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LVRR, Sayre, 2003  

The Lehigh Valley Railroad's Sayre yard in 2003.
a tour by Scot Lawrence
photos taken on April 19, 2003

This is a somewhat sad web page. :(

Sayre PA was the main yard and shops for the Lehigh Valley Railroad for nearly a century!
Sayre was the classic "Railroad town".. nearly everyone worked for the Railroad!
(both of my Grandfathers worked on the Railroad in Sayre)

The Lehigh Valley Railroad reached Sayre in the 1870's, it was an important connection with the
Erie Railroad which was already in Waverly.
The Sayre station was built in 1881, and the Shop complex was well under way by the 1890's.
The "Big Shops" were completed in 1904. This was the largest building in the yard.
and one of the largest buildings in the world at the time!
(everyone in the valley always refered to the building as the "Big Shops" with an "s"..plural.
even though it was only one large building. perhaps because there was more than one "shop" inside the building.)
also the "pedestrian bridge" over the locomotive servicing area, was always referred to as "the walkbridge".
im not sure how "local" these terms are..

The LV built Her own Steam Locomotives here from 1904-1925, in the big shops.
Also freight cars and cabooses were built in Sayre. And all Locomotive repairs,(after 1904) Steam and Diesel.
The Big Shops came down in 1988, along with Sayre's other remaining major landmark, the Walkbridge.
Today only the Station, and a few shop buildings remain.

For a few of my photos, I added in a photo from my collection showing the same scene back in the LV days.
where I have a good match.

Well, all is not lost, because trains STILL roll through Sayre today!
although you would be lucky to find more than one train at a time, or more than 3 or 4
locomotives at a time!
Norfolk Southern is the local railroad these days. (It was Conrail from 1976-1999)
And today (April 18, 2003) we have 3 brand new Norfolk Southern GE's in town,
9809, 9805, and 9806.
not even painted yet! (these locomotives are so new, I cant even find them listed on
any NS rosters!)
A set of NS locomotives is common in Sayre, I see them nearly every weekend I visit
the Valley..almost always 6-axle GE's for some reason.

photo by John Campbell, used by permission.

These 3 locomotives are sitting directly under the former location of the walkbridge.

The caboose was built in Sayre. It was aquired from Conrail by the "Valley Railroad Museum"
back in the mid-80's. I was a member of the museum then, and spent many summer evenings
inside the station, on the Station fire-escape, and up on the walkbridge,
watching Conrail GP-38-2's and SD-40-2's roll through town.
The whole yard was basically just as the LV left it then..1986 didnt look any
different than 1976, except the few locomotives parked under the walkbridge were Blue.
and most of the time, no engines were parked there..
but everything was basically unchanged..the whole yard was untouched, only the LV locomotives were gone..
but then about 1987-88 serious demolition began..the big shops and walkbridge came down, and new
buildings were built in the yard.
Today it looks VERY different.


This parking lot is where the West approach to the walkbridge stood. It would have
passed right over the locomotives. The telephone wires were once supported by
the walkbridge.

The view from the Packer Ave. bridge.
Big shops are gone, walkbridge is gone, (replaced by a few wires)
locomotive servicing area and buildings are gone..even the servicing tracks are gone!
That yellow building in the background is new..(built since 1988)
it is the "Guthrie 1"Rescue Chopper facility..(the medical helicopter) they keep the
helicopter there. Its built on the former site of the Roundhouse.
(I hope the new owners of the station knock out that ugly entrance on the south side!
it was built for the resturant back in the 80's..what an ugly wart on a beautiful building!)

notice the passenger platform is still there!

The poles marking the beginning of the Auburn division still stand!

Someone did a fantastic job of restoring the Wilbur Hotel building! (that brick building
in the center of this photo)..lets put them to work on the station!

Speaking of the Sayre station! here She is..
She is basically in good shape, not bad for 122 years old!
She could just use some new paint..
I was a member of the "Valley Railroad Museum" that was located in the station in the
mid-80' started out in a tiny room next to the Evening Times building..then moved to
the station around 84-85 or so (I dont have the exact dates)
by 86-88 it was a very impressive museum! Had all the rooms on the south half of the 2nd floor
just filled with display cases and LV memorabilia and artifacts! There was a very large and
impressive HO scale layout that depicted Waverly, Sayre and Athens..complete with the
Sayre station, walkbridge and big shops! also had the Erie and DL&W in Waverly..
I left for college in '87 and sometime in the late 80's the museum was forced out of the building..
(I wont go into it! and I dont know all the details anyway..I wasnt around then, I was off to college.)
They tried to open a smaller museum in a storefront downtown..twice! but the museum basically died.
the whole collection was taken to Towanda under the care of Bradford County..which im very happy about!
the collection might have been dispersed to the winds!
Today the station is owned by Sayre! and a new group is going to open a museum in the station again!
the "Sayre Historical Society" is the new group in charge..and the collection of the original museum
is going to return from Towanda!! :) great news! Sayre's railroad history is not lost.
check them out..Sayre Historical Society.

(interesting side has been said that in 1976 you could have purchased the Sayre Station
from Conrail for 1$! they just wanted to get rid of it! could be just an "urban legend"..but might
also be true!)

NS has put up signs to attempt to keep people from crossing the tracks here..
its not working! ;) in the short 15-20 minute span I was walking around here,
I saw probably 10 people walk acros the tracks! right next to the signs!
well..NS is probaly just "covering their butt" in case someone gets hurt..

The view from the fire escape..

Heading over to the shops now..that small brick building was the "hammer shop"
(based on the map on page 186 of the Archer book).... one of only 3 major shop
building still standing today.

From the same spot, looking can see the station and the NS engines in the distance.
this parking lot and the new yellow/cream colored building is built basically right on top
of the former location of the Roundhouse.
this is the Guthrie rescue chopper facility. (the chopper was outside but I didnt think
to snap a picture of it!)

Walking up to the edge of the "Big Shops"..
see those red brick fragments on the ground? yep..those
are actual pieces of the building! (I picked up and kept a whole
brick when the building was torn down in '88!)
I didnt see any complete bricks..just these fragments..
but if you want an actual piece of the big shops, its not too late!

I have just stepped through the wall of the Big Shops! and am now standing on the floor
in the SW corner of the building..(the corner closest to the Roundhouse)..
all that concrete is the actual floor of the building..


Along the west edge of the Big shops..the grass and road are outside the building..
the concrete and trees are inside the building!

Here is the hammer shop again.

This is the building behind the Big shops..originally the "store house"
(again based on page 186 of the Archer book)
the second major shop building still remaining..
today it is in use by Rynone industries..I think they make furniture here!
the parking lot was full of cars! looks like they are busy..

A random small shop building..not sure what it was..this is off the NE corner of the big shops.

There are 3 companys using the Sayre yard.. Guthrie for their chopper..
Rynone using the "store house"
and GE railcar uses the largest portion of the yard.
they repair freight cars here.
There was a passenger car in the yard today! lettered for Tioga Central.

In the middle distance is the third major shop building still standing..originally the Passenger
car shop. im not sure if it is use by GE railcar or not.

There are only 3 major buildings from the LV era still standing in the yard.
The "hammer shop"
The passenger car shop.
and the storage house (in use by Rynone)

Thats it for my photos..for now...

Check out the two HUGE aerial photos!
These were taken March 27, 1995.
Here is the un-marked photo.
Here is the same photo, but I drew in the DL&W ROW and other landmarks.
(I spent lots of time carefully drawing in the labels..with nice crisp red letters..
then when I saved the image JPEG compression severely blurred them! alas..)

A postcard of the Big Shops.
the shops were built in 1904, this postcard is
from 1907! this is the "front" (south) side of the shops.
all those tracks in the foreground are the beginning
of the Auburn division.
(If this building were modeled (to scale) in HO scale, it would be 4X8 feet!)

Here is a great shot from 1924.
This is the same SW corner of the big shops..the same corner I walked through in the photos above.

And to end our tour, a lovely scene from the Packer Ave bridge in 1895.
(wish they had kept that park where Newberry's is now!)

another "urban legend"... could be true!
The story goes that around 1948-49 when the LV was scrapping all the 4-8-4
Wyomings, they offered one of them to Sayre to display in that park..
Sayre (town Govt) turned them down..they didnt want it!


thats it! hope you enjoyed this tour of Sayre..
To end your tour on a MUCH happier note,
return to the LVRR Surviving Locomotives page
and see some LV heritage that is still in the prime of life! :)

Aerial photos!
Check out these great photos of the Sayre yard!
by Greg Deibler.
January 2004.

Aerial 1
Aerial 2
Aerial 3

other tours, from the same weekend.

1. Van Etten junction on the LV
2. Sayre (this page)
3. The DL&W in South Waverly.

Scot Lawrence
April 2003