Reading & Northern Lehigh Gorge Crusader Trip

R&N Budd Cars

All photos by Jim Otten
Narrative by Mitch Dakelman

On Saturday, April 8, at 9:00 AM, the Jersey Central Railway Historical Society's Lehigh Gorge Crusader departed the Jim Thorpe Market, located in Jim Thorpe, PA, for the leisurely journey over the Reading & Northern's Lehigh Division, en route to Pittston, PA. The train operated over the heritage filled rails of the former Lehigh Valley and Central Railroad of New Jersey.

Approximately 140 passengers were on board former Reading Company RDCs 9166 and 9168. Both had been recently refurbished by the Reading & Northern Railroad.

To satisfy the hearts of eager rail photographers on board, the Crusader made several stops along the way. Just out of the Jim Thorpe Market, the train stopped deep inside the Lehigh Gorge, at Hetchel. Photographers lined up along the former CNJ right-of-way, now a State of Pennsylvania hiking and biking trail.

Once reboarded, it was not too long before the second photo stop of the day, at Old Penn Haven Junction. Again, photographers lined up along the former CNJ right-of-way. A spectacular view was afforded with the mountains in the background.

A little further up the line, another photo stop was held. Photographers lined up at the remote location known as Mud Run for both a stationary photo and a run by. After cresting the mountains the RDCs slowed for a stop at Solomons Gap. Passengers safely disembarked at the RDCs pulled into the classic rock cut. The photographers lined up along the safe confines of the sidewalk to get a fantastic view of the RDCs lit in the cut.

At famous Laurel Run a photo stop was held. The RDCs posed on the former CNJ RR while photographers lined up along the defunct Lehigh Valley RR. Before arriving in Pittston, a photo stop was held at Jenkins, near the town of Avoca.

To allow passengers to view the sprawling former Lehigh Valley Railroad Coxton Yard, now known as Pittston Yard, the train operated as far west as block limit Station Falls. Passengers were able to see RMDI's collection of locomotives at the former Lehigh Valley R.R. enginehouse.

Arriving at the Pittston Yard office (former Coxton Tower) passengers disembarked for picture taking activities. Several R&N locomotives were positioned for photographs. Units included a former Great Miami Railroad B23-7. The train departed Pittston at 2:30 PM for the high speed run back to Jim Thorpe, PA, arriving shortly after 5 PM. This marked the conclusion of another successful Jersey Central Railway Historical Society rail excursion.

JCRHS would like to thank several members for making this trip a success, including Trip Chairman Carl Perelman, Trip Coordinator Kermit Geary Jr., and photo line staffer George Fletcher. Jim Clarke and Tom Nemeth made the original arrangements with the railroad for the trip and Steve Mages handled the finances.

As you can see by the photos below, it was quite a trip, with beautiful sunshine, budding spring foliage and vintage Budd RDCs. Please check the Trips Page often to find out about the next JCRHS trip. All photos by Jim Otten unless otherwise noted.

This page last updated September 15, 2015.
All content copyright © 2000-2015 JCRHS chapter of the NRHS.