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Monday, August 21, 2006

06-08-21 PHOTOS: South Jersey Tour

Several months ago I took a small road trip around South Jersey with a friend from Boston. We started off near Trenton with some photos of MILLHAM tower, then wandered down to Cove Road at CP-HATCH for some RiverLINE photos. Finally we headed east to Winslow Township home of the South Jersey Railroad and the Cedarbrook Bunker. Tomorrow I hope to head out to one of the Abandoned NIKE Missile bases which once surrounded most large American cities.

If you remember the old Bell System, you might not know that all those monopoly profits went into building a long distance network that was literally bomb proof, Atomic Bomb proof. Across the country there exists to this day a network of bunkers to keep the phones working in case of nuclear attack. They were linked by a series of microwave relays and L4 co-axial carriers. So next time when you're shouting "Can you hear my now" into your Cell Phone, think of what "6 9's of service" used to mean.

The other cold warriors in South Jersey are the SJRR's fleet of Alcos. Granted most of them are Canadian imports, but it's close enough. You don't see any imported diesels from Lada or Gaz.

The whole group of pix is at:

If you want to learn more about the old Bell System go to

And a brief tour...

MILLHAM tower in Hamilton NJ is located on a straight stretch of NEC that used to contain a complete 4-track interlocking. Ultimate the interlocking was removed during one of the NECIP's as Trenton area freight traffic declined, but was partly compensated for by the construction of the new Amtrak HAM interlocking about a mile to the east.  MILLHAM was controlled by what became the prototype "corridor" style tower built in 1941 which replaced many older plants.  The peaked roof is a new addition to shield the leaking flat roof. 

RiverLINE unit #3501B at Cove Rd.

The bunker at Cedarbrook. The pryamyds are vents and the brown thing on the concrete post is a gamma ray detector to alert the ppl inside to a nuclear blast.  It's amazing the quality of service we got when AT&T was still a monopoly.  Even after a nuclear war the old network would have still functioned.

Old microwave relay horn antennas. If you hook your laptop up to one of these you can get 802.11b wireless up to 30 miles distant. 

Saturday, August 5, 2006

06-08-05 PHOTOS: Reading Country USA

About a month ago I took a trip with a friend up to Reading Country in central-eastern PA. This has been one of my earliest railfan haunts back in the late 1990's, but I had not been back there since and I was eager to visit a few of the places and see how they had changed.

The old Reading system used to be quite impressive with a uge network running through the foothills to gather up anthricite coal for use in home heating systems. Today, north of Reading, the once vast network is nothing more than a patchwork of secondard tracks, but its still an interesting anvunique system full of legacy infrastructure. It has been my lifelong goal to walk through all 7 Reading tunnels and after this trip I am up to 4.

First stop was CP-PHOENIX in Phoenixville. This interlocking composes a brief single track segment through the Black Rock tunnel. The east end of the portal still had its Conrail era small target searchlights, but the west end revently had the Reading signals replaced with a Darth Vader, both at the home signal and the distant. Still, NS appears to be showing no plans to convert the line from 251 to 261 operation. Rule 251 is such a welcome relief in this world which has become overrun with CTC.

Moving on, I stopped by the site of the old Reading Outer Station in downtowne Reading. Unfortunately the station burned down in the 1980's and the last time I was there there was just a big enpty patch in the middle of the wye that served the station. Well boy was I surprised when I found that it had been filled in by some Dept of public works building. don't worry, there's still plenty of room for yards for the future SVM. While there I took photos of CP-OLEY and CP-CENTER.

Next stop was the Reading and Northern yard at Port Clinton. The R&N runs the former Reading main line out to Sunbury PA and also the Cormer Lehigh Valley main line from M&H Jct to a point past Scranton. their offices, shoppes and dispatching centre are located at Port Clinton.

Other fun bits there include a vintage US&S M3 switch machine and this neat hillside logo.

Moving on, my next goal was to walk through the currently abandonned Lofty tunnel. However when we got there, the RoW was flooded and i lacked deep water footwear.

Not to be defeated, we drove to the still active Tamaqua tunnel and after a bit of hiking in tick country we located the north portal. The tunnel offered a nice blast of natural AC as we walked through to the south portal.

The next stop on my trip was the towne of Tamaqua PA with the historic Tamaqua Station and the less historic Reading and Northern station.

Finally, the last stop was BIRD tower in Birdsboro. BIRD is where the Reading Main Line joins with what is called the Turkey Path, an alternate 3rd track to bypass reading city. Is also used to provide access to the Wilmington and Northern line to Wilmington. The RoW here is 4-tracks wide and the interlocking used to be very complex. The tower housed the air compressor for the pneumatic switches and you can still see some of the pipes. However today BIRD interlocking only has a single switch between the Turkey Path and the #2 S/B main line.

You can see ALL the photos at:

My SEPTA train enters Bryn Mawr interlocking under a SLOW APPROACH due to an Amtrak Keystone cab-car test train passing in front of us.

The closed yet still standing BRYN MAWR Tower with a Stop and Proceed indication on the bracket mounted position light. 

 My SEPTA train deposits it at Wayne with Silverliner IV #349 in the rear position.

Searchlight dwarf signal at CP-CENTER.

OLEY Tower at the neck of Reading Yard.