LIKE THE PHOENIX . . .
After steaming for the last time in January of 1960, #113 sat for years outside the Reading Anthracite coal breaker at Locust Summit, a few miles west of Ashland along the Reading railroad line to Shamokin. During the early 1960s, when the Reading ran the famous "Ramble" excursions behind T-1 4-8-4s, a number of them passed right by. Robert Kimmel, Sr., then a volunteer at the Wanamakers, Kempton & Southern Railroad, first saw #113 at the breaker in this era.
In the five photos below, by an unknown photographer, #113 sits quite forlornly amidst some of the ruins of the Industrial Revolution. At the lower right, a crew of volunteers has started preparing her for movement to Delaware after the coal company donated the locomotive to Historic Red Clay Valley, Inc., circa 1980.
Do you know who took these photos? Do you recognize any of the people in the lower-right photo?
If you do, please get in touch with us!
Around 1963, Earle H. Gil, Sr., visited Locust Summit and photographed #113 at the breaker. We present his photo here courtesy of Steve Hepler at the Whippany Railway Museum in New Jersey. In 1965, Gil founded the Morris County Central in Whippany, using two steam locomotives he bought from the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway, one a former-U.S. Army 0-6-0 of much more modest dimensions than #113. The museum has that locomotive under restoration now and expects to operate her in the not-too-distant future.
One wonders: Did Earle Gil inspect #113 with the aim of running her in her original home state of New Jersey? What a different rebirth she might have had,
and a different present!
In another picture (below) by an unknown photographer, a Conrail crew has #113 in a train waiting to leave Anthracite Country for Delaware, circa 1980. Four years after the merger of more than half a dozen bankrupt Northeastern railroads, the Conrail reporting marks and logo have covered over the paint of many of the predecessor lines; the boxcar at the left has a large patch over its former Penn Central "mating worms" logo, while the caboose at the tail end of the train now wears at least its third paint scheme: Built for the Pennsylvania Railroad, the "cabin car" then served the Penn Central and then Conrail.
Do you know who took this photo, and do you recognize the location? If you do, please get in touch with us!
Although the landscape remains more or less unchanged, a visitor now will find almost nothing else that appears in these photographs. As described by the Pottsville Republican-Herald in an article in April 2014: "The Locust Summit [breaker] was built in 1929 at a cost of $4 million. A unique feature included a rotary dump in which a train car would be locked in placed, then turned upside down to off-load unprocessed coal. In its prime, the breaker was capable of producing 12,000 tons of coal per day.
"A declining coal market and eventual bankruptcy of the railroad that served the breaker were two factors that played in to the breaker closing on Jan. 7, 1955. The closure affected several hundred men. In the fall of 2002, after decades of deterioration, the breaker was demolished. Lost was a vintage Reading Railroad hopper car still locked in the structure."
The article goes on to describe the Reading's Saint Nicholas Breaker, a dozen miles east of the Locust Summit, built in the same era and once the largest breaker in the world. Now largely demolished, it nonetheless has the title of last remaining breaker anywhere in Pennsylvania Anthracite Country.