Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mystery Thing I Don't Know What to Call-- September 12th

Merion Avenue Thing

4900 Merion Ave

What the fuck is this?

               Since the railroad-related Lost Mystery Building of the Week last week made such a stir (go read the comments), I'm coming back with another mystery for the rail nerds out there... if this is, in fact, a rail-related structure... I really don't know.
                The Merion Avenue Thing looks like it might have been a bridge... but where's the rest of it? It doesn't appear on any old maps that I can find. From the top, the Thing looks like it might have an accidental green roof:

               So what in the fuck is it? Normally I'd have a more than a few sentences to tell you about something like this, but I can't find ANYTHING. Its like this bridge segment once existed in an alternate timeline and was brought here by some kind of Einstein-Rosen Bridge. My best guess, according to old aerial photos, is that a small line that came off one of the 600 freight lines that once ran parallel to Merion Ave leapfrogged over the northern property and terminated at the southern one, using that bridge to get there. The Chalfont Coal Co. had that spot for quite awhile.. maybe they were the ones that built this thing.
             That's just speculation... for all I know, it could be a bridge-shaped memorial in memory of a turkey sandwich. This shit is just fucked up. Whatever it was, no one ever seemed to have any motivation to demolish it.. and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Does anyone know? Anyone?



  1. Looking at the satellite photo on Google, in the northeast corner of the lot you can see where the spur probably came off the rail lines:

  2. It appears on this map

    also, maybe this one

    Some sort of spur going to a coal yard

  3. You're probably right, Gro. Spurs to coal yards were usually elevated because of the gravity chutes (read: hoppers) at the bottom of hopper cars. There are a number of abandoned coal yard trestles in and around the city; the Merion Ave. one is unique because it actually crosses the street.

    BTW, very few, if any, coal yards would have had the resources to build it. The PRR probably built it itself in order to service its customer.

  4. It's possible it was extended south of Merion just to provide room to switch through a small number of coal cars, to be dropped at the coal yard on the north side of Merion. I'm going to assume right now that the company went bankrupt at some point and the infrastructure reverted to the original property owners, with nobody having any more extant responsibility for the viaduct itself.

  5. These elevated spur ruins to coal loading or unloading facilities are all over Philly. Here's one on the South East corner of Washington Ave and 26th Street, which branched off of the PRR's South Philadelphia freight line toward the still existing power plant. The power plant itself still has a coal derrick by the CSX tracks along the river (formerly the Baltimore and Ohio). The B&O ran passenger service to NYC and DC along these tracks. Probably a major coal transfer point. The PRR and Reading had giant coal transfer yards along the Delaware River in Port Richmond.

  6. You know, if this weren't in such a crap-tastic part of town, I'd say it'd make an awesome beer garden (assuming you could ever get the city to let you build a beer garden on an abandoned viaduct).

  7. If it was a coal yard, it would be the "G B Newton Coal Company".
    The PRR's 1925 CT1000E shows 3 tracks, by 1945, only 1 track.