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Posted by Jersey Mike on Wed Oct 13 12:02:22 2021

Up through the early 2000's I was still involved with spring youth group type trips that would involve cycling, rafting or canoeing in the Lehigh Gorge with 2002 being one such year. I actually can't recall if this trip was of the bicycle or raft variety, however it did give me the opportunity to try out my new digital camera on some area rail locations that I had become more aware of thanks to online resources. While the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railroad was probably operating, riding it would be something for a later trip. Also included are photos from a stop at CP-ALBURTIS on the former Conrail Reading Line. The full set can by viewed here.

In 2002 although almost all of the massive Lehigh Valley RR yard at Lehighton had been ripped out, some of the pre-Conrail signaling was in place at CP-LEHIGHTON located at the southern end of the yard complex. Faced with declining anthracite coal traffic, the CNJ abandoned its main line north of Lehighton in 1965 and built a connection to the LVRR at what was then LEHIGHTON tower. Later Conrail would abandon the LVRR main line south of Lehighton yard. In 2002 a caught a northbound manifest freight on the old CNJ connector passing into the former LVRR territory. A ghost signal for the since removed LVRR main track was standing next to the former interlocking tower's foundation. Ghost signals occur when attempting to remove a signal would cause expensive interlocking modifications. This example has two low intensity red lamps probably for the benefit of bulb out detection circuitry.

Other hardware from the LVRR era included the CTC relay hut, the northbound CNJ signal mast and a General Railway Signal Model 5D point machine. All of this would be replaced by NS in the 2015 timeframe.

North of CP-LEHIGHTON, the former LVRR main line remained double track, but in a show of Conrail-era malaise, only the former southbound track was considered active. This is all the more remarkable as the line was still being operated under Rule 251 directional ABS so that northbound movements would need to obtain a Form D between CP-LEHIGHTON and CP-M&H JCT. Compare southbound track 2 at signal 1222 with northbound track 1 at signal 1231 just north of the town of Mach Chunk.

On a slightly more utilized Rule 251 ABS line, CP-ALBURTIS is located about 10 miles west of Allentown and until 2018 was the only interlocked crossover on the line between Allentown and Blandon. In 2002 the slow speed crossover was still in its original configuration when it was part of a large scale CTC project run out of OLEY tower in downtown Reading. Conrail had replaced the Reading RR signal heads with small target Michigan Central searchlights in the 1980's, but done little else.

Alburtis was built at the junction of the Reading Line with the C&F secondary that in 2002 was still connected to the main tracks with hand throw switches and derails.

A clear indication on the eastbound mast signal portend the arrival of a Conrail style Triple Crown RoadRailer train led by two NS C40-9W's, with #9328 in the lead.

Even in 2002, NS was already making signal changes to better accommodate movements onto the C&F secondary. Although the Reading era hardware would be replaced, the line would remain under Rule 251 operation until 2018 when the signals would be replaced for a second time.

That's it for this rather modest set of photos. If anyone is interested, I made additional trips to Alburtis in 2010 and 2016.

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