The Atglen & Susquehanna Low Grade

The Atglen & Susquehanna Low Grade (HM2B2R)

Location: Conestoga, PA 17516 Lancaster County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 57.863', W 76° 27.35'

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The Pennsylvania Railroad's Dedicated Freight Road

The Atglen & Susquehanna Branch was constructed (1903-1906) by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) as the middle segment of its Low Grade lane, an ambitious through-freight route which extended some 140 miles from Morrisville Yard near Trenton, New Jersey, to the Enola Classification Yard west of Harrisburg. The completion of the Low Grade alleviated the bottlenecking of freight approaching Philadelphia by separating heavy through-freights from passenger service and local freight on the PRR's main line through Lancaster, and by bypassing Philadelphia altogether. It was the PRR's largest construction project to that date. For its near $20,000,000 investment and the movement of an estimated 22 million cubic yards of earth and rock, the PRR gained an unequalled freight route linking western markets to the ports of Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore. The contribution of the Low Grade Line to the subsequent growth of the PRR is incalculable.
To achieve the low grades and gradual curves that were critical for through-freight operation, the PRR extended a determined line across southern Lancaster County. Westward from Parkesburg (M.P. 0.00), the A&S raised an earthen road on the Chester Valley floor and etched deep canyons through the hills of the Susquehanna River Valley in order to reach Safe Harbor (milepost 27.36). Northward, the

prehistoric east bank of the Susquehanna River within Manor Township (M.P. 27.36-37.23) was blasted to form a level shelf. Certain of its optimal route, the eastern A&S (M.P. 0.00-37.23) confidently spanned valley, stream and the shoed horse's dirt road with approximately 90 bridges and culverts of masonry and steel. When dedicated for service in July 1906, the A&S appeared unlike any historic path. It was a streamlined superhighway of rail that efficiently satisfied fuel and food demands of the eastern seaboard for decades.
The PRR's 1938 electrification of the A&S ushered out a century-long era of steam locomotion. Hydroelectric energy generated by the Susquehanna River at Safe Harbor Dam powered the A&S via a modern skyway of catenary and paired poles. The A&S met the freight challenges of World War II without any major changes. The national decline of rail service in the second half of the twentieth century eventually claimed the A&S. An alternate freight route to Philadelphia gained operational favor in the decade preceding the final freight on the A&S - December 19, 1988. The A&S was abandoned as an active rail line in 1989; its rails were removed in 1990. Much of the route subsequently reverted to individual municipality ownership. In August of 2013, Manor Township proudly opened the southern half of their section of the former A&S Branch as part of the regional

Enola Low Grade Trail.
HM NumberHM2B2R
Placed ByAmtrak
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, September 2nd, 2018 at 11:02pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 375663 N 4424818
Decimal Degrees39.96438333, -76.45583333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 57.863', W 76° 27.35'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 57' 51.78" N, 76° 27' 21" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)717
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling South
Closest Postal AddressAt or near Enola Low Grade Trail, Conestoga PA 17516, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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