Saturday, September 10, 2011

Spruce Creek and Juniata Valley Images

 This photograph is circa 1865 and looks east with the Juniata River in the center of the image. A westbound freight train is seen in the right foreground on a 2.9 degree curve.  Out of the photo's frame to the left is the confluence of Spruce Creek with the Juniata River. The Juniata River is flowing downstream to the left cutting a passage through the Tussey Mountain. The Pennsylvania Railroad constructed the Spruce Creek tunnel through the barrier in the middle distance. The tunnel portal is today located at milepost 213.8 ( 40.600889N78.128058W). Note the two telegraph wires in the immediate foreground to the poles to the right. Telegraph communication were then an integral part of railroad operations.
Famed artist Thomas Moran sketched the Juniata River Valley at Spruce Creek in the 1870's This is roughly the same perspective as the photograph above.
The perspective in this 1875 woodcut is closer to the Spruce Creek Tunnel at trackside. The Juniata River flows eastward to the left through a narrow and steep gap in Tussey Mountain.
 This photo shows a train on the Pittsburgh to Harrisburg line at Spruce Creek when  it was owned and operated circa 1985 by the Consolidated Railroad Corporation, Conrail. The train is on the 1850's alignment of a 2.9 degree curve. The freight speed limit is 35 mph and the passenger speed limit is 40 mph. The brick signal tower in the middle distance was built after 1936 flooding that undercut the frame tower that preceded it. There is an inch to spare between the right of way and the location of the tower. No tower exists at this location today as the signaling system no longer is labor intensive.
This perspective is from the top of a boxcar circa 1930 at the Spruce Creek signal tower looking east toward the Spruce Creek tunnel. The Juniata River is to the left. The signal operator in the tower is in constant communication on an open telephone line to the signal operator in the tower to the east and west of his location. Signal towers were located roughly at 10 mile intervals from New York to Pittsburgh then from Pittsburgh to Chicago or Pittsburgh to St. Louis every ten miles on the Pennsylvania Railroad. The signal and telephone system used open copper lines strung alongside the right of way on poles with multiple cross arms as seen to the left of the tower.

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