Lancaster to Quarryville

The Quarryville Branch

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(Forwarded from the Lancaster & Quarryville Railroad)

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Starting in Lancaster, the first evidence of the L&Q is a retaining wall seen here. Photo by Tom Johnson, January 2006.

This line started out as the Lancaster and Quarryville Railroad and was completed in 1875. Originally planned to be a narrow gauge route under the name Lancaster and Reading Narrow Gauge Railroad in 1871, the decision to make it standard gauge was decided shortly before construction began in 1874. As with most railroads in rural Pennsylvania, it carried both passengers and freight.

Passenger service along the line ceased in 1909. A few years later, the L&Q merged with the Pennsylvania Railroad on April 30th, 1915.

The railroad was severely damaged by flooding caused by Hurricane Agnes on June 23-24, 1972, and was abandoned soon after.

Today, numerous bridges remain, along with three stations, and some warehouses with doorsills still at boxcar-floor height. A few bits of rails can be seen here and there, as well as various cuts and fills.

Thanks to Tom Richards for contributing information about this route.

Some facts I know about the line that it was abandoned in 1972 after hurricane Agnes and that the tracks where ripped up in 1975. My grandfather whom currently lives in Florida has told me that he use to watch trains go down the line in the late 60's and early 70's when he and my grandmother lived in and old farm house near the mill creek bridge he has told me that the locomotives where black leading me to belive that it was operated by penn central considering the time period but I'm not sure on that.

I have been trying to learn about this abandoned railroad my whole life and from exploring parts of the line. I have been researching and I can't find anything about it.

Jordan Russell
Pennsylvania
6/1/2013

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That was the Lancaster and Reading Narrow Gauge Railroad, which was actually standard gauge. The Philadelphia and Reading operated it under lease, it also ran on to Oxford PA.

Wes B
Carlisle, PA
6/12/2013

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Not sure of exact date of abandonment, but CR operated it for a few years. A connection was built off the A&S In Quarryville to serve the feed mill. The line terminated at a fertilizer plant on the south side of town( up a steep grade). This line never went to Oxford. The narrow gauge LO&S did have a branch to Quarryville, that was abandoned in 1919.

Shawn S.
Strasburg, PA
11/11/2013

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I'm glad to see the Quarryville Branch finally get listed on this site. There is one major error with the map. The branch starts on the north side of Harrisburg Ave and cuts across Mulberry, James and Lemon.(There is a linear park that occupies part of the ROW) Then it actually ran down Water Street until it crossed Union St/Conestoga St. From there it meanders between Mill St and the short parts of South Water St. If you look carefully at the roadmap "map", you can see faint grey lines that mark property lines. Parts of the ROW are still intact. I have pictures from various points along the branch. Plus, several stations still exist albeit in different uses. The West Willow station is used by a contractor. The Baumgardner station is used (possibly) the same company/family that sold coal and farming products at the corner of Long Lane and Millwood Road. The Quarryville station (in front of the lumber yard / mill-works) is a flower and antiques store. The branch ended just cross Park Ave, south of Hess St.

Stefan Banaszak
Lancaster, PA
12/13/2013

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I remember going to Quarryville elementary school and watching the switcher service the Feed Mill and even the fertilizer plant on occasion. The tracks were intact, albeit with many wash outs, until the late 80's, early 90's. I walked the ROW many times in the mid 80s. I would live to see pictures of the line in use. I have collected a lot of historical data and have contemplated writing a book on the little line. a few small changes in history could have made this a CSX mainline into Lancaster PA today. but alas it would have lost its charm.

Andy
Quarryville, PA
2/26/2014

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Can any one confirm the existence of a wye near the grain silos at New Providence? The property lines seem to indicate that there was one.

Stefan Banaszak
Lancaster, PA
5/13/2014

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There was a wye at the feed mill (by 222). My grandfather said he thought that it used to run out to the low grade during it's construction in the early 1900's. Back in the early 1980s I received a map of the branch and saw the same evidence of a wye. I walked the right of way and went back into the woods and there was grading and bridge abutments back at the creek so it was definitely there. The feed mill in Quarryville by the elementary school also had a Wye there.

Andy
Quarryville PA, PA
5/13/2014

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Andy,

Thank you for the information. I suspected that the "wye" was legit. I did not know about the one in Quarryville proper. I wonder if it was related to the connection with LO&S. It also seems redundant if there was one a half mile or so out of town. I have a PRR track plan from the early 50's but it doesn't indicate a wye (or two) by the available symbol mark legend.

Stefan Banaszak
Lancaster, PA
5/15/2014

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It most likely was for the LO&S. My Grandfather grew up in Mechanics grove and remembers the gas powered LO&S car running past his house as a kid. He worked for the Pennsy and Penn Central and worked the Quarryville line. I wish I could find pictures of it in operation. Does anyone have any they could share?

Andy
Quarryville, PA
5/16/2014

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Andy,

Which part of town is the elementary school? Some how I'm not seeing on the map. To the best of my information, the line ended past the Agway across Park Ave to another mill just south of Hess St.

Do you have a scan of the branch map you mentioned? I would love a copy. This link: http://www.libraries.psu.edu/psul/digital/sanborn.html leads you to maps of the branch around the turn of the previous century. Click on the Lancaster city link and work your way through the maps and you will find great stuff about the branch as it went thru the south side of the city.

Stefan

Stefan Banaszak
Lancaster, PA
5/18/2014

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Stefan,

The elementary school is located across from E. 4th street on S. Hess. The ROW was parallel to Hess and ended just east of Park Ave. I no longer have the maps or all the photos I took of the station and railroad prior to the scrappers taking the rails up.

Your map makes an interesting discovery for me. It appears the line ended just south of State street. I would guess that the LO&S made the connection all the way to the station. I know it was dual gauge to the station (some of the ties still had evidence of a third rail even in 1985).

If the LO&S made the connection all the way to State Street that would make the WYE at the southern end of town a narrow gauge wye.

Thanks for sharing the link to the Maps.

Andy

Andy
Quarryville PA, PA
5/19/2014

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Does anyone know where any of the water tank to fill the locomotives were?

Bart
mountville, PA
5/20/2014

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Andy,

I'm sorry to hear that you do not have the the maps or photos anymore. As for the LO&S, it completed it's branch into Quarryville in the Fall of 1905. There was a wye built next to Fritz's warehouse, the placement of which seems to line up with your previous statement. The track thru town and including the Pennsy station was dual gauge.

Stefan Banaszak
Lancaster, PA
5/20/2014

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Bart,

The Quarryville branch had water available near the station in Quarryville. The station was located near the lumberyard off of Church Street. Otherwise, the steam locomotives would have filled up at the Dillerville Yard in Lancaster.

Stefan

Stefan Banaszak
Lancaster, PA
5/20/2014

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The following website has pictures that include the quarryville branch.

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~paslchs/photofiles2.html?cj=1&sid=1br9gkkh8a4zy&netid=cj&o_xid=0006149995&o_lid=0006149995&o_sch=Affiliate+External

Andy
quarryville, PA
5/21/2014

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Nice pictures -I found more at

http://www.enolalowgradetrail.com/

Scroll down to the history they have some nice Pen Central photos from about '73 or so (after the connection to the A&S low-grade).

Bart

Bart
Mountville, PA
5/27/2014

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I made a FB Album just for the Quarryville Branch.

https://www.facebook.com/gregory.pawelski.9/media_set?set=a.667638483355776.1073741900.100003288929249&type=3

Gregory D. Pawelski
Wernersville, PA
12/31/2014

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I will toss in a few facts and memories. I played around on this line from about 1965 to 1979 when I was a kid.

Up until the late 70's it was not uncommon to see a 2-3 car train servicing some of the factories on this line in south Lancaster City -- north of the Conestoga crossing. Pennsylvania Malleable Castings and several other old heavy furnace/foundry and metalworking shops were there. And a junkyard. Pennsy Malleable used to have a permanent "Help Wanted" sign. My dad told me everyone he ever met who worked there was minus an eye or a finger.

As already reported here the line was knocked out during Hurricane Agnes in June of 1972. The vehicle bridge at Engleside got knocked out as well. The two bridges were parallel going over the Conestoga. Debris piled up and one washed into the other knocking out both.

Being the main road into Lancaster City from the south this left motorists in a major bind, so the National Guard and PennDOT quickly installed a one lane "Bailey Bridge" of military surplus origin and one lane could at least alternate with traffic. Penn Central took the storm as a blessing since their entire agenda was to abandon as much trackage as possible as they crumbled into bankruptcy and reorganization -- which became Conrail. Somewhere I think I still have some of the documents from the reorganization, since public meetings were held in Lancaster to meet regulatory requirements prior to the Quarryville line and several other local line abandonments.

Just on the south side of the Engleside bridge there was an ice cream stand where I recall the train stopping even on its infrequent schedule south. In the late 60's and up until '72 a train with one to three cars would make up the run.

About 2 miles south of Engleside is Dulon F Buchmiller park, where the train went by. All my senior neighbors recalled rail excursions to the park as a big deal in the summers when they were very young. Lancaster was/is a densely populated city with virtually zero park space. During my many hikes there was obviously a stop at the park, with a red brick apron that went on for 100 yards at least. Buchmiller was a Lancaster banking tycoon who left the land to be set up as a park in the 1920's.

About 3 miles further south the line went through a three building place called "Mellinger", which was also a coal and feed depot. A small factory was also there which for a time was a booming concern called FARENWALD ENTERPRISES. They made small camper/trailers and when my brother worked there it had upwards of 150 workers.

At West Willow we used to play in the old station, which for many years was unlocked and derelict. It had a great pot bellied stove. The lady who ran "Noels' Grocery" and post office just across the street told me most of what I knew about this rail line. The train would also stop at West Willow and the crew would go to the store. From the 50's train frequency declined from daily, to several times a week, to every other week, and eventually to as-needed.

Baumgardners is still the best preserved station I think. On the sign are the mileage totals to Lancaster to the north and Quarryville to the south.

Farther south yet is Refton, where the line crossed Rout 222. I recall sometime in the 80's buying a "Railroad and Railfan" magazine with a picture of a PRR switcher at Refton in the 60's. My tough luck for losing that copy someplace....

Last thoughts; as a kid it would always set off a panic if we heard the train whistle -- that meant we had to get to our bikes and ride the several miles from where we lived in Willow Street -- and to try to catch the train wherever it turned out to be. If we miscalculated we might have to take a VERY long ride around to the next grade crossing. With persistence and luck we caught a few of the trains and for what it's worth I never recall anything other than trains going south.

OK, thanks for all the homework and field trips you have taken to document this line.

Chris Townsend
originally Willow Sreet, PA
1/2/2016

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Having traced along the former line, your information about its location in Lancaster city is in error. The line started in the Lancaster yards a bit further west than indicated in the above map and cut diagonally across Harrisburg Ave.into the city towards the southeast, as indicated by the linear park showing on the map. It then proceeded southward down the middle of Water Street, not Prince Street, before crossing the creek on the still remaining bridge.

Russ Vollmer
Lancaster, PA
7/29/2016

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Do you have any pictures or information about The Quarryville Branch? Please . You will get credit for anything you contribute.