Oak Lane Revisited; 55 years later.

Back on November 14, 1959, my dad photographed Reading Company T-1 2124 charging through Oak Lane station on Kodachrome.

But where is Oak Lane? Obviously this is in suburban Philadelphia. However, when I consulted a modern day SEPTA rail map, I couldn’t find it.

A puzzle. I called my dad. But he didn’t specifically remember making the photo, nor anything about the station. “I chased a lot of the Reading trips. I don’t know which one that was.”

Reading's T-1 2124 charges through Oak Lane, near  Philadelphia on November 14, 1959. Photo by Richard Jay Solomon
Reading’s T-1 2124 charges through Oak Lane, near Philadelphia on November 14, 1959. Photo by Richard Jay Solomon

Perhaps the station had been closed?

Finally, after a bit of research, I concluded that Oak Lane had been renamed Melrose Park. Armed with that knowledge, my brother Sean and I traveled to Melrose Park on SEPTA on Friday December 5, 2014.

SEPTA_Melrose_Park_P1100572

Surprisingly, the station isn’t radically different. The old building still serves as a railway station, and the old canopy on the outbound side of the tracks still looks as it did in 1959.

Two big changes were installation of high-level platforms and removal of the center track.

I attempted to emulate the angle and perspective of the 1959 photo as closely as possible. My father was using a Kodak Retina 3C, probably fitted with a 50mm lens, although he also had a 35mm. So using my Lumix LX7, I adjusted the Vario Summilux to about the 45-50mm range. Both photos were made in late-autumn on overcast days.

 

Outbound SEPTA multiple unit at Melrose Park. December 5, 2014.
Outbound SEPTA multiple unit at Melrose Park. December 5, 2014.

The other big change is the equipment. Where in 1959, Reading’s class T-1 4-8-4 number 2124 was the star attraction, on December 5, 2014 we had to settle for a 1970s-vintage Silverliner IV multiple unit.

Keep in mind that at the time of the 1959 photo, the steam locomotive was only a dozen years old at the time. Happily, the 2124 is preserved at Steamtown in Scranton.

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One thought on “Oak Lane Revisited; 55 years later.”

  1. A fun and interesting exercise. I like the outbound station… it looks like something Atlas might produce as an HO plastic kit. Wonder why the railroad hasn’t reinstalled the fence between the tracks? I would think that would be a no-brainer in terms of safety…

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