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Pennsylvania 2-Foot Rairoad

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Ken Fleming:
The Mount Gretna Narrow Gauge Railway was a 2 ft (610 mm) gauge narrow gauge heritage railroad in the state of Pennsylvania that operated between 1889 and 1916. It was built by the Cornwall and Lebanon Railroad, who earlier had established a station and picnic ground at Mount Gretna, Pennsylvania.

The Gilded Age iron industrialist and railroad president Robert Habersham Coleman decided that a narrow gauge railroad to the top of nearby Governor Dick Mountain would provide an additional tourist draw, and in addition could service the Pennsylvania National Guard rifle ranges nearby. The line was built to the rare
(in North America) and very narrow gauge of 24 inches. Locomotives, apart from an early and unsuccessful H. K. Porter, Inc 0-4-4 Forney locomotive, were three 4-4-0 "American" types (#11, #12 and #15) built by Baldwin Locomotive Works. Locomotive #12 was ordered on 22 June 1889 and built in only 8 days to be ready for anticipated Independence Day crowds after the Porter Forney wheelbase proved too rigid for reliable service on small-radius curves. The Baldwin locomotives featured lagged smokeboxes and were the only 24-inch gauge 4-4-0s ever operated in North America; although Baldwin built a 600-centimeter gauge 4-4-0 for the Ferrocarril de Tacubaya of Mexico City in 1897.

A turntable, engine-house, water tank, runaround track, and storage tracks were near the junction with the Cornwall & Lebanon at Mount Gretna. Return loops were built near the rifle range and around Governor Dick peak. At first the railroad was popular, but the tourist trade declined after the novelty had died down. The loop around Governor Dick was dismantled after the summer of 1896, but the railroad continued operation for the National Guard rifle range. A serious accident in 1915 killed off that traffic. The line's passenger cars were open-sided observation cars boarded from long footboards running along the length of either side of the cars. One of the cars overturned on a sharp curve when a large number of guardsmen attempted to board simultaneously from one side of the car. There were some serious injuries, and the tiny railroad ceased operation in the summer of 1916, shortly after its parent company's purchase by the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Ira Schreiber:
There were numerous 4-4-0's built and operated in the U.S. that were 24" gauge.
I operated a coal burning 4-4-0 built in Wyano, PA by Crown Metal Products. These,(we had three of them) were built around 1965.

Wayne Laepple:
There are quite a few relics of the Mount Gretna Narrow Gauge still extant in Mount Gretna, if you know where to look. The foundation of the enginehouse, the center pivot of the turntable and the water column are all still in situ. Almost all the right of way still exists; in fact, the grade up to top of Governor Dick is a road now. A number of the cottages have front porch benches removed from the open-sided excursion cars when the line folded, and several of the floats in the lake are anchored to the bottom by wheels from the open cars.

In addition, a very well-off resident of Mount Gretna had half-inch scale models of two of the 4-4-0's built as operating live steamers built by a British live steam builder about 20 years ago. They are beautiful models, as accurately reproducing the originals as possible. After his untimely death, one was donated to the county historical society, while the second is still owned by his family.

Keith Taylor:
Some great pictures of the C&L at this web site:
Turn off the ruins the experience.

Dave Crow:
Wasn't there a 2-part article in Narrow Gauge & Shortline Gazette back in about 2003 or 2004?

Dave Crow


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