A 100 Year Review of Berks – Happy New Year 2020!

Happy New Year Berks County! Not only is it a new year but also the beginning of a new decade. As we leave behind the 2010s, let’s look back on the beginning of the last 10 decades, and some of the events that we experienced together as a community during them. The past is important and sometimes comforting, but it is also important to look forward. There is so much more nostalgia yet to be made!

1920

Notable Events from this Decade

1930

Notable Events from this Decade

1940

Notable Events from this Decade

1950

Notable Events from this Decade

1960

Notable Events from this Decade

1970

Notable Events from this Decade

1980

Notable Events from this Decade

1990

Notable Events from this Decade

2000

Notable Events from this Decade

2010

Notable Events from this Decade

Train Derailment – Wyomissing – 1977

Photos Courtesy of Jere Stamm

On Sunday morning, December 4th, 1977, 26 cars of a Conrail freight train derailed right near the intersection of Clayton and Penn Avenue in Wyomissing. The train was bound for Bethlehem from Harrisburg, and was carrying coal.

Ironically, another train derailment happened on the same stretch of track just two months ago in April of 2019. This one was carrying trash and took a few weeks to fully clean up.

Join the discussion on our forum about these derailments by clicking here

On this Day – Reading Pattern Works Fire 1964

Fire on October 27th, 1964 – Picture from Reading Eagle

The Reading Pattern Works was a factory that made parts for the railroad, and was located at 715 Clinton Street. On October 27th, 1964 it suffered a fire.

Fire on October 27th, 1964 – Picture from Reading Eagle

today

Today, the Pattern Works building is home to Reading Art Works, and is used as an event space.

Schindlebeck’s Coal Yard

Schindlebeck’s Coal Yard was located along Front Street, between Washington and Court. Of course, there is the obligatory Reading Anthracite sign – If it’s Red, It’s Reading!

A unique feature of Schindlebeck’s is its double trestle, with the turnout actually being laid on an upward grade. To make it even more interesting, the branch itself ran on a downward grade through the cut to reach Front Street! While spotting and picking up cars here was probably challenging enough on the prototype, it’s even more so in a model environment!

This photo was taken while standing on top of the trestle at Schindlebeck’s. In the distance we can see the Penn Street Bridge and the Pennsylvania’s passenger depot. The trestle is out of service at this point, but has found new life as a parking area.

 

All photos & captions from Readingmodeler.com

Franklin Street Station

Franklin Street Station
Refurbished in 2013

The Franklin Street Station served the railroad from 1930 until 1981 when SEPTA diesel service ceased operations. From 1981 until 2013, the building sat vacant until BARTA acquired and refurbished the building for bus services. The plan was to alleviate overcrowded services at the BARTA Transportation Center located about a block away.  –Wikipedia

Barta refurbished the building, but it still remains racant. According to this WFMZ article,

BARTA acquired the dilapidated train station in 2005 and spent $5 million to transform it into a modern transit center that could serve both buses and passenger trains.

Buses on a route between Reading and Lebanon rolled out of the station soon after its 2013 reopening, but the service was ended several weeks later due to a lack of ridership.

Franklin Street Station

In July of 2017, the building was used to host several showings of “This is Reading”; Lynn Nottage’s transmedia performance-art installation about the city.

A month later, BARTA and local officials met again about the future of the building.

As a result of that meeting, BARTA officials will accept proposals from organizations wishing to lease the space. Representatives from arts and social services organizations also attended Thursday.

Kilmer said BARTA has to follow procedures for funding reasons, such as officially requesting proposals, but the agency plans to choose which proposal seems best, and work with organizations as much as possible. Leases will likely be one to five years, he said.

Though questions have been raised about restoring passenger rail service at the station, Kilmer said that probably won’t happen in the foreseeable future.

Franklin Street Station

We look southeast toward the Franklin Street Station and the old Metropolitan Edison plant, both located along South 7th Street, between Franklin and Chestnut. The walled-around open portion on the left side of the electric plant marks the site of the first Catholic Burials in Reading; see Passing Scene – Vol. 6, page 29. – Photo Courtesy of Joseph L. Gerhart, Reading, who took the picture.

Franklin Street Station

UPDATE: In 2019, Saucony Creek Brewing Company purchased the building and has converted it into a beautiful restaurant and bar to serve their craft beer. Highly recommend you visit it!