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Erie Railroad

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Erie Railroad
A map of Erie Railroad's rail lines
HeadquartersNew York City, U.S. (1832–1931)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. (1931–60)
Reporting markERIE
LocaleNew Jersey
New York
FounderEleazar Lord
Dates of operation1832–1960
SuccessorErie Lackawanna Railway
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Previous gauge6 ft (1,829 mm) gauge
Length2,316 miles (3,727 kilometers)

The Erie Railroad (reporting mark ERIE) was a railroad that operated in the Northeastern United States, originally connecting Pavonia Terminal in Jersey City, New Jersey, with Lake Erie at Dunkirk, New York. The railroad expanded west to Chicago following its 1865 merger with the former Atlantic and Great Western Railroad, also known as the New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio Railroad (NYPANO RR).

The mainline route of the Erie Railroad proved influential in the development and economic growth of the Southern Tier of New York state, including the cities of Binghamton, Elmira, and Hornell. The Erie Railroad repair shops were located in Hornell and was Hornell's largest employer. Hornell was also where Erie's mainline split into two routes with one proceeding northwest to Buffalo and the other west to Chicago.

On October 17, 1960, Erie Railroad merged with its former rival, Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, to form the Erie Lackawanna Railway. The Hornell repair shops were closed in 1976, when Conrail took over, and repair operations moved to the Lackawanna's facility in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Some of the former Erie line between Hornell and Binghamton was damaged in 1972 by Hurricane Agnes, but the damage was quickly repaired and today this line is a key link in the Norfolk Southern Railway's Southern Tier mainline. What was left of the Erie Lackawanna became part of Conrail in 1976.[1] In 1983, remnants of the Erie Railroad became part of New Jersey Transit rail operations, including parts of its Main Line, and most of the surviving Erie Railroad routes are now operated by the Norfolk Southern Railway.


New York and Erie Railroad: 1832–1861[edit]

Erie Railroad's 1834 rail line plan
An 1855 map of the New York and Erie Railroad

The New York and Erie Rail Road was chartered on April 24, 1832, by New York governor Enos T. Throop to connect the Hudson River at Piermont, north of New York City, west to Lake Erie at Dunkirk. On February 16, 1841, the railroad was authorized to cross into the northeast corner of Pennsylvania on the west side of the Delaware River, a few miles west of Port Jervis, NY, as the east side was already occupied by the Delaware and Hudson Canal to a point several miles west of Lackawaxen, PA. Construction began in 1836 and was opened in sections until reaching the full length to Dunkirk on May 19, 1851. At Dunkirk, steamboats continued across Lake Erie to Detroit, Michigan. The line crossed the Kittatinny Mountains at 870 feet.

When the route was completed in May, 1851, President Millard Fillmore and several members of his cabinet, including Secretary of State Daniel Webster, made a special, two-day excursion run to open the railway. It is reported that Webster viewed the entire run from a rocking chair attached to a flatcar, with a steamer rug and jug of high-quality Medford rum.[2][3] At stops, he would step off the flatcar and give speeches.

The line was built at 6 ft (1,829 mm) wide gauge; this was believed to be a superior technology to standard gauge, providing more stability.

In 1848, the railroad built the Starrucca Viaduct, a stone railroad bridge over Starrucca Creek in Lanesboro, Pennsylvania, which has survived and is still in use today. In fact, current owner Central New York Railroad spent $3.2 million in 2021 centering its single remaining track, re-ballasting and repairing masonry. The viaduct is 1,040 feet (317 m) long, 100 feet (30.5 m) high and 25 feet (7.6 m) wide at the top. It is the oldest stone rail bridge in Pennsylvania still in use.

As stated in the introduction, the shops in Hornell, New York were the largest on the Erie system beginning in the late 1920s, processing about 350 locomotives per year with "classified" (heavy) repairs. However, the first major repair facilities were built in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania in 1848, which were enlarged in 1863 to employ 700 workers. The primary car shops were located in Meadville, Pennsylvania in the western part of the state, employing 3,500 in 1912.[4]

Erie Railway: 1861–1878[edit]

Former Erie Railroad tracks pass through Nutley, New Jersey; the track on the left is out of service
The railway switch in Nutley, New Jersey

In August 1859, the company went into receivership due to inability to make payments on the debts incurred for the large costs of building, and, on June 25, 1861, it was reorganized as the Erie Railway. This was the first bankruptcy of a major trunk line in the U.S.

In the Erie War of the 1860s, four well-known financiers struggled for control of the company; Cornelius Vanderbilt versus Daniel Drew, James Fisk and Jay Gould. Gould ultimately triumphed in this struggle, but was forced to relinquish control in 1872–73 due to unfavorable public opinion following his involvement in the 1869 gold-rigging scandal and to his loss of $1 million of Erie Railroad stock to the British con-man Lord Gordon-Gordon. Investors in the railroad were also weary of Gould's financial wars with Vanderbilt that caused wild stock price fluctuations and losses from rate battles. Upon leaving the Erie he managed to take $4 million, which he claimed was the railroad's "debt" to him.[5][6]

In 1869, the railroad moved its main shop facilities from Dunkirk to Buffalo. Rather than demolishing the shops in Dunkirk, the facility was leased to Horatio G. Brooks, the former chief engineer of the NY&E who was at the controls of the first train into Dunkirk in 1851.[7] Horatio Brooks used the facilities to begin Brooks Locomotive Works, which remained in independent business until 1901 when it was merged with seven other locomotive manufacturing firms to create ALCO. ALCO continued new locomotive production at this facility until 1934, then closed the plant completely in 1962.

The cost of breaking bulk cargo in order to interchange with standard gauge lines led the Erie to introduce a line of cars designed to operate on either broad or standard gauge trucks.[8] Starting in 1871, this allowed interchange traffic by means of truck exchange, including through passenger and freight connections to Saint Louis, Missouri using a Nutter car hoist in Urbana, Ohio.[9][10][11]

Beginning in 1876, the Erie began plans to convert its line to standard gauge, as it became clear that the cost of changing from one gauge to another was not justified by the added stability brought by the wider gauge. By the time of its reorganization in 1878, the Erie had built a third rail along the entire mainline from Buffalo to Jersey City. This project all but brought the railroad to bankruptcy.[12]

New York, Lake Erie and Western Railroad: 1878–1895[edit]

The Erie Limited, which traveled between New York City and Chicago
An rail line system map, circa 1884

The Erie still did not see profits, and was sold in 1878 via bankruptcy reorganization to become the New York, Lake Erie and Western Railroad.

The work of converting the railroad to standard gauge was continued, and, on June 22, 1880, the entire trackage of the Erie was converted to standard gauge.[12]

In 1886, it was reported that the Erie and the Philadelphia and Reading Railway shared ferry services between their two Jersey City terminals, the larger being Pavonia Terminal, and Fulton Ferry in Brooklyn, New York for 11 round trips on weekdays and Saturdays, and four round trips on Sunday.[13] In 1889, it opened a new bridge across the Hackensack River improving service to its terminals.[14]

Erie Railroad: 1895–1960[edit]

By 1893, the New York, Lake Erie and Western Railroad went into bankruptcy reorganization again and emerged in 1895 as the Erie Railroad.[1]

Erie Railroad's station in Jamestown, New York, c. 1909
The Erie Railroad Main Line's westbound passenger timetable for its New York City to Susquehanna service under the United States Railway Administration, effective April 1919

George W. Perkins brought Frederick D. Underwood into the Erie Railroad in 1910. During the eastern railroad strike of 1913 Underwood agreed to accept any ruling made by mediators under the Newlands Reclamation Act. One of the demands made by Erie employees was a 20% increase in wages. Erie management had refused a wage increase, but compromised by asking employees to wait until January, 1915 for any advance. Union leaders agreed to make this an issue which Erie management would settle with its own men. However, W.G. Lee, president of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, asserted that the only way "to deal with the Erie is through J.P. Morgan & Company, or the banks". Underwood responded from his home in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, saying "I am running the Erie Railroad: not George W. Perkins, nor J.P. Morgan & Co., nor anybody else."[15]

In the mid-1920s, the successful Van Sweringen brothers of Cleveland, Ohio gained control of the Erie, improving operations (such as standardizing the railroad's locomotives and rolling stock) and bottom-line earnings. Unfortunately, both brothers—who at the time owned several other railroads—died at an early age, but had they lived the shape of railroads in the east would likely look very different today.[citation needed]

An ALCO RS-3 with Erie Lackawanna Railroad markings at Hoboken terminal, September 3, 1965

Despite the ravages of the Great Depression, the Erie managed to hold its own until it entered bankruptcy on January 18, 1938. Its reorganization, accomplished by December, 1941, included the purchase of the leased Cleveland and Mahoning Valley Railroad, swapping high rent for lower interest payments, and the purchase of formerly-subsidized and leased lines. The reorganization paid off, as the Erie managed to pay dividends to its shareholders after the dust had settled.[1]

In 1938, the Erie Railroad was involved in the famous U.S. Supreme Court case of Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins. The Erie doctrine, which governs the application of state common law in federal courts, is still taught in American law schools today.

Erie Western Electric Railway car in Toledo, Ohio with one man standing in the entrance to the car while another stands on the ground next to the car.
Erie Western Electric Railway, Toledo, Ohio

On September 15, 1948, the Cleveland Union Terminal Company allowed the Erie to use the Union Terminal adjacent to Terminal Tower in lieu of its old station.[16] Also that year, the Erie purchased a share of the Niagara Junction Railway, along with the New York Central and the Lehigh Valley.[17]

Steam last operated on the Erie on March 17, 1954, when the fires were dropped on K-1 class Pacific locomotive No. 2530, used on a commuter run between Jersey City and Spring Valley, New York.[18]

Erie Railroad prospered throughout the mid-1950s, but began an irreversible decline following that period. The company's 1957 income was half of that of 1956; by 1958 and 1959, Erie Railroad posted large deficits. The business recession of the 1950s led Erie Railroad to explore the idea of doing business with the nearby Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W). This led the abandonment of duplicate freight facilities in Binghamton and Elmira, New York. Between 1956 and 1957, the Erie shifted its passenger trains from its Pavonia Terminal to the DL&W's newer Hoboken Terminal. Also, the DL&W's mainline between Binghamton and Elmira was mostly abandoned in favor of the Erie's parallel mainline, in 1958. These successful business consolidations led to merger talks (which, at first, also included the Delaware and Hudson Railroad); on October 17, 1960, the two railroads merged to create the Erie Lackawanna Railroad.[1] Erie's large repair facility in Hornell was closed when Conrail took over in 1976 and operations were consolidated at the Lackawanna's Scranton facility. However, the merged railroad only survived for 16 years before continued decline forced it to join Conrail in 1976.

Year-end mileage operated, including C&E but not NYS&W/WB&E: 2451 route-miles, 6013 track-miles in 1925; 2320 route-miles, 5395 track-miles in 1956. NJ&NY adds 46 route-miles in 1925, 39 in 1956.

Revenue freight traffic, in millions of net ton-miles.
Year Traffic
1925 9,474
1933 6,318
1944 15,004
1960 8,789[note 1]
Source: ICC annual reports

The former Erie tracks between Hornell and Binghamton were partially damaged in 1972 by Hurricane Agnes.

Lines operated[edit]

Railroad Branch From To Approx. Mileage Years Erie-Operated Notes
Erie Railroad Original Main Line Piermont Dunkirk 448 miles (721 km) 1841 - 1960 Construction began in 1836, and opened from Piermont to Goshen on September 23, 1841. After some financial problems, construction resumed in August, 1846, and the next section, to Port Jervis, opened on January 7, 1848. Further extensions opened to Binghamton December 27, 1848, Owego January 1, 1849, and the full length to Dunkirk May 19, 1851. At Dunkirk steamboats continued across Lake Erie to Detroit, Michigan.
Newburgh Branch Main Line at Greycourt near Chester[19] Newburgh 18.6 miles (29.9 km) January 8, 1850 - 1960 (Except five miles at the east end) The Erie's charter was amended on April 8, 1845, to allow the building of the branch. This amendment was later used to spur the construction of a railroad line to the bustling port city of Newburgh, NY. Newburgh was once the site of coal piers owned by the Pennsylvania Coal Company and later served as a connection to the New York and New England Railroad via a car float operation across the river to Beacon, New York. When opened in 1850, it was Newburgh's first railroad. Today, the line is completely abandoned except for a small portion between Newburgh and Vails Gate that is used as an industrial spur.
Newburgh and New York Railroad (Newburgh Shortcut) Newburgh Junction, near Harriman Newburgh Branch at Vails Gate 12.7 miles (20.4 km) July 1869 - 1936 Known as "the shortcut" because it was a more direct link between Newburgh and the southern section of the mainline when compared to the Newburgh Branch. When the Graham Line was constructed between 1906 and 1909, the first two to three miles of the "Shortcut" right of way were utilized and elevated to eliminate any grade crossings. Due to the decline of Newburgh's coal industry, the line was formally abandoned between 1936 and 1937. Parts of it remain in service today as Metro North's Port Jervis line and a short industrial spur in Vails Gate, NY, while others, like a small section in Highland Mills, NY, remain intact but abandoned.[20]
Graham Line Newburgh Junction, near Harriman Otisville 42.3 miles (68.1 km) 1909 - 1960 Due to the steep grades, sharp curves, and numerous grade crossings of the Erie mainline between Harriman and Otisville, NY, the Graham Line was constructed between 1906 and 1909 as a freight bypass. In order to eliminate any grade crossings, the line was elevated considerably. Numerous local railroad marvels were built as a part of the Graham Line, such as the Moodna Viaduct and the Otisville Tunnel. The line remains in service today as the Metro-North Port Jervis Line.
Paterson and Ramapo Railroad New Jersey Line New York Line at Mahwah Paterson 14.5 miles (23.3 km) 1852 - 1960 Opened as an independent company in 1848. Through ticketing began in 1851, with a required change of cars at Ramapo due to the gauge break. A third gauge rail was built by 1853.
New York Line: Union Railroad New Jersey Line at Suffern Main Line in Suffern 0.82 miles (1.32 km)
Paterson and Hudson River Railroad Paterson Penhorn Creek in Jersey City 15.7 miles (25.3 km) 1852 - 1960 Opened as an independent company in 1833. Through ticketing began in 1851. In November 1853, Erie stock began operating to the New Jersey Rail Road's Jersey City terminal after a third rail for wide gauge was finished.
Buffalo and New York City Railroad Hornellsville Buffalo 92.3 miles (148.5 km) Leased November 17, 1852 – 1857; owned October 31, 1857 – 1859 Founded as the Attica and Hornellsville Railroad in 1845. In 1852, bought the Buffalo and Rochester Railroad's old alignment from Buffalo to Attica, and subsequently renamed itself to the Buffalo and New York City Railroad, and converted to the Erie's wide gauge. The Buffalo and New York City began leasing their track to the Erie upon the completion of their extension from Attica southeast to Hornellsville, opened on November 17, 1852, giving the Erie access to Buffalo, a better terminal than Dunkirk- thus it became a branch of the Erie's mainline.[21] Upon the Erie's bankruptcy, sold line from Buffalo to Attica to the Buffalo, New York, and Erie.
Chemung Railroad Horseheads Watkins 16.7 miles (26.9 km) Leased 1850–1853; 1857-1859 Upon independence of Canandaigua and Elmira, the Erie subleased the Chemung Railroad to the Canandaigua and Elmira. Reverted to the Erie in 1858 during the C&E's bankruptcy.
Elmira, Canandaigua and Niagara Falls Railroad Watkins Canandaigua 47.7 miles (76.8 km) Leased 1851–1853; 1859-1866 Founded as the Canandaigua and Corning Railroad on May 14, 1845. Upon completion, was renamed to the Canandaigua and Elmira Railroad, and immediately leased to Erie. Upon independence from Erie, began subleasing the Chemung. Renamed to EC&NF 1857. Went bankrupt from 1858 to 1859, during which time the Chemung was leased to Erie. Reorganized in 1859 as Elmira, Jefferson and Canandaigua Railroad, at which time the Erie leased it again. In 1866 transferred to the Northern Central, and a third rail was built to allow the Northern Central's 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge trains to operate over it.
Canandaigua and Niagara Falls Railroad Canandaigua North Tonawanda 86.5 miles (139.2 km) Leased 1853 - 1858 Leased by the Canandaigua and Elmira to continue it beyond Canandaigua. When the line went bankrupt in 1858, it was reorganized as the Niagara Bridge and Canandaigua Railroad and was leased by New York Central Railroad. The NYC converted it to standard gauge and blocked the Erie from it.
Buffalo and Niagara Falls Railroad North Tonawanda Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge in Niagara Falls 12.2 miles (19.6 km) Trackage rights 1853 - 1858 Trackage rights obtained by C&NF
Buffalo, Bradford and Pittsburgh Railroad Company Erie Main Line at Carrollton Gilesville (later Buttsville) in southeast Lafayette 25.97 miles (41.79 km) February 26, 1859 Formed by the merger of two earlier railroads in northwest Pennsylvania for the Erie to acquire a source of fuel for its locomotives. Extended from Bradford to Gilesville, the site of a bituminous mine, by January 1, 1866.[22]
New York, Lake Erie, and Western Coal and Railroad BB&P in Lafayette Johnsonburg 29.68 miles (47.77 km) 1882- This section encompassed the once significant Kinzua Bridge: partially destroyed by a microburst "tornado" in by 2003.[22]
Section of Pennsylvania Railroad Johnsonburg Brockway, Pennsylvania 27.76 miles (44.68 km) Trackage rights 1897-1907
Section of Buffalo, Rochester, and Pittsburgh Railway Clarion Junction, north of Johnsonburg Eleanora Junction (later Cramer), northeast of Stump Creek 50.67 miles (81.55 km) Leased 1907- [22]
Eriton Railroad Eriton Junction, SE of West Liberty Eriton Mines, south of West Liberty 0.869 miles (1.399 km) 1908-(1940s)
Buffalo, New York and Erie Railroad Original Main Line Erie Main Line at Corning Buffalo 41.6 miles (66.9 km) Leased 1863- Created during the Erie's bankruptcy in 1858. Took over the Buffalo and New York City from Attica to Buffalo in 1859. Acquired the Buffalo, Corning and New York Railroad the same year and connected the two lines. Leased the Rochester and Genesee Valley Railroad in 1858.[23]
Rochester and Genesee Valley Railroad BNY&E at Avon Rochester 98.5 miles (158.5 km) Completed 1853; leased to Buffalo, NY, and then Erie in 1858.
Avon, Geneseo and Mt. Morris Railroad BNY&E at Avon Mount Morris 15.3 miles (24.6 km) Leased 1872- Founded as Genesee Valley Company. Acquired land initially bought by Rochester and Genesee Valley in 1856. In 1859, reorganized as the AG&MM.
Atlantic and Great Western Railroad Erie and New York City Railroad Erie main line at Salamanca Pennsylvania Line near Niobe in Harmony 47.7 miles (76.8 km) 1868–1880, 1874–1880, 1883-1960 Founded in 1862, as all three railroads merged were renamed in their respective states as the A&GW Railway. Reorganized as the New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio Railway in 1880
Meadville Railroad New York Line in Freehold Township Ohio Line in South Pymatuning Township 87.9 miles (141.5 km)
Franklin and Warren Railroad Pennsylvania Line in Orangeville Dayton 250 miles (402 km)
Oil City Branch At Meadville near Meadville Oil City 33.3 miles (53.6 km)
Suspension Bridge and Erie Junction Railroad Buffalo Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge in Niagara Falls 23.2 miles (37.3 km) 1871- Chartered by Erie in 1868 to restore access to the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge
Erie International Railway International Junction in Buffalo International Bridge 4.86 miles (7.82 km) Erie-chartered in 1872
Lockport and Buffalo Railway Tonawanda Lockport 13.1 miles (21.1 km) 1879 Erie-chartered in 1871
Jefferson Railroad Main Line Lanesboro Carbondale 37.5 miles (60.4 km) 1870-1960 As far back as 1840, there had been a number of attempts to build a railroad from the Erie mainline to the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania. The Jefferson was incorporated in 1851 by the Pennsylvania legislature, which squashed local attempts to build a line on that route.
Edgerton Branch Mayfield Coal mines of Hosie and Park 1.5 miles (2.4 km) 1884-1910 Abandoned 1910[24]
Honesdale Branch Erie and Wyoming Valley at Hawley Honesdale 9.03 miles (14.53 km) 1869-1960 Built to create a more direct connection from the Jefferson's southern terminus at Carbondale to points east via the E&WV and the Delaware and Hudson Gravity Railroad (though the two companies' rails were not explicitly linked)
Erie and Wyoming Valley Railroad Main Line Lackawaxen Plains Junction in Wilkes-Barre 63.8 miles (102.7 km) 1863-1960 [25]
Jefferson Railroad Connection E&WV Mainline Jessup 7.72 miles (12.42 km)
DL&W and WB&E Connection Plains Junction in Wilkes-Barre Ashley 11.3 miles (18.2 km)
Scranton Branch E&WV main line Scranton 2.4 miles (3.9 km)
Jones Lake Railroad Manning Junction Lake Ariel 2.142 miles (3.447 km) 1888-
Susquehanna Connecting Railroad Suscon Junction Old Forge 7.72 miles (12.42 km) June, 1938 - Consolidated from existing railroads
Delaware and Hudson Railroad Carbondale Moosic 24.1 miles (38.8 km) 1900(?)-[26] Connected the Erie and Wyoming Valley and the Jefferson
Moosic Mountain and Carbondale Railroad Throop Jessup 3.43 miles (5.52 km) 1888- [25]
Buffalo and Jamestown Railroad Jamestown Buffalo 57.3 miles (92.2 km) 1881- Chartered in 1872 to connect the A&GW with the Erie mainline. Soon after the line was completed in 1873, the company was reorganized as the Buffalo and Southwest Railroad.[27]
Chicago and Erie Railroad Main Line Marion Illinois Line at Hammond 249 miles (401 km) 1895- Founded in 1871 as the Chicago and Atlantic Railway and went into bankruptcy in 1890.
Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad Indiana Line at Calumet City Chicago 19 miles (31 km) Already owned by C&E in joint ownership with 4 other companies
New York, Susquehanna, and Western Railway Main Line Jersey City Stroudsburg 100.7 miles (162.1 km) 1898-1940 American financier J.P. Morgan began to take notice of the railroad, which by the 1890s had become a rapidly expanding coal-hauler; he quietly bought up its stock on behalf of the Erie. The railroad was leased, and soon after took over complete operation of the line. The depression caused the bankruptcy of the NYSW, which was spun off as a private company in 1940, working closely with the NYO&W.[28]
Erie Terminals Railroad Ridgefield Edgewater 3.74 miles (6.02 km)
Middletown Branch Ogdensburg Middletown 33.8 miles (54.4 km)
Wilkes-Barre and Eastern Railroad Stroudsburg Plains 64.4 miles (103.6 km) 1898-1939 Since the Erie chose to send all of its traffic along the Erie and Wyoming Valley, the line was doomed to failure, and was abandoned in 1939.
Lodi Branch Railroad Teterboro Lodi 0.996 miles (1.603 km) 1883- 1898
Hackensack and Lodi Railroad Hackensack Lodi 1.403 miles (2.258 km) 1898-1940
Macopin Railroad Macopin Lake Junction in Charlottesburg Macopin Pond (Echo Lake) in West Milford 1.533 miles (2.467 km) 1887-1940
Bath and Hammondsport Railroad Bath Hammondsport 8.2 miles (13.2 km) 1903-1935 After a flood in 1935, the line was purchased by locals who renamed it the B&H Railroad.
Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad Main Line Cleveland Youngstown 68.4 miles (110.1 km) 1941-
Hubbard Branch Youngstown Pennsylvania Line in Masury 12.1 miles (19.5 km)
Niles and New Lisbon Railroad Niles Lisbon 33.1 miles (53.3 km)
Sharon Railway Main Line West Middlesex Pymatuning Township 13.6 miles (21.9 km) C&MV owned During construction absorbed Sharpsville, Wheatland, Sharon and Greenfield Railroad in 1881
Westerman Coal and Iron Railroad Ohio Line in Sharon Wheatland 1.5 miles (2.4 km)
New Castle and Shenango Valley Railroad West Middlesex New Castle 16.1 miles (25.9 km) 1900-
Tioga Railroad Northern Extension Pennsylvania Line in Lindley Corning 11.392 miles (18.334 km) 1876-
Corning and Blossburg Railroad New York Line in Lawrenceville Blossburg 27.00 miles (43.45 km) 1882- Chartered under the Tioga Navigation Company[29]
Southern Extension Blossburg Morris Run 3.592 miles (5.781 km) 1853-
Goshen and Deckertown Railway Goshen Pine Island 11.3 miles (18.2 km) 1872- Operated independently 1869-1872[25]
Wallkill Valley Railroad Montgomery Kingston 33.0 miles (53.1 km) 1866-1876
New York and Greenwood Lake Railroad Main Line Jersey City Sterling Forest 41.2 miles (66.3 km) 1878- Company formed under Erie as reorganization of the Montclair and Greenwood Lake Railway. Parts were realigned due to the creation of the Wanaque Reservoir
Ringwood Branch Main Line Ringwood 3.8 miles (6.1 km)
Arlington Railroad Main Line Newark and Hudson near Hackensack River 1.128 miles (1.815 km) 1890- Built to offer a more direct connection with Jersey City[30]
Orange Branch Newark Orange 4.04 miles (6.50 km) 1895- Founded as Watchung Railway
Caldwell Branch Little Falls Caldwell 5.51 miles (8.87 km) 1897- Founded as Caldwell Railway and the Roseland Railway
Paterson and Newark Railroad Jersey City Paterson 16.5 miles (26.6 km) 1869- Founded 1864 as Erie subsidiary
New Jersey and New York Railroad Rutherford Nanuet 20.7 miles (33.3 km) 1896- Founded as Hackensack and New York Railroad in 1856
Northern Railroad of New Jersey Sparkill Jersey City 26.8 miles (43.1 km) 1859- Founded 1854 as Erie subsidiary
Nyack and Southern Railroad Nyack Piermont 4.343 miles (6.989 km) 1870-
Middletown and Crawford Railroad Middletown Pine Bush 11.3 miles (18.2 km) 1882- Chartered 1868. Completed in 1872 under lease of the New York and Oswego Midland Railroad; spun off as a private company 1875.[25]
Montgomery and Erie Railroad Goshen Montgomery 10.1 miles (16.3 km) 1872- Built to connect to the Wallkill Valley Railroad
Arnot and Pine Creek Railroad Arnot Hoytville 11.4 miles (18.3 km) 1883- [25]
Bergen County Railroad Main Line Glen Rock East Rutherford 9.8 miles (15.8 km) 1883-
Bergen and Dundee Railroad Garfield Passaic 1.1 miles (1.8 km) 1885-
Columbus and Ohio Railroad Columbus Niobe 13.1 miles (21.1 km) 1908-
Conesus Lake Railroad Avon Lakeville 1.4 miles (2.3 km) 1882-
Docks Connecting Railroad Bergen Tunnel in Jersey City New Jersey Junction Railroad in Jersey City 0.916 miles (1.474 km) 1886-
Long Dock Company Penhorn Creek in Jersey City Docks at Jersey City 2.882 miles (4.638 km) 1861-
Section of New Jersey Junction Railroad Docks Connecting Railroad in Jersey City New York, Lake Erie and Western Docks and Improvement Company in Weehawken 2.06 miles (3.32 km) 1886(?)- Presumably leased, as it is the only railroad between the Docks Connecting Railroad and the New York, Lake Erie and Western Docks and Improvement Company.
New York, Lake Erie and Western Docks and Improvement Company New Jersey Junction Railroad in Weehawken Hudson River 26.895 miles (43.283 km) 1881- Track composed entirely of siding; maximum distance from junction with NJJ is just over half a mile
Elmira State Line Railroad Elmira Pennsylvania Line in Pine City 6.503 miles (10.466 km) 1876-
Erie and Black Rock Railroad Black Rock Junction in Black Rock Docks at Black Rock 1.455 miles (2.342 km) 1883-
Penhorn Creek Railroad Jersey Avenue in Jersey City Seacaucus 5.422 miles (8.726 km) 1910-
West Clarion Railroad Brockway West Clarion 2.646 miles (4.258 km) 1898-1925
Youngstown and Austintown Railroad Main Line Youngstown Austintown 3.777 miles (6.078 km) 1882- Parts constructed by the Youngstown Railroad Company and the Wicks and Wells Railroad
Manning Branch Main Line in Austintown Tippecanoe Shaft in Austintown[31] 6.088 miles (9.798 km)

A map from 1960 shows that the Erie had some control over the former Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis Railway and the New York Central from Lawrenceville to Newberry Junction, near Williamsport, PA.[32]

Passenger service[edit]

Erie Railroad passengers at Rutherford station, circa 1940
One of the Erie's electric commuter trains on its Rochester Branch, ca. 1911

The Erie Railroad operated a number of named passenger trains, although none were as well-known or successful as others like the Pennsylvania Railroad's Broadway Limited or New York Central Railroad's 20th Century Limited. Some of the Erie's most well known trains included the Erie Limited, Lake Cities, Pacific Express, Atlantic Express, Midlander, Southern Tier Express and Mountain Express. All of these had their western termini in Chicago, except the Mountain Express which terminated in Hornell, in the Southern Tier of New York.[33]: 52–53 

The Erie operated an extensive network of commuter routes in northern New Jersey and the lower Hudson Valley of New York. Most of these routes became part of Conrail along with the rest of Erie Lackawanna's rail operations in 1976. The New Jersey routes are now part of NJ Transit's Hoboken Division, originating and terminating at Hoboken Terminal. The Hudson Valley routes are now part of Metro-North Railroad.

In addition to its steam and diesel services the Erie also operated an electric commuter rail line to its terminal station in Rochester, New York. The station was one of the Erie's few electrified railroad stations,[34] and the railroad became one of the first to provide electric commuter services in 1907.[35]

Company officers[edit]

Hugh J. Jewett, President 1874–1884.

Heritage unit[edit]

As part of the 30th anniversary of Norfolk Southern Railway being formed, NS decided to paint 20 new locomotives into the paint scheme of predecessor railroads. NS #1068, an EMD SD70ACe, was painted into Erie Railroad's green passenger scheme. It was released on May 25, 2012.

In October 2023, as part of the 40th Anniversary of NJ Transit Rail Operations, EMD GP40PH-2B No. 4210 was painted into the Erie Railroad's black-and-yellow scheme.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Totals include Chicago & Erie and NJ&NY, but not NYS&W/WB&E or L&WV. Total for 1960 is Erie through 16 October and then Erie-Lackawanna.


  1. ^ a b c d Drury, George H. (1994). The Historical Guide to North American Railroads: Histories, Figures, and Features of more than 160 Railroads Abandoned or Merged since 1930. Waukesha, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing. pp. 129–135. ISBN 0-89024-072-8.
  2. ^ Stover, John F. (1995). History of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Purdue University Press. p. 74. ISBN 9781557530660.
  3. ^ Stover, John F. (1999). The Routledge Historical Atlas of the American Railroads. Psychology Press. p. 70. ISBN 9780415921404.
  4. ^ Starr, Timothy. (2022). The Back Shop Illustrated, Vol. 1.
  5. ^ Halstead, Murat. Life of James Gould. 1892.
  6. ^ Starr, Timothy. Railroad Wars of New York State. The History Press, 2012.
  7. ^ Dunkirk Evening Observer. "Brooks Locomotive Works History. Nov. 1, 1939 ed.
  8. ^ The Erie Railway Report, The Railroad Gazette, Jan. 6, 1872; page 422. See final two paragraphs, column 2.
  9. ^ L. U. Reavis, St. Louis, Vandalia, Terre Haute, and Indianapolis R. R., The Railway and River Systems of St. Louis, Woodward, Tiernan and Hale, St. Louis, 1879; page 58.
  10. ^ The Urbana Hoist, American Railroad Journal, Vol. XXXIII, No. 1 (Jan. 6, 1877); page 30.
  11. ^ No. 1737, Grafton T. Nutter, Jersey City, New Jersey., U.S., November 2, 1872, for 10 years: "A Railway Wagon Lifting Machine", The Canadian Patent Office Record, Vol. 1, No. 1 (March 1873); page 8.
  12. ^ a b "The Erie & The Narrow Gauges". www.alleganyhistory.org. Retrieved 2020-04-06.
  13. ^ "Erie and Brooklyn Annex". Brooklyn Eagle Newspaper. January 3, 1886. p. 13 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  14. ^ "The Erie's New Bridge.; The Draw At The Hackensack River Safely In Position" (PDF). The New York Times. November 18, 1889.
  15. ^ "Erie Road Agrees to Accept Ruling of Mediators". Lincoln, Nebraska Daily News. July 23, 1913. p. 6 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  16. ^ "PRR Chronology, 1948" (PDF). The Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society. September 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 29, 2007.
  17. ^ Drury, George H. (1985). Hayden, Bob (ed.). The Historical Guide to North American Railroads. Milwaukee, WI: Kalmbach Publishing Company. p. 232. ISBN 0-89024-072-8.
  18. ^ Ball, Don Jr. (1987). America's Colorful Railroads (Bonanza 1979 ed.). Bonanza Books, a division of Crown Publisher's, Inc. p. 53. ISBN 0-517-30488-0. LCCN 79-54682.
  19. ^ "Map of Orange County New York : from actual surveys". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2020-03-27.
  20. ^ McCue, Robert (2014). Erie Railroad's Newburgh Branch. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4671-2096-8.
  21. ^ "Early Railroads of New York". www.catskillarchive.com. Retrieved 2020-03-28.
  22. ^ a b c Scott, George A. (November 16, 1967). "The Erie Railroad". The Clearfield Progress. p. 1. Retrieved April 1, 2020.
  23. ^ "Rochester and Genesee Valley Railroad". Archived from the original on February 9, 2012.
  24. ^ S. Robert Powell. The Jefferson Branch of the Erie Railroad.
  25. ^ a b c d e Commission, United States Interstate Commerce (1931). Interstate Commerce Commission Reports: Decisions of the Interstate Commerce Commission of the United States. Valuation reports. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 230.
  26. ^ "Scranton Railroad Map" (PDF). Trains Magazine. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
  27. ^ "History". Buffalo Cattaraugus & Jamestown Scenic Railway. Retrieved 2020-04-03.
  28. ^ "The New York Susquehanna & Western Technical & Historical Society Inc. - History of the NYSW". tnyswthsi.shuttlepod.org. Retrieved 2020-04-16.
  29. ^ "Corning and Blossburg Railroad Historical Marker". explorepahistory.com. Retrieved 2020-04-19.
  30. ^ "Erie Railroad" (PDF). Inventory June 1918. June 30, 1918. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  31. ^ Fuller, J. Osborn; Sturgeon, Myron T. (1941). The Sharon Coal Mines of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties (PDF). Ohio Department of Natural Resources. p. 14.
  32. ^ "Erie Railroad And Connections". Flickr. 1960.
  33. ^ Schafer, Mike (2000). More Classic American Railroads. Osceola, Wisconsin: MBI Publishing Co. ISBN 978-0-7603-0758-8.
  34. ^ Lawrence, Scot (October 25, 2006). "Railroad History of Rochester, New York". Scot's Train Pages. Rochester, New York. Archived from the original on March 24, 2012. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
  35. ^ "Rochester-Mount Morris Electrification". Don Ross Group: Don's Rail Photos.
  36. ^ Brown, Randolph R.; McCourt, John P.; Obed, Martin E. (2007). "Erie's Heavyweight Steel RPOs: 1927 Through Retirement". The Diamond. 21 (1): 4–5.

Further reading[edit]

  • Ackerman, Kenneth D. (2011). The Gold Ring: Jim Fisk, Jay Gould, and Black Friday, 1869. (excerpt)
  • Halstead, Murat (1892). Life of Jay Gould: How He Made His Millions.
  • Meyer, B.H.; MacGill, Caroline E. (1917). History of Transportation in the United States before 1860 (PDF). pp. 366–72. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-01-10. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
  • Mott, Edward Harold (1908). Between the Ocean and the Lakes: The Story of Erie. New York: Ticker Publishing Co., 1908.
  • Reynolds, William; Gifford, Peter K.; Ilisevich, Robert D. (2002). European Capital, British Iron, and an American Dream: The Story of the Atlantic & Great Western Railroad. The University of Akron Press.
  • Starr, Timothy (2022). The Back Shop Illustrated, Volume 1: Northeast and New England Regions.

Primary sources[edit]

External links[edit]