Dec 27, 2012

The West End Train

The Lehigh Valley Railroad operated a train branch line which served Allentown's commercial west end. It ran along Sumner Avenue servicing the scrap metal yards, warehouses and numerous coal dealers located there. The line then crossed Tilghman Street on a diagonal at 17th, before looping back east by Liberty Street at the Fairgrounds. The line ended at a rail yard now housing the small shopping center at 12th and Liberty. Although many of former commercial buildings still exist, all now house more retail type businesses. The B'nai Brith Apartments occupy the site of the former Trexler Lumber Yard. These historical shorts are difficult to write. Most current residents have no frame of reference to our former commercial past. True historians, such as the local railroad buffs, cringe at the lack of detail and specific location of the tracks. Suffice to say, that once upon a time, the mid-section of Allentown had much more commerce.

photo of train crossing Tilghman at 17th Street taken by Kermit E. Geary in 1974, from the Mark Rabenold Collection.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I recall my grandparents talking about a trolley that went up Susquehanna St and around the 200 block of E Susquehanna St the tracks went up towards Cumberland St and I suspect over the hill, Fountain Hill I believe, before going back down the other side into Bethlehem. Up through the early 70's when I lived there Susquehanna St still had the rise of the track roadbed in it. The rails were gone for as long as I can remember though.

Frank

Anonymous said...

At 12th and Liberty or thereabouts isn't that where Freemans Dairy was? As I recall it was in that area.

Did the train possibly serve them along with the Lehigh Valley Dairy further north on 7th St?

Frank

Bill Sherman said...

Mr. Molovinsky, I seem to remember the circus train used to park behind Ritter and Smith near the old Fred Midler Tire store

michael molovinsky said...

frank, many bloggers like questions, some even write a reply to every comment, question or not. i don't like questions, to either me or others who comment, because i don't want to host a chat room. it suits me best to end my part with the post. but, here's your answer. freeman dairy was on 13th street, one alley down from tilghman. the building is still there, and in re-use. Lehigh Valley Dairy was up on a buff above sumner ave, and not served by the west end branch line, which passed under the bridge at the current schnieder scrap yard.

Anonymous said...

I remember it well. thanks for posting.

michael molovinsky said...

frank, thanks for the nice note, no apology needed. i take the opportunity now and then to outline my comment policy. i did not print your last comment because of the personal information, including your email address.

Anonymous said...

Micheal,

Thanks for all of your historical reflections of Allentown's past. It certainly is pleasure to read your posts and the perspective you bring to them. Even at my young tender age of 46, I do recollect the train tracks crossing Tilghman street. My things have changed even in my life time.

Glenn

John said...

Michael - take a look at Allentown using www.openstreetmap.org. It shows long-abandoned rights-of-way including the line to the West End along Sumner Avenue.

I asked the mayor at the groundbreaking for the American Parkway bridge project if signage was going to be improved with a good wayfinder system for the city. He assured me that it would.

When the AP bridge is complete, I hope the city improves Sumner Avenue to the point where it becomes a north side parkway short cut to the West End. It works for me to get to the farmer's market from Bethlehem.