Wilmington to Deepwater Point

The Millside Line

Reset
Terrain
Roadmap
Satellite
Picture Point of Interest

Map submitted by Christian B.

Showing of

The car loading dock for the Delaware side of Pigeon Car Float. Photo by Christian B.

The Millside Line was owned by both the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Reading Railroad. The Reading used it as a freight corridor to get cars from Pigeon Car Float (on the Delaware River between Deepwater Point and Wilmington, see below) to the heart of Wilmington. It also connected to The New Castle Industrial Cutoff. It then went to the B&O's Wilmington station. After the station was abandoned it served the Pussey & Jones Shipyard.

When the ship yard operations ceased, the Pennsylvania RR bought the whole line and used it up until the Penn Central era, and then abandoned it. Only some sections of the line are used today.

Pigeon Car Float: The Pigeon Car Float was built by the Reading Railroad in the late 1940s as a rapid way to get oil to Wilmington, DE. The DuPont Company signed a lease to supply a ferry and a line to get from NJ (at Deepwater) over to the Delaware side of Delaware River. The exact abandonment date of the line is not known, but it is believed to have been abandoned in the early 1970s.

Thanks to Christian B. for contributing information about this route.

The Pidgeon Point barge dock built by Reading Lines in the 1920's was taken out of service in 1976 under Conrail. There where three railroads serving the Marine Terminal area ...The Reading Lines, Pennsylvannia Railroad, and the B&O Railroad. The reading came in from the south off the Pigoen Point line at a reversing Y and the B&O came through South Wilmington at C street near Eastern Mallible Iron and into the north of the Pyrite Corperation plant just west of Wilmington marine terminal.

John
New Castle , DE
6/10/2015

____________________

The B&O Railroad came in from the Wilsmere yard near boxwood road parallel to the Reading Lines Wilmington Northern branch from Coatsville PA. Both companies used the same rails up to both companies stations near what is the Amtrak station. The Reading terminal was a small two story building where the new Amtrak parking garage is between the station and the Christinia River The Reading had a engines house and yard near is what Dart bus storage area. The Reading had a turntable and a few shops there. The mostly used small Camelback 0-4-0 Steam in the Marine Terminal area for shifting operations and larger 2-6-0 steam to Coatsville PA....they had two tug boats for the marine barge unit to Dupont Chamber works in Jersey

John
New Castle , DE
6/10/2015

____________________

My older half brother remembers seeing big Chesapeak and Ohio steam engines pulling coal cars from Wilsmere yard on to Wilmington along Reading's W&N branch into Wilmington in about 1947....There use to be a lot of coal burned at plants in the Marine terminal and Wilmington areas...at least half of the loads moved were coal cars...I guess the C&0 moved the coal trains from West Virginia to Baltimore than all the way to Wilmington DE on the B&O line.

John
New Castle , DE
6/10/2015

____________________

The above map of what is called the Millside Line on here is missing about half the rails that were actually there and is actually three railroad rights of way. The connection to the Elsmere Yard Swing Bridge from C Street is wrong. There was no connection there from the B&O track to Pennsy. The interchange between to two railroads was on the Shellpot branch after the crossing and the two big swing bridges for the Reading Lines and Pennsy south of there on the Christina River. The B&O had a main branch with deck type swing bridge just above where Dravo Ship yard was. The main brach went across route 13 and later all the way into south Wilmington and parallel on the north side C street. (Cars and Trains where on the same street like a trolly. from there the B&O main passed a reversing y and under a small bridge of The Pennsy shellpot branch to Elsmere yard and passed the turnaround north of Eastern Mallible Iron. From there the B&O main branch met the Pennsy New Castle secondary out of the Marine Terminal at a crossing and went into the Pryrite Corperation Plant (mostly Coal loads). The interchange to Pennsy was made by the B&O trains going south off the main branch about half way across to the Pryrite mill near the marine Terminal.

John
New Castle , DE
6/12/2015

____________________

The Reading Lines had a few destination points with their marine unit from the pidgeon Point barge dock. A few were the Deemers steel plant just south of New Castle DE ( It had it's own rail barge dock. Delaware City Dock, Chambers Works in Jersey (was the biggest customer and a few others north of Wilmington. Lots of action on The Reading Lines branch in south Wilmington industrial. The Reading cut up trains from the Wilmingtom Northern branch at the reversing y just south of Marine Terminal and just west of . Trains would come in from W&N Branch straight under the Pennsy west yard tunnel straight down to the reversing y. The incoming freight train would use the reversing y to turn around to head back to Coatsville. Then the trains were shifted around by 0-4-0 Camelback steam switchers waiting there for all the destination points (Barge - Marine terminal etc). There was a double track near the Reversing Y as well used to shift etc...at Pidgeon Point barge Dock there was a small 2 track yard used to shift as well. It curved off the main south and held only about 10 cars each. The small 0-4-0 Camelback switchers would also ride over to many desinations on the barge for shifting and return for maintenace in the Reading Lines wilmington Shops

John
New Castle, DE
6/20/2015

____________________

After the opening of the Pennsy viaduct through Wilmington DE and new station in 1902...the origional rite of way below the new station was sold to the Reading Lines. The Reading Lines had a deal with the B&O Railrod to share rails in the North East sectors and let them use tracks in certain areas like Wilmington DE. The Reading Lines origionally owned the New Castle Industrial Cut Off after buying The Wilmington and Northern. The Reading wanted a piece of the action in Wilmington and the Pennsy needed a way to get their passenger trains from from Cape Charles VA on the Delamarva branch to Wilmington Staion, so the Reading Lines traded the NCICO for Pennsys origional ground level tracks under the Wilm. Viaduct etc...So the reading used the old set up Pennsy used pre 1902. Most Camelback steam shifters the Reading used in Wilmington were all built between 1902 and 1905. They usually had a five man crew per train, Engineer, Fireman, two Brakeman and a conductor. They usually had 4 men on the ground during shifting and humping cars etc...the fireman usually helped the other guy's on the ground shifting that was near the Locomotive etc...each shifting train had a small 4 wheel Caboose. there was usually two trains like this aroud Wilmington Marine Terminal. One usually worked on the Pigeon Point Barge dock and the reversing Y and another shifted cars in Marine terminal and the Y. The reversing Y was a collection point for trains from Coatsville PA. Most shifting took place there. Pigeon Point pre dates the Marine Terminal area that opened in 1922. there use to be farms there and many farm houses were used as offices by many different operations there. The Pigeon Point barge dock was put in World War I after Dupont Chambers Works was opened. Many Plants poped up all over the area during World War I era.

John
New Castle , DE
6/25/2015

____________________

The B&O railroad had two interchanges with the Reading Lines and The Pennsy. The first one was a branch south of the of the B&O main brach in South Wilmington just after the Deck swing bridge above Dravo and Route 13. It had a go around siding and met a crossing with Pennsy's Shellpot branch. It then went south again and connected with the Reading Pigeon Point Branch. Many cars were interchanged there between both railroads. The second intercahnge branch was past the first on the main branch going east. It curved south as well and had a small 4 track yard it went through then connected with Pennsy's Shellpot for cars going to Elsmere Yard etc..... The B&0 used small dockside kettle type steam sifters (0-4-0) around the whole south Wilmington area it served. Tracks behond Eastern Mallible Iron was so bad that is all they could use to Pyrite Corp. There use to be a rail Barge dock between Delaware Floor and Pyrite Corp pre 1920's on the Christina River. It had a two track siding as well. The Reading Lines was king on the Delaware in maritime rail deliveries by 1917 so I guess the B&O gave up. Not much B&0 action around south Wilmington after 1935

John
New Castle , DE
6/27/2015

____________________

Wilmington Marine Termina; offically opened in 1922. The Pennsy, Reading and B&O railroads operated on a common industrial tracks all throught the complex with their own main branches going out. Pennsy came in off the New castle secondary and Reading came in from the Pigeon Point Y from the south to the same location near the Cork Insulation Corp and that common industrial yard curved around there in front of Eastern Farmers exchange building. Reading had a lot of box car loads out of Marine Terminal. Across from there was the Tannin Corp...many loads out of there went to Pennsy's Elsmere Yard. Past there was the Marine Terminal Warehouse yard between those two large buildings...another yard that held gondola sand cars was east of there along Ferry road to the Auto Ferry dock to Jersey and had 6 sidings. Past there trains could go around the whole complex and turn around if needed. The Reading and pennsy took turns using these common industrial track to move out there loads. Pennsy would park there 0-6-0 shifters at the Tannin Corp when the Reading 0-4-0 Camelback was shifting in the Terminal then head south to Pigeon point y so the Pennsy crew could do their shifting. The Reading crew usually hanged out at the Y till Pennsy cleared then came back in for more shifting. Both crews worked 12 hour days at Marine Terminal.

John
New Castle , DE
6/27/2015

____________________

A lot has changed in the Marine terminal area since the hay day of steam from 1917 to 1954...The Reading Pigeon Point Branch Y used for all the shiftng is now just a reverse siding off the New Castle secondary between Pigeon Point Road and Pyles Lane. the north side is still part of the siding, The south side is now gone and a industrial building standing there across from and in between Prince Minerals and MTC Logistis. None of the buildings around there and most of the sidings were there during the Reading years of operation. The Pigion Point Y was out in no where land back in that time. The Reading humped cars from route 9 to either siding once there near the y to break up trains and shift cars together going to different places etc . 2 to 4 trains a day came in and out of Pigeon Point Y from 1917 to about 1954.

John
New Castle , DE
6/27/2015

____________________

The Wilmington & Northern branch was put in in 1867 was bought by The Reading Lines in 1898...It went all the way to Pegion point dock as well at that time..It does appear Marine operations of some sort went on from the 1870's to 1898 at that point..not sure if it was a rail Car barge or just a dock for boats. The old Pennsy Rite of way in Wilmington in 1902 but Pennsy still used it till about 1905 when the Wilmington Viaduct was finished. The Reading Beech street yard and engine house was started in 1898 and finished about 1905. They use to have a small turntable in front of the two new engine house shops, but a larger turntable one was put in in a different location in World War I when larger locomotives started showing up there. I found some old maps dating to 1884 and the Pigeon Point dock was there already in 1884. The Reading operated the old New Castle Industrial Track from 1898 to about 1902 when they traded it for old Pennsy Main Tracks under the new Pennsy mainline Viaduct in Wilminton. Legend has it that a old crossing gate house from the Wilmington and Northern was the first ticket house for the 1830's French Town Rail road out of New Castle DE. I found a picture of it being used as a guard crossing house on Washington and Route 9 at New Castle near Wilmington Fiber Company in 1925by Pennsy...It could have been maybe...that's a big maybe....There was a station in Old New Castle where the 1880's Banks building is today. It was a large round red brick house type station building with cupalo on top. The finacial crash of 1857 finished the rail line and a fire destroyed the station that is now where the end of Delaware Street on the Delaware River. The cupalo was put on top of the Arsenal building that was used as a school for many years.

John
New Castle, DE
6/30/2015

____________________

I does appear that the B&O brach in south Wilmington DE dates back to about 1870 or before. The deck type swing bridge used on it on the Christinia River dates back to at least 1898. Origionally it was listed on old maps as the Baltimore & Philadelpia railroad then much later after 1884 as operated by the B&0. That makes sense being Pennsy would not allow B&O to use their tracks to Philly anymore after 1880. The Reading struck up a deal with The B&0 after that date to allow the B&O to use Readings tracks in Philly in exchange for allowing Reading to use B&O dock yards in Jersey City etc...It sounds like the B&O might have bought the Baltimore & Philadelphia Railroad to get to Philly ??? I always understood they built that line ...but maybe it was already under construction by 1880 to 1884 under the Baltimore and Philadelphia charter etc...or they bought a bankrupt line etc...The swing bridge definity dates to at least 1898....the tracks look pretty bad in the 1930's to me in aerial photo's...so they date to probably the 1880's...could be why B&O abandond the line in about 1935 even thought B&O Dock side steam was still being used in the Pyrite Corp in 1939...It could be they just used Readings tracks after 1935 to get to the same place in Marine Terminal etc.

John
New Castle , DE
6/30/2015

____________________

The Reading Lines Pigeon Point Rail Barge dock had a older boat dock just north of it. Maps from 1884 show it there with rail a link of the origional Wilmington & Northern Railraod to Coatsville PA. The two track yard just south of the parallel to the Delaware river was there at that time too. I found a aerial picture from 1938 and each track of that yard or siding held 20 cars each just below the dock. The older 1884 dock was used to dock loaded rail barges waiting for tugs in from 1912 to about 1940..Ice storm destroyed it then...from 1940 to 1960's the extra barges were still docked near there after it sank in the Delaware River....they used a small long white boat to move the barges around near the rail dock. They usually had about 4 barges loaded and ready to go for tug boats. Each barge only had 8 box or tank car capacity. (Four cars on each side) One barge was longer and had 10 cars on it (more that likely for Chambers Works in NJ. The old 1884 dock was straight and north of the newer Rail Dock. The newer World War I era dock was curved and went out about 10 car lengths into the river. It seems to work out the Tug boats were on the move to other docks while cars were load on barges etc...being the had a 40 car sidings near the dock there must have been about 5 to 6 barges worth a cars moved out every day from Pigeon point to Chambers Works, Deemers Steel (south New Castle DE) and Penn Steel (north New Csatle near Trolley Barn). Delaware City I'm sure was a once a week trip...Reading had docks just north of Delaware at Sun refinery's and a few others as well near there.

John
New Castle , DE
7/5/2015

____________________


Shortened Link: http://a-r.us/q8f
Share: Bookmark this on Delicious

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