Easton & Northern Branch – In Depth

by Joe Walder  with comments from John Evans

First off, let’s look at Easton, Milepost 0.0 (this includes the E&N and Bushkill Branches):

Victor Balata Belting Company only shows shipping/receiving cars in 1971 (20 cars) and 1972 (28). They’re still in Easton today and manufacture tapes and nets for aircraft arresting systems. Their website says they take in “beams of nylon, cotton, fiberglass, and Kevlar” to make the tapes and nets. J.E. added: received raw materials and shipped finished product in boxcars 

RAIMO of Easton (formerly W.M. Cohen & Company) shows 21 cars (1969); 17 (1970); 30 (1971); and 55 (1972). What’s the explanation for the jump in car counts in 1971 and 1972? Is this the current Raimo of Easton who is part of the Waste Management group of waste hauling/management? J.E. added: scrap yard that shipped metal in gondolas

Treadwell Engineering (acquired by Bethlehem Corporation) shows 146 (1969); 32 (1970); 2 (1971); and 12 (1972). We know that this company manufactured hot metal cars for the steel industry. The probable reason for the reduction in car counts: the steel industry was in the start of its decline in the 1960s and 1970s, so they’re not producing that many cars. Before being bought by Bethlehem, they produced machinery for cement, sugar and rolling mills using commercial castings produced in electric steel furnaces. There was a connection in the plant with the CNJ’s Easton & Western Branch.

Taylor Wharton Iron & Steel shows cars in 1971 (4) and 1972 (107). This company was bought by Harsco Corporation. They produced frogs, switches and other railroad items (i.e., couplers, axles, and wheels) and war material during both World Wars. During WWII they produced 155mm shells, demolition bombs, and gas cylinders. I can assume scrap steel and various other steel-making products in and then the finished product out. What about inbound coke? What explains the extreme jump in cars from 4 to 107? They had their own fireless 0-4-0 #548 to move cars around in the plant.

Dixie Cup (Division of American Can) shows 1,249 (1969); 1,369 (1970); 1,424 (1971); and 1,514 (1972). J.E. added: received paper in boxcars (primarily GB&W cars in the 1970’s) and shipped finished product in boxcars. I believe they also received wax in tank cars as many of the paper cups they produced were wax coated.

Schaible’s Bakery shows 195 (1969); 193 (1970); 186 (1971); and 173 (1972). Obviously, the final product went out by truck, not rail. J.E. added: received flour in airslide covered hoppers if memory serves me correct.

Leone Brothers shows 37 cars (1971) and 36 cars (1972). J.E. added: another bakery, but was not rail-served. They were located nearer to center city Easton. They were probably served by a team track located at Northampton Street near Schaible’s Bakery. Bagged flour was possibly then trucked to their location.

Mack Printing Company shows 255 (1969); 234 (1970); 237 (1971); and 225 (1972). I’m assuming they received rolls of paper/newsprint, but did anything go out by rail?

Easton Express shows 68 (1969); 61 (1970); 49 (1971); and 61 (1972). Is “Easton Express” the current Easton Express-Times Daily Newspaper? If so, it would be newsprint (in rolls) in, but nothing by rail out? What was the Easton Express?

Easton Iron & Metal Company on the Bushkill Branch shows 65 (1969); 77 (1970); 95 (1971); and 357 (1972) – pretty significant jump in carloads between 1971 and 1972. J.E. added: scrap yard that received no loads, but shipped metal in gondolas.

Charles Pfizer Company (originally C.K. Williams Paint Mill) on the Bushkill Branch shows 896 (1969); 842 (1970); 620 (1971); and 613 (1972). They produced iron oxide pigments and received scrap in by gondolas. What did they ship out?

Easton Printing shows 8 cars (1971) and 11 (1972). J.E. added: present-day’s Express-Times newspaper, received newsprint.

Hummel Lumber Company shows 17 cars (1971) and 10 (1972). I’m assuming they received lumber and building products, but I can only assume that nothing went out by rail? It also appears they received coal by rail. J.E. added: received lumber in boxcars, but was not receiving coal by the 70’s.

Binney & Smith shows 151 (1969); 126 (1970); 90 (1971); and 98 (1972). We all know this is now Crayola Crayon. J.E. added: received wax by tank car as well as other materials by boxcar. They also received raw material by covered hopper at their Lower Mill. Not sure exactly what it was but assume it was used in the manufacture of either chalk or modeling clay both of which were also manufactured here. They shipped product out in boxcars.

Alta, Milepost 3.2 Nothing noted.

18th Street, Milepost 4.3 Nothing noted.

13th Street (originally 13th Street Junction), Milepost 4.8 (look also at Easton, MP 0.0 for customers)  Wis Bang mentioned on RAILROAD.NET there was a coal trestle here, but I can’t find a listing of it anywhere. This is location where the LV built the horseshoe-shaped connection from the original E&N Railroad between 1895-1899 over the CNJ and Lehigh River and connecting to their main line. The original E&N Railroad’s line from 13th Street to the end of track in downtown Easton (almost to 4th Street) became the Bushkill Branch on the LV.  J.E. added: The coal trestle he references at 13th St. still stands. It is a concrete trestle, originally part of C. K. Williams fuel company.

Kepler’s, Milepost 5.5   J.E. added: a coal dealer seldom mentioned on the E&N. Their coal yard was located in West Easton between Ridge St. and Palmer St. Kepler’s was actually the first customer on the E&N west of Easton located a few blocks before Victor Balata.

Railroad historian Peter Brill offers this information: another commodity moving to Kepler’s Mill in the 1940’s was talc, ground or pulverized, in carloads of 60,000 lbs. minimum from Glendon, NC. Pit and Quarry magazine mentioned this item in volume 38, published in 1945. The receiver was not identified, but Binney & Smith operated one of their two plants, the Upper Mill, at Kepler’s. It received talc from North Carolina to manufacture product such as pencils (the Lower Mill produced black color and mixed color pigments).

Walter’s Lower Mill, Milepost 6.1 Nothing noted.

Coilton, Milepost 6.5 Nothing noted.

Zuckerville, Milepost 7.3 Nothing noted.

Newlin’s, Milepost 8.3 Nothing noted.

Hobson’s, Milepost 8.8 Nothing noted.

Peter Brill: Hobson & Company manufactured agricultural implements and wagons in Tatamy. Their factory dated back to 1888. The station name “Hobsons” appeared in the December 6, 1908 passenger schedule. In November of 1903, they had purchased land in Easton and were still in business at Easton as of 1925. 

Tatamy, Milepost 9.1  There’s a shot of the station in Greenburg’s & Fischer’s “The Lehigh Valley Railroad East of Mauch Chunk” on page 55.

Northampton Farm Bureau shows 35 cars (1971) and 54 (1972). They are still in business today. Their website lists that they sell, “lawn and garden supplies, pet supplies, lawn equipment and service, general hardware, home delivery of petroleum products, as well as a variety of farm services and products for our thriving local agricultural community including bulk fertilizers and lime.” What did they ship and receive? I can assume the received their “bulk fertilizers and lime” via rail, but what about any other products? I doubt they shipped anything out by rail.

Equipto shows shows 38 cars (1971) and 29 (1972). They are in business today producing, according to their website, industrial shelving and racks, modular drawer cabinets, mobile aisle systems, mezzanine, workcenters, and cabinets and carts. Caterpillar, Boeing, Mikasa, The Gap, Mt. Sinai-Chicago, and DuPont Medical Systems call themselves clients. This plant was built in the early 1970s to aid in the production to their original plant in Aurora, Illinois. They consolidated their U.S. operations to Tatamy in the 1990s. Did they receive steel products by rail? Did they ship out the industrial shelving by rail?

L&NE Junction, Milepost 9.8  The only years they have listed are 1971 (562) and 1972 (557), which is after the L&NE Railroad closed its doors, so this would actually be the interchange with the L&NE Railway, or the CNJ. I’d love to know what the carloads were back in the day.

Stockerton, Milepost 10.1  There’s a shot of the station in Greenburg’s & Fischer’s “The Lehigh Valley Railroad East of Mauch Chunk” on page 55.

Hercules Cement shows 1,849 (1969); 1,086 (1970); 562 (1971); and 664 (1972). This was also serviced by the L&NE (and then the CNJ). They made Portland cement. Did it receive limestone, ash, slag, sand, and other materials to produce the cement? How about inbound coal and coke? From my understanding, cement went out by rail until Pennsylvania laws changed and then almost all of the outbound traffic went by truck.

Chemtron Chemical shows 44 cars (1971) and 53 (1972). It’s still there, but it’s now owned by PMC Polymers. Currently, this company produces flame-retardant compounds and concentrates; antistatic masterbatches; ignition resistant polyolefins and polystyrenes; and stablizer masterbatches. I do believe this is the last customer still standing on the small portion of the E&N Branch in Stockerton that dates back to the LV days. What did they ship & receive?

Peter Brill: Chemtron was the defendant in a suit by the LV’s Trustees, John F. Nash and Robert C. Haldeman, that was ultimately decided on March 31, 1977 in Chemtron’s favor by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. The suit was of interest in that it described at least some of the freight carried by the E&N to Chemtron: between July 1, 1968, and July 30, 1973, Chemtron shipped by rail 269 carloads of phosgene gas from LaPorte, Texas, to its plant in Stockertown, Pennsylvania. Phosgene gas is an extremely dangerous poison. It was used during World War I for chemical warfare, and more recently it had a number of industrial purposes. Due to the dangerous nature of phosgene, the method of transporting it was strictly controlled. In this case, the phosgene was shipped in one-ton cylinders on specially designed freight cars. The car was basically an underframe consisting of fifteen cradles. Each cradle was designed to accept one cylinder, and the cylinder was secured to the underframe by a clamp. When the car reached its destination, the fifteen full cylinders were removed and replaced with fifteen empty ones.

People’s Coal & Supply shows 21 cars (1971) and 21 (1972). It appears that they received coal by rail, but was it similar to a lot of coal dealers in the Northeast? Did they also receive lumber and building supplies? Was anything sent out by rail?

Belfast Junction, Milepost 11.1 Originally the DL&W (and their connection back in the day when they controlled and operated the E&N Railroad), but the years shown are the EL days and they show 478 (1969); 1,233 (1970); 1,539 (1971); and 2,348 (1972). This, obviously, was a very important point on the line. What did they ship and receive?