WK&S Railroad
PO Box 24
42 Community Center Drive
Kempton, PA 19529
(610) 756-6469

Also called the Hawk Mountain Line because of its proximity to the popular bird sanctuary (see elsewhere in this guide), the Wanamaker Kempton & Southern Railroad first began transporting passengers and freight in July of 1874 as the Berks County Railroad.

The line consisted of forty-five miles of track starting at South 7th Street in Reading and running through a number of towns, including Kempton and Wanamaker, terminating at Slatington where it joined the Lehigh Valley Railroad. Among its many passengers, children rode the train every day to go to school in Reading or Slatington. The line survived several changes of ownership, finally discontinuing passenger service in 1947 as the Schuylkill and Lehigh Branch of the Reading Railroad. Freight service continued until 1962.

In 1963, the WK&S Railroad began operating a passenger service between Kempton and Wanamaker. The company went under in 1969 but was reorganized as an all volunteer organization on June 21, 1970.

Today the WK&S survives as one of America's oldest steam tourist operations, preserving the charm and romance of authentic short line railroading for all who would enjoy it.

The Railroad's collection includes two steam locomotives: an 0-6-0T #65 built in 1930 and #2, a 1919 0-4-0T formerly owned by Colorado Fuel and Iron. The Railroad's latest acquisition, a 1944 Whitcomb centercab diesel electric, is used for charters and switching (moving cars from one track to another) only.

A number of cars are under restoration and can be seen at the yard. Passengers ride in heavy-weight steel cars from the early 1900's. Each has been restored to original condition. Several cabooses complete the picture. In addition, the Railroad operates an antique trolley, which covers a greater distance in less time than the train.

The train departs from the Kempton Station, an 1875 structure which was originally the Reading RR's Joanna Station. Passengers enjoy a three-mile ride to Wanamaker through Pennsylvania's picturesque countryside, passing several historic sites and structures. The Wanamaker Station, originally constructed by the Berks County RR in 1877, houses an antique shop. Along the way passengers can de-train at a shaded picnic grove and be picked up by a later train.

The round trip takes about half an hour . . . or a hundred years if you count the trip back into time. It is a charming and educational experience that can be enjoyed by groups (20 or more) as well as individuals. A caboose is great for children's birthday parties. Trains are also available for charters, and a variety of special, thematic rides are offered throughout the year. Call for a schedule.

Hours: Train basically operates from May through October on Sundays and on the first Sunday in November. Call for exact schedule or visit the train's official site, linked above. Chartered rides available at other times.
Adults $10.00
Children (3-11) $5.00
Children under 3 FREE
Groups of 20 or more:
Adults $9.00
Children $4.00
Groups can also reserve an entire 50-70-seat car: $250 and up. A caboose costs $100 or $150 and can hold 15 to 18 people. Various conditions can affect rates. Call for details.
Group Reservations: At least 4 weeks in advance.
Lunch: Picnic area available.
Handicapped Access: Limited. Call with your needs.
Directions: I-76 West to I-176 North to Reading, to Rt. 222 North to Rt. 143 North (toward Lenhartsville). Continue on 143 to Rt. 743 East to Kempton and WK&S. 90 - 120 minutes northwest of Philadelphia.

Copyright © 1996-2014 by Patrick Tadeushuk. All Rights Reserved.