On one of the “must do” trips from the N&WHS Convention vacation in 2017 was a ride on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Ry. The first time I was at Jim Thorpe in the early 1970s after the Central Railroad of New Jersey had discontinued their Pennsylvania operations. I have been to Jim Thorpe a couple of times since then, but not since the Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern commenced their scenic runs. These daily trips run from the former CNJ station in Jim Thorpe to the junction with Norfolk Southern’s Ashmore Secondary (ex-Lehigh Valley Hazleton Branch) at Old Pen Haven, about 7 miles. We elected for the 11:00 AM run.
1. Lehigh Gorge Scenic Ry (LGSR) Brochure page 1.
2. Lehigh Gorge Scenic Ry (LGSR) Brochure page 2.
3. Lehigh Gorge Scenic Ry depot. Jim Thorpe PA.
4. Reading, Blue Mountain Northern 2532 was originally AT&SF GP30, but was re-built by BNSF as a “GP39RN”. It is one of three on the shortline’s roster. Jim Thorpe PA.
5. RBMN GP39RN 2532. View 2. Jim Thorpe PA.
6. RBMN GP39RN 2532. View 3. Jim Thorpe PA.
7. Crossing the Lehigh River between Nesquehoning Jct. and Coalport. RBMN 2532. Coalport PA.
8. Crossing the Lehigh River. Coalport PA.
9. We are approaching the new connection between Reading & Northern (CNJ) and Norfolk Southern / R&N Lehigh Line (LV). I think NS owns one track and R&N the other. West of here the track is former Lehigh Valley Railroad. When CNJ and LV combined their tracks in the gorge in 1965, the connection was further west at Hetchel. This new interlocking is “Coal.” RBMN 2532. Coalport PA.
10. Westbound at Ox Bow Curve. The CNJ was on the level of the gravel road prior to 1965. RBMN 2532.
11. Old Penn Haven is the end of LGSR’s 70-minute round trip. RBMN 2532 is running around the train to the east end for the return trip. That’s NS’s Ashmore Secondary (LV Hazleton Branch) on the left.
12. RBMN 2532. View 2. Old Penn Haven.
13. The nearest bridge now used for park access is former CNJ. Presumably the concrete pier and abandoned tunnel were also CNJ. The location is Glen Onoko PA. ex-CNJ tunnel.
14. Approaching the Coalport Bridge over the NS / R&N (former LV) main. RBMN 2532. Coalport PA.
15. Crossing the Lehigh River...again. Coalport PA..
16. On the west side of the river, we pass the abandoned CNJ tower at Nesquehoning Jct. Pictures show this tower as being active up until the curtailment of operations on the Pennsylvania Div. in 1972. The CNJ’s Nesquehoning Valley Branch extended to an important connection with the Reading at Haucks, 15 miles. CNJ reached the isolated 7-mile Tresckow Br. and its mines via trackage rights over the Reading. R&N has pieced this together now as their main line to Port Clinton.
17. Approaching Jim Thorpe PA and passing the former CNJ engine terminal on the right. RBMN 2532.
18. RBMN 2532 arriving Jim Thorpe PA.
19. The Carbon County Court House is where many of the “Molly Maguires” were tried and hung. Tourism is a big business here now. This was the original “coal town” in America. Coal was moved over Lehigh Coal & Navigations gravity railroad from their mines in the Panther Valley to canal boats at Mauch Chunk (later renamed Jim Thorpe in honor of the famous Native American sports star who us buried there. Jim Thorpe PA.
20. The Asa Packer mansion is under renovation. We toured it in 1988 or 1989. Packer was an early principal in the Lehigh Valley Railroad. In fact LV named a passenger train after him. Jim Thorpe PA.
21. RBMN “SW8M” 803 is a former Lehigh Valley SW8 “pup.” These dynamic Brake equipped switchers were bought for and used into the Conrail era on the Ashmore Secondary (Hazleton Branch). Jim Thorpe PA.
22. RBMN SW8M 803. View 2. Jim Thorpe PA.
23. RBMN SW8M 803. View 3. Jim Thorpe PA.
24. I’m not sure the function of the tank car. Perhaps it is stationed in Jim Thorpe for fuel. RBMN 101275 tank. Jim Thorpe PA.
25. The turntable was erected by American Bridge Co. in 1918. R&N turntable. Jim Thorpe PA.
26. RBMN undoubtedly use it when they run their steam excursions behind the 4-6-2 in the Fall. R&N turntable. View 2. Jim Thorpe PA.
27. R&N main-line track connection signage.
28. After the CNJ pullout from Pennsylvania this bridge was no longer used. After the R&N takeover they were required to back east on the old CNJ main from Jim Thorpe to Packerton Jct. (west end of the LV yard at Lehighton) in order to run to Pittston. The track was put back in service between Nesquehoning Jct. and Coalport . RBMN 2532. Coalport PA.
29. On the left is the multi-use Delaware & Lehigh Trail. RBMN 2532 on bridge. Coalport PA.
30. This is the 1:00 PM train. RBMN cab 92844. Coalport PA.
31. Back at Jim Thorpe Yard LEPI (Lehighton to Pittston) has set out some cars picked up at the NS interchange in Lehighton. These will evidently go to Port Clinton, Reading, etc. when that train runs. RBMN 3053-5049. Jim Thorpe yard.
32. 3053 is an ex-UP SD40-2 that was originally MoPac. RBMN SD40-2 3053-5049. View 2. Jim Thorpe yard.
33. 5049 is an ex-UP SD50. RBMN 5049-3053. View 3. Jim Thorpe yard.
34. The 1:00 PM train backs into Jim Thorpe. RBMN cab 92844. Jim Thorpe yard.
35. RBMN 5049-3053. Jim Thorpe yard.
36. Departing LEPI will use the re-laid track over the two bridges to reach the Lehigh Line at “Coal.” Previously LEPI / PILE originated at Jim Thorpe and turned at Pittston. Now the crew calls Pittston their home terminal. RBMN SD50 5049. Jim Thorpe PA.
All for now.