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Jul 10, 2011
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
UPDATE: 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. update information from anonymous comment in November of 2010
reprinted from November 29, 2010