Conrail in Hard Coal Country

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.

CR 18645 - Class N5G - Brings Up the Markers on a Local at West Cressona PA

At home in the coal fields, 18645 is on the end of an MP15DC powered local entering West Cressona Yard on the Good Spring Secondary Track. CR 18645 ex LV 95002.

CR 18645 On the end of a coal train at Donaldson PA, 1/82

An ex-LV N5G caboose brings up the rear on a coal train through Donaldson PA. CR 18645 ex LV 95002.

CR 7547 leads WHWC-12 at Auburn, PA on April 28, 1987

Eastbound Conrail Train WHWC12 rounds a curve at Auburn, PA on April 28, 1987 with GP10 No. 7547, a MP15 and a SW1500.

CR 7552 and 7557 at Hern PA, 3/87

After the MP15s went back when their leases ended, these rebuilt geeps held down the branches in the "Reading Cluster".

CR 7552 at Glen-Burn, 3/87

GP10 7552 brings a few loose cars through the Glen Burn complex.

CR 7552 at Ramshaw PA, 3/87

A pair of GP10's power local freight WHSN03 rounds a curve at Ramshaw, PA on the Shamokin Secondary.

CR 7552 Leads a Local Through Excelsior PA

A pair of GP10s roll a local comprised of coal cars and other local business through excelsior.

CR 7555 along with CR 9626 and other power at Schuylkill Haven PA.

A set of power is seen sitting next to the ex-Reading station at Schuylkill Haven on the Pottsville Branch. The station has since been refurbished, and the Pottsville Branch is still used regularly by the Reading & Northern.

CR 7555 and a mixed group of GPs and MP15DCs at Mine Hill PA

A mixed group of power is seen at Mine Hill PA. This group includes MP15s which roamed this area until their leases were up, and GP10s, which took over for them when they left.

CR 9421 at the St. Nick Breaker

A result of a chase of this brace of SWs from Port Clinton to St. Nicholas Yard in October, 1983. Here the train sits in the shadow of the coal spoil pile from the many mines in the area.

CR 9421 Leads its train through Buck Mountain PA

The EMD switcher powered train, a mix of coal and other freight, heads through Buck Mountain PA.

CR 9421 Leads Mixed Freight at Zehners, 10/83

A brace of end cab switchers, led by the rare SW1001, heads through Zehners on the former Reading.

CR 9421 Three MP15s and an SW1001 Through Port Clinton PA

The brace of end cabs rolls through Port Clinton, the future home of the Reading and Northern.

CR 9421, 9628 and 9627, 10/83

A profile shot of three of the five end cabs on the train.

CR 9529 now leads a light engine move out of Port Clinton PA, 5/87

The engineer has swapped ends and Conrail's Saturday light engine movement is now headed west from Port Clinton, PA on May 2, 1987. It will run to West Cressona and pick up three more, then head back east to Reading, then west to Enola, so the units can be serviced.

CR 9529 trails a light engine move into Port Clinton PA, 5/87

A Conrail light engine movement drops downgrade into Port Clinton, PA on May 2, 1987 with four MP15s, a GP10 and a SW1500.

CR 9529 trails the Sunday light engine movement near Port Clinton PA, 5/87

An eastbound Conrail light engine movement rolls down the valley near Port Clinton, PA on May 2, 1987. The head five units came out of St. Nicholas and the trailing unit, SW1500 No. 9529, was picked up at Tamaqua.

CR 9563 West Cressona, PA

CR SW1500 9563 with N5G 18645 at West Cressona Station

CR 9611 Tamaqua, PA

A lone SW1500 switches coal cars in the shadow of mine spoils at the Arlington Breaker.

CR 9621 and N5 Caboose 22981 at Shamokin

An ex-Reading MP15 and an ex-PC N5 caboose make up this scene in PA's hard coal country.

CR 9621 rolls through CP Potts with a single covered hopper

A lone blue MP15DC brings a sole covered hopper through CP Potts at Pottsville, the home of the Yuengling Brewery.

CR 9622 9630 and 9627 at Cressona PA

A trio of MPDCs idle in the small yard at Cressona PA.

CR 9622 At Night in Cressona

9622 sits under the yard lights in Cressona.

CR 9622 Working Cressona, 10/77

A pair of MP15DCs, still wearing their Reading green, roll through Cressona.

CR 9624, 9628 and 9630 in Cressona PA.

Three MP15DCs idle in the small yard at Cressona PA between assignments.

CR 9625 Moves Hoppers at Arlington PA

One of the handful of CR MP15s brings some hoppers through the Bethlehem Steel facility at Arlington PA.

CR 9625 With Empty Hoppers at Arlington PA

9625 moves some empty hoppers through a scene that only exists in coal country.

CR 9627 and a bunch of other MP15s on WHSN switch the paper plant at Mt. Carmel Jct, 4/87

Conrail Local WHSN03 switches inbound loads of paper in a plant at Mt. Carmel Junction, PA on April30, 1987 with four MP15s.

CR 9627 and CR 19677 N-3A Caboose on the Greenwood Branch

One of the rare ex-EL N-3A cabooses holds down an assignment on the Greenwood Branch alongside an ex-Reading MP15DC.

CR 9627 and local WHSN11 at the New St. Nicholas breaker on June 7, 1987

Conrail MP15 No. 9627 on Local WHSN11 pulls a cuts of hoppers out of the old Reading Anthracite St. Nicholas Breaker at St. Nicholas, PA on June 7, 1987. The huge breaker had been closed for some years, but was still being used in a very limited capacity to process "fines" from the mountainous clum banks, one of which can be seen in the background. Only three of the tracks remained in service, and all of those were questionable.

CR 9627 and local WHSN11 working the St. Nick breaker on June 7, 1987

Conrail Local WHSN11 works the old Reading Anthracite St. Nicholas Central Breaker at St. Nicholas, PA on June 7, 1987 with MP15 No. 9627. The conductor, about five cars back carefully watches the cars over a track defect, and for good reason. About 15 minutes earlier when they were backing into the track, No. 9627 got on the ground. No "rapid responder team" here. The crew simply found enough chunks of deteriorated crossties, and coaxed the unit back on.

CR 9627 and Two More MP15DCs roll through Hamburg PA

A trio of MP15DCs bring empty hoppers through Hamburg PA, the future home of the Reading, Blue Mountain and Northern, who took over many of the branches in this area from Conrail in the early 90s.

CR 9627 and WHSN04 at Locust Summit Yard, 4/87

On April 30, 1987, its work complete at Locust Summit, PA, eastbound Conrail Local WHSN04 will soon depart for St. Nicholas. Enroute, a stop will be made at Gordon to work the lumber yard. Once arriving at St. Nicholas, this train will be combined with other traffic generated in the area, creating Train WHSN02, a nocturnal run to Reading. Enroute to Reading, a stop will be made at Tamaqua to pick up traffic generated there. The train returns from Reading as WHSN01, arriving back at St. Nicholas shortly after daybreak.

CR 9627 and WHSN04 at the Glen Burn Colliery in Shamokin on April 29, 1987

Eastbound Conrail Local WHSN04 rolls past the former Glen Burn Colliery in Shamokin, PA on April 29, 1987 with three MP15s. This trackage is former PRR. The former Reading can be seen across the river and at this point was abandoned. Within a half mile, WHSN04 will enter a connection track built by Conrail and proceed from there to St. Nicholas via the former Reading.

CR 9627 and WHSN04 leaving Shamokin on April 29, 1987

Eastbound Conrail Local WHSN04 leaves Shamokin, PA on April 29, 1987 with three MP15s. I was fascinated with just how much evidence remained of past, more prosperous times. Much trackage remained, although out of service and in varying states of disrepair. The track just to the left of the train is also telling. The rail has been marked for tie replacement, a project that was never completed.

CR 9627 leads the Saturday light engine movement ready to depart West Cressona PA, 5/2/1987

It is Saturday, May 2, 1987 and Conrail's Shamokin Secondary light engine movement has arrived at West Cressona to pick up three more units. From here they will run to Enola for the unit's weekly servicing. For the record, there are five MP15s, two SW1500s and two GP10s.

CR 9627 leads WHSN04 past the Glen Burn Colliery in Shamokin on April 29, 1987

Eastbound Conrail train WHSN04 slowly ambles up the rickety track through the remains of the old Glen Burn Colliery at Shamokin, PA on April 29, 1987 with three MP15s. The scrappers were dismantling the huge old colliery, and at this point most of it had been removed. One can only imagine the number of cars of anthracite loaded on those tracks. The Conductor is sitting in the doorway, enjoying the warm spring day. The speed limit was 10 MPH, not accounting for slow orders, so he had ample opportunity to check out the scenery.

CR 9627 leads WHSN04 upgrade by an anthracite loadout at Cabel, PA on April 29, 1987

Eastbound Conrail Local WHSN04 works upgrade by an anthracite loadout at Cabel, PA on April 29, 1987 with three MP15s. By this time, most of the huge collieries were gone, and the remaining business was loaded at these small truck load outs. Track conditions were rough. Check out the cars on the siding, leaning in all different directions.

CR 9627 on WHSN01 at the St Nicholas yard April, 1987

Four Conrail MP15s and a GP10 temporarily rest at St. Nicholas, PA on the morning of April 30, 1987, after bringing in Train WHSN01. WHSN01 was a turn that operated during the nocturnal hours from St. Nicholas to Reading and return. It arrived back at St. Nicholas shortly after daybreak. Soon the power would be broken apart for other trains operating out of the small yard.

CR 9627 Singlehandedly handles empties through New Philadelphia

MP15DC 9627 single handedly handles a train of empty coal hoppers heading back to the mines.

CR 9627 sits while its crew has lunch in Shamokin on April 29, 1987

Eastbound Conrail Local WHSN04 lakes a lunch break on the connection track between the former Reading and PRR trackage in Shamokin, PA on April 29, 1987. I believe the former Reading was abandoned west of town, and the former PRR east of there.

CR 9627, 9625, 9621 and more begin their Enola odyssey at St. Nicholas PA, 5/2/1987

Conrail ran an interesting light engine move on Saturdays. It originated at St. Nicholas, gathering all the power there. As it proceeded east, a stop was made at Tamaqua to pick up the lone unit assigned there. At Port Clinton, it reversed its movement and headed west to West Cressona and picked up their units. Now totaling between 8 and 10 units, it proceeded east to Reading and then west to Enola Yard. At Enola Yard, the power was serviced while the crew took rest. Once rested, the crew did it all again, in reverse. On Saturday May 2, 1987, the crew is about to begin the odyssey at St. Nicholas with four MP15s and a GP10.

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