Welcome Aboard the WK&S Railroad!
The Wanamaker, Kempton & Southern is a small tourist railroad located in the northern tip of Berks County, Pennsylvania. The railroad runs on three and a half miles of track that were once part of the Schuylkill & Lehigh branch of the Reading Company system. The Reading Company was known as a mighty coal hauler, but the S&L was a rural agricultural branch sometimes called the “Slow & Lonesome.” The branch was perhaps best known for the “Berksy,” a local passenger train that carried students to and from the only area high school at Slatington.
Although not very big, the WK&S is largely unmatched in terms of authenticity and scenic diversity. Passengers are treated to rolling farm fields including an orchard and often a pumpkin patch. There are forests, fills, cuts, tree covered hills, a bridge over scenic Ontelaunee creek and the two old-time towns of Trexler and Wanamakers. Passengers even get a good view of their own train thanks to some sharp curves along the line. Due to a rural somewhat isolated location, things haven’t changed much over the last hundred years.
The Wanamaker, Kempton & Southern recently celebrated its 50th anniversary having opened for business in 1963. This was an era when many regional railroads were still solvent. Much of our equipment was acquired directly from their local original owners such as the Reading Company, the Lackawanna and the Lehigh & New England. A typical WK&S train includes one or two coaches, an open observation car and a Reading caboose pulled by one of our three vintage center-cab diesel locomotives. The WK&S also owns a stable of steam locomotives with long term plans to restore one or more to service. Equipment is maintained with an eye toward authenticity. All of the passenger cars retain their predecessor paint schemes.
Kempton is the railroad’s base of operations and includes a collection of original Reading Company stations moved here from other locations. There’s a ticket office, gift shop, food concession, model railroad display, picnic area, lots of railroad equipment on display and plenty of free parking.
The WK&S is an all-volunteer organization. There are no grants or other public funding. This operation is made possible through ticket, gift shop and food sales as well as the hard work of one of the most talented and dedicated group of people you’ll find.