Summerdale Junction, Summerdale, PA

The short-lived Summerdale Junction on Route 11/15 boasted a fine collection of railroadiana.


Summerdale Junction

Summerdale, PA

Updated February 18, 2019

When I was growing up in the 1960s and '70s, one of the thrills of traveling from our home in Maryland to my grandmother's house outside Wilkes-Barre, PA, was passing the Pennsylvania Railroad's huge Enola railroad yards and engine terminal across the Susquehanna from Harrisburg. Farther up Routes 11/15 is the famous Rockville Bridge, the longest stone arch bridge in the world.

On the northern (or western?) end of Enola, where Routes 11/15 intersect with I-81, Summerdale Junction was opened on 11/15 around 1973. I believe it was built as a convenient restaurant for an adjacent Quality Inn that still stands. It was owned and operated by Robert and Mildred Stambach.

Summerdale Junction Menu Cover Paul Stambach

Summerdale Junction menu cover. Contributed by Paul Stambach.

Summerdale Junction got off to a good start. In 1974, the Toy Train Operating Society, a west-coast club that seldom has events east of California, held its annual convention at the restaurant.

Lots of eating establishments have train stuff among the decor, but Summerdale Junction displayed a serious collection of railroadiana. Hanging from the ceiling was, I believe, every Pennsylvania Railroad calendar illustrated by Grif Teller. You'd have to sell a lot of T-bones just to pay for all those.

Summerdale Junction's railroadiana collection, I understand, was leased from noted modelbuilder and author of of many railroad books, Edwin P. Alexander. A founder of the Train Collectors Association, Alexander also leased his toy train collection to another attraction, the Lincoln Train Museum in Gettysburg.

Summerdale Junction, Summerdale PA

Enola Engine Terminal in its heyday.

I'd like to say that we ate at Summerdale Junction a lot. However we only stopped there twice. Once was on a freezing cold winter night. We were the only diners in the place. The other time the only car in the parking lot was a bright yellow AMC Pacer with U.S. House of Representatives tags. The only other patron in the dining room was the Pacer's owner, upstate New York Congressman Barber Conable. He talked our ears off. Conable, noted for coining the expression "smoking gun" during Watergate, was later president of The World Bank.

Maybe we were part of a trend, a trend of people who passed Summerdale Junction when they didn't feel like eating. We usually stopped at the Howard Johnson's in Camp Hill and so had just had our fill by the time we got to Summerdale.

After the restaurant closed some time in the 1980s, its railroad-station-like building was replaced by a new restaurant structure. For a long time the place was called the Summerdale Diner. Now (2017) it is The Squeaky Rail. Better than The Squeaky Wheel, I guess.

Summerdale Junction Steam Loco Lyle Shields

Before this engine turned up in front of Summerdale Junction, it was displayed for a few years at car-dealer Gene Zimmerman's Automobilorama ("History on Wheels") several miles down Route 15. Contributed by Lysle Shields.

I would love to share your memories and photos of Summerdale Junction. Contact me before emailing any photos.

For Further Reading

Dining Guide of The Past Main Page

About Neal J. Conway