Industrial Switching: The Seldom Seen Backside Of Railroading

Trains-In-Nashville-Tennessee (4)

Most people familiar with Nashville might not recognize the Music City when viewed from this perspective. The switching of freight cars in and out of docks and sidings is what the freight railroading business is all about.

When most railfans think of railroading they think of unit trains and six-axle diesels storming through the mountains and racing across the prairies. Yes, this is railroading too, but it must never be forgotten that the purpose the railroad serves is delivering freight to the customer.

In Scranton, Pa., there’s an interesting urban operation that has all the flavor of the big city in a size small enough to understand and take it all in.

Operations such as the Diamond Branch and the switching of the 7D Lumber Co. in downtown tend go unnoticed by railfans but offer an intriguing and unique perspective of industrial switching.

The 7D Lumber yard occupies about 1/3 of the city block of Wyoming Avenue, West Olive Street, Capouse Avenue and East Gibson Street. At first glance it looks like just another industry but a closer look reveals a past rich in history….

7D Lumber sits on the site where a small interchange yard which connected the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western’s Diamond Branch and the Delaware & Hudson’s Vine Street Branch once was. The dark brick building receiving the boxcar was once the Delaware & Hudson freight house but today is the headquarters of 7D Lumber.


At the turn of the millennium the 2nd floor of the office portion at the end of the freight house (above the 7D corporate office) was the headquarters of the D-L railroad itself. Today, however, D-L operations are carried on out of the Tower at Bridge 60 located in the Steamtown yard.

Contrary to their appearance, the tracks leading into the lumber yard are not stub-ended industrial spurs which end once inside but are actually the remains of the interchange yard. The tracks actually continue on through the yard and become the D&H Vine Street Branch which runs to the D&H’s Green Ridge Yard about 1 mile to the north. Today, although the tracks are still in place, the Vine Street Branch is no longer in use.

The tall, red brick building (in the background) across Wyoming Avenue was once the Scranton Cold Storage. What made this industry unique was that unlike most businesses which receive their rail service in the rear, this facility’s spur line was right out in front of the building which meant that trains had to cross the busy intersection of Wyoming Ave. and E. Gibson Streets to spot its cars giving Scranton a very small, but noteworthy street-running operation.

In the 1990s Gress Refrigerated Services occupied this building and used to get their reefer car loads of frozen and refrigerated products by rail. Up until August 2015, the building was occupied by Sandone Tire but was destroyed by a terrible fire and razed. At the time of the fire, the spur track was still in place but hadn’t seen a railcar in over a decade as Sandone got its shipments by truck.

Industrial Switching: The Seldom Seen Backside Of Railroading

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Author:Railfan AC

AC is a U.S. Air Force Veteran, a long haul trucker, a transportation enthusiast and a lifelong lover of trains. AC's mission is to travel America documenting American railroading in the 21st century while educating those who want to know about the importance the railroads play in our daily lives including, but not limited to, the movement of goods, services and more.

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