RJ Corman on the old Beech Creek, September 1997


Coal Train in Central Pennsylvania.

On my external hard drive I have a file of photos called ‘Miscellaneous US Railroads’. I picked this photo at random. I thought it’s a neat image. Only after, I selected it, did I learn the the owner of the railroad, R.J. Corman himself, had very recently passed away. Odd how that works.

RJ Corman coal train along the Susquehanna.
An RJ Corman empty coal train works compass south from the Conrail interchange at Keating, Pennsylvania on September 8, 1997. This line follows the West Branch of the Susquehanna River through some exceptionally isolated rural areas of central Pennsylvania—scores at least ‘five banjoes’. Exposed with a Nikon N90S on Kodachrome 25.

Back in September 1997, Mike Gardner and I were on one of our many “PA Trips”. (In case you didn’t know, ‘PA’ is the postcode for Pennsylvania). While we would usually head to the former Pennsylvania Railroad Main Line for a ‘traffic fix’, often we’d then take time to suss out less-traveled lines.

On this day we called into Clearfield (the base for RJ Corman operations on former Conrail branches known as the ‘Clearfield Cluster’) , where we had a chat with some railroaders. They told us that a crew was called to take set of engines up to the Conrail connection at Keating to collect an empty coal train.

So armed with this knowledge we made a day (or at least a morning) of following RJ Corman’s former New York Central Beech Creek line. This traverses some very remote territory and access to the tracks is limited.

I made this photo a few miles south of Keating of the returning train. It was one of the few times I caught an RJ Corman train on the move.


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