Town of Kempton

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The small town of Kempton lies immediately south of the WK&S station and shop facilities. Most folks drive through Kempton on their way to the railroad. Kempton was a railroad town. It was established in 1874, the year the railroad opened. Kempton rail facilities included a station, section house, double-ended team track, a spur by Bachman's Garage and a spur into Albright's Mill. There was also a water tank, a turntable and a turning wye. The team track is now all that remains. Everything else including the main line is gone. Above and below are a series of old pictures showing Kempton rail operations in their heydays. The shot above looks across Rt. 737 toward Albright's Mill and the Kempton passenger station. This station was still in active use as a freight station when the WK&S was formed. But by the time the station became available the WK&S lacked funds and need so the building was lost.

The next two pictures are from 1949 and were taken from the back of a southbound passenger train. The pictures look north toward the future site of WK&S operations. The freight car is on the team track. Bachman's Garage is at right. The team track extends to a short spur by Bachman's Garage. There's also a crossover connecting the team track with the main line. Bachman's spur may have still existed by the time the WK&S got started in 1963. The second picture looks a little further left and shows the Kempton section house.

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Looking north in 1949.

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Looking north in 1949.

The next two pictures also look north. Albright's Mill is at left with Kempton station in the middle and the section house at right in the distance. The second picture appears to have been shot on the same day. The photographer looks to be shooting down from the top of a rail car on the main line.

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Looking north toward Kempton station. Far up the tracks is the future site of WK&S operations.

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Same shot, but from a high angle.

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This is the same shot that's shown at the top of the page. View of Kempton station is blocked by a southbound passenger train that many folks called the "Berksy".

Next up is a picture from atop Albright's Mill looking south in the late 1920s. The track under the photographer is the spur to the mill. Note the edge of a hopper car at the bottom of the photo. There's a stock pen at the corner of Rt. 737 and Kistler Valley Road. The gondolas are on the team track and supplying gravel to pave Rt. 737. A milk car is spotted next to a creamery. To the right of the main line is the water tank. Further right is the turntable. The turntable is located on the north leg of an old turning wye. Apparently the wye existed only for railroad construction purposes and was removed around the time the line was completed. The turntable also appears to have been short lived, existing only until 1928. Note that the turntable bridge is gone in the 1937 aerial photo further down the page.

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Click for larger image. Looking south from the mill. Photo contributed to the WK&S by Marlin Dietrich.

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Another shot of the gravel unloading operation. The locomotive on the main line looks like an I3a class consolidation. #729 or maybe #739.

Here's the water tank looking north with Kempton in the background. There's a berm in front of the water tank that may be the grade for the old turning wye. The picture predates the turntable.

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Looking north toward the water tank with the town in the background.

Next is a series of modern pictures showing what's left of Kempton rail. The picture below looks north and shows where the southern end of the Kempton team track diverged from the main line. The team track is all that remains through town. Old switch timbers indicate the alignment of the main line. The concrete pad to the left of the switch timbers supported a water column. The water tank itself was further to the left. The town of Kempton is in the background.

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Looking north at the southern end of the Kempton team track.

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Looking west from the mail line at the remains of the water column. Remains of the water tank are hidden by underbrush.

Here's the foundation of the old water tank looking east. The track is between the foundation and the building in the background. This location is heavily overgrown and virtually inaccessible during the summer. If you're willing to hack your way south from this point you'll find a shallow bowl-like depression that was the turntable pit. All that remains is a square foundation for supporting the turntable's center pivot. I can find no evidence of the old turning wye grade.

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Water tank foundation.

Below is the foundation in the center of the turntable pit. It's about 4' square and has circular impressions from what was bolted to it. This picture also looks east. The track is visible at the very top of the frame.

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Foundation in turntable pit.

Again looking north, the picture below shows down town Kempton around 2012. The two dump trucks are lined up on a truck scale located on the former main line. The team track runs to the right of the trucks. The station was to the left of the trucks. Albright's Mill is at far left. At the north end of town is an imposing multistory brick building known as "Bachman's Garage". The building is visible down the street. This building housed a variety of businesses including a shirt factory as well as various engine, automobile and farm implement dealerships. There was a short spur track with loading dock between the building and main line. The spur extended from the north end of the team track and was not much longer than a car length. Now there's an earthen embankment between the building and mainline that's usually covered with junked cars.

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Looking north through Kempton.

Still looking north, the following picture shows where the north end of the Kempton team track diverged from the main line. Again, old switch timbers indicate the former location of the main line. The grassy embankment in the foreground at right is the former location of Bachman's spur. The current WK&S Kempton station complex is visible in the far distance. CNJ business car #98 sits on the main and there's a Reading caboose on the hole track. Also note the red barn on the right which once housed the Kempton Farm Museum.

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Looking north toward the current Kempton station complex.

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"Bachman's Garage" from 2012. Instead of an embankment there was once a short spur between the mainline and the van.

The two pictures below are aerial shots of Kempton showing the railroad facilities of 1937 compared to 2006.

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Click picture for a much larger image of Kempton from 1937.

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Click picture for a much larger image of WK&S facilities and Kempton from around 2006.

The two pictures below are aerial shots of Albright's Mill. The first one is from the very late '60s or very early '70s. The main line and mill spur are still there, but the station is gone. The second picture is from 1998. Only the team track remains.

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Click picture for a much larger image of Albright's from around 1970.

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Click picture for a much larger image of Albright's from 1998.

Below is another aerial picture. This one's from March 21, 2009. The Kempton Community Center is at left. The annual Farm Sale is in progress. This is perhaps the largest, longest running annual event put on by the Community Center. The railroad facilities are in the center of the picture. The WK&S is closed for the winter. Note the consist of coaches on the hole track which is still configured from last December's Santa trains. The town of Kempton is at right.

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Click picture for a much larger image of WK&S facilities and Kempton. Photo by Tim and Nick Conrad.

The WK&S first opened for business back in 1963 on three miles of track between Kempton and Wanamakers. The track through the town of Kempton and south to Reading was still controlled by the Reading Company. Around 1971 the Reading Company gave up Kempton and intended to abandon the line from Kempton south to Evansville. By 1972 a contractor, H.B. Moyer, Inc., had gained control of the line to Evansville and planned to scrap the rail. Unfortunately the WK&S was in no financial position to do anything about it. The original Kempton station in downtown Kempton was dismantled and lost. The main line through town was scrapped as was the spur to Albright's Mill. But the WK&S did manage to acquire 1.2 miles of track including the team track through Kempton and the main line south to a point designated as "North Albany". The track was acquired from the contractor through a stock deal. In other words, the track was donated. But the track south of N. Albany was scrapped and the WK&S became a landlocked railroad. In 1971 the WK&S built the Berksy Trolley. The trolley would put the extra track to N. Albany to good use for the better part of two decades. But the trolley was withdrawn in 1996. The end of the trolley marked the decline of the track to N. Albany. An occasional special train might have wandered down to N. Albany now and again. But by the mid-2000s the track was no longer actively maintained. About the only thing that went to N. Albany was the annual weed spray truck. But even that was discontinued after 2010.

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Charter train through Kempton in 2000. This would have been one of the last WK&S trains to operate through town. Click for details. Photo by Randy Kotuby.

The remaining track within the town of Kempton is still used occasionally to crane incoming or outgoing equipment between rail and truck. WK&S #734 was delivered to Kempton on November 2, 2004. The picture below looks south with Albright's Mill in the background.

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Delivering #734. Photo by Gary Zweizig.

There are a few other Kempton items worth mentioning. The new railroad prompted construction of the Kempton Hotel. This was one of the first structures built in what would become the town of Kempton in 1874. The Kempton Hotel's bar and dining operation is still going strong and serves some pretty good food. Look for scenes from the WK&S on the Hotel's ceiling murals.

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Kempton Hotel.

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Ceiling mural in the dining room.

The Kempton Community Center is located on the hill overlooking the WK&S parking lot and conducts annual events like the Farm Sale and Kempton Fair. There are also tractor pulls, racing, hunting shows, concerts and other rural-themed events.

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The Kempton Community Center looking from the WK&S parking lot.

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Kempton Community Center welcom sign with the old Farm Museum in the background.

The Kempton Farm Museum was located in the big red barn on the right when entering the WK&S parking lot. The Farm Museum was open weekends 11:00-6:00 and was home to the annual Pennsylvania Dutch Farm Festival. The barn and surrounding grounds were the previous location of the Kempton Community Center. The Farm Museum operated from 1964 to around 1991. The museum closed due to the death of its founder, Howard Geisinger. Geisinger was also an integral member of the WK&S organization. I don't what the barn is used for now.

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Farm Museum barn from 2012.

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This picture of the Farm Museum appeared in WK&S brochures throughout the 1970s. The picture itself was taken in the mid-'60s.

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Farm Museum brochure. Click image for larger picture.