Conrail Wilkes-Barre Cluster Memories


April 10, 2007

All this PNER talk has jogged my memory about the Conrail Wilkes-Barre Cluster. One of the things I recall is the Sunday morning switch job that would go down the old Lehigh Valley Passenger main in the North End of the City. Most unremarlable, just a switcher in blue paint and a string of cars. What was remarkable was that it was almost always on time. As we were coming back fron Church, it could be seen trundling down the line.

It ran during the week too. Some of the guys in school would throw a tie across the tracks and hide in the bushes to watch the conductor come out of the cab to remove it, cursing all the way.

I do recall some working of the old CNJ branch on the upper part of George Ave. (althought this is a little foggy) In the lated 70s the school bus I was on passed this way. Occasinally a short train could be found plying this branch from Gardner\'s switch and Hudson to the area of Conyngham Ave and to the Downtown. It most likely connected with Interchage tracks in the area of the Butler Street Bridge. The last time a train was ran over this was for the scrapping of the line - in the early 80s they were just like cutting down the poles and ripping up sidings. I was going to go down to get some insulators but I forgot about it somehow.

One other tidbit is that they did not keep up the tracks as they should have and there were some derailments of locomotives and short trains. In the early 70\'s when we lived on Kidder Street a Conrail Train derailed near Coal Street. My mother took us for a walk to see it. Nothing much, just a Conrail switcher, stuck, half off the rails as it was starting to snow. The next day it was removed. (It was on the radio and that is how we found out about it)

Only other thing I can really remember is that the yard on South Street was really used in the late 70s (across from Bishop Hoban), unitl all the tracks were ripped up. A lot of cars would be stored and off loaded here (LCL) into trucks off of loading docks.

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