Nov 29, 2010

The World of Mirth

Allentown at one time had two very productive railroad branch lines; The West End, and the Barber Quarry. The Barber Quarry, for the most part, ran along the Little Lehigh Creek. It serviced the Mack Truck plants on South 10th, and continued west until it turned north along Union Terrace, ending at Wenz's tombstone at 20th and Hamilton Streets. The West End, for the most part, ran along Sumner Avenue, turning south and looping past 17th and Liberty Streets.

The Allentown Economic and Development Corporation has received a $1.8 million grant, toward a $4 million dollar project, to restore a portion of the Barber Quarry branch to service it's industrial building on South 10th Street. This building housed Traylor Engineering, which was a giant back in the day. Recently it housed a fabricator who President Obama visited on his Allentown photo opportunity mission. The business has since closed, but let's not have that reality stand in the way of grants. Last summer, I fought against Allentown's Trail Network Plan, which catered to the spandex cyclist crowd. The new trail was to be built on the Barber Quarry track line. Not only didn't the AEDC oppose the plan, it's director was an advocate. Now they will be funded to develop that which they wanted to destroy. Where do I begin in Allentown's World of Mirth?

The wonderful photograph above shows the World of Mirth train at 17th and Liberty. World of Mirth was the midway operator at the Allentown Fair during the 40's and 50's. In the background is Trexler Lumber Yard, which burnt down in the early 1970's. The B'nai B'rith Apartment houses now occupy the location.
photograph from the collection of Mark Rabenold


LVCI said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LVCI said...

I posted this before but I wanted to clear up my remarks.

The Rail To Nowhere.. Another hair brained taxpayer funded $3 million scheme.

(1) Unless your going to haul at least 4 or 5 cars a day out of a siding, the railroad loses money. (2) If there is a company that requires any kind of volume there are dozens of empty warehouses that sit empty out in Fogelsville who already have rail service. (3) If a company that finds some need (for whatever reason I can't fathom) to locate down there, they can simply load onto containers which then can be trucked over to Bethlehem (20 minutes away) and loaded to piggy back railcars. None of which would costs taxpayers $3 million.. that's for sure!

See: Bethlehem--
"Lehigh Valley Rail Management LLC - Bethlehem Division (LVRB) is located within the 1,600-acre Bethlehem Commerce Center, the former Bethlehem Steel manufacturing plant."

Norfolk-Southern's Freight Train Schedule

The Bethlehem Commerce Center was estimated to have cost $1 billion dollars to construct

LVCI said...

Also See: Pottstown--
Sept. 13, 2010: Rail company plans hub at former Bethlehem Steel site
"Norfolk Southern Railroad, which owns the rail line and several rail spurs in the former Bethlehem Steel property... plans to create a hub for the transfer of bulk goods being brought in by rail... ..tracks would be used to store rail cars loaded with bulk goods, "both solids and liquids," which would then be transferred to trucks for local companies"

The article goes on to say.."This may open up the Bethlehem Steel site in Pottstown for heavy manufacturing or light industry and that is the only part of town that is zoned for that."

Like I said why would a company come to Allentown?

Isn't this like reinventing the wheel at taxpayer's expense

Anonymous said...

Mr. Molovinsky I do agree that it does not seem like rail is needed in that area. If it is I would prefer the company that needs it would pay for it. But, I must ask, if rail is not needed in that area than why were you against making the old rail lines a trail?

michael molovinsky said...

anon 12:07, the barber line would now just extend to 10th street from the area of 4th and jordon, yet cost $4million. there is no tenant currently in that building who even requires truck freight, much less railroad. however, i'm against rail to trail plans just because the rail infrastructure would be so expensive to now replace, if ever needed again for passenger, freight or sightseeing; as this project illustrates. for government to spent grant money on these rail to trail projects, then more grant money on rail rebuilt, (with no customer or market) is absurd. this is one of rendell's going out the door projects.

Anonymous said...

A fat taxpayer funded grant check has no conscience.

Seems to be the rule of thumb in merry old Allentown.

Funds come in, they gotta go out. Like a kid with a new buck in a candy store.

Post another "successful" program/accomplishment to the resume.

Planning? Planning? What Planning? You fools, who needs planning? It is taxpayer money. It is meant to be spent with abandon and irrationality.

Spend! Spend! Spend! This is the new definition of political stewardship, irresponsible responsibility.

The fact there is not a tenant makes absolute sense. Why in the world would the current administration ever want to help a real tenant.

That is just not rational.The bikers were simply yesterdays flavor. Time to move on.

Anonymous said...

MM -

Regarding your 12:36 comment:

I wonder how much difference there would be in cost trying to get an unused rail line up to speed vs. completely replacing the line in an area that was converted to trail.

Let's also not forget that it is most often the rail companies that are trying to sell off the unused/unneeded rail lines, not the government taking them.

The one benefit that I see in rails-to-trails is that the right-of-way stays in government hands, which would possibly make re-acquisition and re-conversion easier (if needed in the future) since you'd only be dealing with one owner (the government).

Anonymous said...

Mr. Molovinsky:

Sorry for the late post. Just some minor clarrifications to your LV branch railroad historical facts. The Barber Quarry branch was not the primary railroad access to the Mack plants on South 10th Street. The branch only provided service to Mack Plant #2 on South 10th and Mack Plant #1 on 7th and Mill Streets which both closed for manufacturing in 1924 in favor of Mack #3,3A,4 and 4A on South 10th. These were served by the Reading Railroad Mack Branch. There was a switchback that connected the Barber Quarry to the Reading west of Traylor Engineering and Manufacturing Co. Yet, that was built by the Reading to serve Traylor and did not provide access for the LVRR to Mack #3,3A, 4 and 4A.

Also the western terminus was not wenz's on Hamliton Street. The branch crossed Hamilton and served several businesses including Yeager Fuel on North St Elmo, several silk mills and Pepsi Bottling at 2100 Linden Street. The bottling plant closed in 1963 which then became a city parks department building. The LVRR sold and removed the track north of Hamilton street in 1969. Accordingly, in 1970, the Wenz company became the western most shipper and receiver on the branch. Thanks