Mt Alto Coal Yard . Perkasie Pennsylvania . Watercolor . 14" x 20"


... the Borough of Perkasie owes it's birth and early existence to the construction of the North Pennsylvania Railroad line between Philadelphia and Bethlehem. In 1879 the Reading Railroad acquired the branch and continued operations until the CONRAIL consolidations of 1976. The Mt. Alto Coal, Lumber and Feed Yard was started by Abram S. Benner in 1886 and passed through the ownership of several men until purchase at sheriff's sale by William Renner in 1902... and then sold in 1904... to his employee, Darius Sine. By 1928... Sine sold ten thousand tons of Pennsylvania Anthracite coal and fifteen hundred tons of lime, cement and sand through this yard annually. In 1929... 42 tons were being moved every day. Think about the logistics involved in that. The first front end loader was not invented until 1957.

The 180 foot coal shed appears as a dark color, most likely barn red, in an early b&w photograph, though the brick weigh station office isn't in that image and probably wasn't built until the 1930's or some time later. I grew up about a quarter of a mile from this coal yard. I remember the shed then, as being painted white... confirmed in a late 1960's photo. Regardless... it was the dawn of diesel and home heating oil and the subsequent decline of the coal industry.

Currently the rail line is owned by SEPTA and local freight is moved on a limited basis by the East Penn Railroad... and the coal trade is history. The hopper shed is now covered with aluminum siding and the property is divided among several smaller businesses with no need for rail access. A 300 foot rail siding, still lies along the far side of the shed, adjacent to the Bethlehem line and a few hundred yards beyond that is the south portal of the Perkasie Tunnel. I still haven't figured out precisely how the "Mt Alto" name originates, although the name historically refers to a parcel of land that lay northeast of the original, smaller, Perkasie Borough boundaries and record exists authorizing the annexation of "the Mont Alto tract" by Perkasie in 1891. I claim artistic license for this red amalgamation version.

A Giclee Print is available of this watercolor painting / railroad art.




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