Conrail in Hard Coal Country - Page 2

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 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.

CR 9628 and 9630 at Donaldson PA

A pair of MP15s performing the task which CR usually assigned them. Here they pull some hoppers through the snow at Donaldson PA.

CR 9628 Brings a Flanger Through East Mahanoy Jct

Clearing out flangeways after a snow or ice storm is an important process. It helps prevent snow and ice buildup from derailing a train. When the local power consists of MP15s, of course you're going to send one out to do the job.

Here's the flanger and locomotive passing through East Mahanoy Jct.

CR 9629 and 9522 working the Exxon Plastics facility in Minersville, PA 5/1/1987

On May 1, 1987, in the days before corporate buzzwords like "job briefing," the crew on Conrail Local WHWC02 is simply discussing what needs to be done and how to do it. Oh heavens! They are having a "job briefing" and don't even know it. They are working the Exxon Plastics facility in Minersville, PA.

CR 9629 leads WHWC02 downgrade into Minersville, PA on 5/1/1987

Eastbound Conrail Local WHWC02 drops downgrade into Minersville, PA on May 1, 1987 with MP15 No. 9629 and SW1500 No. 9522.

CR 9629 leads WHWC02 over the West Branch of the Schuylkill River in Minersville, PA on 5/1/1987

Conrail MP15 No. 9629 leads Local WHWC02 as it switches a cars over the West Branch of the Schuylkill River in Minersville, PA on May 1, 1987.

CR 9630 and CR 9626 at the St Nick Breaker

A pair of MP15DCs at the St Nick breaker. These units were regular power on the mine runs in the area before the expiration of their leases.

CR 9630 and WHSN03 at Locust Summit, PA, 4/87

Conrail Local WHSN04 has pulled the loads out of the Gilberton Coal Co. facility at Locust Summit, PA and is moving ahead to get a cut of empties on April 30, 1987. The sound was sweet as he opened the throttle. If you have ever wondered what two 645 powered E units would sound like, four MP15s would come pretty close. I have always had a thing about multiple unit lashups of "butt heads," and sound is one of the reasons.

CR 9630 at CP Belt

Four MP15DCs roll through CP Belt in the setting sun.

CR 9630 at Gilberton Coal in Locust Summit, PA, 4/87

Four MP15s on Conrail Local WHSN04 back a string of empty hoppers into Gilberton Coal Co. at Locust Summit, PA on April 30, 1987. If I recall correctly, Gilberton was not actually mining coal, but instead processing "fines" out of the huge culm banks left by the closed Locust Summit Central Breaker. Once considered waste, the "fines" are now considered a valuable commodity.

CR 9630 climbs into Gordon with WHSN03, 4/87

Westbound Conrail Local WHSN03 climbs upgrade into Gordon, PA on April 30, 1987 with four MP15s. There were cars for Gordon, but since the switch opened to the east, they would be spotted on the return trip.

CR 9630 heads back into the woods at Locust Summit, PA, 4/87

Conrail Local WHSN04 drops back into the woods to pick up a string of hoppers cars at Locust Summit, PA on April 30, 1987 with four MP15s. Most of the old Locust Summit Yard tracks had been pulled, and the remaining tracks were in bad condition. The yard once served the massive Reading Anthracite Locust Summit Central Breaker.

CR 9630 starts the climb to Locust Summit at Locustdale PA, 4/87

Westbound Conrail Local WHSN03 passes through Locustdale, PA on April 30, 1987 and starts the serious part of the climb up to Locust Summit.

CR 9630 Switching at Cressona PA

MP15DC 9630 is switching cars at Cressona PA.

CR 9630, 9628 and 9624 at Saint Nicholas Breaker

The ex-Reading MP15DCs stayed around the ex-Reading anthracite branches until their leases expired. Here, three patched units (still in their Reading Green) are seen at the Saint Nicholas Breaker, just west of Mahanoy City.

CR 9630, CR 9626 and CR 9621 at the St Nick Breaker

MP15DCs hanging around at the St Nick breaker. These units were regular power on the mine runs in the area before the expiration of their leases.

CR MP15DCs Cressona PA

A trio of MP15DCs idles near the station in Cressona PA.

N8 On a Coal Train at Tamaqua Tunnel

An ex-PRR N8 cabin car trails a coal train entering Tamaqua Tunnel. Note the early EOT mounting on the rear.

West Cressona, PA on the morning of May 13, 1988.

Conrail local power is starting to move around the yard at West Cressona, PA on the morning of May 13, 1988.

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