Schuylkill & Lehigh Model RR Club

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The model railroad car was repainted to a new color scheme in 2012.

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The model railroad car is behind the station. Photo by Larry Fisher.

Located right behind Kempton station, the Schuylkill & Lehigh Model Railroad Club is housed in wood coach #72. The car is open to the public on most days that the big train is running. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. Scroll down this page for more information or click the link below for the Club's own website (external link).

Schuylkill & Lehigh Model Railroad Club Website

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Overview of the model railroad.

The Schuylkill & Lehigh Model Railroad Club is housed in coach #72, built in 1889 by Jackson & Sharp for the Atlantic City Railroad. When new, coach #72 would have looked like sister coach #79 shown in the builder's photo below.

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Atlantic City Railroad coach #79 builder's photo. Photo donated to the Schuylkill & Lehigh Model Railroad Club by Raymond C. Schlegel.

Around 1910 coach #72 went to the Ironton Railroad. After serving as a coach on the Ironton, the car was eventually converted to tool car #1. The photo below shows tool car #1 behind Ironton locomotive #31 sometime in the 1940s. The Ironton Railroad was partially owned by the Reading Company and #31 is a former Reading locomotive.

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Coach #72 shown as Ironton tool car #1. Photo donated to the Schuylkill & Lehigh Model Railroad Club by Leslie R. Ross.

The Wanamaker, Kempton & Southern acquired the car from the Ironton Railroad in 1963. The car arrived at the WK&S without trucks, couplers, brake rigging or truss rods. At first the car simply sat on the ground south of the station. The 1965 WK&S brochure mentions the opening of a railroad museum in a "Jackson & Sharp coach" (i.e. car #72) housing "a collection of rare railroad antiques as well as interesting photos, maps, ect."

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Unrestored car #72 has been moved into position south of the station. Photo by Bernie Perch.

The photo below appeared in the 1967 WK&S brochure. The car has been repainted. Note how the car is sitting right were the hole track will be located, but there's no evidence of the hole track or the back track. The car has been lettered "HAWK MOUNTAIN LINE" on the left and "WK&S RAIL ROAD MUSEUM" on the right.

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Picture from the 1967 brochure.

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Picture from a 1965 newspaper clipping.

The photo below is similar to the one above, but from the opposite angle. In this photograph the hole track switch is under construction. The car will have to be moved before the rest of the hole track is built.

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WK&S Railroad Museum.

Around 1967 the car was fitted with another pair of period trucks. The trucks came off a rotting New York, Susquehanna & Western combine found in Butler, PA. Homemade truss rods and new end platforms were fitted to the car and it was moved to the back track. The picture below is from the early 1970s and shows the car on the back track between the B&O coach and LNE caboose #512. The museum had been replaced by a tin-plate toy train exhibit. The car has not been repainted, but now sports a banner reading "HAWK MOUNTAIN HOBBY COACH". According to a newspaper clipping from 1971 "Another improvement this year will be the introduction of the Hawk Mountain Hobby Coach, an antique museum car converted to displays of old tin-plate toy trains. Joseph Freeman of Allentown, a dedicated collector of the old train equipment, is leasing the coach to open his collection to the public. Freeman also plans to make the coach into a nationally-known center for gatherings of antique collectors." I have no further information about this project except that it didn't last more than three seasons. The "Hawk Mt. Hobby Car" is cited in WK&S brochures from 1971 through 1973. The 1974 brochure first cites a "Large Model HO Train Layout" which was the beginning of the model railroad club's layout. The club is named after the Schuylkill & Lehigh branch of the Reading railroad and loosely depicts several scenes one may have encountered along the line. The WK&S operates on a portion of the S&L, most of which was scrapped by the early 1970s.

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Coach #72 shown on the back track in the early 1970s.

For 45 years the car was painted in the cream and brown color scheme shown below. But in 2012 the car was repainted in the new bright color scheme shown at the top of this page.

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Coach #72 in its previous cream and brown color scheme.

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Coach #72 in its previous cream and brown color scheme.

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Model Railroad coach #72 is right behind Kempton station.

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Car-side detail following the 2012 repaint to the new color scheme.

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Informational plaque added in 2013.

I received the following email including more details of #72's history with the Ironton Railroad...

The Ironton tool car was one of three Passenger cars that was used in Ironton commuter passenger service. After evaluating old Ironton Railroad records, some of which have been destroyed now I fear, I found that this coach was either Ironton No 2 or No 3 which was purchased 2nd hand in 1910. It, a sister coach and the combine No. 1 served the railroad till 1920 in varnish service. The combine arrived on the property in 1914 and was retired 1923 becoming the yard office of the Ironton at Egypt, Pa. That combine is still there but somewhat worse for wear. So two of the three Ironton passenger cars last used survive. I suspect they were from the same order from Jackson Sharp, but the only thing that suggests that is the shape of the overhangs on the step ends are very unique and similar. There was some mention by old timers that one or more of the Ironton Passenger equipment was borrowed briefly by the Chestnut Ridge Rwy before returning to Ironton RR. The coach at Kempton I suspect was retired by 1930 to become tool car No.1. But in the early to mid 20's it appears that at least one or two intact coaches still graced the property being parked near the quarry where the legion stands today in Hokendauqua.
Rich Bach
April 2006

Below are a few more interior shots of the model railroad.

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