Philadelphia High Line Freight.

The old elevated Pennsylvania Railroad elevated freight line avoids 30th Street Station passenger trackage and is one of several ways of routing freights through Philadelphia.

Historically this was an electrified route and although the catenary was removed during the Conrail -era after it ended electric freight operations.

I was inspired by the photography of Jonathan Smith who is a regular Tracking the Light follower and University of Pennsylvania professor, and has forwarded a variety of images of this line to me.

Operations on this line are sporadic, which can make photography difficult for infrequent visitors.

During my visit last week, I was short on time, and only had a few minutes to wait. I spent a few minutes inspecting different angles on Walnut Street, while hoping to hear a train.

Fortunately, just as I was getting ready to leave I heard the unmistakable roar of EMD diesels. So, with Lumix LX-7 in hand, I exposed these views as it rolled southward across the viaduct.




I adjusted the files using Lightroom to alter contrast. Specifically, I lightened the shadows, and tempered the highlights while slightly tweaking  overall contrast.

The silhouetted views required more post-processing work since the lighting was more contrasty and I wanted to retain detail in both shadows and highlights.

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4 comments on “Philadelphia High Line Freight.

  1. This is an endlessly fascinating line starting from Zoo interchange and coming down at a junction where the Schuylkill River curves. There a branch that crosses the river on a high bridge, then curves south on a concrete viaduct over S.25th St heading down to yards below South Philly.,+PA/@39.9431345,-75.187837,3222m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x89c6b7d8d4b54beb:0x89f514d88c3e58c1!8m2!3d39.9525839!4d-75.1652215
    If you travel under the viaduct, beware of falling concrete. Some people say the neighborhood is dicey. I haven’t found a good vantage point to photograph trains here. If you follow the 25th St viaduct on Google Earth as closely as you can, you’ll see numerous wide places where tracks led off to the 2nd floor of industries now long gone, of course. Note also that after crossing the Schuylkill River tracks originally also continued east on the center of Washington St to port facilities on the Delaware River. There was a PRR station near Washington and Broad in the 19th century. Nowadays the 25th St viaduct is extremely rare mileage for passenger trains. In fact, the only passenger train in recent times that I know of traveling here is Bennett Levin’s train taking veterans from Walter Reed Hospital to the Army-Navy game.

  2. Robert Willoughby Jones on said:

    The shot into the sun is wonderful! Took my breath away!

  3. Nice work. One of my goals is to get a shot or two of some of the strange maintenance machines I have seen them run on that elevated line – of course those pop up much more rarely than the working trains. Thanks for the great site!

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