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Old 12-18-2008, 02:23 AM   #1
jon prusak
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Join Date: May 2008
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Default Going to PA. for the hollidays plan to visit bethlehem looking for any railfan tips i

Hi fellow railfans,
I will be going to my inlaws this christmas season in Bath, pennsylviana. so while im thier im planning to make a trip to bethlehem around the steel mill to try to get some shots. any one have any info as to the scedual of the trains in that area? or if their is a beter time of day at a certain location? any help would be greatly appreicated. thanks
already have plans to catch the train that heads through bath to nazareth to the concreate plant it runs past were my sister inlaw work every day around 11:00-12:00.

again thanks in advance

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Old 12-19-2008, 01:36 AM   #2
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Generally the best time to railfan Bethlehem is around the early-mid morning. That is when most of the eastbound intermodal fleet runs. Around this time of the year most of the traffic runs before dawn, although there you can still catch some eastbounds in the early morning sunlight (not that the sun ever shines in PA during winter ). A couple of local freights leave Allentown in the mid morning (around 10AM to noon) each day. The afternoon hours are generally slower.

Here's a link to a site with some good Bethlehem info (click "Lehigh Line Schedule").


Also a nice railfan guide featuring photo angles in the Allentown/Bethlehem area can be found on the same website:


The local through Bath/Nazareth (NS H75, which runs from Allentown to Stockertown and return) operates Monday through Friday. On Monday and Wednesday it operates north/east from Allentown to Stockertown, where it does some switching before tying down for the night. Tuesdays and Thursdays find the H75 starting off at Stockertown, where it generally heads east to Uhlers to work several industries (Georgia Pacific/Dixie Cup, Crayola, and a couple others) before returning south to Bethlehem in the afternoon. On Friday H75 starts in Allentown, works its way north to Stockertown, and returns (usually as lite power).

You can wait for H75 at Bath or Nazareth and photograph it there (the time is consistently between 10AM and noon), but if you are into chasing it you can catch them at multiple places between Bethlehem and Nazareth on the days they start in Allentown: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Generally they depart Allentown in the morning between 8 and 10AM. If you have a scanner you will hear them building their train in Allentown Yard before they are ready to depart. When they are ready they will ask the Lehigh Line Dispatcher for a TAF to run east on the Cement Secondary between JU and UHLERS. Speeds on the Cement Secondary are slow (between 10 and 25 miles per hour) so it makes for a rather easy and enjoyable chase. There are plenty of good photo angles in Bethlehem, particularly around the Broad Street overpass where some nice ground level and overhead shots can be had.

A mile or so to the north the H75 will sometimes work Penn Perlite, located just north of where the line crosses Schoenersville Road. This procedure may take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes depending on how much work needs to be done. There is no way to legally observe this procedure, but you can hear the crews on the scanner as they perform their switching. After working there they are on their way north again. Photos can be obtained at crossings along the way, but many of them are just "tree tunnel" shots with little else of interest. North of Bethlehem are some more crossings (Township Line Road, Christian Springs Road, and Broadhead Drive). I've only scouted out the last two for myself although it appears all three can offer satisfactory photos if you get creative with the composition.

The next industry served by H75 is located next to Hanoverville Road (not sure of the name but it receives covered hoppers and I think it handles some form of recycling. They use a former cement plant). When this customer is worked they will usually spend about 30 minutes switching. Once again it is difficult to witness this procedure, although you may see the train crossing the Hanoverville Road grade crossing for headroom while they are switching. Just north of here is the Steuben Road crossing, which offers a nice open field view (although the lighting may pose some challenges during the winter months). Between here are Bath there are a few more crossings where photos may be obtained; however, the longer roads and relatively high train speed on this stretch make it difficult to get photos. The train can be photographed passing through the wye at Bath at the Route 512 grade crossing. The tight curves and number of crossings in Bath brings their speed down to 10 miles per hour through town. After passing through Bath the next town is Nazareth. I haven't shot that much at the three crossings in town, but some nice photo angles are available if you get creative. They generally stop to flag the crossings here, so you'll have time to get ahead of them if you aren't already.

After passing through Nazareth they pick up speed again. Unless you have a lead foot or you get lucky with traffic you generally cannot catch them again before they reach Stockertown. Once they get there they spend some time working the industries in the area before the crew ties down their train and gets taxied to Allentown.

Here are some photos showing the different photo angles on the Cement Secondary in Bethlehem.

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Hope this helps!
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Last edited by ssw9662; 12-19-2008 at 01:46 AM.
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Old 12-19-2008, 02:05 AM   #3
jon prusak
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thank you, this is going to be a big help. ill post what i get (if anything) after the holidays. again thank you
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