Phone Booths

Many bike paths are along old railroad right of ways, rail-trails. This means there are often remnants of railroad history. One interesting artifact is a concrete phone booth or block phone. These enclosures were placed at the ends of blocks, sections of track. These locations were often where track splits in two directions or just two parallel tracks splitting or combining. These were used starting in the early 1900’s until they were replaced with steel in the 1950. Existing booths continued to be used into the 1980’s.

I have wondered why concrete was chosen to make these booths. Perhaps it was cost or durability but I have not been able to find any information to substantiate that.

I first encountered one of these laying in the brush a few yards off the Black Diamond section of the D & L Trail in PA. Since then, this particular phone booth has been move to a prominent spot adjacent to the trail and set upright. I have seen many additional concrete phone booths along trails, some deteriorated and some restored. Often the restoration is done as an Eagle Scout project.

Interior of restored concrete phone booth along the Ironton Rail-Trail
Partially restored booth along the D&L Trail
Fully restored booth along the Ironton Rail-Trail
Along the Great Allegheny Passage
Along the D&R Canal

Recently uprighted booth along the Black Diamond section of the D&L

First booth I had seen, this has since been set upright

Schuylkill River Trail in Reading, PA.
40.32269, -75.92829 

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