Research Blog

In my pursuit of modeling the Pennsylvania Railroad and Lewistown with historical accuracy, articles in this blog will address specific topics.

Your contributions and insights are not only welcome, but appreciated!

Articles are sorted by modification date, so if an existing article receives an update it will be presented at the top of the list again.

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 Two early views of the Standard Steel plant from Burnham.

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IMG 1946

The LN destination is comprised of the Lewistown Secondary, Furnace Branch Siding, and the Milroy Secondary.

Milepost (MP) references are taken from the 1945 CT1000 and are distances from Lewistown passenger station.

Where street addresses are indicated, the years in parenthesis indicate first and last years confirmed in street directories. Entites could have been at the address before and after these dates.

1936 flood bridge

The floods of 1936 occurred throughout Pennsylvania March 18-20 and became known as the St. Patrick's Day Floods.

The railroad placed loaded hopper cars on the Juniata River bridge to "hold it down". It paid off; the bridge was saved, unlike the 1889 flood which swept the bridge away.

Mann Edge 1925

The LN destination is comprised of the Lewistown Secondary, Furnace Branch Siding, and the Milroy Secondary.

Milepost (MP) references are taken from the 1945 CT1000 and are distances from Lewistown passenger station.

Where street addresses are indicated, the years in parenthesis indicate first and last years confirmed in street directories. Entites could have been at the address before and after these dates.

IMG 3635

Lewistown Station in 1950.

The PRR Middle Division in HO Scale depicts the Pennsylvania Railroad passing Lewistown station circa 1954 and includes the Lewistown Secondary and Milroy Secondary.

The Pennsylvania Railroad's Middle Division spanned from Harrisburg (exclusive) to Altoona (inclusive). Lewistown is approximately in the middle between these two points.

The LN destination is comprised of the Lewistown Secondary, Furnace Branch Siding, and the Milroy Secondary.

Milepost (MP) references are taken from the 1945 CT1000 and are distances from Lewistown passenger station.

Where street addresses are indicated, the years in parenthesis indicate first and last years confirmed in street directories. Entites could have been at the address before and after these dates.

cropped PRRdepotLewistownPA062451rp1

A selection of railfanning shots on the main line at Lewistown...

 The locals refer to this area as "Mount Rock". This is the area where the McDonald's restaurant is today on Electric Avenue. 

Electric Avenue, looking east, 1958:electric avenue 1958 mt rock mill

 

menzies aerial

Aerial view of Menzies. Lewistown is to the left and Burnham is to the right. The Kishacoquillas Park swimming pool is in the foreground. This photo is probably from the late 1940s or so; the route 322/22 highway has not yet been constructed across Electric Avenue.

IMG 2791

Pennsylvania Railroad location "XA" denotes Lewistown, south of the Juniata River, which can be discussed in two sections. The first is the Main Line between Harrisburg and Altoona, and the second is the portion on the Lewistown Secondary (this article), which includes the yard and the American Viscose plant.

On the Lewistown Secondary

Timeline

During the 1870s, shops were built at Lewistown Junction. There was a frame enginehouse with four stalls and a 50' turntable. (The turntable would later be upgrade to __' and again to 110'.)

In 1886, a new enginehouse was constructed, but it was consumed by fire in 1887. It's replacement was built by 1889 and was believed to have 12 stalls. By 1917 it had been reduced to six stalls and by 1928 it was down to three stalls. It remained in service until consumed by fire in 1967 or 1970.

Milroy

Late 1800's atlas of Milroy:

N. O. Reardick (Not Rail-Served During Period Modeled)

Not listed in any of the CT1000's.

A late 1800's atlas shows this location as a lumber yard and labeled TU&Co. (or IU&Co.)

Valuation map shows N. O. Reardick with its own siding. The map was updated in 1939, 1958 and later.

Appears in Penn Pilot aerial photographs of 1938, 1957, and 1971. The 1938 aerial view closely matches the footprint on the valuation map, which was originally drawn in 1918. The later aerial shots, being less clear, show an expanded or different structure at this location.

water color of station

Pennsylvania Railroad location "XA" denotes Lewistown, south of the Juniata River, which can be discussed in two sections. The first is the Main Line (this article) between Harrisburg and Altoona, and the second is the portion on the Lewistown Secondary, which includes the yard and the American Viscose plant.

On the Main Line

Timeline

Between 1849 and the end of 1853, construction of the original Lewistown station about 200' east of the present station. It was a three story brick structure that included a hotel and restaurant.

In 1868 the present station opened, having been a renovation and expansion of the 1849/50 freight warehouse. It measured approximately 40'6" by 126' with bays on the front and back which measured 8'6" by 15'.

Bethlehem Steel Co. No. 1

Listed as James C. Naginey and A. G. Morris No. 9 in 1900 CT1000.

Listed as Cambria Steel Co. No. 1--Stone Siding in 1923 CT1000.

Listed in 1945 CT1000.  

Photo is of an NRHS excursion train passing the tipple at Naginey in 1937.

Mann_Reedsville_Narrows.jpg

At the entrance to Mann's Narrows, the original roadway crossed the railroad at grade. The Lewistown & Reedsville Electric Railway crossed overhead. 

National Limestone Co. No. 3 (Gone by Period Modeled)

Listed in 1923 CT1000.

Not in 1945 CT1000. 

Station (Gone by Period Modeled)

Listed in 1923 CT1000.

Not in 1945 CT1000. (Passenger service ceased in 1941.)

old Lewistown trackage

A number of data sources may be employed when researching how the Pennsylvania Railroad interacted with the landscape. These sources include but are not limited to:

  • ICC Railroad Valuation Maps
  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
  • Historical Topographic Maps
  • Penn Pilot Aerial Imagery
  • PRR Form CT1000 and equivalents
  • PRR Employee Timetables
  • Telephone Directories

Station (Gone by Period Modeled)

Listed in 1923 CT1000.

Not listed in 1945 CT1000. (Passenger service ceased in 1941.)

Honey Creek shelter, 1917:
1917 honey creek shelter
 

 

National Limestone Co. No. 2--West End (Gone by Period Modeled)

Listed in the 1900 CT1000 as Woods & Co.

Listed in the 1923 CT1000.

Not listed in the 1945 CT1000. 

Acetylene Gas Plant

For years I did not know what this building was, thinking maybe it was a gas works that supplied gas to the town, Finally, Donald Swank chimed in on the If you're really from Burnham, PA, you would remember this FaceBook page...

"Your unknown building called the Gas Plant. It did not supply gas to the town. It’s purpose was to manufacture acetylene gas. Maintenance required a lot of torch burning and welding. They ran acetylene and oxygen pipes side by side through out the plant. They had drop downs off the main piping at several locations in every shop. Maintenance did not have to cart oxygen and acetylene bottles. Just had to have their torch, hose and gages. These acetylene lines were feed from the Gas Plant. Oxygen was generated at a different location and feed into the oxygen lines. I think Rudy Doebler was the last person to work in the Gas Plant. They get there gases from very large bulk tanks now. It’s delivered by tractor trailer gas trucks. Instead of laying Rudy off, they let him transfer to the Pipefitter gang. Rudy was our dear friend Marsha Nulls father!" 

"The Gas Plant was not in operation when I started there in 1968. But if I remember what Mr. Elder told me in Chemistry Class, if you mix water with calcium carbide, the mixture will generate acetylene. So I am assuming they mixed water and carbide to make the gas."

Overview

The Lewistown Secondary is a 2.3 mile stretch of track from Lewistown (on the Middle Division main line) to the junction with the Milroy Secondary and the Selinsgrove Secondary.

The Lewistown Secondary has its roots in the Mifflin & Centre County Railroad, which was incorporated April 2, 1860, to build from Lewistown to a point near Milesburg in Centre County. The Pennsylvania Railroad Company invested in the new railroad and construction began in February 1863. The line reached Reedsville, a distance of seven miles, by May 1, 1865. The line entered into a 999-year operating lease with the Pennsylvania Railroad, dated May 27, 1865.

By January 6, 1868, the line extended another 5.4 miles from Reedsville to Milroy, which proved to be its final terminus.

Under PRR management, the Mifflin & Centre County and the Sunbury & Lewistown, effective December 1, 1871, were formed into a separate operational unit known as the Lewistown Division. The Sunbury & Lewistown met the Mifflin & Centre County about two miles east of the main line at Lewistown as its western terminus.

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Timeline

For the greatest span of its life (1941-1956), the Pennsy's Middle Division main line spanned from BANKS tower (exclusive) near Marysville, Pa., to SLOPE tower near Altoona, Pa.

The following historical references to the Middle Division come from Chris Baer's "Chronology of the Pennsylvania Railroad"...

April 18, 1847 PRR Board confirms engineer corps for Eastern Division... no corps is appointed for Middle Division crossing Allegheny Mountain, and Thomson abolishes it after taking charge, placing the division point at the summit; later a separate Mountain Division is created for the engineering work in the section between Altoona and Johnstown."

Mar. 10, 1848 Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railroad orders additional surveys between Hudson and Cleveland; contracts 32 miles of the Middle Division.

Feb. 3, 1855 Granville Bridge on Middle Division destroyed by fire.

Overview

The Milroy Secondary began life as the Mifflin and Centre County Railroad (M&CC), incorporated on April 2, 1860. The Pennsylvania Railroad assisted in the construction of the first seven miles of the line, to Reedsville, which was completed by May 1, 1865. The M&CC then initiated a 999 year lease with the PRR to operate the line. By January 6, 1868, the line reached Milroy.

In 1896, the M&CC merged with the nearby Sunbury & Lewistown Railway Company. The PRR executed a new 79 year operating lease on October 1, 1896. Several minor reorgs occured, culminating in the line being merged into the Pennsylvania Railroad as of April 1, 1902.

Having spent most of its life operating as part of the PRR's Lewistown Division, the newly absorbed line was detached for operating purposes from the Pennsylvania Railroad Grand Division and became part of the Philadelphia and Erie Grand Division.

No later than 1911, the line was part of the Sunbury Division. Sometime before September 25, 1927, the line was transferred to the Middle Division. 

See: Milroy Secondary Divisional Heritage.

The Kishacoquillas Valley R. R. operated passenger trains over the branch under an operating agreement through 1941. When passenger traffic was discontinued, the branch was redesignated a secondary, which changed the rules under which it operated.