehem Branch, but the 1902 maps show a spur from Saucon to Lanark. This is about 4 miles from Vera Cruz. It has favorable grades, as it follows a creek valley.

    • 1876 Map of the Perkiomen Railroad

      Found on an old Pennsylvania map site. By this time, the Perkiomen Railroad is complete end to end. Arcola is still called Doe Run, Spring Mount is still known as Frederick, Weikers and Hanover stations are also listed. I think Hanover became Red Hill.

    • 1884 Map of the Perk Branch

      From part of a Library of Congress map.
      What's interesting about this map is the trackage between Green Lane and Pennsburg. It shows (going northbound) Red Hill before McLeans, and lists two other stations, "Hanover" and "Weikers".

    • Turn of the Century News Articles

    • 1902 Topo Maps (They are HUGE, RIGHT-CLICK to download to your disk if you want to see them)

    • Mapquest Mosaic of Currently Active Branch

    • Blueprints of Perkiomen Railroad, orig. 1939 (not yet available)

    • Sanborn Maps of Collegeville, Pennsburg, East Greenville (might not be allowed to share)

  • Timetables

  • Pictures - From South to North

    • MP 0.0 - Perkiomen Junction Station

    • MP ~0.8 - Perkiomen Branch bridge over the Schuylkill River.

      Over this bridge is the connection to the former Reading Company mainline between Norristown and Reading. This is a 9 span deck girder bridge with stone approaches.

    • MP 1.0 ~ Pennsylvania RR Crossing

      • SB view towards Perkiomen Branch bridge.

        Coming in the right is the connection to the former Pennsy Schuylkill Branch. I was not able to find a diamond in the area, I suspect it has been paved over. The intersection may have been reconfigured, because the diagram linked to below, does not seem to jive with anything I saw today. By the looks of it, no trains through to the Perk Branch lately.

        NS train H3A (i think) goes from Abrams Yard to Devault via this connection. It leaves the former Reading main at Perkiomen Junction, crosses the bridge, takes the switch here, and proceeds via the old Pennsy branch to Phoenixville. From Phoenixville, it gets on the Pennsy Frazer branch for the trip down to Devault.

        Update This crossing was reconfigured in 1990 to eliminate the backup move which was necessary here.[5]

      • NB towards Oaks Station

        The former location of the diamond. Nothing left now.

      • PRR crossing shack

        This is probably the remains of the switchgear for the Creek interlocking. The Pennsy Keystone is visible on the right side. It looks like a car or truck crashed into it!

    • MP 1.6 - Oaks

      • Ken Houseal Hand Drawn Map

        Ken has been railfanning the Perk Branch since the 60s. Here's a drawing of the Oaks area from 1981. It shows the somewhat elaborate interchange between the Pennsy tracks and the Reading tracks, as well as 3 spurs in the vicinity of the crossing. Of note is the location of the old Pennsy Oaks station, on Brower road.

        Ken's commentary on the drawing:
        Tracks marked "new" appeared to be installed during the latest upgrades to the Goodrich plant not long before the plant shut-down. They were constructed with heavier rail and deep ballasted with crushed rock, not the cinders used on the original trackage. "Tracks blocked" indicates where ties were bolted across the rails. At the time I sketched the interlocking the only track that was in use was the ex-PRR Schuylkill Division. The Fleming Foods distribution center just West of Oaks was an active rail customer as was the sweetener facility in Devault.
        The old saddle tank steamer and a small industrial diesel that are stored there today were in the same location then. They are now marooned with the connecting tracks removed. As you are aware the trackage was revised to connect the PRR to the Reading creating a connection from Perkiomen Junction to Phoenixville. A switch was installed to retain access to the Oaks station trackage and generally all other trackage was removed. The revised track was renamed the Phoenixville Industrial Track. Considering that the recent construction of the roadway in front of the station retained the track(s) that remained I assume that this track was never officially abandoned just unused. One further note. The tracks were revised between June of 1981 (the sketch date) and sometime in the early 1990's. In the early 90's there were two Boston&Maine Budd RDCs stored on the passing siding in the area where the new street starts today. Prior to that they were stored in Ivyland. I do not know where they are today.

      • SB view. Montgomery Ave crossing.

      • SB view. More of Station Ave.

        At this point the track gets back on to it's own ROW. The new Lowe's and Target stores are to the left.
        A passing siding at Oaks began somewhere in here. I am standing on the mainline. The passing siding would have been on the left (east side) here. The siding extended north 2000' to north of the garden shop area.

      • Looking SB from Station

        This is the new Station Ave. I'm not sure why the tracks were paved into the street, and not paved over.

        Update - Well, I think they're not paved over because they're officially not abandoned. Prior to the 1990 crossing realignment, a train had to pull forward through here, then back up to get on the Pennsy tracks. With the short crossing, that is now not necessary. See this diagram for a visual explanation.

      • Oaks Station

        It used to be a garden shop, but now appears abandoned (though maintained). There was also a spur from the siding northbound into the station. It was probably a team track.

        It's not the first station at Oaks. The first station was located north of Egypt road, where the coal dealer is/was. It burned down on 18 January, 1872.

      • Another one of the station

      • Upper Providence Twp Brochure

        From the Ken Houseal collection.

      • Signal @ Oaks

        Afternoon lighting really sucked. Here are three pictures.

      • SB toward Perkiomen Junction

      • NB toward Arcola

      • Coal Dump

      • Coal Dump

        This is currently used by Oaks Gardens for their mulch piles. Tracks are still on the trestle, ready for a hopper. This track was accessed via the Oaks passing siding.

    • MP 2.3 - Upper Indian Head Road

      • Old bridge abutment

        The Perk Branch crossed Upper Indian Head Road on this bridge. It's interesting because it was "refinished" by the Reading Company at a later date. Presumably the Perkiomen Valley Railroad, built it with the stone, and RDG redid it in cement. This same technique is visible in a number of bridges in this area.
        If you've ever gone west on 422, just past Oaks, you see a unique looking industrial park. That's SEI investments. The construction there seemingly obliterated the entire ROW, including the other half of this bridge.

      • Overgrown ROW

        At this point, the trail runs parallel to the ROW. I climbed up and snapped this pic looking towards Arcola.

    • NB along the ROW

      The line is dead straight... because of all these cuts. At this point, it's starts to curve west, before heading north again following the creek..

    • MP 3.4 - Arcola
      Arcola's original name was "Water-Tower", then "Doe Run Station", and finally Arcola; named after the local mills at the site.[6]

      • Culvert

        Here's another example of the "re-topped" stone.

      • NB @ Cider Mill Road

        I think the station was here. But I'm not sure. There is a clearing ahead, but no signs of anything. If you're familar with the area, there is a T intersection with Arcola Road, Cider Mill, and a bridge over the Perkiomen Creek. That is all off to the right. There is also some sort of a building at that corner. I thought that might be the station, but it's too far back from the tracks.

      • SB to Station Site

        "Rustybore" says that this in fact was the station site [1]. It's the clearing from the previous picture.
        http://www.west2k.com/papix/arcola.jpg also has an ancient pic of the station as well (looking north).

      • Street side of station site

        I dont think this was the station, but it may be a related building. Chris Czop writes and says that this was part of the cider mill.

      • Storage Box?

        No idea what this is. It's on the rightside (looking NB) at the Arcola Road crossing. I dont know if it's railroad related or not. Anyone know?

        Update - 16-Aug
        This is apparently a telephone box to call the dispatcher. I'm assuming it was used mostly when heading TT East to Perk Jct. An engineer headed TT west would have to a) stop his train, short of the crossing, jog across and call; or b) stop on the crossing and call. Another person had said it could be related to the Automatic Block Signal system [2].

      • Doe Run Bridge

        Lousy picture, because access to the side is prohibited. There's a house on one side, and a long drop to the other.

    • More straight ROW

    • MP 4.45 - Culvert over unknown stream

      I walked throught the biggest spider web I've ever seen. I think it wrapped around my head completely.

    • MP 4.8 - Yerkes

    • MP 5.1 ~ Perkiomen Blvd grade crossing

      This is a newer development and road, so I'm not sure there was a grade crossing.

    • MP 6.0 - Collegeville Area

        Collegeville was named by the Perkiomen Railroad. Originally, there were two villages in this area, Perkiomen Bridge and Freeland. The railroad ran right down the middle of both. Both villages lobbied to name the station. Eventually, the railroad settled on Collegeville, after Pennsylvania Female College (not Ursinus!).[13]

        The last passenger train through here was on July 15th, 1955. The last freight train through here was in 1976, with tracks removed by 1980.[14]

      • NB @ 1st Rt 29 crossing

        This is between the CVS and the Sears shopping center. This part of the trail is one of the last to open. I was hoping to find a stray rail spike or something. Nada.
        Until the 1960s, Route 29 crossed the Perkiomen Branch on a wooden bridge similar to the one at Salford.

      • Looking northbound

        On a straight alignment from the previous shot, we hit the Collegeville Storage place. I wonder if the ROW was straight here, or just to the left, between the two fences.

      • Approaching the old station

        The station is LONG gone, replaced by the Pizza Hut you can see to the right with the red roof.

      • Station Area

        No sign of the station, I'm sure it was cleaned up by the Pizza Hut construction.

      • Old station picture

      • Looking Southbound from Station

        The Pizza Hut is to the left. The building to the right is a small indoor mall called, "Collegeville Station".

      • Old rail!

        I guess during the clearing of the trail they unearthed some old rail.

      • Looking south toward the station

        From the Harpoon Louie parking lot. You can see how elevated the ROW was compared to the parking lot. The station was at Main Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets.

      • Northbound at Powerhouse Spur

        In Collegeville, there is a spur to a coal unloading facility now called the Powerhouse. Between 1893 and 1933 the Schuylkill Valley Traction Company ran a trolley route from Manayunk through Norristown, Collegeville, Pottstown, Boyertown to Reading on Ridge Pike. This was one of the power plants for powering the overhead wire. You can see the railfan-wagon over by the trestle.
        The trolley and railroad grade crossing at Rt 29 here (in front of the Wawa) was the cause of a near riot. The Schuylkill Valley Traction Company needed to cross the railroad, much to the chagrin of the railroad. When the SVT crew layed track, the Reading trank gangs would pull it back up. Eventually, the police were called in, and a judge ruled for the trolley company.[12] The SVT stopped trolley operation in 1933, and existed as a bus company until 1976. It is now part of Septa's Frontier Division.

      • Trestle and Powerhouse

        The Powerhouse now is an antique flea-market type shopping building.

      • Upclose to the trestle

        You can still imagine a hopper up above, and the chutes opening, dumping Reading Anthracite down into the bins below.

      • Telegraph pole and box

      • Remains of old coal dealer

      • Remains of old coal dealer

      • Old sign

        The sign is so rusty, I can't tell what it is. Does this look like a Reading Company sign? What could it have said?

      • Southbound toward Collegeville, through a cut

      • Northbound toward Rahns

      • 5th Ave Grade Crossing

        From the Tom Bull collection, courtesy of Carl King.

        Carl describes the scene:
        It is the end of 5th avenue. This spot is not gone, thanks to ravages of time, and the more the recent modifications related to the RR trail.
        Up until a few years ago, this spot could be identified by a rotting, broken down old baricade. This thing was covered in vines but in the winter months, you used to be able to make out the black and white stripes of the baricade wood lying there. I knew I should have gotten a photo of this baricade before it went toatlly away!
        5th Ave in Collegeville used to run back past the current firehouse, past the current COLLEGE ARMS (if thats what they are still called) apts. and down to Gravel Pike. This streach of road had been used to put fill and trashy sort of stuff. I road back there once back in maybe 1971 with an old guy who had some debries to get rid of. We went past the College Arms apts and followed this abandon streach as long as we could and dumped his debris. When I asked him about this, he explained that this was the old 5th ave, and that it ran down and hooked up with 29 across the RR tracks. By that time it had obviously been closed for many decades!

      • Ninth Ave Crossing

        The ROW comes out of the "hills" north of Collegeville, then runs parallel to the road here for a 100 yards crossing Rt 29 a 2nd time.

      • 2nd Rt 29 Crossing

        I think that the crossing here was a very shallow angle. Does anyone remember this?

        "Rustybore" remembers, "This was a ugly crossing! The tracks and highway crossed at a very shallow angle and cars would frequently miss the bend and end up going down the tracks." [1]

    • MP 7.0 ~ ROW through a clearing (from the car)

    • MP 7.0 ~ Looking SB from that clearing

    • MP 7.5 - Rahns

    • MP 7.86 ~ Schoolhouse Run Arch bridge(from the car)

      This is also marks the southern end of the passing siding which gave access the Graterford Prison spur.

    • MP 8.1 ~ UP Caboose @ Pennsy Live Steamers

      Along the trail north of Rahns, the Pennsylvania Live Steamers have their club house and layout. They also have that UP caboose!
      Check out their website PALiveSteamers.org

    • MP 8.3 ~ NB toward Rt 29 Grade crossing

      The trail turns east toward the bridge, while the ROW and the switch to the bridge lie up ahead.

    • MP ~8.7 - Graterford Prison Spur

        Click here to see an arial photo of where the spur starts. If you follow the ROW (it seems pretty visible), you can almost follow it into the prison! It looks like it still might be there!

      • East toward the Perk Branch

        The trail and ROW dont overlap here. Somewhere in the weeds is the switch.

      • Bridge across Perkiomen Creek.

        The Perkiomen trail crosses the creek here on this old bridge. I'm guess this spur was used to haul materials for the prison construction or something. This is a 5 span deck girder. Only the Schuylkill River bridge is longer.

      • Closer view of the Bridge

      • This is a LONNNNG bridge

      • Strange configuration

        Here at the eastern (prison side) of the bridge, they attached a short girder section instead of extending the dirt/gravel fill.

      • Eastward toward the bridge

        The prison spur crosses Perkiomen Creek Road at this point. It's kind of on prison property, so I was hesitant to look too suspicious. Behind me (east on the ROW was the prison shooting range).

    • MP 8.9 - Graterford

      • Southbound looking toward Rahns.

        The building to the right is the remains of a coal/lumber yard that was served by the railroad[1].

      • Bridge Street grade crossing

        I'm lucky I didn't hit this track when I hastily pulled over. This is the westernmost of the two tracks that are still in place here. According to my blueprints, this was the spur. The station was located between this track and main.

      • Grade crossing

        This is the "main". The station stood roughly underneath of the telephone poles. The station was repainted from Reading's cream and brown to a silver color.[11]

      • Old station picture from Dan West

      • Station site

        At least John Seibert and I think so. The main is roughly on the gravel path on the left. The spur was where the gravel road is to the right. The station was in the middle.

        The station was also featured in a Model Railroader article from the 1960s, which I am trying to procure.

      • Speeder Tracks?

        Still at the station site, I found two tracks here, perpendicular to where the tracks should have gone. Why? Was there a little speeder shed at the station here?
        These were speeder tracks, but Ken Houseal (again!) doesn't recall a speeder shed here.

      • Private railroad crossing at the church

    • MP 9.26 - Bridge over unknown stream

    • MP ~10

      • Abandoned roadbed

        This is the old ROW looking north towards Schwenksville. If you know where Ott's Nursery is, it's to the left, out of frame.

      • Abandoned Roadbed

        Same location as previous, but looking south toward Gratersford. The light spot is where the ROW crosses Rt 29 to the west side. This and the p revious scene are not on the Perkiomen Trail proper, but pretty obvious if you look at it.

      • Old ties and junk

        I guess the ties weren't hauled off and made into garden walls and things.

    • MP ~10.5 - Skippack Station

      I discovered a mention of an station one half mile south of Schwenksville. It was built with the railroad in 1868, one year before the railroad made it into Schwenksville. I include it here in the interest of completeness.[7]
      Another source [6], lists it as being 3/4 of a mile south of the present depot, which is at MP11.1. That puts Skippack station somewhere south of Plank Road. I think it would have been in the Central Perkiomen Park opposite Ott's Nursery.

    • MP ~10.6 Rt 73 Covered Bridge

        Route 73 used to cross the Perkiomen Creek south of Schwenksville through a covered bridge. Here are two views.

        Northbound view[8]

        Southbound view[8]

    • MP 11.1 - Schwenksville

      • NB approaching Schwenksville

      • Schwenksville Borough Hall Sign
        Unmistakably Reading Style... Is it real?

      • Back of the lumber yard

        The remains of another coal dump. What's neat is the building in the background. It looks like it had covered loading platforms, that seem to have been walled in at a later date.

      • What is this?

        Some little shed near the right of way just south of the station.
        Here's an old photo of it.

        Update: This is the old Schwenksville Post Office. It was moved here by a later owner.

        Update: Ken Houseal also mentioned in an email that this was also used as a section house, and it had speeder rails and a tool box next to it.
        The mystery grows.

      • Semaphore Mast

        When hiking with John Seibert, he said that this was uncovered during some excavations in the area. It's pretty rusty, and beat up. Someone also needed part of the ladder and cut it off.

      • Schwenksville Station

        The 2nd Schwenksville station has been converted into an ice cream place.

      • Schwenksville Station

        There is still track in the pavement by the station. The timetable below shows a siding through this area. I'm not sure if this track is the main or the siding. Eyeballing it with the station and the road, it doesn't look like there was much room. Could the siding have gone around the backside of the station?

        Update! I found an old hand drawn panoramic of Schwenksville on the Library of Congress website. (link below) It shows the single track line and a siding between the lumber yard and the bridge over Mine Run. Just south of the southern siding switch is a switch for a spur. The spur runs through the lumber yard, and down the side of Main Street. It ends shortly thereafter.

        More from "Rustybore"... "a team track ran between the station and Main street, as well as a full passing siding. There were spurs to the lumber yard and another unknown industry north of the station." [1]

      • Schwenksville Sign Inside the Ice Cream Junction

        This one is in a different font face than the one on the Borough Hall.

      • Original Schwenksville station via Dan West

      • South on Main, Looking at original station[8]

      • RDG T-1 2124 @ Iron Horse Ramble

        Ken Houseal also provides the caption:
        The Reading Company was running Iron Horse Rambles and this one was drawn by 4-8-4 T1 No. 2124. The loco is uncoupled from the train and is on display next to the coaches on the passing siding. The Schwenksville station in the background still stands today and is a pizza shop. The siding in the foreground still remains on the far side of the station and has a large tree growing through it. Where the photographer is standing there is a wide drive into the firehouse located where the main track and passing siding used to be. The caption label on the rear of this photo has been shreaded in time. The remains appear to say the following. "PA Dutch Iron Horse Ramble... ...Schwenksville... ... Pennsylvania Dutch Celebration. Sept. 3 of... ...Photo shows... ...last... ...consist."

    • MP 11.21 - Bridge #16 over Mine Run

      It's a little obscured by brush, but it's been cleaned up a bit (new railings, surface cleaned) as part of the Perkiomen Trail.

    • MP 11.21 - Bridge #16 over Mine Run

      Better fall picture, from the Main Street bridge.

    • MP 11.28 - Bridge Abutment

      This is at Ortino's Restaurant. Apparently, this bridge was pretty low before the road resurfacing, now it's REALLY low. It was a 25' through girder bridge.

    • MP 11.9 - Zieglersville

    • MP 12.9 - Spring Mount nee Frederick's Station

    • Drilling holes

      During blasting, the crew drilled holes into the rock, and then packed it with explosives.. probably done in 1870s...

    • MP 13.64 - Salford Station Road Bridge

      A 42' 3 span overhead wooden stringer bridge.

    • MP 14.1 - Salford

      • Coal Delivery Remains

        What's left of a coal delivery business just south of Salford station. This track is accessed southbound from the station's passing track.

      • Passing Siding

        Salford had a 1900 foot long passing siding. It started at Harmon Road and continued through the station area and over the Old Church Road bridge until MP 14.13. There was an additional siding at the station itself. 3 tracks wide here!

      • SB towards Schwenksville

        This is from the approximate station site.

      • Station Site

        The station is long gone. But this is where it was.
        How can I be so sure? Check out Dan West's old picture. In the background is a hotel/inn/house. It still stands. Those trees there look like they've got a few years. I wonder when this station came down.

      • SB Station view

        Via blocksignal's album

      • Bridge over Old Church Road

        Built in 1913, it's now part of the trail as well.

        John Seibert comments:

          "The Church Rd bridge was originally a single track wooden trestle. When they built the concrete arch bridge, they lengthened the siding. They started construction of the present 1913 concrete arch one by building one side first - the side where the extended siding would go. Meanwhile they kept the old trestle immediately next to the new construction of the passing siding portion. When the siding was done, they took out the trestle, routing everything over the siding for the time being, and then built the mainline portion and completed the bridge. The siding went from just north of the park to the cut on the other side of the bridge. In the days of the wooden trestle, it only went as far as the crossing, which was a particularly steep and dangerous one.

          Interesting note. Where the old factory is - now an antique emporium - was once a barn belonging to the farmer who lived in the large stone house on the opposite side of the tracks. When the trestle was there, he would has access to the barn under the trestle. When they built the arch bridge, they gave him an underground passageway to get to the barn. Its still there but it seems to be blocked off. Although the barn burned down, the factory wall closest to the tracks was the original wall of the barn."

        The blueprints list the Bridge as a 28' concrete arch, and the farmers tunnel as a 7' footway tunnel.

    • MP 15.1 - Hendricks

      • Heitebeitel's Coal Delivery Spur

        South of the Hendricks station crossing

      • SB toward Salford

      • NB toward Green Lane

      • Mystery Building

        This looks like hoppers where spotted and things were dumped in from above. Does anyone know what this could be?

        Update: This was apparently some sort of truck loading facility. Not railroad related.

      • Hendricks Station

        "Rustybore"[1] said that the station was bought and moved around the corner. I think this is it. I was hoping for creme and brown paint, but I'll take it.

      • Tank Farm

        Not really. John Seibert and I explored through here, and talked to a local walking his dog. He remembered the railroad, and rememberd that John R Young's petroleum business had some storage tanks back near those trees.

      • "Young's Spur" entrance

        Behind this gate is what I'm calling "Youngs Spur." It leads to the tank farm and to the mystery building.

      • Ice House switch

        Another from the Tom Bull collection. This SB view shows the switch to get down to the ice house.

    • MP 16.1 - Kratz

      No mention of Kratz Station on "the blueprint", but there is a note of 6' footway tunnel @ MP16.0.

    • MP 16.52 - Unami Creek Bridge

      • Main Span

        The main span is a 140' 2 span deck girder bridge.

      • Approach

        The approaches are 20' stone and concrete arches.

    • MP 17 - Perkiomenville

      I found a mention of D&H caboose 39156 that was once located here. It was located on Crusher Road, a quarter mile from Rt 29.

    • MP 17.95/96 - Bridges over Perkiomen Creek

      The creek through Green Lane takes a sharp turn, which forces the tracks to bridge it twice in a short distance.

      • #31 @ MP 17.95 - bridge over Knight Lake

        Mapquest shows the lake as Knight Lake. A 200 foot 4 span deck girder. Looks pretty bad. This section of the Perk Branch isn't included in the trail, so it's unlikely it will ever be restored.

      • #31 - bridge over Knight Lake

        From the other side high up on Hill Road, through the trees.

        There was a short (maybe 500 feet) passing siding and a spur!
        I'm not sure how this would have worked. There is only about 500 feet between bridges here, yet a spur shows on the map.
        Here's a map showing the area. It shows this spur. It's between Hill Road and Knight Lake.

        Some info from Ken Houseal:
        The siding shown on the map was there until Conrail (at least) During the Sixties there were often times Reading Company gondolas stored on it. It was mowed grass between the road and the cars. The last I remember seeing it, the siding was tree covered and may still be in the woods! [...] I never discovered why the siding ran into Green Lane Park.

        Ahh. Serendipity. Greg Usavage found this site via an article in North Penn Reporter and says,
        Here's a good map of where the RR went through Green Lane, and it also shows the spur going into the park. Before the existing "Deep Creek" dam was there, there were two or three smaller dams, which were used to make the shallow lake around Deep Creek, which is where the ice was taken from and loaded onto the RR cars on that spur.

      • #32 @ MP 17.96 - Bridge Over Perkiomen Creek

        150 foot 2 span deck girder

      • SB over bridge #32

    • MP 18.2 - Green Lane

      • SB from Station Site

        Somewhere in this direction would have been an 800' passing siding to the left in this frame, then the main, then another track spur in front of the station (but not to Rt 29), and a shorter team track that butted up to the station.
        You can see this layout in the next picture. Only two tracks crossed Rt 29.

      • Green Lane Station

        A picture I found on Railfan.net by Dave Augsburger in 1965. Looking Northbound, it's showing a southbound AD-10.

      • Same shot; 38 years later

        Generally the same position. That house on the hill has a different colored roof.

      • Green Lane Postcard

        From blocksignal's album

      • Northside of station

        Courtesy of "Rustybore", part of the Tom Bull Collection

      • Green Lane Water Tower

        The current station site is occupied by a body shop, Green Lane William Penn. The owner was kind enough to let me take a few pictures in his yard of the water tower. Email me if you want more pictures.

      • ROW on side of hill

        After crossing Rt 29 for the 6th time, the ROW starts to parallel Macoby Creek. Here, the Young's Oil Company is using it for vehicle storage. The was a spur here.

      • SB looking toward Agway

        A 1973 view courtesy of Carl King.

      • Hoppers @ Kleinbach's Mill

        A 1973 view courtesy of Carl King.

      • Crossing over a creek

        The Green Lane passing track ended south (to the left) of this bridge.

        The Macoby Siding began to the north (right) of this bridge. It continued until the next bridge over the Macoby Creek (not pictured, yet).
        That bridge was a 175' 3 span deck girder.

    • MP ~18.3 - Green Lane Dam Spur (?!!!???)

        The owner of the Green Lane body shop told me that there was a spur that ran back off his lot. He said it went to an old ice dam operation. I suspect that this was also the spur that went to feed construction of the Green Lane Reservoir.

        More info from Ken Houseal:
        The siding for the cement plant at the big dam did branch off at the station there in Green Lane and was along the North side of the creek, it crossed the road below the dam. I recall bulk cement covered hopper cars there, the two bay variety. The track ran right up to the face of the dam where the mixing palnt was located. The cement was carried in an overhead bucket to the form that it was to be dumped into. When the track was removed regrading of the land and retopping of the road obliterated all signs of the siding.

        I also found this:
        According to Kenneth Kleinbach, most of the materials used to construct the Green Lane Reservoir in the 1950's passed through the store. Railroad tracks passed behind the Mill. Supposedly 260 carloads of bulk cement, and 225,000 feet of lumber were unloaded for the reservoir project. The Kleinbachs also sold them fuel oil for the equipment.[9]

      • Ice Dam Building foundations

        A picture of the foundations that the owner directed me to. Anyone know what I'm looking at?
        Greg Usavage says that these are part of an old bridge, and not a related to the ice dam operation.

      • ROW?

        Since the spur came off near the station, it would need to be on this side of the creek. Is this it? This view is opposite of the cement foundations in the previous picture.

      • ROW?

        This is looking back toward Green Lane. The ice dam stuff is to the right.

    • MP 18.6 - Macoby Siding

    • MP 20.0 - McLean's Station

      • Rubble @ McLean's Station Road

        Golf course construction has pretty much erased the ROW. But there was some junk here. I think this is rubble from bridge #36 that crossed McLean's Station Road.

      • NB @ McLean's Station Road

        According to a news story there was a train wreck here. The article mentions that there was a switch at the station three track lengths north of the trestle. I guess near that house.

        It was somewhere here. For a topo map of the area,click here

    • MP ~20.7 - Graber Road

    • MP ~28.8 - Hendricks Road

    • MP 21.5 - Red Hill

      • SB @ 6th Street

        There was a short siding here off to the left. No trace of it was visible.

      • SC Moyer's Cigar Factory

        Red Hill used to be a cigar manufacturing center. I'm not sure if it was served by the railroad. After the cigar business went up in smoke (heh), this was the Red Hill Rug Co.

      • NB @ 6th Street

        The station was to the left side in this clearing.

      • SB @ 11th Street

        Looking toward the Rt 29 bridge, out of sight to the left.

      • NB @ 11th Street

    • MP 23.1 - Pennsburg

      • SB @ 8th Street

      • NB @ 8th Street

      • SB @ 6th Street

      • NB @ 6th Street

        Abandoned track, next to some playground equipment. The intersection with 663 is just up ahead.

      • East Penn Railway #182

        Courtesy of Ken Houseal. Here it's shown at the end of the branch, against a bumper.

      • Pennsburg station

        Tracks ran on both sides of the station.It looks like a private home now.

      • Pennsburg station

        It left my wife wondering how someone goes about buying a station to make into a house. Lucky break I guess.

      • End of the line

        Pennsburg also marks the southern end of the active part of the Perkiomen Branch. Shown here is the bumper south of the station along Rt 663. In reality, the track crossing 4th street (where I'm standing) hasn't seen a flanged wheels in quite sometime. It was packed full of pebbles and gravel.

      • Boxcars!

        This is the southern end of the 2400' Pennsburg passing siding. There used to be a left hand switch on the right track.
        In the foreground is the cement post for (i believe) MP23. I know that MP23 conflicts with the listed milemarker (in bold). The bold number is from the timetable, while this number, 23, is from the blueprints. Exactly right there. When I scan the prints, it'll be more clear.

      • More Boxcars!

        North of Pennsburg, between 4th & 3rd Street I found maybe a dozen or so PRL boxcars. I dont know why the track narrows to 1 through the grade crossing. Perhaps Conrail or PRL or maybe the Reading did it later on?

      • Siding

        This is still the 54 car 2400' passing siding in Pennsburg. This is looking north at 3rd Street, 180 degrees from the previous picture.

    • MP 23.7 - East Greenville

      • Bridge #40 over 3rd Street

        The passing siding ends south (to the right) of this bridge.

      • Postcard of Station

        External link to blocksignal's albums.

      • Station

        Someone's house. "Daffy Junction" is it's name now.

      • Factory

        Directly across the street. I've seen an old picture of it, with a spur in front of it.[3] This building is also visible in the above postcard.

      • NB @ Station

      • PRL NB @ the station

        Compare with Reading In the Conrail Era Vol #2 page 40.

      • Bridge #41

        Built in 1926, this is a concretre and I-bean slab bridge. I believe this is 6th Street.

    • MP 25.1 - Reading Lines bridge over Rt 29

      Bridge #43 is a 56 foot half-thru girder. Undoubtedly one of the few bridges with the Reading Lines lettering still on it, here is the northside showing much wear.

      Here's a pic of the other side from Jim Evans. Southside of the bridge

    • Bridge #44 over Hosensack Creek

      A 208 foot 4 span deck girder bridge. 3 spans are visible here.
      This is a southbound view.

    • Bridge #45 over Hosensack Road

      Palm is the right, East Greenville is to the left of this short 15 foot girder.

    • MP 25.9 - Palm

      • Southbound on Station Ave.

        1300' Passing track is gone, but it would have been to the right side here.

      • Northbound on Station Ave.

        The passing track continues through here, as well as a spur to the left (3 tracks across Station Ave) and then a spur further ahead on the curve.
        Palm is also where the .79% grade, 300' climb toward the tunnel begins.

    • Bridge #46

      At 8'9" this may be the lowest bridge over a road I've ever seen. This is over Shuler Road.

    • MP 27.6 - Corning

    • MP ~28.2

    • MP 28.9 - Hosensack

        I'm not 100% certain this was the station location. South of Powder Valley Road is milepost 28. A 1902 topo map shows this location as Hosensack. It may explain the circular thing in the northbound view below.

      • SB @ Carls Hill Road

      • NB @ Carls Hill Road

        Looks too small to be a water tower. But it's awfully close to the tracks.

        Update - 10-Sep
        It IS a water tower! Source
        "A STOP on the RAILROAD! In the late 19th century, the Perkiomen Railroad ran through these hills so it was easy to get to East Greenville or Allentown for a day of business and shopping. Remnants of the brick water tower and the railroad tracks are still visible near where the Hosensack station stood and a tunnel can be seen from the Vera Cruz Road. Part of the line remains and is used for freight by small businesses."

    • MP ~30 - PP & L spur

      I was following the line along the left side of Palm Road, and I lost it in the weeds. But I came across this spur which came across the road and into this power substation. It turns out that I was actually following a spur for quite a bit. The line turns away from Palm road where Palm Road bears to the right.
      What's really cool is the turnout indicator flag thingy still sticking out of the gravel.
      According to this map, the PP&L substation was accessed by a switchback!

    • MP 30.7 - Zionsville

    • MP 32.2 - Dillinger

      • Station Area?

        SB @ Church View Road. The station was to the left in this shot, and the demolition is a feed mill which had track service. The main was the left side track here (with the tank vars), and the siding was to the right. There was a team track spur to the station as well as a spur to the mill.

      • Dillinger Tunnel South Entrance

        I found the south portal here too. This was as close as I could get without walking on the tracks, and the muddy wet ditch on either side. This is just south of the I-476 overpass.
        The tunnel is 1798 feet long, and is at the highest elevation on the Perkiomen Branch, 649 feet ASL.

        Some info from "trackhiker" @ railroad.net...
        "The PA Turnpike runs right over the Vera Cruz Tunnel. (If that is the official name of it.) I couldn't find anything on it on the net or a name on topo maps. You can see the southern portal from Church View Rd. at Dillinger Station. I parked in the lot of the Evangelical Church just north of the tunnel to hike thru. The best I can figure is that it was built between 1857 and 1884 based on old railroad maps. The roof has been reinforced in recent years. As opposed to the Perkasie Tunnel it is not cut through solid rock and has brick arches in sections and a newer bracing shot with concrete on the north end."[4]

      • Dillinger Tunnel Drawing 700 Kb

        Awesome drawing of tunnel portal by Ken Houseal.
        Here is a drawing I made in Nov.1964. When I described the scene earlier today I recalled a small building but didn't mention it. Here it is. Apparently it had a coal box on the side and a coal stove inside judging from the stovepipe. Appears to be a watchman's shanty of somekind. It was wired to the telephone or telegraph. There were automatic crossing signals in place. No station was present.

      • Conrail Local in 1980

        A picture of the Perk Branch local taken by Rob Reid in 1980.

    • MP 34.2 - Vera Cruz

      • SB toward Horseshoe Curve

        Milepost 34.0

      • NB toward station

        There was a foundation of some sort just ahead on the right. This may have been the station, or perhaps a coal spur. I didn't want to go into that neighbors yard to find out.

      • Vera Cruz Station (via Dan West)

        This picture shows two tracks infront of the station and one behind. The blueprint does not include the passing siding. Interesting.

    • MP 36.8 - Emmaus

    • MP 38.6 - Emmaus Jct

 

 


 


back to trains