The Erie's Wyoming Division
As a follow-up to the article about the Erie Wyoming Division, published in the EL Historical Society magazine "The Diamond" in Volume 25, Issue No. 3, here is some supplemental information about operations on the Wyoming lines, along with the affiliated Jefferson Division north to Susquehanna, PA. The article herein will contain some additional and corrected information that did not appear in the published version, i.e. "The Wyoming Division Revisited" in ELHS Diamond Vol. 26, No. 2.
RIGHTS OF WAY, E&WV vs. GRAVITY LINE
The Diamond article indicated on p. 10 that in 1882-83, the E&WV converted the Pennsylvania Coal gravity railroad to a conventional steam-powered standard-gauge line from Pittston and Avoca to Hawley. While this is generally true, it should be noted that there were significant roadbed deviations from the gravity line; the rail line ran over many newly graded segments as to meet the standards of a steam railroad. The steam line roadbed and gravity grade were usually parallel but would sometimes deviate by up to a mile. For about a year before the gravity line was abandoned, both lines were in operation simultaneously (Correspondence with Tony Ranella based on his map collection, March 2012).
The WB&E, as originally built, did not end at Plains Jct; after 1925, it ended at Plains (not Jct), but prior to that extended westard to Algonquin Switch, just east of the D&H (Wilkes Barre Connecting RR) bridge over the Susquehanna River. This spot was also called “NC Tower”.
The WB&E book by Harold Fredericks (published by the Railroadians in 1986) and the more recent NYS&W Railroad book by Bob Mohowski (2003) both indicate that the WB&E once owned that bridge, and the D&H / WBC connected to it on both ends with trackage rights. The WB&E, until 1908, continued onto the west side of the river and ended at a fairly large passenger station and freight house in Kingston to the southeast of the D&H / WBC line to Buttonwood, just across the Market St. bridge from downtown Wilkes Barre. Mohowski's book has a picture of the passenger station. Until 1905, the WB&E had two daily passenger trains each way from Kingston to Jersey City. The short spur in Kingston put the “western” in NYS&W and also explains the “Wilkes Barre” in WB&E; the Kingston terminus was about as close to Town Square in Wilkes Barre as the LV and CNJ stations were. After abandoning the Kingston track and pulling back to Algonquin and then to Plains in 1926, the WB&E leased the bridge to the D&H/WBC, finally selling it in 1939. The D&H line and bridge are still used today by CP, but I'm not sure if the modern bridge was the original WB&E bridge.
The Diamond article discusses the WB&E's daily mixed train from Plains to Stroudsburg. As a footnote to that, a 1914 decision of the Pennsylvania Public Service Commission (available on the internet) responded to a complaint by a Mr. Edgar regarding this train's slow schedule and irregular performance. The General Solicitor for the NYS&W agreed that the mixed would reduce its freight switching duties somewhat so as to reduce running time by a half hour each way. There is an interesting discussion as to how much time a passenger would have to take the westbound mixed, get on a trolley at Plains for downtown Wilkes Barre, do some shopping, and make it back to Plains for the eastbound trip back to Stroudsburg.
One is tempted to ask what the point was, when the DL&W was a convenient horse-buggy ride away and offered much better service to Scranton. If a resident of Stroudsburg or Pocono Summit absolutely had to shop in Wilkes Barre, the Laurel Line offered frequent service from the DL&W station in Scranton. The WB&E mixed trains between Plains and Stroudsburg stopped running in May, 1935.
In addition to the Erie passenger trains on the Wyoming mentioned in the article, both Erie Memories and Diamondbugs by Jack Grasso (1999) indicate that Brill gas-mechanical cars provided passenger service on the Jefferson Division from Susquehanna to Carbondale. This service ended by early 1933, although the D&H operated a daily passenger train on the Jefferson between Oneonta and Wilkes Barre through the 1930s. Service to Wilkes Barre ended in July, 1941, but a D&H commuter run between Scranton and Carbondale survived until shortly after 1950.
On the Wyoming Div. itself up through 1932, the Lackawaxen-Scranton locals operated as passenger-only runs, with separate trains from Lackawaxen to Honesdale. However, by the late 1920's, some of these Scranton runs interrupted their journeys in Hawley as to make a side-trip up the branch to Honesdale, incurring a 90 minute delay for the Scranton passenger trying to make a main-line connection in Lackawaxen. (The Hawley delay in 1932 was only 57 minutes, with 10 minutes in Honesdale; this implies the use of the bi-directional 5000-series motor cars, which had just been delivered. The Erie's precursor to the RDC!)
In 1933, however, this service was “rationalized” in light of declining economic conditions. Separate Lackawaxen-Honesdale trains were abolished, and trains 270 and 273 would arrive at Hawley from Scranton and Lackawaxen, respectively, make a slow trip up the branch to Honesdale and back as mixed trains, and then continue east to Lackawaxen or west to Scranton. This gave the through Scranton-Lackawaxen passenger about 3 hours to enjoy a leisurely lunch (eastbound) or early dinner (westbound) in downtown Hawley. (If they were railfans, they no doubt stayed on board to enjoy the freight switching on the Honesdale Branch!) Passenger service from Hawley to Scranton was ended by early 1934, not surprisingly.
The last scheduled passenger runs on the Wyoming Div. were mixed trains between Honesdale and Lackawaxen, ending in mid-1942. In the late 30s and early 40s, westbound mixed train 35 connected at Lackawaxen with train 9, which left Jersey City at 11AM, and the eastbound mixed (number 34) connected to train 28, the Mountain Express, for an early evening arrival across the river from lower Manhattan.
ROAD FREIGHT SCHEDULES
The Erie freight schedule from 1956 calls the through freights between Susquehanna, PA and the CNJ's Ashley Yard AY-91 and AY-78. There have been various pictures published of the AY-91 train working up Ararat grade during the late steam days, many by Bob Collins, as it was a daylight run. There are a few shots of the AY-91 on the Jefferson Division (north of Avoca) in Erie Memories by Ed Crist (1993), and a number of color shots in Trackside Erie With Bob Collins (1998). The southbound AY-78 ran at night, and thus escaped coverage.
Also, the 1941 Erie freight schedule from the ELHS archives indicates that the southbound train to Ashley was a connection from 90, not from 78, at that time. Further, the 1941 schedule lists a “Scranton FF” which ran during the night each way from Port Jervis to Dunmore and Scranton; short-haul LCL overnight traffic was still important at the time. Throughout the 1950s, the daily through freights between Avoca to Port Jervis (1 run in each direction) ran after midnight and before dawn. That helps to explain why there are no (or few at best) shots of through freights going through Hawley or Elmhurst or Rock Jct. Perhaps the shot of the Berkshire on page 19 of the Diamond article was a westbound arriving from Port Jervis in the early AM (the w/b 1941 schedule called for an 8 AM arrival in Scranton).
ROAD FREIGHT OPERATIONS
Going back to the Diamond article, specifically regarding Plains Jct.: the CNJ line that interchanged with the Erie, i.e. the CNJ Canal Branch, is not shown on the map in the article (p. 16 and 17). It's hard to believe today, but that branch went west from its connection with the Erie Wyoming for a length thru Port Bowkley, then turned south, away from the Susquehanna River, going under the D&H/WBC just west of Algonquin Switch (near the river bridge). It continued in an S shape, over or under the Laurel Line and crossing the D&H main line at grade, to reach what the map shows as a joint CNJ-LV line just southwest of Miners Mills (i.e., the CNJ main between Scranton and Wilkes Barre). A 1939 map from the Erie Chief Engineer (available from former EL employee Bill Shepard) notes the Erie having trackage rights on the CNJ from Plains Jct to Ashley.
The Canal Branch is of interest given that the Erie operated freight trains over it, e.g. transfers from Avoca to Ashley Yard, and also the AY-78 and AY-91 through freights which were scheduled through to or from Ashley, after or before a stop in Avoca. According to Vincent Lee's recollection of a lecture by Bud Chase on Wyoming Div. operations, given at the 1997Anthracite Railroad Historical Society convention (EL mailing list, May 24, 2002), the southbound AY-78 was mostly merchandise, but the northbound AY-91 picked up a heavy coal block at Avoca. These symbol freights were informally called the “Wyoming Ashley” and the “Jeff Ashley” depending on whether they were south or north of Avoca. Chuck Yungkurth remembers seeing the AY-91 rolling north through Scranton on the D&H in the morning back in the 1940s with a 2-10-2 on both the front and rear. Bridge restrictions did not permit doubleheading south of Carbondale, and so extra power was added there for the climb to Ararat.
Mr. Yungkurth recalls there also being fairly regular hopper extras on the Jefferson Division from Avoca to Susquehanna. He recalls a total of about 4 Erie freight trains each way per day on the Jeff (EL Mailing List, Dec. 12, 2004). There are some Bob Collins shots of these hopper trains in his Trackside Erie book, and a few shots by other photographers in Erie Power (Westing and Staufer, 1970). By comparison, there were fewer through runs on the old E&WV / Wyoming. A regular nightly coal and merchandise run operated each way between Avoca and Port Jervis, usually meeting each other at Hawley or Rock Jct. Mr. Yungkurth also remembers a solid coal train going north on the Wyoming through South Side Scranton around 2PM. These runs usually used 2-8-2s, but Chuck recalls once seeing an R-1 2-10-2 working through Elmhurst. Through freights via the E&WV route stopped running regularly after the 1959 Knox disaster at River Slope Mine, a flooding event from the Susquehanna River which “cascaded” from mine to mine, effectively ending hard coal production in the Avoca area.
KNOX MINE DISASTER, 1959
The River Slope Mine was a part of the Ewen Colliery served by the Wyoming, located south of Pittston. According to the book "The Knox Mine Disaster" by Robert P. Wolensky et al (1999), River Slope was an underground mine being worked by the Knox Coal Company under lease from the Pennsylvania Coal Company. Pennsylvania Coal of course was a directly-owned subsidiary of the Erie RR since 1901 (as discussed in the Diamond article). Wolensky argues that organized crime interests were involved with both Knox Coal and the miner's union, and that Pennsylvania Coal had long on-going relationships with other contract mining companies having organized crime links.
For example, on page 18 of the Diamond article, the list of daily coal output in the late 1930's shows the Volpe Coal Company having a relative high production volume from the Butler Mine. Butler was just north of Pittston, not far from Ewen Colliery; this is interesting given that the Volpe company was started by Santo Volpe. Mr. Volpe was a noted organized crime figure from the 1930s and 40s who was highly involved with coal contracting and other activities in Northeast Pennsylvania. Volpe's alleged successor as "mob boss" in the Wyoming Valley was John Sciandra, a part-owner of Knox Coal; another part-owner was United Mine Worker District 1 president August Lippi. Lippi thus represented the interests of Knox's workers and their management, in direct violation of federal labor laws. Another local UMWA official, Dominic Alaimo, was in attendance at the Apalachin, NY gangland convention that was raided by federal officials in November, 1957.
Wolensky also documents cooperation by engineers retained by Pennsylvania Coal Company in revising safety factors in its lease agreement with Knox, abandoning the usual level of information required in the past from drill borings. Knox management went beyond even the questionably revised limits given by the engineers, digging under the Susquehanna River at insufficient depths. As a result, twelve miners died when the swollen, ice-laden river broke through on January 22, 1959. Regarding Pennsylvania Coal's role in this, Chuck Yungkurth recalls that by the time of the Knox disaster, the company did not do any mining or coal marketing; it was solely a lessor of its land holdings and mineral rights, and was hardly involved with the business operations of the companies that leased and worked its properties. Pennsylvania Coal at the time had only two regular employees, and two engineers as consultants. Pa. Coal's primary business role was remembered by one of its last employees as a collector of lease payments, which were forwarded to the Erie. (Correspondence from Chuck Yungkurth, March 2012).
As the flooding from River Slope and Ewen spread to other adjacent deep mines, coal production along the southern end of the Wyoming just about ended. The deep anthracite mines served by the Erie in the Pittston-Ashley-Avoca corridor were mostly beyond their economic life by 1959, and the flooding may have simply sped up their inevitable demise. The mine runs out of Avoca were thus severely curtailed. Into the 1950s, there were 2 to 3 daily runs to the Jessup Branch, and another 3 to 4 mine jobs patrolled the Avoca area from Hillside Junction south to the Number 14 Colliery near Plains Jct. By the time of the merger, these jobs were down to one or two weekday runs. A lot of "run-of-mine" coal was once shipped within the division to the breakers on the Jessup Branch for processing (Bud Chase lecture, Anthracite Railroad Historical Society Convention, 1997).
ASHLEY YARD, CNJ INTERCHANGE
The Diamond map also does not show where the CNJ's Ashley Yard was (just to the east of Ashley Jct., on the Nanticoke Branch going towards Lee). A map like this one, covering the bottom of two magazine pages, is admittedly too small to show every railroad facility in the Scranton-Wilkes Barre area. However, Ashley was an important operations point for the Erie, given that the AY78 and AY91 trains ended and started there. Also, the map is a bit confusing about the CNJ Nanticoke Branch, which ran from Lee into Ashley Yard, then continued north/northeast (railroad westbound) thru Ashley Jct (which the 1939 Erie map calls Nanticoke Jct), to reach a point on the CNJ main line to Scranton called Gardners Switch, a mile or two south-west of Miner's Mills. This Switch would be about one mile to the south (railroad east) of where the Canal Branch entered from the north, after crossing the D&H main.
The Diamond map shows a line going north / northeast from Ashley Jct. as the WB&H-CNJ, and shows it curving sharply northward towards the Wilkes Barre passenger station. This represents the Wilkes Barre and Hazelton electric interurban, which began service to downtown Wilkes Barre in 1908 and ended operations in 1933. Interestingly, the WB&H used railbuses in its last few years. The WB&H no doubt had a separate right of way from the CNJ from Ashley towards downtown Wilkes Barre, but it would indeed have been close to the Nanticoke Branch.
However, the CNJ line in question continued to the northeast (railroad westbound) towards Gardners Switch, a point several miles northeast of the downtown Wilkes Barre station. That arrangement allowed this segment of the Nanticoke Branch to serve the CNJ as a freight cut-off, allowing freights going to and from Ashley to avoid the downtown passenger station area. It seems reasonable to assume that Erie freights to and from Ashley made use of this line (see Reply #4, Mar 28th, 2006, Railfan.net Erie Lackawanna Forum, “Erie/WB&E/CNJ In Wilkes Barre Area”).
The following would be above and beyond the Diamond map's call of duty, given its focus on the Erie; but another point of interest to railfans might be the old Ashley Plane between Mountain Top and Ashley Jct/Nanticoke Jct. This was a steam plane that went straight up the hill. The CNJ kept this plane in operation until 1948, to hoist coal hoppers up the mountain as to be picked up by eastbound trains at Mountaintop. A second point of interest would be at the far left, just west of Nanticoke. The CNJ Nanticoke Branch continued on into Wanamie, connecting to a Glen Alden mine with a saddletanker steam operation that went on into the 1960s; this attracted some railfan attention at the time.
EL AND "RATIONALIZATION" OF THE WYOMING DIVISION
Another interesting operational factoid about the Wyoming concerns the EL merger. In 1960, the DL&W still ran a local freight down the formerly electrified Laurel Line, to some meat packing houses in Wilkes Barre and perhaps a few lumber yards. However, soon after the merger, the Laurel Line (L&WV) was abandoned for about 5 miles, and the parallel Wyoming Branch served to connect the north end of the L&WV near the DL&W Scranton Station, with the south end of the L&WV to the Wilkes Barre meat houses. (As per Trackside Scranton With Ed Miller, by Chuck Yungkurth, 1999.)
On the north side, the EL built a connection from the L&WV to the Wyoming line at Little Virginia, between West Jct. and Hillside Jct. (The Wyoming was no longer a division by this time; the EL quickly folded most of the trackage into its Scranton Division, with the segment from Honesdale and Hawley to Lackawaxen becoming part of the Delaware Subdivision of the Susquehanna Division.) On the south end, the Wyoming was connected to the L&WV at No. 6 Connection, just east of Plains Jct., just about where the Erie spur to Pittston and the Pittston Freight house veered off north from the Wyoming (which the map does not show). So, in the early EL years, meat reefers would arrive in Scranton Yard from Binghamton, then be switched onto a local that would get onto the L&WV, proceed south through a tunnel, get on the Wyoming and proceed south / west, then go back onto the Laurel Line for the last few miles into north Wilkes Barre, where the meat houses were.
The segment of the Laurel Line that was abandoned because of the merger had several high viaducts, which that line was famous for. Getting rid of them was obviously a big maintenance saving for the EL; there are pictures in Trackside Scranton With Ed Miller of the famous L&WV high bridge over the LV and D&H near Dupont (and the former Heidelberg Breaker) being torn down in 1968. This meat business to Wilkes Barre probably dried up by about that time. But for several years, a part of the Wyoming was one of a handful of “hybrid lines” composed of both Erie and DL&W trackage (L&WV here, operated by the DL&W). The obvious one in NJ was the 1963 revised Main Line, composed of the DL&W Boonton Line from Hoboken to South Paterson, then a stretch of the Erie Newark Branch into Paterson, then the former Erie Main to Ridgewood and west. I think there may have been some other small post-merger hybrid routes in the Buffalo area.
This line consolidation was in service by September 1961 and allowed the yard office and engine service area in Avoca to be closed by October. The base of operation for Wyoming branch local crews would now be at the DL&W yard in Scranton. This allowed the EL to abandon a customer-less segment of the Wyoming between Lackawaxen and Gravity (embargoed in December, 1961, with rail and other materials removed about a year later for an improvement project on the Niagara Falls Branch, see EL Mailing List, Oct. 31,2009).
This severed the former through route to Lackawaxen and Port Jervis. The Erie had already started phasing-out the Dunmore car shops, roundhouse and yard offices following Hurricane Diane in 1955 (as the Diamond article discusses). The former Wyoming Division was thus one of the most “merger rationalized” components of the former Erie and DL&W; if there were actual operational cost savings from the EL merger, they were certainly to be found on the former Wyoming lines. This rationalization was also justified in that traffic on the Wyoming lines had declined sharply in 1959 following the Knox Mine disaster. The adjacent lines and facilities of the DL&W, CNJ and LV were also cut back as customer demand and production capacity for hard coal gradually but continually declined from 1940 onward.
Another interesting Wyoming Division tidbit regards the isolated NYS&W mine branches off the Jessup Branch that stayed under NYS&W ownership until abandoned in the 1960's and 70's. The largest was the Winton Branch, about 4 miles, but there was also a spur to the Dolph Breaker near Jessup, and the Murray and Spencer breaker spurs in northeast Scranton. The NYS&W built these lines around 1890 as to begin mining operations upon lands it owned near Jessup, but depended upon connections to the Erie, D&H and O&W to access the traffic. Allegedly, the Susquehanna Connecting line constructed in the mid-1890s was meant to continue northeast after reaching Jermyn Breaker near Old Forge, as to squeeze in somehow amidst the DL&W, CNJ, NYO&W and D&H so as to reach the Winton Branch west of Jessup (Mohowski, NYS&W RR). This would unify the greater NYS&W network. However, as Erie influence grew after it leased the NYS&W in 1898, the final extension of the Susquehanna Connecting was scotched, and the isolated lines were integrated into the Erie's operations on the Jessup Branch.
However, the previous marketing and operating patterns remained. According to Mohowski, the Erie continued the established traffic patterns for customers of NYS&W-served breakers, many of whom were in the metro New York and New Jersey area. The Erie thus ran through trains via the Wyoming main to Lackawaxen, thence to Port Jervis and east to Coalberg Junction “BT” in Saddle Brook, NJ on the Bergen County Line. At BT (which was protected by an interlocking tower until closed in 1940), the trains crossed over to a connection with the NYS&W main east, for a 12 mile run to the Edgewater coal dumping facility along the Hudson River across from Manhattan. The NYS&W built this facility in the late 1890s and kept it in operation until 1948, when hard coal traffic for home heating was dying off. During the warm months, loaded hoppers would also be set out at Coalberg Jct., which was the site of a 400,000 ton capacity storage pile system.
Until its closure in 1946, coal would be unloaded and stored at Coalberg as to be reloaded into hoppers for final delivery during the winter peak heating demand (the facility had its own 0-6-0 switcher lettered “Coalberg Storage”, photo in the Mohowski NYS&W RR book). Prior to the mid-1930s, some Wyoming Division coal loads also went to the Pennsylvania Coal Company's Hudson River dumper at the end of Erie's Newburgh, NY branch (again, Pennsylvania Coal was retained by the Erie right up to the 1960 EL merger, unlike other eastern railroad coal subsidiaries that were divested by federal antitrust mandates in the 1910-1920 era).
The Coalberg piles, also owned by Pennsylvania Coal, were part of a “seasonal demand smoothing” arrangement for home-heating coal, a fairly sophisticated commercial system balancing the logistics and economics of coal production and demand. The Wyoming Division was an integral part of this system, especially given the Erie's decision upgrade the Wyoming main in 1917 so as to allow use of its 2-10-2's, nailing the coffin of the WB&E route (as spelled out in the article).
I would speculate that the Erie assembled blocks of loads from the NYS&W “orphan branches” at Jessup, then dragged them to Rock Jct. for pick-up on eastbound coal runs from Avoca to Port Jervis. That would save fuel energy versus toting the loads downhill to the big yard at Avoca, then back uphill again (about a 400 foot drop in elevation from Rock Jct.). These NYS&W car blocks were probably not large enough to form a dedicated train on any one day, so they may have accumulated at Port Jervis or been mixed immediately with other Wyoming loads headed for the Edgewater dumper, for a through run via the Coalberg Jct. connector.
With all the coal traffic received each day on the Wyoming, it would not have been hard to form a 60 car train; for example, the Pittston Breaker alone could load 80 hoppers each day (although some of that proceeded north and west via the Jefferson Division). The Erie's through operation of coal trains prior to WW2 from Port Jervis to Little Ferry on the NYS&W has been previously documented (e.g., discussion by anthracite industry expert Jim Guthrie, EL List, Jan. 17, 2008; Mr. Guthrie also points out that the Erie retained trackage rights on the NYS&W mainline east from Coalberg Junction in the 1930s, EL List, Oct. 20, 2011; NYS&W switch crews shuttled hoppers over the last few miles through the tunnel to the Edgewater dumpers).
In addition to destinations in the New Jersey and the New York City area reached by barge via Edgewater, coal loads from the Wyoming Division lines were shipped to New England via the New Haven connection in Maybrook, NY. Coal going north from Avoca onto the Jefferson Division for Susquehanna, PA and points west could continue to customers as far away as Buffalo, NY. Some coal also went to power plants in Syracuse (probably via DL&W from Binghamton).
JESSUP BRANCH, AND NYO&W IN THE MIX TOO
Thus, daily operations by the Erie and EL on the Wyoming Division involved running on and maintaining trackage from the L&WV and the NYS&W (not to mention the CNJ trackage rights and other various trackage arrangements). And after 1957 we can thrown another fallen flag into the mix – i.e., when the NYO&W abandoned operations, the DL&W took over its Riverside Branch, which connected with the NYS&W Winton Branch just north of Jessup (at Riverside Junction, not surprisingly). There was still at least one active mine or breaker on that line into EL days; EL employee/supervisor Bill Shepard recalls riding the “Jessup Job” from Scranton in 1969, dragging some hoppers to a mine at Eynon on the Riverside Branch (EL Mailing List, Aug 19, 2009). During his trip, the train had to run-around itself at the siding at Rock Jct. so as to back up onto the Jessup Branch, caboose first. The Jessup Job soon reached a switchback tail track, threw the switch and then proceeded loco-forward downhill around a loop towards Jessup, Riverside Jct. and the former NYO&W trackage.
As a footnote regarding the Jessup Branch switchback, Erie maps and aerial photos from the 1930s indicate that there was once a tightly looping track in place of the switchback. A 1932 map shows both the switchback leads to the tail track and the tight curve between those leads to be in service. However, later photos indicate that the loop was taken out of service by 1940, and sometime later the lower switchback lead was moved somewhat over the loop track right of way, as to smooth a curve in it. Bigger hopper cars and bigger motive power in use by the 1920s (2-8-2s, 2-10-0s, 2-10-2s) probably made the loop prone to derailments, possibly even run-away situations.
METHODS OF OPERATION
Methods of operation on the Wyoming generally involved train order authority and yard territory rules. However, there was manual block operation between Rock Jct. and Lackawaxen into the 1950s. The main block stations were GI Tower at Rock Jct., NA Tower in West Hawley, and BQ Tower in Lackawaxen. BQ Tower controlled the junction with the Erie Delaware Division main. There was also a siding along the Wyoming main that stretched about a mile west from this junction, along with some yard tracks. There had been a second tower on the Wyoming line in Lackawaxen, XJ, which controlled the interlocked end of this siding. This tower was closed when the switch became remote-controlled from BQ.
BQ, NA and GI had been 24 hour offices until the mid-50s. A daytime-only block operator was also stationed at Wimmers depot into the 1950s, near the highest elevation point on the Wyoming Division. Saco yard near Wimmers had a water tank and crane which came in handy for steam power after a long pull up the grade from Avoca. There were also once water tanks at Glen Eyre, Hawley, Clemo and Rock Jct., in addition to those at the Dunmore and Avoca terminals. Saco was mostly used in later years for storage of bad-order cars awaiting repairs at Dunmore shops, but once held overflow coal loads and excess empty hoppers. A wye just west of Wimmers was used to turn helper engines, but was taken out of service in the 1930s.
There were not any automatic block signals and just a handful of train-order, block and interlocking signals in use on the Wyoming Division by the late 1930s. However, 1918 valuation maps indicate that into the 1920s, there had been very early versions of automatic block signals in use on various stretches between Lackawaxen and Plains Jct., and also on short intervals of some branches, such as the Scranton Branch and nearby West Junction Branch. These signals provided an added layer of protection to the manual block control system for single track, and also enhanced the operational protections for double track (i.e., timetable authority for scheduled trains, directional designation of tracks, and flag protection of stopped trains).
These early electric block signals were quite different from modern automatic block signalling systems, however. The automatic signals on the Wyoming Division were not intended to cover every foot of main trackage (i.e., there were many stretches of single or double track on the Wyoming Division in the 1910's without these signals). The blocks they covered were generally quite short (unlike the mile or more typical of modern automatic block signaling), and only told a train crew whether or not another train was in that block or whether it had an open switch. It gave no information about the block beyond, nor did it provide a sufficient level of safety against a train coming the other way from beyond the block, as APB, TCS and CTC systems did and still do today (these systems were developed in the late teens and 1920s). Protection against "cornfield meets" was assumed to be provided by the manual block prohabition against allowing two trains into a block headed in opposite directions, and by the directional rules for unsignaled double track.
However, the rulebook allowed unscheduled trains to follow one another on manual block territory or unsignaled directional track (scheduled trains and passenger extras required exclusive block occupancy), so the early signalling system on the Wyoming allowed a bit more protection than simply relying on rear end flagging This provided greater capacity by allowing train movements to be bunched more closely. These signals were generally found on stretches near a yard, junction, crossover or near passing siding switches. With declining train frequency caused by the introduction of modern steam power (N class Mikados and R class 2-10-2s) in the 1920 and then by the Great Depression, these crude automatic signals were phased out of service, as the capacity they provided was no longer needed.
In the first three decades of the 20th Century, there were several other small towers or cabins on the Wyoming, some of which had interlocking plants controlling switches and signals, others just for controlling manual block signals and issuing train orders. At such stations, the operator was sometimes responsible to go outside and throw switches manually when required. For example, NA Tower at Hawley originally controlled the interlocked junction with the Honesdale Branch, which was converted to hand-throw operation in the 1930s. NA was a two-story interlocking tower located near the engine service tracks (which formed a wye between the Honesdale line and the Wyoming main).
In addition to GI Rock Jct. and NA, there was HX Tower in East Hawley, controlling a passing siding and small yard; BR Tower in Brandon (siding, no interlocking); WA Tower Wangaum (west of Hawley, siding, no interlocking); GM Tower in Hoadleys (siding, no interlocking); FD Tower at Manning Jct (just north of Lake Ariel Jct., north leg of a wye connection to Lake Ariel Branch; no interlocking); KO Tower within Saco yard (no interlocking, yard switches and telegraph only) and WN Tower between Elmhurst and Wimmers (interlocking controlling the start of double track leading to Wimmers Wye, Wimmers depot and then Saco yard). There was also a frame tower at Maplewood (siding, no interlocking); a frame tower at West Junction (junction with west leg of Scranton Branch, no interlocking); and HJ Tower at Hillside Jct. (interlocking control of signals only at the crossing of the Hillside Junction Branch east of Avoca and the Susquehanna Connecting line from Suscon to Jermyn). There were also telegraph operator cabins at Pittston Junction and No. 7 Junction just east of Avoca. (Bud Chase lecture, 1997 ARHS; 1927 Erie ICC Valuation Report).
Most of these towers were abandoned in the 30s and 40s, along with their interlocking plants. Lower traffic levels no longer justified these switch and signal control points. However, the interlocked switches and signals at XJ in Lackawaxen and HX in East Hawley were preserved by running a control wire from the near-by towers at BQ (as mentioned above) and NA respectively, allowing remote switch and signal control from those locations.
In West Hawley during the 50's, NA Tower was closed and the block signals and train order responsibilities were made part of the agent's duties at a small freight house built in the aftermath of the 1942 flood (photo in Trackside Erie With Bob Collins, following the 1955 flood). Before then, the NA operator still controlled train-order and block permission signals, and also remotely controlled the power switch and signals at the west end of the two-mile long HX passing siding, located about a half mile to the east. This siding had a spring switch located at its east end; such an arrangement allowed opposing trains to meet without stopping for brakemen to throw hand switches.
On account of the flood damage in Hawley from Hurricane Diane in 1955, control of the power switch and signals at the west end of HX siding was abandoned, and the siding switches were hand-thrown by the train crews that still used them (the Honesdale way freight from Port Jervis three times per week, the Wyoming “puller” from Avoca once each week, and an occasional work extra). The former "XJ" switch interlocking at the end of the Lackawaxen siding, as controlled by BQ Tower, was also deactiviated.
At GI Tower at Rock Jct., the switches outside the tower were hand-thrown (as with NA in Hawley after the 1930s). These included the junction switch to the Jessup Branch and the beginning of double track west (southwest, compass-wise) that extended to South Scranton, just past West Junction. There were also several sidings at Rock Jct., and aerial photos and a map from 1895 suggest that there was once a tight-radius wye track to allow eastbound trains from Avoca to access the Jessup Branch without a backup move. However, Erie engineering and valuation maps from the 1920s onward fail to show this wye track, suggesting that it was short-lived. The operator at GI Tower had control of the block and train order signals, as at NA Tower. By the mid-50s, GI was cut back to two shifts (4 PM to 8 AM, the night shift overseeing the nocturnal Avoca – Port Jervis freight runs). It was closed soon after the EL merger.
From Avoca, a train crew needed the authority of a Form A issued by the dispatcher to proceed eastward (Avoca had a 24 hour operator for this). Going westward from Avoca to Plains Jct., the line was considered yard limit territory, which allowed movement supervised by verbal orders. On this stretch, the verbal orders came from the train dispatcher; the same arrangement held for the Jessup Branch, Langcliffe Branch, West Junction Branch and Scranton Branch as far as Dunmore. Other yard limit trackage was directed by yardmasters at Dunmore and Avoca.
AVOCA HUMP YARD, L&B BRANCH:
Avoca was the main freight yard on the Wyoming Division. Dunmore had a small stub-end yard that could handle general freight, but was probably used mostly for equipment going into or leaving the car shops. Interestingly, Avoca Yard had a small gravity-assisted classification arrangement (hump) used into the 1950s. The overall yard arrangement at Avoca consisted of a long receiving and departure yard along the "Wyoming Main", and a shorter classification yard on the north side, along the L&B Branch from Avoca to the LV connection in Duryea.
The engine service facility and turntable was situated between these two yards, being built around 1920 to replace a previous turntable and larger roundhouse north of the L&B Branch yard. This project allowed the conversion of the former engine service tracks along that Branch into a miniature hump yard. This hump consisted of a raised yard lead next to the yard office at the throat of the north classification and south receiving/departure yards (i.e., on the east end of the overall yard complex at the York St. overpass). It was a manual "rider" hump, akin to other small manual classification arrangements in Port Jervis and other major yards. A 1930 labor arbitration settlement notes that Avoca yard had a regularly assigned "hump engine" crew at the time.
An interesting sidenote regarding the L&B Branch: before 1920, the E&WV / Erie owned the right of way on the LV Mountain Cut-Off from the junction with this branch in Duryea, west to approximately Pittston Junction, former site of LV's Coxton Tower near the Susquehanna River, where the Mountain Cut-Off crosses the DL&W Bloomsburg Branch and then meets the LV passenger route through downtown Wilkes Barre (see 1920 Erie Map on www.duryeapa.com web site). The E&WV / Erie obviously bought land to extend the L&B Branch from Avoca to the LV Main Line and DL&W Bloomsburg Branch in Pittston, before the LV Mountain Cut-Off was built (completed in 1888). The LV Cut-Off thus was built on the Erie right-of-way with trackage rights from Duryea to Pittston Jct. (which is alternately labeled "L&B Junction" on various maps). In the 1920s, the Erie conveyed title to this stretch of the Cut Off to the LV but retained trackage rights as to reach the DL&W Branch, possibly for interchange.
In Avoca, there were also a few yard tracks along the Langcliffe Colliery Branch, which served as a connection between the far end of the receiving/departure yard at West Avoca and the D&H main to Carbondale (there becoming the Erie Jefferson Division northward to Lanesboro). This required a back-up move for Erie trains into and out of Avoca Yard for trains from and to the Jefferson Division.
The EL continued to issue train orders for jobs between Avoca and Scranton (via the operator at the former DLW Bridge 60 Tower), although most of the sidelines were considered yard territory. On the east (north) end of the former Wyoming Division, the EL continued to dispatch the Honesdale to Lackawaxen section by manual block rules for several years, with the operators at BQ Tower and Hawley station giving the block permission indications when needed by the local way freight. By 1963, BQ Tower was closed and the entire line to Honesdale became yard limit territory.
Obviously, as the 60s and 70s progressed, there was less and less traffic. Most of the lines were still intact at the Conrail takeover, although the EL abandoned operations and maintenance on the Rock Jct. to Lake Ariel portion after 1972, when the last customer (a lumber dealer in Lake Ariel) stopped using rail. Some of the Wyoming lines continued to see service under the Pocono Northeast Railway into the early 1980s, mostly for traffic from the Kerr McGee tie processing plant in Avoca, a soon-to-be-closed Gould Battery plant and the Keystone Industrial Park. But I'll stop here; I prefer to think about busier days on the Wyoming.
However, I will not refer to “happier times” in the Valley, as I don't want to unduly glamorize the anthracite mining industry of northeastern Pennsylvania. Coal mining back then was a dirty and dangerous job, sometimes even deadly (as at Knox / River Slope). The coal companies exploited local workers in various ways, and there were labor strikes that sometimes turned bloody. Furthermore, the air was polluted with smoke and soot, rivers and lakes were poisoned with acids, and the landscape was made gray and ugly by mine operations.
Still, this era should not be forgotten. For almost a century, the Wyoming coal fields were essential to meeting the energy needs of the Boston, New York and Philadelphia metropolitan areas, and the Erie and its Wyoming Division were integral parts of that energy network. Mr. Connor, Billington, Flannigan and Dedric told the story of this era in Volume 25, No. 3, and I hope that I have added something to the effort. The DL&W operations out of Taylor and Hampton Yards and along the Bloomsburg Branch were similar stories, along with the Erie's Bradford Div. operations; I hope they will be documented in future ELHS Diamond articles.
[With many thanks for supplemental assistance and information provided by Dennis Beeghly, Vincent Lee, Tony Ranella, Vincent Stagnano and Chuck Yungkurth.]
ERRATA and ADDENDUM to "WYOMING DIVISION REVISITED" ARTICLE PUBLISHED in EL DIAMOND Vol. 26, No. 2:
I would like to offer the following acknowledgements, errata and addendum materials for the article "Wyoming Division Revisited, Operations on the Wyoming Division", Volume 26 No. 2. This article was a great learning experience for me, and the process did not stop when the presses began to roll. I don't pretend to be an expert on the subject, but I remain an interested student of railroading during the Anthracite Era in the Wyoming Valley, and I wish to share my continued gleanings from the past.
First off, I would like to add Mr. Frank Adams and Mr. Jim Guthrie to the list of people who I need to thank for kindly providing materials and comments regarding this article and the overall (and on-going) research project behind it. I was quite amazed by the generousity of everyone whom I reached out to with questions and information requests.
Page 12: The Diamond article notes that the last scheduled passenger runs on the Wyoming Division were mixed trains between Honesdale and Lackawaxen, which ended in mid-1942. Mr. Jim Guthrie, in a post to the June 16 EL Internet Mailing List commenting on this article, adds that the Erie posted discontinuance notices for this train in September 1939 and stopped accepting passengers. However, a recent Pennsylvania law required permission first from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, so the Erie put the trains back on the schedules and allowed passengers to ride in the caboose, until the PUC finally approved discontinuance in 1942.
Page 13: Regarding Road Freight Operations and the CNJ Canal Branch route, the article states that the Wyoming Division main went "over or under the Laurel Line". Subsequent examination of maps and Penn Pilot aerial photos confirm that the CNJ Canal Branch ran under the L&WV right of way, not far from the WBC / former WB&E bridge over the Susquehanna River at Mill Creek.
Page 14: The Diamond article states that at the time of the Knox Mine disaster, the Pennsylvania Coal Company had only two regular employees, based upon a recollection conveyed by Mr. Chuck Yungkurth. This was an error on my part; Mr. Yungkurth in fact said that at the time of the Knox flooding, Pennsylvania Coal had only two employees stationed at its headquarters office in Scranton (and not at the large stone building in Dunmore near the Erie yards that had been used by Pennsylvania Coal Company; this building was abandoned before 1965 and then became a nursing home. It was to be demolished in 2001, see EL List comment "Lackawanna County Continues to Destroy Heritage", June 25, 2001). The two employees at the Scranton office were the President and a Real Estate Clerk. Mr. Yungkurth did not state that these employees comprised the entire PCC payroll at the time. On his June 16, 2012 post on the EL Mailing List regarding this article, Jim Guthrie was kind enough to provide information showing that the financial records of the Pennsylvania Coal Company show a substantial payroll expense of $ 215,000 in 1960 (which, given salary levels back then, would indicate approximately 50 employees). Mr. Guthrie also provided a roster of the 16 remaining PaCC employees in 1968.
It remains uncertain, however, whether these employees worked under the active direction of the PaCC headquarters office referred to by Mr. Yungkurth, or if they were managed on a day-to-day basis by Erie and then Erie Lackawanna officials. Again, Mr. Yungkurth indicated through correspondence that the main purpose of the PaCC headquarters office at the time of the Knox disaster and thereafter was to collect land revenues and forward them to the railroad. The 1968 list of PaCC employees provided by Mr. Guthrie lacks various positions that would be expected in an independent real estate management enterprise with an extensive real estate portfolio, such as attorneys, bookkeepers, payroll clerks, regional managers and procurement agents. This could imply that the Erie and then Erie Lackawanna were providing such services for PaCC (author's speculation).
Furthermore, many of the employee positions (land engineer, draftsman, chainman, patrolman, auditor) on the 1968 payroll list could have been of use for railroad-owned property management and also for rail operations themselves, when not occupied with real estate management tasks involving Pennsylvania Coal. It is arguable though not certain that the Erie and EL may have had financial incentive to have kept the PCC payrolls as large as could be justified, so as to minimize income taxes levied against this still-profitable subsidiary (and somewhat reduce railroad payrolls and help control the accounting losses reported by the Erie and EL in the late 50's and early 60's). Again, this reflects the author's speculations and not those of others.
As such, further research is needed regarding the operational relationship between Pennsylvania Coal Company and the Erie and Erie Lackawanna Railroads after the 2nd World War, after PaCC got out of the coal mining business. In an oversimplified nutshell, the Erie obtained ownership of PaCC in 1901, and there is evidence that PaCC remained largely self-sufficient and operationally independent for several decades (one small example regards the 0-6-0 switcher used at the PaCC coal piles at Coalberg in Saddle Brook, NJ; it was built in 1909 for the DL&W and later bought by PaCC and lettered "Coalberg Storage", despite the fact that both the Erie and NYS&W served this location and could have performed the necessary switching). It mined coal and harvested lumber from a large number of properties, and processed and marketed these products itself. However, beginning in the 1920s it began contracting with independent (mostly non-union) mining operators for production on its properties, albeit for marketing and distribution by PaCC. In 1930 it leased 7 major colliery operations to the Pittston Company as part of Van Sweringen control of the Erie (see M.J. Connor article "Erie Lackawanna Genealogy Part 2nd" in Vol. 24 No. 2). This was part of an arrangement by the Van Sweringens' Alleghany Company in attempting to get around antitrust law business limitations on railroad mining affiliates. Pittston reorganized following the Van Swerigen collapse in the mid 1930s and focused on bituminous mining in southern states, while Pennsylvania Coal continued to lease out its coal rights and facilities. For example, it initiated its first lease with the Knox Company (the mining lessee involved in the Riverside disaster of 1959) in 1943.
Even as the Depression ended and WW2 stimulated industrial activity, the prospects for anthracite mining production and demand declined rapidly in the Wyoming Valley. Pennsylvania Coal thus completely exited the business of marketing and shipping coal and allowed its contract operators to sell and distribute whatever they produced. It became a real estate management company, and according to Mr. Guthrie (see EL List, Nov. 21, 2009), provided net income into the 1970s. Mr. Guthrie refers to PaCC as the Erie and EL's "piggybank" (see EL List June 16, 2012 and April 10, 2008), and cites the fact that the EL borrowed funds from PaCC on a short term basis to bolster its weakening cash situation in the early 1960s (EL List, June 16).
According to statistics in Moodys Transportation Manual, the Erie and Erie Lackawanna Railroad carried Pennsylvania Coal on its asset ledgers at a book value of $5,100,000, from the early 1950s through 1968. After the Dereco takeover when the ELRR was reorganized at the Erie Lackawanna Railway, PaCC's book value was listed at $1,800,000. Neither Erie nor early EL management reported dividend payments from PaCC from the mid-50's thru 1966, despite the deep losses from rail operations experienced during most of these years. Then, from 1967 through 1972, the EL received a total of $4,310,000 in dividend distributions from PaCC. These were mostly the years of EL control by N&W/Dereco; they were also when the EL's long-term debt maturities increased from $10 to $15 million per year to $60 to $80 million. Obviously, the PaCC "piggybank" was being used by the EL to help ride out its "debt tsunami". During 1973-1976, when debt payoff was suspended because of bankruptcy, no further dividends were received from Pennsylvania Coal. The bankruptcy judge was possibly protecting whatever "family jewelry" was left for sake of eventual creditor settlement.
PaCC as a corporate entity was not dissolved until after the Conrail takeover, see comment by Mr. Yungkirth on the EL List (Nov. 4, 2004). It was merged into the post-Conrail corporate successor to the EL for final disposition of assets and resolution of liabilities. Thus, it remains an open and interesting question as to whether the once mightly and powerful Pennsylvania Coal Company had been reduced to something of a shell company and financial puppet of the Erie and EL by the 1950's and 60's.
Page 15: The article states that Erie influence over the NYS&W "orphan branches" grew after the Erie leased the NYS&W in February, 1898. Mr. Guthrie, in his post to the EL List on June 16, 2012, discusses this lease and indicates that its legal and practical significance were limited, as it was contingent upon rates remaining at 1898 levels. However, a rate freeze was not as financially injurious as such a condition might seem today; according to estimates from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, price inflation was nil from 1896 to 1901. Admittedly, one of the objectives of the Erie's purchase was arguably to "firm up" rates by reducing competition, especially for mining enterprises not controlled by the railroad. At the time of the lease, J.P. Morgan was acquiring NYS&W stock, and formally conveyed a 99.6% interest to the Erie in 1899, as noted in the Connor et al Wyoming Division article in Diamond Vol. 28 No. 3 (p. 14); also see post to the EL Internet List by Mr. Connor on Jan. 22, 2008. As such, the lease appears to have been a mechanism to "jump start" Erie control until the stock purchases and transfers were complete. Thus, for purposes of rail operations, this lease is an important milepost in the story of Erie control of NYS&W properties. Mr. Guthrie will have an article published in the Midlander Trainsheet magazine of the New Jersey Midland Railroad Historical Society soon which will explore this and other points relating to the Erie-NYS&W relationship.
Also on page 15, the Diamond article states that the NYS&W orphan branches originally depended upon connections to the Erie, D&H and NYO&W to forward originated traffic. Mr. Guthrie points out in his EL List post of June 16 that the DL&W was also an important connection for such traffic, before the WB&E was completed in 1894. From 1882 and through the early 90s, the NYS&W used the DL&W under a haulage contract from Winton to Gravel Place, where the NYS&W took over for the trip to the Hudson River. He notes that the DL&W did not always give good service, and speculates that this encouraged coal users to purchase from its own mining affiliates, for faster and more reliable delivery. This stimulated NYS&W interest in connecting these branches to the WB&E via the Susquehanna Connecting line. As stated in my article and the Connor et al article, Susquehanna Connecting was completed in 1897 but never reached the "orphans" at Dickson City north of Scranton. The "Lackawanna problem" was rendered moot however by Erie control of the NYS&W in 1898. The DL&W routed the orphan branch traffic via its Winton Branch to Nay Aug, then east on its main line through the Poconos. For a detailed history of this branch, see the book Rails Between Dunmore and Jessup; the DL&W's Winton Branch, 2011 by Frank P. Adams.
Also on page 15, the article states that the Erie's decision to update the Wyoming main in 1917 "nailed the coffin of the WB&E route". Mr. Guthrie in his June 16 EL List comment adds that after 1905, only a few mines owned by NYS&W Coal Company, located in Jermyn on the Susquehanna Connecting line, were still using the WB&E to reach the New York market. However, Mr. Guthrie agrees that "the LV, Erie, D&H and Pennsylvania Coal Company all shipped anthracite over the WB&E at first" (EL List, Sept. 28, 2011). Again, see Mr. Guthrie's upcoming article in the Midlander Trainsheet magazine.
On page 16, it states that the Erie took over operation of the NYO&W's Riverside Branch after the O&W's 1957 shut-down. As per Mr. Chuck Yungkurth in Anthracite Railroads and Mining in Color Volume 2, it was actually the DL&W that kept this line in operation prior to the 1960 formation of the EL.
Map on Page 16 and 17: I cannot thank Dave Pedersen enough for putting up with and keeping up with the countless changes I proposed right up to the printing deadline. I hope that our effort gives at least a relatively useful sketch of rail service in the Wyoming Valley during the anthracite era. My only change would be to note that the map is more-or-less keyed to the years of World War 2, in terms of lines shown as abandoned or in-service. The major exception to that would be the WB&H interurban line, shown in solid black; it was out of service by 1933. I would also note that this map does not and could not show all transportation systems using steel wheels on steel rails in the Wyoming Valley. There are short mine branches such as the Erie's Nay Aug branch and Bunker Hill branch that are not indicated. Also, the map does not show trolley routes such as the Scranton Traction and Wilkes Barre Railways lines, the narrow gauge colliery railroads that ran between mines and slag dumps and sometimes paralleled Class 1 lines (e.g. the L.V. Coal Co. line along the CNJ Canal Branch in Wilkes Barre) . . . and the roller coaster at Rocky Glen Amusement Park, which bridged over the electrified right of way of the L&WV without side guards or barriers!! (See p. 110 of Henwood and Muncie's Laurel Lines book).
Page 17, regarding the water tank at Saco Yard: There were also once water tanks at Glen Eyre, Clemo, and Rock Jct., in addition to the tanks at the terminals in Avoca, Hawley and Dunmore.
Page 17, regarding 1918 valuation maps and automatic block signals in use betweeen Avoca and Scranton:
A closer look at a series of valuation maps kindly provided by Frank Adams showed that there had been a very early version of automatic block signals in use on various stretches between Lackawaxen and Plains Jct., and also on short intervals of some branches, such as the Scranton Branch and nearby West Junction Branch. These signals provided an added layer of protection to the manual block control system for single track, and also enhanced the operational protections for double track (i.e., timetable authority for scheduled trains, directional designation of tracks, and flag protection of stopped trains).
However, these early electric block signals were quite different from modern automatic block signalling systems. The automatic signals on the Wyoming Division were not intended to cover every mile of main trackage (i.e., there were many stretches of single or double track on the Wyoming Division in the 1910's without these signals). The blocks they covered were generally quite short (unlike the mile or more typical of modern automatic block signaling), and only told a train crew whether or not another train was in that block or whether it had an open switch. A note on one valuation map hints that some of these signals were "banjo" style, which had only a "danger" and "clear" aspect. Such a signal gave no information about the block beyond, nor did it provide a sufficient level of safety against a train coming the other way from beyond the block, as APB, TCS and CTC systems did and still do today (these systems were developed in the late teens and 1920s). Protection against "cornfield meets" was assumed to be provided by the manual block prohabition against allowing two trains into a block headed in opposite directions, and by the directional rules for unsignaled double track.
The rulebook allows unscheduled trains to follow one another on manual block territory or on unsignaled directional track (scheduled trains and passenger extras require exclusive block occupancy), so the early signalling system on the Wyoming allowed a bit more protection than simply relying on rear end flagging This provided greater capacity by allowing train movements to be bunched more closely. These signals were generally found on stretches near a yard, junction, crossover or near passing siding switches. With declining train frequency caused by the introduction of modern steam power (N class Mikados and R class 2-10-2s) in the 1920 and then by the Great Depression, these crude automatic signals were phased out of service, as the capacity they provided was no longer needed.
Page 18, regarding WN Tower near Wimmers. WN Tower did not control the Wimmers Wye; WN was located approx. 3/4 mile east of the wye and controlled the start of double track leading toWimmers Wye, Wimmers depot and then Saco yard.
Page 18, regarding HJ Tower at Hillside Junction. HJ tower had interlocking control of signals at the crossing of the Hillside Junction Branch and the Susquehanna Connecting line from Suscon to Jermyn. It was located approximately 1/4 mile from the main E&WV route between Avoca and Scranton, not directly on it. The Hillside Junction Branch ended on the E&WV route at a non-interlocked manual switch.
And last but far from least, my thanks and gratitude to Mike Shaffer, who saw an article in a bunch of various thoughts and notes that I conveyed to him in response to the original Wyoming Division article by Mr. Connor, Billington, Flannagan and Dedic; and had the patience to help me weave it together.
1914 Pennsylvania Public Service Commission decision re: slow service, W.A. Edgar v. NYS&W RR Co.:
Erie in Hawley:
Photos of Hawley in 1929:
Various Wyoming Division discussions:
Ashley area rail map:
CNJ Nanticoke Branch map:
Wanamie mine steam operation:
Wilkes Barre and Hazelton interurban, history:
WB&H terminal in Wilkes Barre:
WB&H Mack Railbuses:
1951 Wyoming Div Employee Timetable:
Erie RR Passenger Timetables, 1930s and 1940s:
Penn Pilot Aerial Photos, 1930s and 1950s: