The King Coal passenger train makes its way deep in the coalfields of Pennsylvania. The 300 foot mainline services 12 mines and processing plants. The trains travel through the diverse terrain of the Coal Region. The grades are steep due to the many valleys and mountains that fill the landscape. Helpers are required in the three primary yards of Tamaqua, Shamokin and Gordon. In fact, helper action is a major theme of the railroad. Join us as we take a look around at some of the most notable features with this behind the scenes tour of the Reading model railroad layout.
Exploring Model Train Landscape: Reading Railroad Layout
The King Coal passenger train enters the railroad at Shamokin from Newberry Junction Station. On its way, it passes by the Fuhrmann & Schmidt Brewery. The North Lime Coal Company sits at the east end of Shamokin. The white buildings appear as if they haven’t seen a fresh coat of paint in decades. They present a stark contrast against the dark mountains in the background, meanwhile lush greenery fills the surrounding areas of the tracks.
Next, we get a glimpse of the Henry Clay Colliery at Excelsior. A switch move is underway as train #900 and #902 pass. Mount Carmel Junction is home to a feed mill and several modest company houses each equipped with a front porch. The Alaska Colliery is another of the many processing plants on the division.The rust stained colliery stands tall with signs of decay.
Locust Summit sits atop the 3% grade. Its expansive track is a coal processing yard. On the grade, the Gordon shifter is west bound to Locust Summit. Simultaneously, the King Coal heads down the steep grade. Continuing down grade, a load of raw coal is transported for processing. Gordon sits at the bottom of the Locust Summit grade and is the base for the helpers.
Loaded hopper cars are assembled at Saint Nicholas Yard. The FB7 rolls through Mahanoy city, home to a team track and a lumberyard. Train #900 leads the passenger into Mahanoy Tunnel. The railway tunnel is carved through a large mountain blanketed with vast amounts of vegetation.
The Reading has baggage cars on both ends of some trains, resulting in a faster switching process. The train travels through the west portal of Tamaqua Tunnel with a grade of 1.6%. Tamaqua Station is conveniently located downtown. A cluster of buildings fill the area and the freight house is in back. The sidewalks near the tracks are populated with busy town folk. On the way to Philadelphia staging, we get a final shot of the Lehigh and New England train running on its line above Tamaqua.