Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad
|Dates of operation||1983–|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Length||300 miles (480 km)|
|Headquarters||Port Clinton, Pennsylvania|
|Website||Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad|
Originally known as the Blue Mountain and Reading Railroad, the Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad was founded in 1983 to provide freight service on the former Pennsylvania Railroad Schuylkill Division between Hamburg and Temple, PA. Starting in 1985, the BM&R began operating passenger excursions over the line, and two steam locomotives, ex Gulf, Mobile and Northern Railroad 4-6-2 425, and Ex Reading Company T-1 4-8-4 2102. The BM&R also began operating 3 additional state owned lines. Additionally, the BM&R entered into a partnership with the Reading Company Technical and Historical Society who leased track space in Leesport, PA and in return leased two diesel locomotives and assorted passenger cars for use on the line.
In 1990, The Blue Mountain and Reading took ownership of 150 miles of track located in the Coal Region north of Reading. Shortly thereafter, the company was renamed Reading Blue Mountain and Northern and relocated its headquarters from Hamburg to Port Clinton, PA. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, the RBMN acquired more lines in northeastern PA, primarily of Reading, Central Railroad of New Jersey, and Lehigh Valley heritage.
In the mid 1990s, the RBMN discontinued the regularly scheduled passenger operations between Hamburg and Temple and instead focused on occasional excursions throughout the rest of its system. The partnership between the RBMN and Reading Company Technical and Historical Society had more or less ended by this point, but the group still leased track space in Leesport until 2008 when they moved to the Hamburg yard and opened the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum.
Despite the discontinuation of the Hamburg to Temple excursions, steam operations continued. In 1995, both of the RBMN's steam locomotives were present at the grand opening of Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, PA, though only 425 was operational. The two would remain at Steamtown until 1997. Between 1998 and 2009, all steam operations were suspended.
RBMN operates the following two main lines on 300 miles (483 km) of track:
- Reading Division: Reading, Pennsylvania-Packerton, Pennsylvania along the Lehigh River.
- Lehigh Division: Lehighton, Pennsylvania-Dupont, Pennsylvania (was Mehoopany, Pennsylvania).
- This line forms a fork from Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania one branch running easterly through Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania and connecting via a junction to Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania or Hazleton, Pennsylvania and the second branch runs northerly via the Lehigh River Gorge, climbs to Mountain Top, Pennsylvania with a double track running from there most of the way to the Duryea Yard (or Coxton Yard, or Muller Yard) at Duryea, Pennsylvania, and Taylor Yard in Taylor, Pennsylvania outside Scranton, Pennsylvania.
RBMN operated occasional passenger excursions utilizing restored steam locomotive #425. In addition, RBMN operates the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, a heritage railway based in Jim Thorpe. RBMN interchanges with the following railroads:
- Norfolk Southern Railway – Reading, North Reading, Temple, Lehighton, the historic Mountain Top Yard at Penobscot Knob, and Taylor, where it connects to former Delaware and Hudson Railway trackage in New Jersey, New York, and New England. The northern spur connects the yard in Binghamton, NY and thence to lower eastern New York State
- Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad – Pittston at the Duryea yard, which is operated by the RBMN.
- Lehigh Railway – Mehoopany, Towanda
- Luzerne & Susquehanna Railroad – Pittston
- Shamokin Valley Railroad – Locust Summit
Between 2009 and 2010, RBMN expanded operations due to the emergence of Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling in northeastern Pennsylvania. The railroad spent $100,000 to transform an outdated and lightly used Pittston Yard near Wilkes-Barre. RBMN also purchased two new locomotives, 101 rail cars and 6 miles (9.7 km) of track between Monroeton and Towanda where much of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale economic activity is focused.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad.|
- Official website
- Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway railway operating on RBMN trackage
- RBMN Passenger Excursion Photos
Wisconsin and Southern Railroad
|Regional Railroad of the Year
Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad
Arkansas and Missouri Railroad
|Regional Railroad of the Year