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Exploring the East Penn Railroad, Part 3: Pocopson to Modena

East Penn 2179 leads WN-18 south past the former Reading Company station at Northbrook on February 18, 2016. Northbound trains are not photographable at the crossing. —Jim Kleeman

Exploring the East Penn Railroad, Part 3: Pocopson to Modena

October 2022by Richard W. Jahn and Jim Kleeman/photos as noted

We conclude our three-part exploration of East Penn’s operations in southeastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware this month, focusing on the northern portion of the former Reading Railroad Wilmington & Northern Branch between Pocopson and Modena, Pa.

In the June 2022 edition of Railpace we explored the east-west “Octoraro” line; in our September 2022 edition we followed the former W&N branch south from Pocopson to Elsmere, Del. While Kennett Square, Pa., along the east-west Octoraro line, is the headquarters, diesel shop and crew sign-up base for the East Penn, the primary “yard” and area where most drilling occurs is to the north, on the W&N line, at Pocopson.

East Penn Railroad

ABOVE: East Penn 1800 leads a train north in this aerial view along Harveys Bridge Road. Trains north of Pocopson are typically short, with the crew serving only the Brandywine Valley Railroad interchange at South Coatesville. There are no other on line ESPN customers. —Richard W. Jahn 

The first order of your day is determining where the power is, and where the crew will begin their day working. As noted in the first two parts of this serial, the crew can depart with train from Kennett Square west toward Avondale/Nottingham on the Octoraro line, or east from Kennett Square to Chadds Ford Junction, then north to Pocopson Yard. They do not reverse direction at Chadds Ford to head south.

The crew can also be vanned from Kennett Square straight to Pocopson to begin their day there. If this is the case, the engines will be visible parked at the Route 926 crossing by the Ace Hardware store.
The most common scenario, especially on Mondays, is for the crew and train to originate at Kennett Square at 9:00 a.m. and run to Pocopson, where they will spend an hour or more switching the small three-track yard.

East Penn Railroad

ABOVE: ESPN GP38-3 2179 is southbound approaching Lenape along West Creek Road, March 30, 2012. The greenery is typical of the floodplain of the Brandywine Creek. —Richard W. Jahn

On days when a crew is planned to head north from Pocopson to Modena, this usually occurs during early afternoon hours, about twice a week, as-needed. On Mondays, the train may come out of Kennett Square with three locomotives and train for Pocopson. If a unit is dropped at Pocopson, that may indicate that a second crew will take a train north to Modena to the Brandywine Valley Railroad interchange at South Coatesville…

October 2022Read the rest of this story in the October 2022 issue of Railpace Newsmagazine. Subscribe Today!

This article was posted on: October 7, 2022