When most railfans hear the name “Juniata Valley Railroad,” most think of the famous street-running section on Water Street in downtown Lewistown. However, we are going to explore a little-known gem where the Juniata Valley operates, just west of town.
The Juniata Valley Railroad (JVRR) is a short line based out of Lewistown, Pa., and is an affiliate of the North Shore Railroad Company, which owns several other short lines in central Pennsylvania. The JVRR operates lines to Burnham, Maitland, and to the customers located at the end of the Long Industrial Track in Lewistown. In this feature, JVRR operations on the railroad’s western end, culminating at the Greenbrier Rail Services facility in the Lewistown Industrial Park, will be the primary focus.
The crew of JVRR-1 fires up SW900 2106 in the Juniata Valley engine house located off Round House Road in Lewistown at 7:30 a.m. The EMD switcher was built as an SW9 in November 1953 as Pittsburgh & Shawmut 1865. It was rebuilt and redesignated as an SW900, and renumbered 2106, the “James E Miller,” dedicated to the railroads late, long time manager. The engine features the maroon and gold of the long-departed Pennsylvania Railroad, as well as a keystone bearing “2106” to honor the beloved Pennsy. It is typically the only engine on the property, unless it is undergoing repairs or inspection in Bellefonte, Pa., when another North Shore system unit will appear. Operations on the JVRR were handled by North Shore 446 over the summer of 2022 while the 2106 was receiving work.
ABOVE: After completing their work, JVRR-1 heads for Lewistown yard, as they parallel Locust Road. The train will enter Norfolk Southern’s Long Industrial Track in a quarter mile. The rail route back to the yard and enginehouse is much shorter than your highway route via Business Route U.S. 22 and downtown; this plus traffic makes it impossible to beat the train.
The crew begins their day by switching cars in the Lewistown Yard, located parallel to the engine house. Typically, the crew will run to either Standard Steel in Burnham or to Joe Krentzman & Son Inc. in Maitland after switching the yard in Lewistown,; these runs are done “as needed’ when the customers need service. However, one constant in the operations of JVRR is that they serve the Lewistown-based customers Monday through Friday. You can see the train switching cars from Round House Road just past the engine house.
To access rail customers in the Lewistown Industrial Park, the JVRR utilizes Norfolk Southern’s Long Industrial Track (Long I.T.), which extends from CP-Lewis (PT 165.7, at the Amtrak station) westward to CP-Long (PT 168.8) alongside the Norfolk Southern Pittsburgh Line. JVRR-1 will get clearance from the Norfolk Southern Altoona East Dispatcher for permission onto the Long I.T. From the west end of JVRR Lewistown Yard to the JVRR connection track into the Industrial Park is approximately 1.3 miles through mostly inaccessible trackage, unless you have a drone…