Monday, April 14, 2008

Perkiomen Railroad

This one's for me so feel free to look away and count blue cars, photograph coconut trees, eat sunflower seeds or whatever it is you do when someone asks you to look away.

I found this amazing website on the Perkiomen branch of the Reading Railroad. This is the long abandoned railroad line on which the current Perkiomen Trail (one of my favorite biking trails) was built upon. This guy, who calls himself a ferro-equinologist (a railroad archaeologist), appears to have traveled over and retraced the entire route of the original railroad line which is no longer there, houses, weeds, the trail and the 21st century having crept up over it. He even created a mapelogue of it, just like I partially did. This ferro-equinologying stuff, by the way, is something that I've often dreamt of doing, and probably will do sometime in the near future.

He's also discovered and photographed various hard-to-notice artifacts of the original railway line that are still standing on or near the trail, such as old rails, rusty signs, signals, old stations, coal feeder trestles, etc. What's funny is that I have often passed and spotted many of these structures on the trail and always wondered about them.

Here's something else he's done on the website. He has some old pictures of the railroad line and based on those, he tries to figure out the locations of the train stations (long gone) in the current landscape. For example, here's a portion of the trail I was biking this saturday. It's in a village called Salford. He has this old black and white picture of the station in the village and a new current picture of the location, and matching the buildings in the background, he figured out where the station building used to stand. This is all very interesting stuff for me, a huge fan and a frequent user of this trail and also a certified railroad lunatic.

Probably not that interesting for you, though. Look at you, all wrapped up in your sunflower seeds and coconut trees.


RobRoy said...

Ferro-equinologist? Doesn't that mean "iron-horse-study-person". What's this "iron-horse" and what does it have to do with railroads?

gawker said...

Weren't early steam locomotives known as iron horses? If you don't believe me, perhaps you will believe this condiment?

JimE said...

Alex's site is definitely well done. I've been thinking of doing a similar site for the Bethlehem Branch (just Lansdale to Bethlehem) but have never gotten around to doing it.

Trains are cool. No offense to the bicyclers, but I'd much rather still have rails and trains on the Perkiomen Branch, as it would be really useful to have rail service between the upper-perk valley and the Oaks area.

gawker said...

Jim : You should definitely do the Lansdale Bethlehem line. Hey, I might even join you in your endeavor since I'm in that area. I wonder what happened to the proposal to restore passenger service along that line.

Being an everyday commuter along godforsaken PA 422 and also a railfan in general, I completely agree that the Perkiomen trail would be better off still being a railroad line. But hey, one can be a railfan AND be a bicycler too.

RobRoy said...

Bah! Your condiment lacks conviction.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gawker, passing along a link to an article that i thought you might be interested in reading.
Sorry, this is totally unrelated to your blogpost.

gawker said...

anjali : Thanks for the link. Although it is, in fact, related to my blogpost which was about the Perkiomen Trail that is an extension of the Schuylkill Trail. The article in your link describes a section of the Schuylkill trail which I've written about here.

I've often seen those rowers when I ride the trail. I'll probably ride it this weekend. Those blossoms look lovely.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the info. I was in East Greenville and Pennsburg earlier today taking photographs of the old Perkiomen branch.

I'm taking photographs of the old railroads so I find your info above very useful. I'll check out the Perkiomen Trail in the future. I hiked the Ironton Rail Trail in Whitehall and took photo's of it and I also want to go on the Lehigh And New England rail trail.

So, the info you posted above is very useful to me.

hari said...

Thats awesome, I just started semi serious biking, what are some of the easy trails for beginners? I live close to West Chester PA.

gawker said...

That's cool. I used to live in Exton before I moved last year. There are a few trails near where you are. There's Struble trail in Downingtown. It's about 3 miles but quite scenic. Or try Valley Forge park. Park your car in Betzwood. You can take either the lower river trail which runs along the Schuylkill for about 5 miles. Or take the upper river trail north that turns into the Perkiomen Trail. Or go south along the Schuylkill trail upto Philly.

There's also a nice trail near Lancaster called the Conewago trail. It passes through some picturesque farmland. Googling these trails will give you info on maps, parking, etc. Have fun.