Today, once again we ride a freight train of Allentown's great industrial past. In the early 1970's, the Redevelopment Authority tore down the neighborhood on either side of the Lehigh Street hill. At that time they had persuaded Conrail to move the the Barber's Quarry Branch line exclusively to the southern side of the Little Lehigh. The branch had crossed over and back to service the great Wire Mill. After crossing Lehigh Street, the train would proceed along the creek passing under the 8th Street Bridge. At the 10th Street crossing it would service another great industrial giant, Traylor Engineering.
In 2009 President Obama visited a successor, Allentown Manufacturing, which has since closed. The line would continue along the creek until it turned north along Cedar Creek to Union Terrace. After crossing Hamilton Street by the current Hamilton Family Diner, it would end at the current park department building. Nothing remains of the line, the tracks were removed. The Allentown Economic Development Corporation recently received a grant to rebuild the line to 10th Street, even though the plant Obama visited has closed. The neighboring former Mack Plant now houses a go cart track. How the money will be squandered remains to be seen. The top photograph was taken by local train historian Mark Rabenold in 1989. It shows the later relocated section of the track that was just east of the Lehigh Street crossing.
UPDATE: The County Commissioners recently denied a request by AEDC to grant KOZ status to the closed Metal Manufacturing building. Although the company never cited lack of rail service or property taxes as the reason for closing, the rail grant is still on the table. $Millions of $Dollars would be needed to lay bed and track from 3th and Union to S. 10th Street, to service an empty building; Truly, The Track To Nothing.
reprinted from October 2012
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