D&H’s Penn Division 1930-1959 by Peter Brill
236 pages, glossy paper, soft cover, indexed, 58 images (52 B&W), 64 maps, 22 illustrations and 40 track diagrams.
The three decades preceding 1960 witnessed the decline of the anthracite industry which enjoyed its peak year of production way back in 1917. The decline in anthracite traffic stimulated a reduction in the physical plant of the anthracite railroads which was accelerated by the emergence of new technology, notably Centralized Traffic Control (CTC). Dieselization provided the opportunity for further efficiencies. The D&H, with its heavy dependence on anthracite traffic, participated fully in these trends.
At the start of this era, L. F. Loree was just over two decades into his three-decade term as D&H President. This was a man whose industry prominence was far greater than might be expected given the relative size of the D&H. He was a man of strong beliefs and the D&H’s motive power reflected his admiration of European styling as well as his intense devotion to the 2-8-0 wheel arrangement.
Loree’s retirement in 1938 resulted in the appointment of J. H. Nuelle as President and his term of service extended into 1954. Nuelle, a professional engineer by trade, came to the D&H with an extensive education in coal mining and distribution coupled with a strong familiarity with the D&H’s anthracite territory gained from his three-decade career with
the neighboring New York, Ontario & Western which culminated as president.
Nuelle was not the industry “titan” that Loree was but his impact on the D&H was arguably just as great. He abandoned Loree’s devotion to the outmoded 2-8-0 design and guided the company through successive orders of state of the art 4-6-6-4’s. Not only could the Challengers pull more than the Consolidations but they could haul the trains faster. In addition, Nuelle recognized the unstoppable decline of anthracite production and his administration converted the railroad from an anthracite-originating carrier to a bridge line offering high speed service linking friendly connections at Wilkes-Barre, CNJ, LV and PRR, with New England and Canadian connections at Mechanicsville and Rouse’s Point, respectively.
Meanwhile, the modern 4-6-6-4’s and 4-8-4’s went to the scrapper after less than a decade of service as the D&H eagerly embraced dieselization in the form of Alco’s offerings of S1 and S2 model yard switchers and RS2 and RS3 model road switchers.
Erie’s sale of the Jefferson Railroad to the D&H in 1955 finally allowed the D&H to configure this large part of the Penn Division to suit its operations and this included single-tracking and CTC.
This book, part of a two-volume treatment of the D&H’s Pennsylvania Division over a fifty-six year period, covers roughly the first half of the era, 1930-1959. By “Pennsylvania Division” we mean the line from Wilkes-Barre to Nineveh Jct. via Ararat and Lanesboro.
The two volumes are very different in format and content. The period 1930-1959 is covered in this 236-page volume which is very heavy on text and maps/diagrams/illustrations with modest black and white photographic coverage. The extensive Anthracite Chapter covers all the Hudson Coal operations as well as many independent mining companies.
The 1960-1985 book was published in late 2022. It contains four times as many images. With 230 images on 170 pages, the photographic content constitutes two-thirds of the book while the text constitutes the remaining third.
These are the chapter headings in this book:
I – The 1930’s/1940’s/1950’s: Declining Traffic and Technological Advances Shrink the Physical Plant and Employment
II – Operations in the 1930’s/1940’s/1950’s; Road, Helper, CNJ, Erie and Passenger
III – Stations; Location Descriptions and Local Operations
IV – Anthracite: Still Important
V – Tahawus Traffic via Wilkes-Barre
VI – Motive Power.
There is a bibliography and index.