Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Safe Harbor Hydro Plant on Susquehanna River

(Satellite (26 photos), 3D Satellite)

Jack Stoner posted
On a humid and steamy June day in 1986 Conrail train MTPI - Metutchen, NJ - Pittsburgh,PA crosses the iconic PRR Low Grade trestle, (local parlance) at Safe Harbor, PA. The actual Conrail nomenclature for this line was the Enola Branch. Taken out of service in favor of the Reading RR route to northern NJ and NY and Phila. this well engineered line was downgraded, then abandoned in 1989 and finally the last iron was removed in 1990 - 91.
Birds-Eye View

In 1930 construction would commence to build the northern most of three Depression Era hydroelectric dams along the Susquehanna River at Safe Harbor. Erected just above the confluence of the Conestoga River the first turbine went online in December of 1931 and by 1940 a total of seven were in operation. Two of these turbines were dedicated to generating the 25 Hz single-phase power required to feed the Pennsylvania Railroad’s newly electrified railroad. By 1938, the final phases of the electrification were complete and included the A&S, Port Road, Columbia branch and mainline west to Harrisburg. With the eastern mainline and freight network complete, power from Safe Harbor began supplying the PRR grid, with tethers of high voltage transmission lines mounted above the tracks, feeding various substations along the PRR’s electrified territory. The railroad understood the value of the Public Works project and the advantage of a renewable energy source. Today Safe Harbor operates 12 turbine generator units and continues to supply the Northeast passenger rail network today. [MichaelFroio]
A couple of years ago I remember reading an Abandoned Railroads posting about a route that had the tracks removed but the route was still intact because it carried power lines to help supply Amtrak's Northeast Corridor service. I now understand what that posting was talking about.

Update: comments in a Pennsylvania group provides more information on the electricity that Pennsy used.

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