=Pioneer Lines Scenic Railroad=
Rail Fan Day November 20, 2004
This page records some events of the 2004 Rail Fan Day. The Pioneer Lines Scenic Railroad is an operation of Pioneer Railcorp of Peoria IL who owns the Gettysburg & Northern Railroad, a shortline freight opertion. The Gettysburg & Northern Railroad was originally the Gettysburg & Harrisburg (G&H), a railroad developed by the Philadelphia & Reading. The Reading bought the Cumberland Valley RR's South Mountain branch to complete the G&H from Gettysburg to Carlisle with a connection to its own H&P line (today's NS Lurgan line) near Mount Holly. The Reading operated this line until the Reading demise into Conrail. The Pioneer Line Scenic Railroad's logo reminds one of the Reading heritage. Even before, the section from Carlisle to Mount Holly had been closed after Hurricane Agnes washed out part of the line at Bonnybrook. In the descriptions below, the line is referred to as the G.&H.
After leaving Gettysburg at about 550' elevation, the Gettysburg and Harrisburg has crossed the divide between the Rock Creek (Potomac system) and the Conewago (Susquehanna system) near Goldenville. The first photo stop on this years Railfan Weekend was at Rake Factory Rd near Table Rock. The bottom photo shows the next stop, past Biglersville at a 630' summit known as Guernsey. The foundation was for a former bridge at this location. From this location the G&H descends back down to 610' before starting an ascent through Aspers and around the flank of Wolfpit Hill, a 2% grade. The 2 F units were "on hands and knees" pulling the consist up Wolfpit on wet rail.
After the Wolfpit climb, the G&H continues upgrade past Gardeners, Idaville and to the Cumberland County line at Starners, where the line's top elevation of 986' is achieved. The next stop, above, was at Goodyear on the western slope of South Mountain, elevation 856'. According to a very informative slide show by a long-time railroad employee, the line was at a slightly different alignment through here at one time. The village was named Goodyear sometime after 1901, at which time it was known as Zion Church.
From Goodyear, the trip proceeded through Mt. Holly Springs to the Reading interchange near Carlisle Junction, where the locomotives ran around the train and headed back south after a lunch break. In the photo above, the next photo stop was at Upper Mill, one of two paper mills that was the backbone of Mt. Holly Springs industry. The F units emit some smoke getting this rather heavy load started after leaving off the paying passengers. The bottom photo is an shot of the Ahlstrom facility showing a boxcar on the siding. This part of the G&H was once the railroad of the South Mountain Iron Company. This road was financed by a mortgage from the Cumberland Valley Railroad and ran from a CVRR interchange at Carlisle to the Pine Grove Furnace. CVRR financed railroads for others rather than building themselves. Then when the independent road went broke, which was usually the case, the CVRR bought back the branch road at Sheriff's sales, gaining any investment made by the developer. According to Westhaeffer, however, the South Mountain was built with all borrowed money, probably because of the involvement of famous financial manipulator, Jay Cooke. The CVRR resold the South Mountain to another operator of the iron furnance that promptly went belly up. Finally, the CVRR sold its portion to the Reading in order for the G&H to be completed.
The most elaborate photo shoot/demonstation starts with conductor Garner directing the freight cars into a siding at Hunter's Run. The F's and passenger car then back down the line and, on signal, flash by the snapping cameras with appropriate hornage for videographers. All very well done.
This area is the is where the original South Mountain RR left the present line to travel up Mountain Run to Pine Grove Furnace. When the Reading purchased the South Mountain Railroad, they renamed the route to Pine Grove as the Hunter's Run and Slate Belt Railroad. Pine Grove Furnace today is a state park with some remnants of the iron works. Part of the railline is the Appalachian Trail. The trail crosses the G&H at the location of the photos above.
At the next stop, Peach Glen, the author (middle) of this page imposed upon a fellow passenger to snap his picture with General Manager Garner (left)and Ohio Central's Mark Perri (right). The author can never remember to tuck in his shirt before photos.
The photo below features fellow passengers and new friends Charlie Posner and Ralph Houser. Charlie is a retired Western Maryland Railway engineer. Charlie and Ralph preferred to record the day's events in memories rather than the somewhat tiresome film method.
The photo above depicts the vinegar vats at the Knouse facility at Peach Glen. If you enjoy Lucky Leaf apple juice, here is where it comes from. Peach Glen is just about the summit of the G&H on a broad sweeping curve.
Biglerville was the last stop of the day in the fading light. Biglerville and the nearby towns of Aspers and Gardeners hosts more apple-based industry along with a facilties that produce Hawaiian Punch, aquaculture products and agricultural spraying equipment.
South Mountain Branch Cumberland Valley Railroad
Other South Mountain Branch Pages
Other Cumberland Valley RR Pages
Official site of Pioneer Lines Scenic Railroad
Official site of Pioneer Railcorp
Western Maryland Railway and Related Rail Links
Western Maryland Railway Yesterday and Today
World's Greatest Railroads!