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

Woolworth’s – Penn Street / Berkshire Mall

Image & caption from “Berks Countians; The Wonderful Way We Live”
When this photo of the interior of Woolworth’s 5¢ and 10¢ store – 530-534 Penn, around 1911 – this was a “5-and-dime” emporium in the true sense. Everything in the place was priced at a nickel or dime. A sign visible near the rear of the aisle clearly states that “Nothing in this store over 10 cts.” Photo by John. B. Woods.

Woolworth’s 6th and Penn Reading store was opened on September 20th, 1884, under the name, “Woolworth & Knox”. It was just three doors across 6th street from the successful Pomeroy’s department store.

Woolworth’s moved to the Berkshire Mall when it opened in 1970, as did many of the successful Penn Street department stores. Woolworth’s was again next to Pomeroy’s (first Lit Brothers, but only 1970-1975) near the center of the mall. It could be accessed from the outside of the mall, and was also a restaurant called “Harvest House”.

Woolworth’s occupied store space #27, outlined in yellow.

Woolworths chain started declining in the 80s due to over-expansion, and it is believed the Mall location closed for good in the mid-late 90s. The inner-mall part was subdivided into a few more store spaces. The back half that was accessible from the outside was divided off.

Above is the outside entrance to what was the Woolworth’s at the Berkshire Mall as it is today, next to the defunct BonTon. As long as I can remember this space has been unoccupied. If you remember it being anything since Woolworth’s closing, please post in the comments.

Reading Hospital Photo Mystery

I got an email asking for help to solve the mystery of where the below photo was taken. The photo is of the back of the Reading Hospital around the time it was built in the mid-late 20s.

I checked out a few aerial photos I have of the area from 1927 and 1940. Due to the angle of the shot being straight on, I concluded it have to be on the museum grounds, and had to have been taken in the general area circled below.

When I looked a little harder at the photo the below things popped out at me. I believe a stone wall, Wyomissing Creek and Parkside Drive North (which was just a dirt road then) are visible in the photo. The stone wall is still at the museum, it runs along the Museum side.

Stone wall today

However, the image doesn’t appear to be taken from the museum itself. Does anyone remember another structure being on the museum grounds? Maybe some sort of stone gazebo with the swan decorative railing? Any information would be appreciated.

Reading Public Museum – 1950s

Image & caption from “Berks Countians; The Wonderful Way We Live”

Mrs. James Woodward enjoys an informal afternoon reading to a group of children on the spacious front lawn of the Reading Public Museum and Art Gallery. The Museum and Gallery house an important collection of art masterpieces, as well as an impressive scientific and historic collection. A particularly appealing feature is the garden surrounding the handsome building that borders the Wyomissing Creek. Here young children delight in feeding the ducks and swans that inhabit the area,.

Kaleidoscope at the Berkshire Mall – 1970s

The Kaleidoscope was a store in the Berkshire Mall in the 70s. It sold jewelry, black lights and other psychedelic things. You could also get your ears pierced there. Do you remember this store?

circa 1973