These albums, organized geographically, allow you to do some virtual historic railfanning by visiting these Conrail locations through our photo collection.
CR originally had so many branch lines, they radiated out like spider webs from many cities. These lines were often the ones that were sold off to regionals and short lines or abandoned over time. Some branches that remained were upgraded and given Secondary status.
Harrisburg has always been a railroad city. Tracks converge on the city from almost all directions, making it a major crossroads. Harrisburg is also the home to the famous Enola Yard on the west shore of the Susquehanna River. Enola was once the largest freight yard in the world, but its size has changed as operating plans have changed, but was incredibly important all through Conrail's years.
This gallery features photos from all around the Harrisburg area, from Duncannon on the Pittsburgh Line east to Rutherford Yard on the city's east side, and also the Enola Yard area.
Morrisville Yard was an important location halfway between Philadelphia and New York along the Northeast Corridor. It's where the ex-Pennsy Trenton Cutoff connected back into the mainline between Philly and New York. Morrisville was an active yard serving a number of local industries, including US Steel's Fairless Works.
This gallery also includes photos from West Trention, just across the Delaware River (but on ex-Reading trackage).
Philadelphia was more than the location of Conrail's corporate headquarters. It also featured lots of blue action.
Conrail's lines in the Philadelphia area were a combination of ex-Penn Central and ex-Reading lines, and varied from big time railroading along the Northeast Corridor to lightly tracked branches like the Venice Industrial.
While Baltimore always seemed to be more closely aligned with the B&O, WM, Chessie and CSX, the port city actually saw almost as much traffic on Big Blue as it did on CSX and the Chessie System.
With a number of yards, a large port facility, and lots of industrial switching, there was always Conrail Action to be found in the Charm City.
Conrail inherited a number of lines that served anthracite country. The network of branches saw plenty of hopper trains until most of it was sold to the Reading and Northern in December of 1990.
North Jersey is home to a myriad of rail operations, and is one of the few locations where Conrail still exists.
Conrail's presence in South Jersey was made up of a network of Secondaries and Running Tracks (Conrail's terms for branchlines) that provided quite a brisk business. Large industries included power generating stations at the end of the Beesley's Point Secondary, near Atlantic City, and many chemical plants along the Penns Grove Secondary, which paralleled the Delaware River.
You can also view this gallery on an interactive map.
Amtrak owned the NEC from the begininng of Conrail, however there was still lots of CR action to be seen along it as Big Blue provided freight service along the line. Trains included road jobs and locals, and while freight traffic declined following the 1987 incident in Chase, MD, there was still plenty to be seen.
Conrail's rugged Boston line stretches from Selkirk Yard, near Albany NY east to Boston Mass. The former NYC Boston & Albany route features rugged mountain scenery as it crosses the Berkshire mountains, and was home to serious railroading. For a long time it was home to most of Conrail's GE fleet, but toward the end of the era also served as a proving ground for the SD80mac.
Conrail's Buffalo Line went from Harrisburg PA to Buffalo NY over some spectacular mountain scenery and featured some unique operations, like unit pulpwood trains and helpers.
Conrail's Chicago line stretched from Selkirk, NY to Chicago, IL and was an extremely important double track main in which the majority of its traffic from the western roads reached the New England states and the East Coast. Included on this route were important terminal cities like Toledo and Cleveland, OH and Conrail's major classification yard in Elkhart, IN. This busy route saw anywhere from 50-60 trains a day including a lot of foreign power from western connections with Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe and their predecessors.
Conrail's Cleveland Line was an important artery that linked the Chicago Line in Cleveland on the north end and the Fort Wayne line at Rochester, PA on the south. The Cleveland Line also joined the Fort Wayne Line at Alliance, OH. The preferred routing from trains exiting Conway to the west was the Ft. Wayne Line to Alliance, then turning north on the Cleveland Line to reach the Chicago Line. The line also went through Yellow Creek, OH and was a vital outlet for traffic to the steel mills of southeast Ohio and West Virginia.
Conrail's Fort Wayne line is the ex-PRR mainline from Pittsburgh to Chicago, famously known as the route of the Broadway Limited. This double track mainline was classic Pennsy with position light signals and towers aplenty. Unfortunately, all those classic aspects, along with the competing ex-NYC mainline to the north, led Conrail to start downgrading it in the early 1980's.
They routed most of the Chicago traffic off at Alliance, OH and single tracked from Crestline, OH west through its namesake city of Fort Wayne, IN to Chicago in 1985 and '86. From Pittsburgh to Alliance this line was very busy with traffic from Cleveland joining on its final approach to Conway Yard in Pittsburgh.
From Alliance to Crestline, OH this line was still a double track, well used, main with traffic for Indianapolis and St. Louis through the end of Conrail, whilef rom Crestline through Ft. Wayne it was a single track secondary dispatched by Form-D's, seeing only local trains and a few roadrailers.
West of Fort Wayne the only Conrail train to use the line was FWEL and ELFW, which only ran to Warsaw before turning north to Elkhart. Norfolk Southern bought the line west of Ft. Wayne from CR in 1994 and used it until the merger as a second track for its Chicago trains trying to avoid congestion on NS' ex-NKP mainline.
The Conrail Lehigh Line most people are familiar with is the link between Bethlehem, PA and Oak Island Yard in Newark, NJ utilizing a mixture of former Lehigh Valley and CNJ trackage. However, the Lehigh Line/Lehigh Secondary also extended north into the former Anthracite country of PA, running through Jim Thorpe and Sayre, eventually reaching a connection with the Southern Tier in New York.
Conrail's Marion Branch was the ex NYC Michigan Branch that ran from Elkhart, IN to Anderson, IN. This line was an important line to Conrail, enabling them to get automotive traffic from Michigan and Northern Indiana down to Indianapolis and Avon yard. The line from Elkhart to Marion, IN is signaled with PRR CPL signals, making this the only NYC line to have PRR signals(came from the PRR Richmond branch when PC rebuilt the Marion branch back in 1973 or 74). From Marion to Anderson the line was called the Dow Secondary and was dispatched by Form-D's. This branch was also home to Conrail's unique SD80MACs and later on the SD70MACs.
Conrai's Pittsburgh Line served as one of it's two main arteries connecting the eastern edges of the United States to the west, the other being the Chicago Line across New York. Spanning from CP-Harrisburg in the interlockings namesake city to CP-West Pitt in Pittsburgh the line includes famous locations such as Lewistown, Altoona, Cresson, Conemaugh, and Pitcairn, amongst a variety of others. Also included is the climb over the Allegheny Mountains between Conemaugh and Altoona, with the historic Horseshoe Curve as the center piece.
Conrail's Port Road Branch ran between Perryville, MD on the Amtrak Northeast Corridor on its east end, and CP-Mary on the Pittsburgh Line at the west. It is composed of the former PRR Columbia and Port Deposit Branch between Perryville, MD and Columbia, PA, the former Atglen & Susquehanna line between Columbia and Shocks Mills, where it crosses the Susquehanna River. On the west side of the Susquehanna, the former A&S joined with the former Northern Central line north into Enola Yard. The line largely saw nocturnal operations, as freight trains operating over Amtrak's Northeast Corridor were subject to a 10PM-6AM window to clear the NEC.
The Reading Line was Conrail's route between Reading and Allentown/Bethlehem, with CP-Wyomissing on the Harrisburg Line at the west end and CP-Bethlehem on the Lehigh Line on the east. It is mainly composed of the former East Penn Railroad, which came under control of the Reading Railroad and became known as the "Crossline".
Stretching north from the New York City area, the River Line is one of Conrail's most scenic mainlines. The River Line parallels the Hudson River for most of its length, often very closely.
Notable locations along this line include Bear Mountain State Park and Iona Island.
Conrail's Southern Tier was the scenic ex-EL line that ran through New Jersey and New York State. It provided CR with a valuable extra route west, but never saw the same amount of traffic that the former PC (NYC and PRR) routes did.