The Pattenburg Area

Vincent Lee

In this essay we sample the 3 main spots of the Pattenburg Tunnel area on what was once Conrail's and now Norfolk Southern's Lehigh Line. The first spot is the eastern most and is located at milepost 62.3 On an early April morning Mail-3 smokes it up past CP Pattenburg.

TV 212 lead by a freshly painted C40-8W passes CP Pattenburg during the early hours. The train has been holding the main. CP Pattenburg is where the main splits into two tracks, the main and the controlled siding.

Following just a block behind TV 212 is WPAL-8 running east from Allentown to do some work on the Lehigh Line.

Moving a mile and a half to the west leads to this view of another Mail-3 with plenty of power. The train is running on the main and about to reach the top of the grade and the entrance to the tunnel.

This Conrail ballest train led by two C36-7's entered the controlled siding at CP Pattenburg and is slowly working its way down to CP West Portal
The Lehigh Line was always known for its generous clearances and it was quite often that dimensional loads were run on the line. Here a venerable GP38 leads the load out of Pattenburg tunnel and down the 17,275 foot long controlled siding.

Cabeese were phased out in the 1980's however one major plus out of these usually Sunday moves on the Lehigh Line is that they always had a caboose trailing the large load.

Another view in early light of TV 212 as it exits the east portal of Pattenburg Tunnel. This time the train is led by a B36-7 and the three engines have the train rolling along at the 40 MPH track speed.

A going away shot of TV 212 finds the three engines belching smoke as they try to keep the hot train on schedule.

The last stop of the three major spots in the Pattenburg area is CP West Portal which is were the controlled siding and main again become one track.TV 212 is lead by an SD50 on this fine morning as it heads up the main at CP West Portal.

Following behind the TV 212 is the long freight NSSE led by SD60I 5611. The train usually runs with NS pool power as is the case on this morning.
Pulling up to the signals guarding the entrance to CP West Portal is another odd movement for the Lehigh Line. Train OIIH is led by another SD50 as it waits for a meet on the main.
Since OIIH is holding the main WPAL-10 enters the controlled siding at CP West Portal with two struggling GP38's.
The carnage of the engines of WPAL is seen at CP West Portal, the signals in the background guard the main and controlled siding. On the plus side, the firefighting Jeep is in great shape.


End of the Line
Trains always ran in bunches on the Lehigh Line and the best time to see them was always in the morning as the hot intermodals headed west while other intermodals sped east followed by the freights. It was a shame when Norfolk Southern converted Pattenburg Tunnel to 1 track in 1999 and split the Controlled siding in two with switches at both portals of the tunnel. It is also amazing to see what poorly performing locomotives can do.