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Lehigh Valley Railroad, Trains #28 and #29 The John Wilkes (1939)

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Lehigh Valley Railroad, Trains #28 and #29 The John Wilkes (1939)
Posted by Jones1945 on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 7:55 PM

Dear all, I found this article about this long-forgotten streamliner, Lehigh Valley's John Wilkes, from Railway Age 1939. The streamliner ran between New York to Wilkes Barre and Pittson, PA, on a 5 hours schedule.

The author paid extra attention to the fluorescent lighting system and fittings on the rebuilt passenger cars that were exclusively re-conditioned for this streamliner. Please click the article to enlarge, the original article can be found via this link:  

https://books.google.com/booksid=HY0lAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

 

 

 

The journey was only 5 hours, this was probably the reason why the general chair-cars didn't offer seats with headrest (high back seat), but the Pullman coach did offer Parlor seats. Smoker lounge, club car, and a dining car was available; I think the train was a very well designed streamliner with more than enough amenities. Otto Kohler's decoration inside and outside the streamlining was distinctive and attractive.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 9:11 PM

The timetable shows the train both serving Penn Station and the Hudson Terminal.  Being that it was a steam train, I thought the train would have gone to the Hudson Terminal, and ppassengers for Penn would have transferred to electric trains.  However, the ad says that LV trains use Penn Station.  Was an engine swap actually done?

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 9:42 PM

Yes, there was an engine swap.  The Lehigh Valley trains to Penn Station were handed off to a Pennsy electric GG1 in the Newark NJ area and brought to Penn Station from there.  The process was reversed for outbound trains.  

This continued until the Lehigh Valley ceased passenger operations in (I think) 1959.  

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Posted by Jones1945 on Thursday, January 30, 2020 4:00 AM

The train terminated at Lehighton, PA instead of Pittstown in 1959 due to decreasing ridership, but continued to serve until Feb 3, 1961. This date marked the end of the Lehigh Valley's passenger service when The John Wilkes, along with the Maple Leaf, made their last runs. Crying

1940's consist:

Eastbound #28 (Leaving Pittston 6 am daily. Arrive NYC Penn Station 10:50 am)

  • PRR GG1 or Paired PRR O1s/LV K58s Streamlined Pacific
  • RPO
  • Baggage
  • Coaches (pick up/drop off one or two Philadelphia coaches at Bethlehem)
  • Parlor Car 32 seat, Drawing Room heavyweight
  • Club Car heavyweight

Westbound #29 (Leaving NYC Penn Station 4:31 pm daily, 5:40 pm Sunday. Arrive Pittston 9:29 pm daily, 10:38 pm Sunday)

  • LV K58s Streamlined Pacific/PRR GG1 or Paired PRR O1s
  • RPO
  • Baggage
  • Coaches (pick up/drop off one or two Philadelphia coaches at Bethlehem)
  • Parlor 32 seat, Drawing Room heavyweight
  • Club Car heavyweight
  • Dining Car heavyweight (NYC to Mauch Chunk. It went back to NYC on Maple Leaf next morning)

I don't know if #28 provided breakfast in the club car, the train left Pittston early in the morning!

Brasstrain.com

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, January 30, 2020 9:20 AM

I rode in one of those modernized fluorescent-lit coaches late one evening late December 1949, on a railfan private excursion with Richard (Dick) Seeley, he a Sophmore at MIT and I a Freshman.  After overnight at my home, PRR to Philly 30th St. Market St. Elevated (still an elevated at 30th St. at the time) to 69th St., Liberly Bell to Allentown, local LVT to Northampton and back, LV late evening to Willksbarre, overnight in hotel on the green, WR "N" to Nanicoke with "HA" side-trip to Hanover, return to Willkbarre, Laural Line to Scranton, out and back on Green Ridge Suburban, the South Scranton, then Dick's idea over my proved-right objections walking the Laural Line freight branch from South Scranton back downtown in rather deep snow (awful), then the l;ackawanna in a comfortable Nickel Plate reclining seat lightwieght coach to Hoboken and H&M and subway home.

Trying to snooz in one of those fluorscent-lit non-headrest coaches was not pleasant.  In compensation we did have an Alco PA on the head end.

 

 

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, January 30, 2020 9:34 AM

Flintlock76
Yes, there was an engine swap.

Specifically, at Hunter Tower.  There are many pictures of PAs handing off trains to GG1s and vice versa.  What I do not know is how early this arrangement was.  I don't think PRR had majority control of the LV until 1931, and it would be interesting to see how transfer to the third-rail tunnel electrification might have been handled up to the time catenary went through the tunnels about that time.  Likewise for the (brief) period of time that the transfer would have been made to earlier electrics (likely P5s) prior to the advent of GG1s.

The choice of Pittston as an endpoint is interesting -- I think this is more due to proximity to yards for turning service than any actual 'demand' ... but Pittston is in between Wilkes-Barre and Scranton by road, and LV never did have track (as DL&W and CNJ did) to the latter city.

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, January 30, 2020 10:27 AM

The single R-1 4-8-4 (2-d-3) electric was a regular in LV Hunter - Sunnyside service during the GG1 period.  It had the GG1 styling.

While Manhatan Transfer operated, some LV trains received their DD1s there.

Even after WWII, only three of the LVs passenger trains ran to Penn, and others ran to Jersey City, various times the CofNJ Terminal or PRR Exchage Place.  Eastbound, they were run as extras in the employee timetable east of Newark but were scheduled westbound.  They had the first diesels to share the two Journal Sqiare - Harrison tracks with PRR steam, PRR AC MUs, PRR AC locomotive-hauled freight, and H&M+PRR 3rd-rail DC MUs.

Ineresting if we could find a picture of an LV train with a P-5 boxcab.  There must be one somewhere.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, January 30, 2020 10:30 AM

Pairs of O-1's were regularly assigned to LV trains.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, January 30, 2020 11:36 AM

We had a previous thread on this, I find:

http://cs.trains.com/ctr/f/3/t/167537.aspx

Apparently the LV was directed into Penn Station during the USRA years (in 1918) and would therefore have used DD1s and, presumably, L5s between that time and the late '20s.  Baer says LV was allowed into the 'new' Newark Penn Station in mid-June 1936; someone here will know what trains would have been involved.

I can find not one picture of the R1 in LV service, either at Hunter or with a LV consist.  Who has pictures or links to post?  (Personally, I think the styling was much closer to a P5 modified than to a GG1... Wink)

Asa Packer when established (in 1939 -- I think part of the all-coach premium train 'craze' and perhaps intending to capitalize on World's Fair traffic) ran from New Jersey (with ferry connections, as with the CNJ Bullet).  This was changed in 1942 to run into Penn Station (perhaps for similar reasons to the original redirection in 1918)

Yes, I probably should have remembered that paired O1s were common power for LV trains, and this was a good use for them.  As paired, they were effectively as powerful as any PRR passenger electric, and probably faster than any other rigid-frame alternative, albeit perhaps a little slower-accelerating at the low speed ranges due to the large non-adhesive weight proportion.  I'm tempted to think of them as a kind of electric duplex... Wink

It is possible that the entire requirement of LV trains going into Penn could be satisfied by O1s, and that is why use of P5s was so rare as to be essentially undocumented.  We had an analogous discussion several years ago about a particular 'temporary' power use in Chicago suburban service, which Dave Klepper remembered but for which there is apparently no photographic evidence extant.

 

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Posted by Jones1945 on Thursday, January 30, 2020 8:19 PM

Thanks everyone for the input. I edited my previous post, adding "Paired PRR O1s" to the train's consist.

daveklepper

Trying to snooz in one of those fluorscent-lit non-headrest coaches was not pleasant.  In compensation we did have an Alco PA on the head end.

I can imagine the uncomfortableness! "High back seat", or reclining seat on "long-distance design" coaches like PRR's rebuilt P70s provided not only comfort but also a little bit more privacy. Let alone the high-back seat is considered a safety measure on public transport in some countries. High-back seat used on all-coaches train in the late 1930s wasn't really that high or as high as a parlor seat but at least the passenger could easily take a nap on it. 

Fluorescent lighting could be another course of uncomfortableness if RRs picked the "cloudy daylight" color (high color temperature fluorescent light tube). I have seen some color photos of NYCRR's post-war lightweight diner for the 20th Century Limited and MILW's Skytop Lounge, the as-built fluorescent light of them was so-called warm-white (around 4000-5000K color temperature ) but after some years, the whole lighting system might have mixed with different color of fluorescent light tube.

 

 

 

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, January 30, 2020 8:30 PM

If I remember correctly, LV had the first commercial railroad fluorescents, in 1936.  These would have been zinc orthophosphate/beryllium (and perhaps manganese) phosphors, with argon and mercury vapor in the gas; these were the high-intensity tubes that I think David remembered.

Mike or someone like him will be able to find contemporary trade-press discussions with the technical information for this specific use.  I have read some but don't remember the particulars...

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Posted by Jones1945 on Thursday, January 30, 2020 10:56 PM

Overmod

If I remember correctly, LV had the first commercial railroad fluorescents, in 1936.  These would have been zinc orthophosphate/beryllium (and perhaps manganese) phosphors, with argon and mercury vapor in the gas; these were the high-intensity tubes that I think David remembered.

Mike or someone like him will be able to find contemporary trade-press discussions with the technical information for this specific use.  I have read some but don't remember the particulars...

Interesting! IIRC, GE offer at least 6 different colors of fluorescents in the late 1930s, this one is the earliest sample (Warm White) I could find on the tube:

 

When fluorescents became common, the role of color temperature became even more important in our daily life. Cortisol levels can be raised by high color temperature fluorescents according to some medical reports. I can't find the source now but there was a movement in Germany promote the ban of high-temperature lighting in domestic use. Many don't care, but many just feel uncomfortable under blue-tinted fluorescent light. It is a big deal for every entrepreneur since it is one important factor that would put the customers off, let alone the productivity of the staff. I wonder which Fallen Flags picked "Cool Daylight" which picked "Warm White", and what was Budd, ACF and Pullman Standard's opinion regarding fluorescents color. This might have been a minor factor that speeded up the postwar decline...

 LV #1002, heavyweight dining car!

 

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, January 31, 2020 11:36 AM

The history of early fluorescent and discharge lighting is fascinating, and I wish it were better known and better documented.

Interestingly enough, the early lamps (with what was effectively artificial willemite in them) were judged a bit dingy as their spectrum was lacking at the blue end, and this was 'artificially' enhanced toward the late Thirties to produce the cool-white and 'daylight' that are such wrong color temperatures for comfortable interiors...

As the unfortunate owner of a couple of Happi-Lights, I do NOT see as much in this bright-light-for-health thing as its proponents, and not coincidentally expensive manufacturers, do.  (And I am unfortunate enough to have a defect in D3 synthesis that requires increased whole-body exposure to the right spectra of UV or my skin flakes dramatically in dry winter conditions...)

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Posted by Jones1945 on Friday, January 31, 2020 9:39 PM

Overmod

The history of early fluorescent and discharge lighting is fascinating, and I wish it were better known and better documented.

Interestingly enough, the early lamps (with what was effectively artificial willemite in them) were judged a bit dingy as their spectrum was lacking at the blue end, and this was 'artificially' enhanced toward the late Thirties to produce the cool-white and 'daylight' that are such wrong color temperatures for comfortable interiors...

Not well documented thus the general public is not well informed! I am glad to know that I am not the only one who thinks the so-called "daylight" aka 6500k fluorescent tube, produced by some global brands like Philips, is misnamed, misleading, and uncomfortable for interiors. I have seen a local art school running by a DA intentionally installed these high color temperature "Cool Daylight" fluorescent inside the whole school area for the "color accuracy" of his student's works. There is no artificial lighting that could 100% mimic the sunlight correctly, but some 5000K light bulbs for studio lighting or only some 200w incandescent bulbs still better than what he was using. Color Rendering Index on "Cool-Daylight" or "Warm-White" are pretty much the same, but in reality, things look very very different.

Overmod

As the unfortunate owner of a couple of Happi-Lights, I do NOT see as much in this bright-light-for-health thing as its proponents, and not coincidentally expensive manufacturers, do.  (And I am unfortunate enough to have a defect in D3 synthesis that requires increased whole-body exposure to the right spectra of UV or my skin flakes dramatically in dry winter conditions...)

I am sorry to hear that! Experts seldom recommend using "sun lamps" for vitamin D production since it would increase skin cancer risk due to long exposure to UV light. I believe the manufacturing cost of these "Light Therapy Energy Lamp" is around 14-18 USD in China (including the pakaging), the most "expensive" parts should be the LEDs that made in Taiwan for better quality (optional), but in fact, they are no other than a square-shape LED bulbs with a dimmer. The flicker rate of flash rate of some LEDs can cause uncomfortableness as well.....My ceiling fan in my home office have three 14 watts (1500 Lumens) 3000K Philips LED bulbs installed, I think it is bright enough to fight against seasonal affective disorder but it also make me feel uncomfortable sometimes due to it brightness, though I have a dimmer for it when I am not working.  Idea

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Posted by GeoffS on Friday, January 29, 2021 11:31 AM

I made my way here after reading the Kevin Keefe blog of 1-28-2021 on the "John Wilkes."  Interesting to read that blog and the information presented here together. The previous picture of the coach makes me think a ride on the "John Wilkes" would not have been pleasant for 2 hours let alone 5!

G

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Posted by NKP guy on Friday, January 29, 2021 3:27 PM

   I'm with you, GeoffS.  At least I think so; is it the awful fluorescent lighting?  In my opinion, this was about the worst illumination ever invented; I speak as one who grew up with this stuff.  It was bad enough that the tubes (or the other parts) made a humming noise that was loud enough to be distracting; but the light itself was almost always so bright as to make one feel one was in a surgery theatre.  Let's be kind and say it wasn't a real good way to illuminate train coaches, especially after dusk.  

   Now imagine you're climbing aboard this train at Pittston or Scranton at 5:30 or 6:00 AM on a cold, dark morning.  There's a long ride to Philadelphia and and even longer one to NYC.  The coach is brighter than than morning sun and buzzing with a distracting hum; also one or several fluorescent tubes are burned out or flickering.

   There seems to be no dining car or food on the way to NYC, although there is a Club Car.  Yet on the return trip a dining car is indicated from NYC to Mauch Chunk. How did it return to NYC?  And did it feature fluorescent lighting?

   Incandescent lighting was alwas better.  Anywhere.

   The John Wilkes seems to be one of those "famous" trains I'm glad I missed riding.  But its outside appearance, its color scheme is, to me, just stunning

 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, January 29, 2021 6:04 PM

NKP guy
 The John Wilkes seems to be one of those "famous" trains I'm glad I missed riding.  But it's outside appearance, its color scheme is, to me, just stunning. 

If I ever see an O Gauge version (probably an MTH) at a train show and the price is reasonable it's goin' home with me!  One of the coolest looking trains ever!

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, January 30, 2021 1:08 PM

I nagree about the exterior appearance and about the lighting.

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Posted by GeoffS on Saturday, January 30, 2021 2:30 PM

In spite of the lighting and the seats that look VERY uncomfortable I wish I could have gone for a journey on the "John Wilkes" though.

G

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, January 30, 2021 6:08 PM

NKP guy
There's a long ride to Philadelphia and and even longer one to NYC.

The train turned east when it crossed the river at Easton, and proceeded directly toward New York; it did not go anywhere near Philadelphia except perhaps by connection.

It does have to be said that the 'preceding' kind of coach lighting would have been incandescent battery lighting, and it might have been dingy.  The surprise to me was that the fluorescents were left on at all times when the train was running.  I can see that someone wanting to read a newspaper might think good reading light an advantage, and I believe that the technical construction of the lighting system did not leave visible flicker in the light intensity (as some short-phosphor systems did when ballast-driven off 60Hz AC)

How those initial systems began to fail as they aged is another story.  

Now, the lack of headrests was typical of coaches well after 1936, especially walkover seats like these.  To have them on longer seat 'tracking', as here, well upholstered, with fresh headcloths on each seatback, was indeed luxury by coach-travel standards.  It just wasn't optimized for catching a few winks on the 2-hour run up to Wilkes-Barre...

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Posted by NKP guy on Saturday, January 30, 2021 8:09 PM

Overmod
The train turned east when it crossed the river at Easton, and proceeded directly toward New York; it did not go anywhere near Philadelphia except perhaps by connection.

   From looking at the schedule earlier in this post there was indeed a daily connection to/from Philadelphia with the Reading RR at Bethlehem.  Was there a through car, or was it "all change at Bethlehem"?

   If I might paraphrase and disagree with Edna St. Vincent Millay, The John Wilkes was probably a better train to observe than to ride.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, January 30, 2021 10:57 PM

NKP guy
Was there a through car, or was it "all change at Bethlehem"?

Something there most certainly wasn't was a through car that went to Reading Terminal and then back out to New York (probably via West Trenton and the CNJ), which would be the implication in the post.  It is highly likely that any PRR "Wilkes-Barre to New York" service would have gone via Philadelphia if not down the BelDel to Trenton ... but LV service, certainly not.

I think it's unlikely a car would be detached from this train, specially painted and on a relatively hot schedule, just to go to Philadelphia.  Especially with competing operator CNJ having close operating ties with the Reading.  On the other hand, I'd expect that if you compare the schedule time with a Reading timetable, the train might be one of the premier Reading services from ABE to Philadelphia.  (As I am not enough of a Reading fan, I don't know those...)

Believe me, in those days before the Northeast Extension of the Turnpike was finished, you'd have relished riding the John Wilkes to get to or from Wilkes-Barre, particularly in the wintertime, north of Brodheadsville, or in the summertime anywhere across the middle part of New Jersey.  A little part of me is still waiting at the intersection under the Old Road bridge at what I recall was NJ 518 south, in a car without air conditioning, or for the detour to 46 by the old Marcal plant to end when 80 finally made it around Garrett Mountain...

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, January 31, 2021 7:45 AM

There definitely was, at one time, a though Toronto - Philadelphia or Buffalo - Philadelphia car or cars interchanged between the Valley and the Reading at Bethlahem.

The John Wilkes was not the train, however.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, January 31, 2021 9:35 AM

NKP guy
 If I might paraphrase and disagree with Edna St. Vincent Millay, The John Wilkes was probably a better train to observe than to ride.

For us, probably.  But then it depends on point of view.

I'll bet a lot of ex-Doughboys riding the "John Wilkes" felt that whatever it's shortcomings it sure beat riding a "Forty and Eight" car!

I found a four-minute video of some classic Lehigh Valley, which I think all might enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHFNN8HR0WY  

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Posted by NKP guy on Sunday, January 31, 2021 2:16 PM

Flintlock76
I found a four-minute video of some classic Lehigh Valley, which I think all might enjoy.

   I enjoyed watching this video.  Did you notice that at 1:53 we see a caboose attached to a stock car?  All the windows are open in the caboose, so there must have been no escape from the smell for the entire trip! 

   The Lehigh Valley has always been of some interest to me and as I said, the John Wilkes was a handsome train.  

   But let's not compare it to a "Forty and Eight" car doughboys rode.  How about comparing it to the Phoebe Snow, which also served Scranton and was probably a better choice for businessmen?  

   I know: apples to oranges. 

 

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, January 31, 2021 2:23 PM

NKP guy
How about comparing it to the Phoebe Snow, which also served Scranton and was probably a better choice for businessmen?      I know: apples to oranges. 

Apples to oranges, indeed; the John Wilkes never made it closer to Scranton than the point the train was turned in Pittston.

It does have to be said that LV had nothing like Truesdale's Cutoff, either.  Or reason to run a good train 'through' west of Buffalo.  But it could be argued that the Black Diamond was competitive with the Phoebe Snow, as far as it went...

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Posted by NKP guy on Sunday, January 31, 2021 2:33 PM

   Overmod:  First, I appreciate the truth of what you said about travel into the anthracite country before the Penna. Turnpike's Northeast Extension.

   Second, the schedule posted earlier here clearly indicates the John Wilkes calls at Scranton (on the "Laurel Line", whatever that is). 

   I'll admit I'm out of my depth on the topic of this train, its railroad, its service area, etc.  But take at a look at the schedule.  What's a guy to think?  Does the John Wilkes not call at Scranton?  How would a traveler be expected to know that from looking at this schedule?

   The schedule indicates Scranton to New York service.  That makes it a competitor of the Phoebe Snow (or some such DL&W train), does it not?

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, January 31, 2021 5:37 PM

NKP guy
 I enjoyed watching this video.  Did you notice that at 1:53 we see a caboose attached to a stock car?  All the windows are open in the caboose, so there must have been no escape from the smell for the entire trip! 

Yes I did.  I suspect that stock car is empty and cleaned out (I hope so!) since typical rules on most, if not all railroads had loaded stock cars placed right behind the engine.  

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, February 1, 2021 2:53 PM

NKP guy
Second, the schedule posted earlier here clearly indicates the John Wilkes calls at Scranton (on the "Laurel Line", whatever that is). 

Oho!  You have fallen for that old dodge that service via a connecting train is the same as service ON that train.  

As I think Mr. Klepper will point out, the "Laurel Line" is an interurban.  A very good interurban, mind you, but not the same as a streamlined steam train with chair-car service of the same 'luxury' ...

The LV consist no more went to Scranton than the City of New Orleans goes to St. Louis.  (And my guess is that if you tried to run the John Wilkes over the Laurel Line's track, you'd have clearance problems of remarkable difficulty...)

If you look at a map that shows the sometimes-convoluted trackage in the Wilkes'Barre-Scranton area, I think the route issue will be clearer, particularly if the map has topo data on it...

Now, what might be fun would be to see if the real LV competition to DL&W name trains also features this "service" - the Black Diamond being the logical candidate competing with the Phoebe Snow 'apples to apples'.  My guess is that considering the likely arrival time for the 'connection' and the fun involved in finding an interurban train at that hour, it will not be mentioned the same way... Wink

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Posted by nyc#25 on Monday, February 1, 2021 3:52 PM

Although both PRR and LVRR timetables showed departures from Hudson Terminal that was actually a Hudson & Manhattan train which made connections with trains from Penn Station at Newark, NJ Penn Station.

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