Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Lykens Valley Railroad at Millersburg

Posted By on February 19, 2012

The last stop on the Lykens Valley Railroad was Millersburg, where connections could be made with the Northern Central Railroad.  This was one of the busiest points in the Union during the Civil War and everything from freight to regular passenger trains to troop trains to prisoner trains traveled through this small town day and night throughout the war.  In addition, a ferry connection for passengers and wagons was available to make the one mile crossing of the Susquehanna River to neighboring Perry County.

The above pre-Civil War map shows the approach of the Lykens Valley Railroad to the Susquehanna River connection just south of where the Wiconisco Creek flows into the river.  An extensive yard complex developed here for turning the engines (a turntable and roundhouse) and for servicing equipment on both the Northern Central and Lykens Valley Lines.  Unfortunately no Civil War-era photographs have been located so reliance on the maps and on later pictures is necessary to determine the “layout” of the yards and service area.  Some trains coming from Lykens and carrying passengers proceeded directly to Harrisburg, but most terminated at the old station which was located where the two rail lines met.

On the map above, the Lykens Valley Railroad line is not shown, but the “R.R. Station” so-noted is at the point where the lines connected.  The Lykens Valley Railroad was also called the “Summit Branch Railroad”, named for the portion of the line that went east from Lykens, hence the hotel of the name “Summit Branch” as shown on the map.  The Millersburg Railroad Station of the Northern Central Railroad was located in the town of Millersburg (north of the Wiconisco Creek) and the freight station was located north of that station.  Post-Civil War versions of both the passenger and freight stations exist in restored condition today in their original locations.

The map above, from about 1876, shows a more extensive railroad yard and connection where the two lines met.  As can be seen from the map, the connecting station was actually in Lenkersville, not Millersburg.

Lykens Valley Railroad Looking East from Baclony of Old Station

A rare photograph of rather poor quality does exist showing the connection of the Lykens Valley Railroad with the Northern Central.  Presumably, the picture is from the latter part of the 19th century.  This photograph and the one below were taken from a Lykens-Williams Valley History – Pictorial Review (1922) available as a free download from the Internet Archive.  Hold down your left mouse button on “View the Book” (at the left side of the screen) and choose your download format.

Northern Central Yard, Looking South from Old Station at Millersburg (X denotes Old Style Switch)

The tracks shown at the left (where the X is marked) are probably the connection to the Lykens Valley Railroad.  “Old Style Switches” were of the “stub” type rather than of the modern “point type”.  In the “old style” , the ends of the rails were aligned to move trains from one track to another.  Modern switches, which came into use after the Civil War, moved a taper-ended rail against the inside of a solid rail to divert the train to a different track.  Stub connections are still used today at ferries and in turntables/roundhouses.

Other blog posts describing the Lykens Valley Railroad stations, connections and communities were:  Lykens Railroad Station; Elizabethville Railroad Station; Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania; Halifax Area and the Civil War; Millersburg Ferry; and Oak Dale Station and the Civil War.  All posts that include aspects of the railroads of the region can be accessed by clicking on the topic “Railroad” in the menu in the second column of any page in the blog.



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