Saturday, November 23, 2013

Today's Train of Thought- Reading (and Northern) Rainbow, November 23rd 2013

Today's Train of Thought takes us to Anthracite Country in eastern Pennsylvania and features the regional Reading & Northern. Since its modest beginnings in 1983 as a 13 mile former Conrail branchline outside of Reading, PA, the railroad has been able to weather the ups-and-downs of railroading in the northeastern USA better than most, growing to its current size of more than 300 miles.

Besides anthracite coal, customers for the Reading & Northern include the Yuengling Brewery and Kimberly Clark Paper. Up until recently, the Canadian Pacific utilized trackage rights over R&N's former Lehigh Valley line between Scranton and Leighton, PA to reach Philadelphia under an agreement with the Delaware & Hudson as part of the 1976 formation with Conrail. The line through the Lehigh River Gorge is also home to the Jim Thorpe, PA based Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway which operate popular excursions out of the former Central Railroad of New Jersey depot in Jim Thorpe. Power for these excursions can be anything from a 1980s built SD50 to the R&N's striking blue 1928-built 4-6-2 Baldwin.

However, the Reading & Northern remains primarily a freight-hauling outfit that traverses the same scenic terrain as the Lehigh Gorge Scenic railway as well as other, less frequently traveled lines.

Here, photographer Chris Starnes caught Reading & Northern SD40-2 #3058 in charge of freight MCQA [Mount Carmel to TamaQuA, PA- NANESB!] heading eastbound through fall foliage at Barnesville, PA in October 2012. Today's train is waiting for a track crew just up the line to finish up before continuing east to Tamaqua- the pair of SD40s started out life on the Union Pacific and are painted in colors reminiscent of the original Reading Railroad.

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