LEHIGH & SUSQUEHANNA DIVISION
ASHLEY TO PENOBSCOT (MOUNTAIN TOP)
1,013.75 Feet of Rise in 13,020 Feet of Distance
MP 169.25 TO MP 155.38
NANTICOKE BRANCH ASHLEY WYE
PLANES NOS. 1, 2, & 3

Map of Ashley Planes

No. 3 Plane - The Ashley Planes lifted eastbound freight cars up Blue Mountain to Penobscot (Mountain Top), PA, on a series of three separate inclines. Passenger trains and westbound freight took the longer route around the mountain on a loop of track known as the Back-Track.  No. 3 Plane was at the foot of the mountain and formed a wye connection with the Nanticoke Branch on the south side of the CNJ mainline a short distance west of Main Street grade crossing in the town of Ashley. In this view the proximity of  No. 3 Plane's  cable pit and counter weight rack to the Ashley Repair Shops and engine terminal is evident. Visible in the background are the chimney of the power house, the heavy erection shops, and the Ashley freight house. The tower at the left controlled movement over the Nanticoke Branch Wye onto the planes. - northwest view, Circa 1935 - Central Railroad Company of New Jersey

No. 3 Plane - The east (left) and west (right) legs of the Nanticoke Branch Wye converged below the Main Street overpass, which bears the warning sign: NOTICE - LOCOMOTIVES MUST NOT PASS HERE. The track passing underneath the sign is part of the Nanticoke Branch. The small shed visible under the trestle is a footman's office (footmen worked at the foot of each plane positioning cars over the truck pits) and the more distant shed at the left, a latch house. The truck pits (one in each track) are on the other side of the overpass. - southeast view, February 1947 - Central Railroad Company of New Jersey

No. 3 Plane - In this view taken from the No. 3 Plane truck pit area, a barney is descending the plane back to the truck pit. It is about to enter the latches, a series of rail guides that progressively narrow the adjustable gauge of the barney to enable it to roll into the truck pit between the rails. The overhead bridge in the distance carries a township road over the tracks. - southeast view, Circa 1940 - Central Railroad Company of New Jersey

No. 3 Plane - This cut of four hopper cars has started up No. 3 Plane with a worker riding to his job on the barney. The track on the right affords a good view of the rollers that guide the heavy steel cable, as well as one of the safety switches designed to derail a car traveling downhill (the barneys were able to travel over the derails unimpeded due to their outside flanged wheels). - circa 1930 - authors' collection, photographer unknown

No. 3 Plane - A plane's power plant consisted of a boiler room and an engine house at the head of each plane. The power plants utilized a bank of four boilers to supply steam to a vertical, stationary, marine-type, reciprocating engine - which in turn drove two huge winding drums at each plant. The tracks in this view running between No. 3 boiler room (right) and engine house are the run-off from the head of No. 3 Plane to the foot of No. 2 Plane. Run-off sections were graded to permit the gravity operation of cars and eventually converged into one track at the foot of each plane to expedite the flow of traffic onto either track of the succeeding plane. - northwest view, Circa 1935 - Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission

No. 2 Plane - CNJ No. 60422, a World War I 55-ton hopper car design of the United States Railway Administration, has coasted around the bend down the short grade from the head of No. 3 Plane and now rests over the truck pit at the foot of No. 2 Plane. - circa 1930 - authors' collection, photographer unknown

No. 2 Plane - In this scene looking down No. 2 Plane to its foot, the barney on the north track has almost completed its descent from the plane's head and is about to enter the latches where the gauge of its wheels will be narrowed enabling it to enter the truck pit and roll under and behind the positioned cars. The bridge marker at the right, No. 1/50, identifies a public road overpass. Also visible at the right, strung along the row of short white poles, is an emergency cord that runs the length of the plane and can be pulled in much the same manner as the emergency cord on a train to shut down the plane. The No. 2 Plane was the newest plane, having been realigned during 1865-1867 from the gradient of the old No. 2 Plane whose head had been over 3,000-feet away from the foot of No. 1 Plane necessitating the use of locomotion to move cars between planes. The realigned No. 2 Plane  had a grade almost double the steepness of the other planes. - circa 1930 - authors' collection, photographer unknown

No. 2 Plane - This close-up view of a barney was made on its descent from the head of No. 2 Plane. It is CNJ design classified as a Type C. The heavy coil springs are to cushion the impact of a barney butting up against a car.  A solitary Type B barney designed by Bethlehem Steel operated on No. 3 Plane. - Circa 1936, Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission

No. 2 Plane - A barney shoves a cut of mixed freight cars up the incline of No. 2 Plane. In the distance to the left of the tracks is the No. 2 Engine House. - circa 1930 - authors' collection, photographer unknown

No. 2 Plane - Sitting on top of the World! Well, leaning anyway. If there is a railroad heaven, the view must look a bit like this view from the head of No. 2 Plane. The barney operation has been stopped with a UTLX tank car literally hanging over the edge. The easement running across the mountain face at the left of this photograph is Pennsylvania Route No. 309 winding its way up the mountain. It will eventually cross over No. 1 Plane. - northeast view, Circa 1930 - Central Railroad Company of New Jersey

This view of a barney in the latches exemplifies how the gauge of the wheels on the axle were narrowed. Notice that the outside flanges of the barney wheels are inside the stock rails! - circa 1930 - authors' collection, photographer unknown

No. 1 Plane - The No. 1 Plane lifted cars to the top of the mountain. In this view looking up from the foot of the plane, the concrete Pennsylvania Route No. 309 highway overpass can be seen crossing over the tracks.  - circa 1935 - authors' collection, photographer unknown

No. 1 Plane - The descending barney in this view has met the ascending barney, which indicates that the view is looking up No. 1 Plane from a point midway to its head. Both barneys were attached to opposite sides of the same elongated loop of cable. - southeast view, Circa 1925 - W. R. Osborne

No. 1 Plane - Safety switches were designed to permit passage in the uphill direction only. If a car inadvertently rolled backwards, its inside wheel flanges would pick the safety switch and derail the car.  Since the flanges on barneys rode outside the railhead, the safety switches did not impede their travel in either direction. The No. 1 Engine House is barley visible at the head of the plane. - southeast view, Circa 1930 - Central Railroad Company of New Jersey

No. 1 Plane - The head of the No. 1 Plane was near the CNJ Back-Track and the LV Mountain Cut-Off. In this mist shrouded view taken at the summit, the Back-Track is a barely discernible easement running along the mountainside at the right. - northeast view, Circa 1930 - Central Railroad Company of New Jersey

No. 1 Plane - No. 1 Engine House was at the head of No. 1 Plane on the top of the mountain in Solomon's Gap, PA. The boiler house is out of view to the left. From this point eastward cars coasted down a run-off track that paralleled a section of the Back-Track through Solomon's Gap into Penobscot Yard. - southeast view, Circa 1930 - Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission

The CNJ checked the three gauges used on the planes with this adjustable gauge car. A spit of paint would squirt out of the pressurized container onto the rails when the car ran over an out-of-gauge section of track. - Circa 1930, Central Railroad Company of New Jersey

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