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Reading Blue Mountain & Northern 425 Trip Tunkhannock to Jim Thorpe 5/15/2010

by Chris Guenzler

Randy and I got up at the Days Inn and after a continental breakfast we checked out. We stopped at Walmart for me to pick up something before driving into Scranton. We went by the Radisson where I will be staying before we headed over to the Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad shops for pictures of their motive power.

Views around the shops.

Delaware-Lackawanna 324 KB&S

Delaware-Lackawanna 1805.

Delaware-Lackawanna 2457.

Delaware-Lackawanna 41.

Delaware-Lackawanna 6763.

Delaware-Lackawanna 204.

Delaware-Lackawanna 351.

Delaware-Lackawanna Caboose C-703.

Delaware-Lackawanna unknown.

Delaware-Lackawanna 327.

Delaware-Lackawanna 3000.

Delaware-Lackawanna 2409.

Delaware-Lackawanna 4118.

Delaware-Lackawanna 2423.

Delaware-Lackawanna 3642.

Delaware-Lackawanna 4103.

A view of the shop area. From here we drove back through downtown Scranton and took US Highway 11 north to Nicholson where we found what we came for.

The Tunkhannock Viaduct sign.

Two views of the Tunkhannock Viaduct.

We drove to the east side for this picture of the Tunkhannock Viaduct. From here we drove PA Highway 92 to US Highway 6 into Tunkhannock. We parked at the High School parking lot and then took the school bus down to where the train was loading.

Reading Blue Mountain & Northern 425 Trip 5/15/2010

After the bus dropped me off I walked down to take a few pictures while Randy got us seats on the train.

Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Brief History

The Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad, with corporate headquarters in Port Clinton, Pennsylvania, is a privately held railroad company serving eight counties in Eastern Pennsylvania. The Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad began serving customers in 1983 as the Blue Mountain & Reading Railroad on the company's original thirteen-mile shortline connecting Temple to Hamburg, PA that Conrail had abandoned and, as a result, the line came under the control of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In 1990, opportunity knocked and the railroad purchased one hundred thirty miles of railroad from Conrail, known as the "Reading Cluster." The trackage was comprised of former Reading Company track to the heart of the anthracite coalfields in Schuylkill County. As Conrail continued their program of spinning off rail lines that did not fit into its core network, the Reading Blue Mountain & Northern expanded again. In August of 1996, RBMN acquired a portion of Conrail's Lehigh Division. Comprised of over one hundred miles of former Lehigh Valley Railroad trackage, the rail line stretches from the southern foot of the Pocono Mountains at Lehighton through Wilkes-Barre and Scranton and onward to Wyoming County. RBMN negotiated overhead trackage rights over the Carbon-County owned 18-mile railroad that runs between Hometown and Jim Thorpe in order to connect its two divisions. In August of 2001, we completed negotiations with NS and Procter & Gamble that resulted in our taking over exclusive service to P&G's largest manufacturing facility at Mehoopany, PA. Working with NS we were able to provide P&G with an excellent service and rate package that ensured the inbound raw material continued to move by rail. As a result, RBMN has enjoyed over four thousand carloads of P&G business each year since signing the agreements. The two Divisions were now connected and the Lehigh Line had a solid business base from both on-line customers and overhead trackage rights revenues. Moreover, the Lehigh Division was a smooth operation as a result of an agreement made in May of 2003 to have NS deliver inbound interchange cars to RBMN at Penobscot. By the time RBMN celebrated its twentieth anniversary in the fall of 2003, it was a very successful shortline. We had taken our Lehigh Division and connected it with the Reading Division, we had built solid traffic bases on both sides of our system, and we had put in place an excellent operation with upgraded locomotives and freight cars. We were gaining a reputation for customer service and attention to detail. Also in 2005, RBMN took a big step forward to expand its passenger excursion business. RBMN had always had a passenger program. But with the acquisition of the Lehigh Line and the new connections between Jim Thorpe and the Lehigh River Gorge, RBMN was now positioned to offer the region a quality tourist attraction. In May of 2005, the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway was born. Every weekend and holiday from May to Christmas, hundreds of visitors to Jim Thorpe board our passenger coaches for a ride into the Lehigh Gorge. With a solid freight business in hand and a growing passenger operation underway, Andy Muller decided to begin the renovation of his steam engine, No. 425. At the end of 2007, No. 425 was back in service. In 2008, No. 425 will take thousands of guests on steam excursion trips throughout our operating territory.

Reading Blue Mountain & Northern 4-6-2 425 Brief History

Steam engine 425 was originally built in January 1928 as the Gulf, Mobile & Northern 425. She later worked for the Gulf Mobile & Ohio 580 before moving to Louisiana as their 2 and later 4. It later became Valley Forge Scenic 425, and finally Blue Mountain and Reading Railroad 425, and she is now currently restored as Reading Blue Mountain 425.

The Trip

The train consisted of Reading Blue Mountain & Northern 4-6-2 425, Lehigh Gorge SD-50 426, Coaches 303, 309, 306, 304, 302, 305, 308 and 307 with Private Cars #5 Schylkill River and #1 Black Diamond. Here is my ticket for the trip today.

We left Tunkhannock at 9:00 AM sharp for Jim Thorpe.

We followed the Susquehanna River east towards Pittston.

A jeep and motorcyclist provided us with some good laughs as they chased our train. We passed the waterfall called Falls which could be seen through the trees.

Interesting building.

Unnumbered switch engines at the Pittston yard.

We crossed the Lackawanna River.

The steam engine takes the curve into Duryea.


Reading & Blue Mountain engines at Duryea.

The engine still taking the curve. The train passed through Duryea Junction and made a 180 turn as it climbed away from the Lackawanna River. The CP Rail Mainline crossed over ours as we then reached Dupont Jct. The train then started the climb of Penobscot Mountain on a 1.2% grade for the next 16 miles to Soloman's Gap. At Dupont we operated over a double track mainline to Laurel Run.

The line reverts to single track as it climbs and winds up the grade to the Soloman's Cut.

Reading and Northern switcher 1548 at Penobscot Yard.

Penobscot Tower. We ran again on double track from Solomon's Gap to Cresswood where our route reverted to single track as we begin our descent of the Penobscot Mountains.

Views of our train drifting down the grade.

Old Central of New Jersey Milepost Marker.

Our train passed through the 1867 built White Haven Tunnel.

Both ends of the train just before we passed through White Haven.

After White Haven our train took another curve as we entered the Lehigh State Park.

The first crossing of the Lehigh River. The rafters were out in force today.

The train passed through Tannery

Rolling down the Lehigh Gorge.

At MP 137 our train passed through the curved Rockport Tunnel.

The train in the beautiful Lehigh Gorge.

The train crossed the Lehigh River for the second time.

At Independence the Norfolk Southern line from Hazleton joined the Lehigh Gorge. The gorge used to have three different railroads running through it.

The old Central Railroad of New Jersey grade is a bike and hiking trail through the Lehigh Gorge State Park.

The train drifting down the Lehigh Gorge.

The third crossing of the Lehigh River.

Our fourth and final crossing of the Lehigh River before our train arrived into Jim Thorpe. I detrained.

The Jim Thorpe Station.

Lehigh Gorge SD-50 426. I had lunch at Molly Maguires Pub and Steakhouse and enjoyed a 24 ounce steak for lunch. After lunch I took a look around the yard.

Another view of the Jim Thorpe station.

A line of private cabooses of many fallin flag railroads.

Erie Caboose C3333.

Jersey Central Lines Caboose 91507.

Erie Lackawanna Caboose C-191.

Reading Caboose 94070.

Lehigh Valley Caboose 95023.

Pennsylvania 477854.

Three views of the Reading and Blue Mountain 425.

Warner 14.

Reading and Blue Mountain 425 backing towards the town. I walked back stopping in the gift shop for a T-shirt. I then went to the Gulf Service Station for a Coca-Cola before I sat under a tree on a beautiful afternoon. They pulled up the train at 3:20 and we left Jim Thorpe at 4:00 PM. I relaxed most of the way back to Tunkhannock. About six miles out we came to a stop as the handle on the tender had jiggled shut stopping the water to the engine. A brief stop was made to fix it. We also played trivia over the PA System before we arrived back in Tunkhannock at 7:42 PM. We took the first shuttle bus back to the car. It had been a wonderful trip behind the Reading and Blue Mountain 425 steam engine today.

Randy and I drove US Highway 6 back to Scranton then took Interstate 81 to Interstate 84 which we took all the way to Danbury, Connecticut and checked into the Super 8 Motel for the night.