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Delaware, Lackawanna & Western: 1900

Delaware, Lackawanna & Western: 1900

Scranton, Pennsylvania, circa 1900. "Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad yards." Panorama of two 8x10 inch glass negatives. We've seen the left half of this view before; the right side, with someone's laundry billowing bravely amid the the soot, is new. Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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The ramp

led to the top of the coaling station. Full coal cars were dumped there into hoppers which in turn filled the bunker on the tenders. The ramp from Steantown Mall is in the same place and I think uses some of the same foundation. Steamtown is a great place to visit!

The Ramp

I think that the ramp that the left hand photographer is standing on is now the pedestrian ramp to the walkway between Steamtown National Historic Site and The Mall at Steamtown.

A quick tour of DL&W's downtown yard

Just left of the lady's wash is DL&W's Scranton depot, with the long covered platform. It was built in the 1870's at the end of Lackawanna Ave. and was replaced by the palatial Lackawanna station, now a hotel, in 1908.

The camelbacks seen here were known as "Hogs" on the DL&W. This batch was numbered 801-815, and were a fairly rare 4-8-0 wheel arrangement. This group of locos was built by the Brooks Locomotive Works in 1899. They were actually too powerful, and so were slippery.

Too slippery for road work, they were used on mine runs and in helper service from Scranton to Nay Aug and Gouldsboro, and from Scranton to Clark Summit. They were all retired in 1923.

In the distance to the left is some of DL&W's shop facilities and also the plant of Dickson Locomotive and Machine Works. Dickson built a lot of locos for DL&W and other roads in the 1800's, but was rolled into the new American Locomotive Company and was closed.

Just beyond the distant middle of this shot is "Bridge 60", where the main line continues west to Buffalo, and the Bloomsburg Branch turns south for Northumberland. [And yes, this is the location of Steamtown today.]

Steamtown, USA

This is the yard that is now known as the Steamtown National Historic site.


(I think I've posted this before, but what the heck.)
My grandmother, who often rode the DL&W over a century ago, told me that they used to joke that the initals DL& W stood for Delay, Linger and Wait.

Exposed to the elements

In Britain and some other countries closed or even partly closed cabs were not favoured for some time after railways were invented because of the idea that the engine crew needed to be wide awake and would doze off if coddled by a bit of shelter.

Re: Camelbacks

Goats of Venus: The proverb about camelbacks was "in the summer the engineer roasted; in the winter the fireman froze."

I don't want to hear it Dutch!

I live across the street from the UP line. Two sets of rails, all hours of the day AND night.

I'll try your dad's newspaper trick sometime.

Those beautiful steam locomotives

are known as Camelbacks or Mother Hubbards, as the engineer sat in the middle of the locomotive astride the boiler, the firebox was wider than a conventional locomotive and would not allow a forward view, the poor fireman was open to the elements at the rear of the locomotive.


Those locomotives, like the 808 in the foreground, had much larger coal grates in them to facilitate burning the anthracite coal in the region. The wider firebox, known as a Wootten, necessitated moving the cab for the engineer and brakeman forward since there was no room over the firebox. Hence this type of engine was known as a camelback. There have been cases where a broken side rod had completely sheared the cab, along with the engineer, clean off. It must have been miserable for the fireman on rainy or snowy days for the only protection afforded was that little hood over the back of the boiler.

Graffiti in 1900?

Boxcars on the left. Kids were "tagging" even back then?

[Chalk marking of cars by switchmen was an essential part of railroad yard operations.]

Dad-burned, no good, blankety blank!

The wash on the line reminds me of my early years when our family lived in an old three story railroad station that the RR leased to us since it was no longer needed. There were still a couple of trains per day that went right by our picture window (formerly station master's window). The dirt raised and produced by the trains would blow over on my mother's laundry hanging on the yard line (before there were dryers). Inside the house, the thundering trains would shake down dust to drift onto newly wiped and polished tables, etc. Looking back, I believe this was about the period that my mother honed her "cursing like a sailor" skills to world class levels. Dad kept his face in the newpaper at these times.

Advertising to the contrary

I doubt that Miss Phoebe Snow's gown would have remained spotless if she had had to change trains here!

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