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Anthracite Country: Hazleton West

The Conrail symbol AH-1 (Allentown-Hazleton) arrives at Hazleton Yard in 1979. The LV Pups continue to be in use on the Hazleton Man, as this job was commonly called. The four renumbered SW8’s lead two repainted SW8’s for this trip. Here is where we’ll begin our journey to Mount Carmel. —Kodachrome by Dave Augsburger, collection of Mike Bednar.

Anthracite Country: Hazleton West

TRP 2023-01by Mike Bednar/photos as noted

In Issue No. 30, we explored the Lehigh Valley Anthracite territory as far west as Hazleton Yard. In this issue we will follow the line from Hazleton to Mount Carmel where the LV interchanged with the Pennsylvania Railroad.

We’ll start our tour in Hazleton yard, which is located on the east side of Pennsylvania’s city with the highest elevation above sea level. It is said that summer in Hazleton is July 4 and 5, and the rest of the year is winter!

When the locals that worked out of Hazleton left the yard in a westward direction, they encountered a severe grade and a multitude of grade crossings on their way to Locust Junction. From here, they could continue west to Gowen via the old Tomhicken Secondary and Gowen Secondary tracks out of Cranberry Junction. The West Hazleton and Valmont Industrial Tracks would become major revenue producers in freight car loadings after many of the Anthracite customers disappeared in the mid-1960s.

Lehigh Valley

ABOVE: When the locals left Hazleton Yard, they travelled over the many road crossings in town and passed the site of the Lehigh Valley Hazleton Station and the Pennsylvania Railroad freight house. On June 9, 1957, the LV passenger con-nection trains consisting of Budd RDC’s stand at the station while the local to Locust Junction freight yard and West Hazleton slides between them. Notice the Schlitz and Schmidt’s beer trucks on the right side of the photo at Ferdinand Distributors. —Kodachrome by Ken Von Steuben, collection of Mike Bednar.

Gowen was actually on the old Pennsylvania Railroad branch to Nescopeck, which the LV picked up after the Pennsy abandoned the Schuylkill Branch from Mount Carbon to Nescopeck in 1966. The PRR had trackage rights over the LV from New Boston to Gum Run, including the city of Hazleton. The Lehigh Valley picked up the business from Morea Colliery to Newton and also from Gum Run to Gowen at that time. Gowen provided coal loads even through the early Conrail years (July 1983), when Conrail divested the branch from Tomhicken to Gowen to a short line known as the “Sugar Loaf & Hazleton.” They went out of business in 1989 when the coal loads ended…

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This article was posted on: March 2, 2023