Switchback tripper - Anna Moore

Anna Moore rode the Switchback Gravity Railroad over one hundred times. Between 1910, when she first rode the Switchback at the age of five years old, until 1933, when it ceased operations, Anna enjoyed riding the Switchback between Mauch Chunk and Summit Hill.

Anna Moore rode the Switchback Gravity Railroad over one hundred times. Between 1910, when she first rode the Switchback at the age of five years old, until 1933, when it ceased operations, Anna enjoyed riding the Switchback between Mauch Chunk and Summit Hill.

Annas mother was born and reared in Summit Hill. Her mother married and moved to Mauch Chunk but her relations remained in Summit Hill. "As a child, we rode the Switchback to visit relatives in Summit Hill often," said Anna, "always in the summer when the Switchback was running."

We rode to Summit Hill on the Switchback," continued Anna, "but we returned on the trolley." Annas mother had many relatives in Summit Hill and it took all day to see them. Often, they would stay overnight or for several days.

"The Switchback only ran in the daytime ," said Anna. We didnt get home until 10 P.M. So, we had to return by the trolley car. All summer long, as long as the Switchback ran, wed go to Summit Hill with the Switchback. To me, the only way we went to Summit Hill was with the Switchback."

"As an adult, even in high school, whenever we had visitors, one thing we did was take them on the Switchback," continued Anna. "We would start at the railroad station in Mauch Chunk and walk past the Asa Packer mansion to the Switchback depot at the top of the hill."

After leaving the depot, the Switchback car descended by gravity to the base of the Mount Pisgah Plane. The car came to rest just beyond a pit located between the tracks. The conductor gave a tug on a wire and a bell rang in the engine house at the top of the Mountain.

The operator in the engine house started the 28-foot diameter pulley wheel turning. Attached to the pulley wheel by a steel band were two cars, called barney cars. The barney car at the top of Mount Pisgah descended on one set of tracks while a second barney car was pulled from a pit behind the stopped Switchback car on the other set of tracks. As the barney car was pulled behind the Switchback car, it began to push it up the Pisgah Plane.

"It took about ten or fifteen minutes to get to the top of the hill," said Anna. "We would talk and look at the surrounding mountains. When we got to the top, the men in the engine house disconnected the car that was pushing us. Then we began moving by gravity. It didnt require a push to get started."

As the Switchback car began its descent, it traveled over a 450-foot long trestle. Speeding along the trestle, 40 feet above the ground, was truly a roller coaster experience. If any passenger requested, the Switchback car made a stop at the Mount Pisgah Summit Station at the end of the trestle. In addition to the scenic views that still exist, the Mount Pisgah summit had landscaped park grounds with a dance pavilion and a lookout tower.

The ride continued by gravity to the base of the Mount Jefferson Plane near Summit Hill where the procedure described in raising the Switchback car on Mount Pisgah was repeated. The Switchback descended by gravity to the Summit Hill Station.

Annas travels on the Switchback
"When we took guests on the Switchback, we would often get off at the Flagstaff trolley platform," said Anna. "There was a swimming pool there then."

"The cars were timed so that you could get off the Switchback and change to a trolley that went up to Flagstaff," continued Anna. "Flagstaff was a popular amusement park. It had all kinds of playground equipment. The churches had picnics and dances there. It had a beautiful dance floor and big name bands would come there."

"Wed go up to Flagstaff and spend a few hours there," added Anna. "As long as you had a stub, you could get back onto the Switchback and return to the station where you started."

Anna recalls one ride on the Switchback when she was about five years old. "The end of the Switchback car wasnt enclosed, there was just a railing in back. My mother dropped her coin purse when we were going up Mount Jefferson. It slid right off onto the roadway. When she got to the top, she got off and we went into Summit Hill because we had been doing it so often. We knew our way. She went back down to look for the coin purse. As long as the cars werent coming, it was safe."

The Switchback had a good safety record. Whether its good safety record was due to diligence, luck or lack of reporting of incidents, no one is certain. Anna remembers that there were places where the Switchback car had to cross the highway.

"At that time, people would haul goods using a horse and buggy," said Anna. "Before the Switchback car came to the highway crossing, the motorman would begin clanging the bell. It was loud and he would keep clang, clang, clanging the bell to warn people that there was a car coming so there wouldnt be any animals or carriages on the tracks. It seemed to me that he was clanging it more than was necessary."
Though little remains of the Switchback, its heritage as a major factor in both the industrial revolution and the creation of the tourism industry makes it important to the history of Carbon County, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the United Sates. That is why several local people have formed the Switchback Gravity Railroad Foundation.