Article / Photography by Kevin Burkholder
|An on again, off again TV-0 races through Myerstown, PA behind GP40-2 3392 and SD40-2 6515 on September 25, 1996.|
|On May 22, 1996, an XWH-09E hopper train rolls westbound behind|
brand new SD80MAC's 4118 and 4126.
The Union Canal was the main route of travel for both freight and passengers through the Lebanon Valley. The canal was subject to frequent flooding and other obstacles that would hinder movement for days at a time. Thus it was decided in 1853 to begin surveying and building a rail line that would link Reading and Harrisburg. These two cities were just starting to grow, and transportation aside from the canal was needed to move products and people en masse.
By 1857, a 54-mile rail line extending from Harrisburg to Reading was opened as the Lebanon Valley Railroad. The first train operated from end to end on the new trackage was a passenger train on June 30, 1857. The trip took one hour and fifteen minutes to travel from Reading to Harrisburg. Only a year later, in 1858, the Lebanon Valley Railroad fell under the control of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad. P&R was looking for a route to Harrisburg, and what better way to get there than to purchase the LVR! The P&R also saw an advantage in leasing the Schuykill Navigation Co. canal, to transport coal from the First and Second Anthracite fields of Pennsylvania to trackside locations for transloading. The coal was then shipped to the wharves on the Delaware River.
|With a bit of foliage offsetting the Harrisburg|
City skyline, PIAL-1 rolls around the curve at
CP-Capital behind C40-8W's 6102 and 6029.
The Lurgan Branch connects just to the left
and out of view.
|In this view at Millards, the block signal|
will fall in favor of an overhead mast to
govern the CTC interlocking to be
installed here. ALHB-5 with Ballast
Express C32-8 6617 and GP40-2 3400
head through Millards on a late fall afternoon.
|Empty hoppers are working westbound past the Carmeuse Stone|
Quarry between Annville and Palmyra. Today's consist includes
CSXT C40-8W 7881 and SD50 8604.
|Conrail BUAL (Buffalo-Allentown) train is a daily visitor to the|
Harrisburg Line. Conrail SD50 6757 and SD60I 5584 take the
train through Palmyra on a bright morning.
ML-401 makes a morning run on the Harrisburg Line, as seen
at Derry Road behind LMS C40-8W 726 and CSXT GP40-2 6230.
|Conrail TV-2MX is rounding the curve at Brownstone, PA, as|
it heads towards Hershey behind SD40-2 6496, SD50 6709 and SD60 6862.
|Conrail TV-62A at Rutherford behind GP40-2's 3331 and 3384.|
TV-265 operates as needed and often operates in the afternoon
hours. At Hershey, TV-265-12 on September 12 of 1997 is
under the control of C40-8W's 6191 and 6067.
|TV-212 makes a late appearance at 08:38 ET at 8th Avenue in|
Lebanon. C36-7 6636 and NS C40-9W 9122 lead the train.
|RR-282 and 262 have been alternating as the through train|
east of Rutherford, PA. At the time of this photo the train
was symbolized RR-262 and is seen rolling under the US
Route 934 bridge at Annville, PA behind Conrail SD50 6710.
|The rural country-side is exemplified as RR-262 makes|
its way eastbound towards New Jersey. Conrail B40-8
5076 and B36-7 5030 team up to move the 80 trailers
on January 28, 1996. This view is just east of Richland
near Sonnenville Road.
Easily identifiable by the entire consist of gon's,
this unit steel train, PIR-03 with SD50 6744
and SD60M 5510 lead the slabs past
Hersheypark's Kissing Tower.
Loaded coal generally moves eastbound on the Harrisburg Line. GP40-2
3376, rare for coal train power leads two six-axle units by Millards.
|An empty hopper train, XSH-31E with Conrail SD50 6730|
and C40-8W 6251 are slowing to 25 mph as they prepare
to enter the Lebanon City limits at 8th Ave.
|In June of 1996, taconite operations were running heavy. On June|
14, a ZWW-986 train, bound for Weirton, OH was behind SD60I
5564, SD50 6737 and C40-8W 6244 as it climbs a slight grade
west of Wolmelsdorf.
Unknown to the crews at the time, distributed power on the Harrisburg Line would be a short-lived venture. Many do not eye the Harrisburg Line as a gradient line. That is far from the truth, as much of the line follows the contour of the land. With 20,000 tons of taconite pellets in tow, these trains were susceptible to broken knuckles and stalled power. With the addition of the distributed power set mid-train, the stalled power occurrences were decreased, however nothing the railroad did could eliminate the frequent coupler knuckle breaks. On April 29, 1997, ZWW-844 with DPU C40-8W's 6054 and 6058 on the head end are controlling the mid-train DPU C40-8W's 6052, 6051 and 6061.
The only types of unit train not represented to date are grain trains.
|The WPLE-33 generally goes on duty Monday through Friday with|
various industries and on line shippers to service. The '33' is seen
just after crossing over at West Lebanon with GP38-2 8108 as the
|YPLE-13 normally rates either a single or pair of SW1500's.|
An occasional GP-unit will also be thrown in. YPLE-13
with 9521 is on duty and switching Lebanon Yard before
heading east to Avon and the Lebanon Chemical plant.
YPHE-02 at the West Hershey Chocolate Plant with SW1500
9528 and caboose 23511 (ex-New Haven 518).