Sometimes finding the train is more than half the challenge. On Saturday October 17, 2015, Pat Yough and I had been following the old Delaware, Lackawanna & Western mainline with an awareness that Genesee Valley Transportation’s Delaware-Lackawanna was operating its ‘Portland turn’ to interchange with Norfolk Southern.
Finally, we found the train as it was arriving at Slateford Junction.
The attraction of D-L’s freights is that they operate with antique Alco diesels. Alco exited the American locomotive business more than 46 years ago, so finding these old machines hard at work remains a real treat.
While D-L’s portion of the freight movement tends to be well documented in recent years as a function of the Alcos, the Norfolk Southern connection is often ignored. As an historian this bothers me.
I have to admit that I too have been guilty of this photographic censorship. While I’ve photographed the Portland turn on several occasions, I haven’t made much of an effort to seek out the NS portion of this run. That is, until last Saturday.
Pat and I agreed, that if the D-L’s connection with NS were to be moved, photos of the NS at Portland would be a rare commodity indeed. So, while we made a point of catching the Alcos at work, we also went after NS H-76, which featured a nice collection of vintage EMD diesels.
All around it was a successful afternoon. It was also the first time that I’ve photographed the D-L using digital cameras. A fair few years had passed since my last visit!
In its heyday, the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western was a super railroad. Visionary management rebuilt and modernized the line in the early years of the 20th century, spending vast amounts of private capital on massive line relocations characterized by massive concrete viaducts.
I can only imagine what the railroad would have been like with its multiple track mainline, numerous signal towers, and a steady flow of freight and passenger trains.
On the afternoon of October 17th, Pat Yough and I revisited the DL&W line over Pocono Summit, and explored the area around Slateford Junction and Portland, Pennsylvania.
I made these views of the old Lackawanna infrastructure. While the old ‘Lackawanna Cut-off’ built in 1908 was abandoned by Conrail in the 1980s, other portions of the DL&W in the area remain active, although it’s a shadow compared to the intensively traveled mainline of a century ago.
Yet, the decayed vestiges of this once super railroad remain a fascinating testimony to the earlier era. A time when coal was the railroad’s life blood, and the dull roar of interstate highways and jet aero planes was still far in the future.
Stay tuned tomorrow: the DL&W Lives on with Norfolk Southern and Delaware-Lackawanna freights.