An exploration of the glory days of transporting the POTUS (President of the United States) by rail. Discussion includes the Ferdinand Magellan, an armored rail car modified just for the task. A deep dive will focus on one specific trip over the Pennsylvania and the Bellefonte Central railroads.

Presented at the PRRT&HS Northern Central Chapter meeting on September 8th 2019; scheduled for RPM EAST in March 2020; and tentatively scheduled for the PRRT&HS Annual Meeting in May 2020.


A look at the pair of dual track main lines that ran from Wago Junction, Pa., to BANKS tower at Marysville, Pa,

Presented at the PRRT&HS Northern Central Chapter meeting in April 2012 and the PRRT&HS Annual Meeting in May 2012.

In The Works...


A presentation of the history and infrastructure of the Pennsylvania Railroad's Middle Division at Lewistown, Pa., its yard there, and the Lewistown Secondary heading east from there. Discussion will include the speaker's modeling based on available information on the prototype.


A presentation of the history and infrastructure of the Pennsylvania Railroad's Milroy Secondary out of Lewistown, Pa.. Discussion will include the speaker's modeling based on available information on the prototype.

McVeytown, Pa.

Although the railroad referred to this location as McVeytown, McVeytown was technically on the opposite side of the Juniata River and was originally founded as ______. The village on the railroad side of the river was Manayunk. The Pennsylvania Railroad reached McVeytown in 1849. Public passenger train service to and from McVeytown commenced on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1849.

From volume eight, number three, of The Keystone:

Q32: What is the story on the interlocking and crossovers that were to be installed near McVeytown, Pa. to break up the 24-mile long block between "Lewis" and "Jacks" Towers on the Middle Division?
A32: The project was authorized in September 1945- Four crossovers were installed between tracks 1 and 2 and tracks 3 and 4 during 1946. The interlocking was to be remotely controlled from a planned new fireproof tower at "Jacks". For some reason the project was abandonned and the new switches were apparently never put into operation. Boards were installed to hold the switches in place. After a year or two the switches were removed. "Jacks" Tower was never changed.


There were separate freight and passenger structures on the north side of the main tracks at McVeytown. In the earlier years, a watch tower protected the road crossing. Here are two views of the passenger station:

The freight station was built in 1888.

mcveytown 1966McVeytown, 1966.  

H. O. Andrews No. 2

Steve Cutshall indicates that Andrews was a feed/grain operation, also on the north side of the main tracks. It was listed as J. T. Rodgers in 1923 CT1000. It was listed as W. M. Atkinson No. 1 and No. 2 in the 1900 CT1000.

Team Track

Steve Cutshall indicates that was a team track on the south side of the main tracks. It is shown on the 1955 signal chart, but there is no entry in the CT1000's.


Granville Bridge

The following description is from the Library of Congress (HAER No. PA-534):

Heading west from Harrisburg in 1847, Chief Engineer J. Edgar Thomson surveyed a route for the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) that more or less followed the Pennsylvania Canal over the Allegheny Mountains on its way to Pittsburgh. The canal remained on the Juniata River's north bank, which was usually too narrow for the railroad to share. Thomson's route therefore used the south bank from the Juniata's mouth to Lewistown, a distance of about fifty five miles.


Between Lewistown and Granville, however, a difficult curve in the river made the north bank more favorable. Two long bridges across the river slowed the westward progress of construction, so from 1 September to 24 December 1849, Lewistown was the end of the line.

On the latter date, the first of a succession of structures known as the Granville Bridge opened to traffic. Located 1.25 miles west of Lewistown, it carried a single track on five 120'-0" wooden Howe truss spans. The first Granville Bridge was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in February 1855.


A decade later, an unknown contractor erected new two-track iron deck trusses on extensions of the existing stone piers. As part of PRR main line improvements in 1887, the spans were replaced with stronger trusses. Historic photographs show that these were doubleintersection Pratt deck trusses. Eye-bars comprising the diagonal and lower chord members were definitely wrought iron; tubular vertical members with elaborate end connections were likely cast. Shortly thereafter, PRR completed third and fourth tracks from the Susquehanna River to the east end of the Granville Bridge, but the two-track bridges at Rockville and Granville continued to limit capacity at either end of this segment. During the spring floods of 1889, the broad Susquehanna failed to dislodge the Rockville Bridge from its piers, but the narrower and faster-flowing Juniata took out four of the Granville Bridge's five spans. Using a combination of new and salvaged trusses, PRR crews managed to put the bridge back in service. Neither the Rockville nor the Granville bridge would last long into the twentieth century, however, as PRR sought to eliminate these two-track bottlenecks from its main line.


The current four-track stone arch bridge at Granville, like the much longer structure at Rockville, reflects PRR's monumental capital investment and desire for "permanent" structures in the early twentieth century. Although Chief Engineer William H. Brown had designed stone arches as early as 1887 at Johnstown, it was a flurry of masonry construction between 1900 and 1906 that earned him a reputation as the railroad's "stone man." Under the leadership of President Alexander J. Cassatt, PRR spent record amounts tunneling under the Hudson River into New York City, separating passenger and freight traffic in eastern Pennsylvania, and upgrading its main line to four tracks across the state. As part of the improvements, Brown and his staff designed notably long and expensive stone arch bridges over the Delaware, Juniata, Raritan, and Susquehanna rivers. The Granville Bridge is significant as a well-preserved example of a medium-length structure built during this period in the railroad's history.


It is unclear which of Brown's staff might have designed the Granville Bridge, which was built during the 1905 construction season. Many of its details resemble those of the Rockville Bridge completed three years earlier, pointing to design standards for stone arch spans. Even if standards existed, it would have been necessary for a knowledgeable engineer to adapt them to local conditions. The Granville Bridge is possibly the work of Assistant Engineer Alexander C. Shand, who succeeded Brown as Chief Engineer in 1906 and played a large role in construction of another bridge at Mount Union. A plaque on the Granville Bridge lists the names of Brown, Shand, and Assistant Engineer F. M. Sawyer, who supervised construction. The contractor, Eyre Construction Co. of Philadelphia, also receives credit on the plaque.


The Granville Bridge is 56'-0" wide and has eight segmental stone arch spans, each 70'-0" long. Most of the piers are 8'-0" wide, but the middle pier is 16'-0", bringing the total length to 624'-0" between abutments. At Rockville, wider piers occur at intervals to resist unbalanced thrust from an incomplete structure, providing convenient stopping points between construction seasons. The much shorter Granville Bridge was completed in a single year, so its wider middle pier probably serves more of an aesthetic function. With an even number of spans, the bridge has no easily identified center. The subtle difference in width draws the eye to the middle pier and balances the composition. Further emphasis is provided by corbeled projections from the spandrel walls at mid-span, providing 3'-0" by 16'-0" safety niches on either side. These features have a trapezoidal shape in elevation, echoing PRR's trademark keystone.


The Granville Bridge's construction sequence is not well-documented, but because of similar conditions in the Susquehanna and Juniata rivers, can be interpolated with reasonable certainty from the Rockville Bridge. All of the Granville Bridge's piers are founded on rock, which lies just below the shallow river's bottom. As with the Rockville Bridge, the arch rings were probably constructed on wooden truss falsework standing in the river bed. In both bridges, the 42"-thick rings consist of cut-stone voussoirs that contrast with rough ashlar spandrel walls and pier faces. The arches are segmental, with a radius of 40'-7-l/2" and a rise 20'-0" from springing to crown. In his description of PRR structures at Lewistown, historian James J. D. Lynch, Jr., states that the Granville Bridge was built in longitudinal halves, with the westbound tracks "supported in part on the stone piers of the 1889 Bridge." It may be true that each ring was built in longitudinal halves, using the same falsework twice, as with the Rockville Bridge.


Neither structure re-used the stone piers of its predecessor, however. At Granville, the old piers still stand upstream of the present bridge. After completing the arch rings, the contractor would have constructed spandrel walls and haunches, which reduce the amount of fill necessary to provide a level rail bed at 7-0" above the arch crowns. Unlike the unreinforced concrete haunches found at Rockville, as-built drawings of the Granville Bridge show a "grouted rubble backing," which was probably a less expensive material.


Maintenance records indicate alterations in 1927 and 1950. It is unclear on which of these dates steel tie rods were added to the bridge's exterior. This was no doubt done to stop spreading of the spandrel walls and longitudinal cracking in the arch rings. Coping stones have been covered with reinforced concrete on the upstream side of the bridge. Nonetheless, the Granville Bridge appears today much as it did in 1905. It remains in active service, carrying freight and Amtrak passenger trains.

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Mays Bridge

Stone arch bridge, built 1905-06 by Pennsylvania RR; concrete reinforcements added by Conrail in 1980s/1990s

Original wooden 5-span Linville Truss ca. 1860, replaced by cast iron Whipple deck truss ca. 1870; washed out 1889, replaced by another bridge.

Total length: 630.0 ft.

mays1 mays2



Station (MP 64.4)



Mifflin Sand Company

The Mifflin Sand Company was located on the north side of the main tracks. It was listed as Mifflin Sand Company in the 1923 CT1000. It was listed as McVeytown (Quarry) in the 1900 CT1000 as location 264.




Duncannon is one of many towns along the Middle Division main line where the railroad originally went through town. As the town grew, it impeded the railroad. The railroad bypassed the town to avoid grade crossings, etc.

1911 Sanborn Maps

sb duncannon 1911 2 sb duncannon 1911 3 sb duncannon 1911 4 sb duncannon 1911 5
sb duncannon 1911 6 sb duncannon 1911 7 sb duncannon 1911 8 sb duncanon 1911 1


Sherman's Creek Bridge

Public Dely. (MP 14.7)

Passenger and Freight Station (MP 14.8)

The building was commissioned in 1900 and completed in 1902. Blue Ridge Communications, a cable company, purchased the building in 2005. After totally remodeling the building and trying to keep it as original as possible, but still making it functional, the building had a grand re-opening in 2009.

originalDuncanonstationOriginal depot on the old line through town.  DuncanonDepot 11Depot on the new line bypassing town.

Public Dely. (MP 15.1)

Standard Novelty Works (MP 15.5)

The Standard Novelty Works was the manufacturer of the Lightning Glider brand of sleds.

  oldseldworksThe building survives today as The Old Sled Works antique mall.





The tiny hamlet of Hawstone was named for Haws Refractory Co., a fire brick manufacturer located there from 1910-66. Actual factory ruins are hard to find but the stone from which the bricks were made can be easily found throughout the narrow valley.

Haws' Refractories Co. No. 1 (MP 55.6)

Station (MP 55.9)

Haws' Refractories Co. No. 2 (MP 56.2)

9771 newport 1956



1925 Sanborn Maps

sb newport 1925 1 sb newport 1925 2 sb newport 1925 3
sb newport 1925 4 sb newport 1925 6 sb newport 1925 7
sb newport 1925 8 sb newport 1925 9 sb newport 1925 10


H. R. Wentzel & Sons (MP 27.1)

A. C. Schill (MP 27.1)

F. M. Snyder & Co. (MP 27.3)

Station (MP 27.4)

Freight Station (MP 27.6)

Atlantic Refining Co. No. 1 and J. F. Fickes (MP 27.7)

PORT Tower

PICT0018Joe Henry Kline photo.   



Mount Union

Mount Union Huntingdon County taken from the Kistler side of the Juniata River some time prior to 1936Mount Union prior to 1936.   

Bridge over Juniata River

Closed-spandrel arch bridge over Croghan Pike (522) and Juniata River on Norfolk Southern (former PRR).

Built 1906 by PRR, reinforced with concrete by Conrail ca. 1980.

This bridge has six segmental arch spans, each 100' long and 58' wide. The center pier's width was increased 20' making it 8' wider than the others which balances the classic aesthetic rules by giving it an easily identifiable center.

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Passenger Station * (MP 86.7)

Pennsylvania Railroad Depot in the town of Mt. Union Huntingdon County in the early 1900s Pennsylvania Railroad Station located in the town of Mt. Union Huntingdon County in 1908
Train Station in Mt. Union Huntingdon County in 1946  PRR Station
Pennsylvania Railroad Depot along Pennsylvania Avenue in the town of Mt. Union Huntingdon County in the early 1900sOriginal PRR station in town before main line bypassed downtown. mtunion 19701970 view of station.


E. A. Beaver Co. (MP 86.7)


Harbison-Walker Co. (MP 86.7)

Harbison Walker Harbison Walker 2
Harbison Walker aerial view Harbison Walker Refractories Company Mount Union PAjpg
Harbison Walker 3 Dinky Bridge in Mt. Union Huntingdon County
Harbison Walker Refractories Co Mount Union PA Harbison Waler 1988

Transfer & Freight Station (MP 86.8)


Public Track (MP 86.9)


Station -- Transfer E. B. T. R. R. -- N. G. (MP 87.0)

mount union   

General Refractories Co. No. 1 (MP 87.1)

Aerial view of the town of Mt. Union General Refractories Houses Mount Union PA 1990Company houses, 1990.

Scales (MP 87.1)


Mt. Union Wood Preserving Plant (MP 87.2)

Pennsylvania Railroad Creosoting Plant located in Mt. Union   

North American Refractories Co. No. 1 (MP 87.2)

North American Refractories bottom center and General Refractories top right in Mt. Union  North American Refractories
North American Refractories2  

Jackson Power House (MP 87.3)




mifflin 04 1940
Mifflin, 1940s



1925 Sanborn Maps

sb mifflin 1925 1 sb mifflin 1925 4 sb mifflin 1925 5




Wm. H. Manbeck Co. No. 1 (MP 48.9)

Wm. H. Manbeck Co. No. 2 (MP 48.9)


Station (MP 49.0)



Mifflin shops