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Philly NRHS - Railfan Pictures of the Week


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The Philadelphia Chapter of the

National Railway Historical Society

Established in 1936


Railfan Pictures of the Week - 5/29/2016

Former Reading/Conrail trackage American Street Philadelphia PA April 23 2016


On July 2 1855, the North Pennsylvania Railroad opened with an excursion out of their Cohoquinoque Station at Front and Willow Street on the Delaware River waterfront and headed north out to the end of the line at the time, what is now Gwynedd Valley. The route they took went up American Street in Philadelphia, and 161 years later, here it is. The North Penn was subsequently leased by the Reading Company in 1879 and the much of the trackage remained in service for a century more until it was abandoned by Conrail in the early 1980's. The multi-track right of way was purchased by the city in 1978 and, in hopes to revive local industries, rebuilt with a single track running down the middle and 15 sidings to former or existing businesses (a quarter of the sidings that existed fifty years earlier). The roadway was designed to accomodate both vehicular and rail traffic and widened to 90 feet, making it one of the widest streets in the city. Although the revitalization plan ultimately failed and it hasn't seen a train in decades (and probably never will again), much of the trackage remains.

Here is the view looking south from Columbia Avenue toward Girard.

Looking north, a glimpse of the trackage in service at the end, a mere fraction of the rails in use in the heyday of the area during the early 1900's.
To the right, a whole bunch of sidings going nowhere.
To the left, you have heard of street running, how about sidewalk running.
At American and Diamond, a siding that still has its bumper intact, along with a suggestion to prevent putting a truck on the asphalt and having to explain it to the road foreman.
At the north end of the street at Cambria, the roadway splits where the rails continued north to the Erie Avenue Yard and SEPTA at Tabor Junction, where it rejoined the main line. Most of the tracks north of here have been removed.

All pictures April 23, 2016

Copyright © 2016 John P. Almeida

Photographs for personal use only. All rights reserved by original owner of image. Reproduction or redistribution in any form without express written permission is prohibited.

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Last Updated May 29, 2016

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