Lebanon and Tremont Branch

The Lebanon and Tremont Branch of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad was a railroad line in Lebanon and Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, built to tap the coal fields in the West End of Schuylkill County and send coal southward to Lebanon.

Origins

Infobox SG rail
railroad_name=Good Spring Railroad
locale=Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania
start_year=1863?
end_year=1871
successor_line = Lebanon and Tremont Railroad
hq_city=
The northern portion of the Lebanon and Tremont came from the Good Spring Railroad, which was incorporated in 1861 or 1863, but was not organized until March 26 1869. It was controlled by the Reading, which transferred to it the property of the Swatara Railroad in 1863, giving it a line from Lorberry Junction to Donaldson via Tremont. Around 1867 or 1868, it was extended from Donaldson to Brookside.cite book | author=Taber, Thomas T., III | year=1987 | title=Railroads of Pennsylvania Encyclopedia and Atlas | publisher=Thomas T. Taber III | id=ISBN 0-9603398-5-X]

At Lorberry Junction, the Good Spring RR connected with the former Union Canal Railroad and the Lorberry Creek Railroad, the former of which ran south to the Union Canal and the Schuylkill and Susquehanna Railroad at Pine Grove. All of these were by now owned by the Reading. While coal originating on these railroads could be hauled laterally east and west over the Schuylkill and Susquehanna from Pine Grove, or west on the Mine Hill and Schuylkill Haven Railroad from Tremont, there was no direct route southward. To remedy this, the Reading chartered two new railroads.

Infobox SG rail
railroad_name=Pine Grove and Lebanon Railroad
locale=Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania
start_year=1870
end_year=1871
successor_line = Lebanon and Tremont Railroad
hq_city=
Infobox SG rail
railroad_name=Lebanon and Pine Grove Railroad
locale=Lebanon County, Pennsylvania
start_year=1870
end_year=1871
successor_line = Lebanon and Tremont Railroad
hq_city=
The Pine Grove and Lebanon Railroad was incorporated on September 27 1868 (the first railroad incorporated under Pennsylvania's general railroad law) to build south from Pine Grove to the Lebanon County line. The Lebanon and Pine Grove Railroad was incorporated at about the same time to built from the county line south to Lebanon, meeting the Reading's Lebanon Valley Branch. The new line was built in 1870, and the first train ran between Lebanon and Pine Grove on March 7 1870.cite web | url=http://www.pinegrovetownship.com/ProposedLibrary.html | title=Proposed Library | accessdate=2006-10-25] The Pine Grove & Lebanon, Lebanon & Pine Grove, Good Spring and Lorberry Creek Railroads were consolidated to form the Lebanon and Tremont Railroad on March 25 1871. On May 8 1871, the Lebanon and Tremont was itself merged into the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad.Infobox SG rail
railroad_name=Lebanon and Tremont Railroad
locale=Pennsylvania
start_year=1871
end_year=1871
successor_line = Philadelphia and Reading Railroad
hq_city=

Main and dependent branches

The Lebanon and Tremont Branch proper consisted of the former Lebanon and Tremont RR lines from Lebanon to Pine Grove and Lorberry Junction to Tremont, and the former Union Canal RR line from Pine Grove to Lorberry Junction. The Good Spring RR became the Brookside Branch, and the Lorberry Creek RR became the Lorberry Branch. Around 1872, the tail of the second Lorberry Branch switchback was extended, and ran by a switchback down the north side of Stony Mountain to reach the Kalmia Colliery. This line was known as the Kalmia Branch, or sometimes as the Lorberry Extension Railroad. It was then extended by another switchback into Clarks Valley, and ran some distance along Clarks Creek. This was known as the Clarks Valley Branch. In 1892, the Williams Valley Railroad built a line into the Williams Valley from Brookside, which later came under Reading control.

Several other Reading branches connected with the Lebanon and Tremont: the Lebanon Valley at Lebanon, the Schuylkill and Susquehanna Branch at Pine Grove, and the Tremont Extension and Mount Eagle Branch at Tremont.

tations

Lebanon and Tremont Branchcite book | title=The Official Guide of the Railways | month=December | year=1957 | publisher=National Railway Publication Company | editor=A.J. Burns]

Operation

At one time, passenger service was provided not only on the Lebanon and Tremont Branch, but on the Brookside, Lorberry, and Kalmia Branches as well to bring workers to the collieries. After the Reading bought up the West End collieries in the 1870s, it began offering service to its workers in the form of two miners' trains running north from Pine Grove. The "Lincoln miners' train" ran up the Lebanon and Tremont to Lorberry Junction, and then over the Lorberry and Kalmia branches, stopping at the Lower Rausch Creek, Lorberry, Lincoln, and Kalmia Collieries. The "Brookside miner's train" ran up to Tremont, where the miners transferred to a second train that ran down the Brookside Branch, serving the Rausch Creek (or East Franklin), Good Spring, East Brookside, and Brookside Collieries. After the Coal Strike of 1902, the Reading began hiring extensively in the Pennsylvania Dutch country to the south of the coal fields. New service was adopted to bring these men to work from their farms. A train ran up the Lebanon and Tremont from Lebanon to Pine Grove, converging at about 5:30 AM with two short trains from Outwood and Rock, on either side of Pine Grove on the Schuylkill & Susquehanna Branch. The cars of these three trains, together with a few more to accommodate passengers from Pine Grove, were assembled into one, which proceeded to the Lincoln Colliery. [cite book | first=George | last=Korson | title=Black Rock: Mining Folklore of the Pennsylvania Dutch | location=Baltimore | publisher=The Johns Hopkins Press | year=1960 | pages=221–222]

In 1942, a turning loop was built at the Indiantown Gap station to create a railhead for Fort Indiantown Gap. [cite web | url=http://www.wwiifederation.org/igmr_history.html | title=History of Fort Indiantown Gap | accessdate=2006-10-25] The former site of the loop is now an isolated piece of Swatara State Park. [cite web | url=http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/STATEPARKS/parks/maps/swatara_mini.pdf | title=Map of Swatara State Park | accessdate=2006-10-25]

By 1957, the Lebanon and Tremont Branch and what remained of the others only had freight service.

Abandonments

The Clarks Valley Branch and the Kalmia Branch between Ecco and Kalmia collieries were removed before 1920. In 1940, the rest of the Kalmia Branch was removed; around this time, the second switchback on the Lorberry Branch was abandoned, as the Lincoln Colliery had ceased operation in 1930. [cite web | url=http://www.readinganthracite.com/articles/lincoln.html | title=The Lincoln Colliery | accessdate=2006-10-25] A new spur and loop was constructed at Lorberry, possibly to serve strip mines. In 1965, the Lebanon and Tremont Branch between Pine Grove and Suedberg was abandoned, severing it. The whole of the Lorberry Branch was abandoned in 1966. In 1971, the Good Spring Branch was cut back from Brookside to Keffers, and in 1973, back as far as Good Spring.

The remaining trackage was transferred to Conrail in 1976. The line from Lorberry Junction to Pine Grove was abandoned before 1978, and the remaining parts of the Lebanon and Tremont Branch (Lebanon—Suedberg and Pine Grove—Lorberry Junction) were abandoned before 1981. Only the Brookside Branch between Tremont and Good Spring remains in operation. It was sold in 1990 by Conrail to the Reading, Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad, the current owner. The 7.5 miles within Swatara State Park (approximately between Inwood and Irving) are now the Swatara Rail-Trail.

References

*USGS historical quads ( [http://historical.maptech.com/] )
*1875 Atlas of Schuylkill County ( [http://www.anthracitemaps.com/] )


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