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Milepost 39 Coverdale - Irishtown Road


Imagine, thumbing through a pile of old coal mining photographs. Tipples...coal miners...company towns. They all are neat in their own right. But one photo in the bunch. Stands out capturing your attention. 3 tracks of empty coal hoppers. A railroad side track parallels the hoppers. Telegraph poles. A crossover in the empty yard. A automobile is parked in a driveway. In the lower corner some type of railroad sign. A bit further down, a pole of some nature stands alone. You study this photo for eternity... Like a clap of thunder. Your instincts focus on a distant roadway. Your focus intensifies. You've been here before. You've been here many times. But the photo somewhat older. And now you sit back and grin. And you study the detail. The landmarks are old and out of focus.

Just 3 tracks of old railroad coal hopper cars. But its a image worth millions. Intently...you study the empty yard trackage. Those damn crossovers. You have a photo of em from 1975. Cut off from the world. But still in existence. There use to be a caboose back here. Stored...forgotten...but time has changed the scene. Buildings have been built. Your instincts...where would you be without em. You feel the muscles relax. It was a tense few minutes. But you recognized the location. Yes... Looking East. The Montour Railroad...

Coverdale Mine empty yard. Coverdale was a Terminal mine. Serviced by the P&WV. Using Montour RR trackage rights... Mile Post 40. The eastbound "SIGNAL" for South Park Road. Where you have photographed Montour Railroad train crews. Their SW-9's sitting right at the same "SIGNAL" sign. Yes, the AFE that outlines the track changes. Long after Coverdale mine closed. The spur leading into Coverdale shortened. The main track switch relocated "west" of South Park Road. A 71 year old portrait. I'm overwhelmed with emotion. Looking East along the Montour Railroad. At Coverdale... In 1943. Gene P. Schaeffer.

Bill Wunderlich photo
Engines 79-77 with a boxcar and caboose entering the long curve at Coverdale, Eastbound for Brightwood with 1 load for Slaters. The gigantic power line should be familiar to many. The train is going away from the photographer. The box car is loaded, the date was December 1977.

The coal miners were on strike and the Montour was running just 1 train crew per day. A great majority of Montour employees were on furlough, including me. The interesting fact about this photo... I also was out photographing this crew at this same location. I should of met up with the crew around Montour #4, however I only met up with the crew at this very location.

If the photographer would of made another photo from this very location, with the engines a bit further away from his camera, a second photo would of revealed a silver Ford Elite to the right of this scene. Standing next to the Ford Elite yours truly would of been standing there camera in hand recording the crew shoving East...
I followed this crew to its turning point where the box car was spotted, making several wonderful images along the way. - Gene P. Schaeffer


A piece of history returns to the Montour Trail as a replica of the original Montour Railroad Milepost 39 was installed by the Montour Railroad Historical Society on Saturday 11/17.  MRHS member Tim Sposato provided the replacement post. Tim Sposato, Bryan Seip and Pat Flood install the new MP39. Milepost 39 is located near the east end of the Irishtown Road parking area on the Bethel Branch of the Montour Trail. The location was determined by comparing old photographs and by using measurements from existing Montour Railroad mileposts.  The original MP39 stands during removal of rails through Bethel Park in 1981.

The original MP39 stands during removal of rails through Bethel Park in 1981.