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Collection of 6 Railroad Bonds and Prints - Chicago Erie, West Shore, Morris Essex, Buffalo Rochester Pittsburgh, New York Lackawanna Western and Norfolk Western

Inv# WW1101   Bond
Collection of 6 Railroad Bonds and Prints - Chicago Erie, West Shore, Morris Essex, Buffalo Rochester Pittsburgh, New York Lackawanna Western and Norfolk Western
State(s): Illinois
New Jersey
New York
Years: 1890's-1950's

Collection of 6 Railroad Bonds and 4 Railroad Prints.

Chicago and Erie Railroad was founded in 1871 as the Chicago and Atlantic Railway and went into bankruptcy in 1890.

Under an act passed by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio in May, 1852, there was organized on November 16, 1871, what was known as the Baltimore, Pittsburg and Continental Railroad Company, having for its object the construction of a line of railroad, the termini of which should be "a point on the line between the State of Ohio and Pennsvlvania, Pennsylvania at or near the northeast corner of Union Township, in Columbiana county, Ohio, thence through the counties of Columbiana, Stark, Carroll, Tuscarawas, Wayne, Holmes, Ashland, Richland, Morrow, Marion, Hardin, Allen, Auglaize and Mercer to a point on the State line between the States of Ohio and Indiana at or near the northwest corner of Liberty Township in said Mercer County Ohio." The company was capitalized at one million dollars, divided into shares of fifty dollars each. The certificate of incorporation was filed in the office of the Secretary of State of the State of Ohio on November 26, 1871.

On December 1, 1871, the Chicago, Continental and Baltimore Railway Company was organized "for the purpose of constructing, owning and maintaining a railroad from a point on the State line between the States of Indiana and Illinois, at or near Section 36, Town. 37, Range 10 West, in the State of Indiana, thence through the counties of Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Stark, Marshall, Fulton, Wabash, Kosciusko, Huntington, Wells and Adams, to the State line between the States of Indiana and Ohio, at or near a point where the line dividing the townships of Liberty and Black Creek in Mercer County intersects the said State line, a distance of one hundred and sixty-five miles." This company was organized under the laws of the State of Indiana with a capital of two million dollars, the articles of association being filed in the office of the Secretary of the State of Indiana on December 8, 1871.

At a meeting of the Board of Directors of the C., C. & B. Railway Company, held on February 12, 1873, the name of the company was changed to that of the Chicago and Atlantic Railway Company, notice of the change of name being filed with the Secretary of the State of Indiana, and also published in a newspaper in each county along the line of the said proposed railroad.

On March 15, 1873, the Chicago and Atlantic Extension Railway Company was organized under the laws of the State of Illinois, for the term of fifty years, with a capital of one million dollars, its certificate being filed in the office of the Secretary of State on April 4, 1873. This company had for its object the "proposed construction, operation and maintenance of a railway from a point on the western boundary of the State of Indiana north of the southern boundary of the County of Cook, in the State of Illinois, to a point or points within the city limits of the City of Chicago, in the County of Cook, of the State of Illinois, with such branches, sidetracks, passenger and freight depots as may be necessary to fully carry out the objects and intentions of this corporation."

On June 19, 1873, pursuant to resolution of the directors of both companies, and due notice to the stockholders, the Chicago and Atlantic Railway Company and the Chicago and Atlantic Extension Railway Company were consolidated under the name of the Chicago and Atlantic Railway Company, with a capital stock of four million dollars, which amount was to be increased to seven million dollars provided the contemplated work required such additional capital. The articles of association of the consolidated company were filed in the office of the Secretary of State of the State of Indiana on July 12, 1873, and in the office of the Secretary of State of the State of Illinois July 19, 1873.

On July 15, 1873, the Chicago and Atlantic Railway Company and the Baltimore, Pittsburg and Continental Railroad Company were consolidated under the statutes of the States of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio authorizing the consolidation of railroad companies and railroads. The new company was known as the Chicago and Atlantic Railway Company, and the articles of consolidation were filed in the office of the Secretary of State of the State of Ohio on August 6, 1873, in the office of the Secretary of State of the State of Indiana on August 6, 1873, and in the office of the Secretary of State of the State of Illinois on August 7, 1873. The capital stock of the above consolidated company was seven million dollars. In June, 1880, the stock was increased to ten million dollars, and "for the purpose of constructing and equipping the line of railroad extending from the City of Chicago in the State of Illinois, to Marion in the State of Ohio," the stockholders authorized the issue of $6,500.00 of first mortgage coupon bonds, for the security of which the directors were authorized to mortgage the line and property owned or to be owned or acquired. Notice of the increase in the capital stock was filed in the office of the Secretary of State of the State of Ohio on November 24, 1880.

In October, 1880, a contract was entered into between J. E. Conant (who afterwards associated with him one J. Condit Smith) and the Railroad Company, whereby Conant agreed to construct and equip the road in consideration of his receiving the foregoing issue of bonds and stock. To secure the construction of the road and its future management to the satisfaction of the parties proposing to purchase these bonds, it was agreed that the entire proceeds thereof, together with certain subsidies which had been voted by the counties and townships along the proposed line, should be deposited with the President of the N. Y., L. E. & W. R. R. Co. in trust, and the duty was devolved upon him of seeing to the proper application thereof to the construction of the road. It was further stipulated that ninety per cent. of the stock should also be deposited with him with the irrevocable proxy to vote thereon during the life of the bonds (thirty years from the date thereof), thereby securing to the N. Y., L. E. & W. R. R. Co. the absolute control of the road for such period. This contract also provided for a traffic agreement between the Chicago and Atlantic, the New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio and the N. Y., L. E. & W. R. R. Companies. Under this agreement the tracking of the road was completed in 1882, and the road opened for through traffic in June, 1883.

Trackage from Hammond, Indiana, and terminal facilities in the City of Chicago were had through a lease from the Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad Company, under date of November 1, 1880, whereby, in consideration of such facilities, the Chicago and Atlantic Railway Company agreed to pay all assessments, water rents, liens, taxes, etc., levied against the property of which it had exclusive use, and to make certain stipulated monthly payments sufficient to meet the interest on the bonds issued by the C. & W. I. R. R. Co. against the C. & A. lease, and, after January 1, 1885, to make additional monthly payments sufficient to retire such bonds before maturity.

In 1883 the Chicago and Atlantic Railway Company made provision for an issue of $5,000,000 second mortgage six per cent. gold forty-year bonds, with which to pay off its floating debt and provide for new equipment. None of these bonds was sold, but they were largely pledged for loans made by the N. Y., L. E. & W. R. R. Co. Default in the payment of interest having been made, proceedings were instituted against the road, and after a protracted litigation it was sold under foreclosure at Indianapolis, Indiana, August 12, 1890. It was then reorganized as the Chicago and Erie Railroad Company, incorporated under the laws of the State of Indiana on August 13, 1890 (the certificate of incorporation being filed in the office of the Secretary of State of the State of Indiana on the same date) and formally turned over to the N. Y., L. E. & W. R. R. Co. on September I, 1890. The plan of reorganization provided for the issue of $100,000 of stock, $12,000,000 first mortgage bonds, and $10,000,000 non-cumulative five per cent. income bonds. Of the new firsts $6,825,000 were exchanged for the old firsts, $2,000,000 were paid to the Erie for debts due, $700,000 were exchanged for old seconds, $2,000,000 were reserved for betterments, and the remainder for various expenses. Of the new seconds, $975,000 were applied to the old firsts, $4,000,000 to the old stock, and $5,000,000 to the N. Y., L. E. & W. R. R. Co. for its guarantee on the firsts. The stock was also turned over to the latter company in consideration of its guarantee on the firsts. In 1895, under the reorganization of the Erie its second preferred stock was exchanged for the income bonds of the Chicago and Erie Railroad Company.

Entrance into the city of Chicago is secured to the Chicago and Erie on practically the same terms as those under which the old Chicago and Atlantic Railway Company reached that city from Hammond, Indiana. (From

West Shore Railroad was the final name of a railroad that ran from Weehawken, New Jersey, which is across the Hudson River from New York City, north along the west shore of the river to Albany, New York, and then west to Buffalo. It was organized as a competitor to the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, but was soon taken over by that company.

The first part of the line was built as the Saratoga and Hudson River Railroad, incorporated April 16, 1864 and opened in spring 1866. After only about a year of independent operation, the line served as a branch of the New York Central Railroad (NYC), splitting at Athens Junction near Schenectady and running southeast and south along the west side of the Hudson River to Athens, New York. Early plans included acquiring the Saratoga and Schenectady Railroad as a northern extension. The Saratoga and Hudson River was bought and merged into the New York Central as its Athens Branch on September 9, 1867.

The terminal at Athens was destroyed by fire in 1876. The line ran intermittently from then into the 1880s, with its tracks being torn up for good in 1888. It had been called the "White Elephant" Railroad for most of its existence because it quickly outlived whatever usefulness it may have had. Today, a row of brick houses known as the Brick Row Historic District, which was built in 1850 for the workers of the failed railroad, stand in Athens as the only remaining structure related to the "White Elephant" Railroad project.

At the south end of the route, the Ridgefield Park Railroad was incorporated April 4, 1867. This was planned as a branch of the New Jersey Rail Road, splitting at Marion Junction and running north on the west side of the New Jersey Palisades via Ridgefield Park to the state line at Tappan, New York.

Across the state line, the Rockland Central Railroad was incorporated on May 23, 1870, to continue the line to Haverstraw, and the Rockland Central Extension Railroad, incorporated May 29, 1872, was to continue farther north along the west side of the Hudson River. The Rockland Central and Rockland Central Extension merged on July 29, 1872, to form a new Rockland Central Railroad, and that company merged with the Ridgefield Park to form the Jersey City and Albany Railroad on June 24, 1873, with the intention of building a full line from Jersey City to Albany.

The line first opened in 1872 as a spur of the New Jersey Midland Railway, which had built the section south of Ridgefield Park. At that time, the northern terminus was at Tappan; the extension north to Haverstraw, New York opened in 1879.

Bankruptcy struck soon, and the New York section of the line was sold on September 28, 1877, and reorganized on October 12, 1878, as the Jersey City and Albany Railway. The part in New Jersey was sold on August 17, 1878, and reorganized with the same name, and the two companies merged in January 1879 to form a consolidated Jersey City and Albany Railway.

The North River Railway was incorporated on April 3, 1880, to extend the line north to Albany, with a branch to Schenectady and a connection to the New York, Ontario and Western Railway (O&W) at Cornwall, New York. The North River Railway was consolidated with the Jersey City and Albany on May 5, 1881, to form the North River Railroad, again forming a single planned line between Jersey City and Albany.

The Hudson River West Shore Railroad was incorporated on February 16, 1867, and the West Shore Hudson River Railroad was incorporated on October 28, 1867, absorbing the Hudson River West Shore on February 16, 1867. This was a second proposed line on the west shore of the river from New Jersey to Albany. The New York, West Shore and Chicago Railroad was incorporated July 13, 1870 and absorbed the West Shore Hudson River on July 21, 1877, with a planned line not only to Albany but then west along the south bank of the Mohawk River to Buffalo. That company was sold and reorganized as the New York, West Shore and Buffalo Railway on February 18, 1880, and on June 14, 1881, the North River Railroad was merged into it, forming one company in charge of the whole route from New Jersey to Buffalo.

In 1883, the newly formed company inaugurated service from Newburgh and Jersey City at the Pennsylvania Railroad Depot, where passengers transferred to ferries across the river.

A new alignment was built along the east side of the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway (formerly the New Jersey Midland) to North Bergen. By 1886, service operated to Weehawken Terminal through a tunnel under Bergen Hill that had been built in the three preceding years.

The company leased the Athens Branch of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, the old Saratoga and Hudson River Railroad, and incorporated it into its main line between Coxsackie and Fullers. At Ravena, along the Athens Branch, the main line turned northwest towards Schenectady, while a new branch continued north to Kenwood Junction on the Albany and Susquehanna Railroad in Albany. This full line formed an immediate threat to the NYC monopoly.

In addition to its owned trackage, the West Shore (WS) also had trackage rights over the Suspension Bridge and Erie Junction Railroad and Erie International Railroad, providing a route from Buffalo to Ontario. After the New York Central took over the West Shore this was useless, as the New York Central had a parallel line, the Buffalo and Niagara Falls Railroad.

The West Shore also had relations with the Boston, Hoosac Tunnel and Western Railway (BHT&W), which would have run from the Hoosac Tunnel in Massachusetts west to Buffalo. Instead the BHT&W built only to Rotterdam Junction, west of Schenectady; it was later taken over by the Fitchburg Railroad and later the Boston and Maine Railroad.

In 1881, the WS had been planned as a link in a new cross-country line from New York to San Francisco, using the Nickel Plate Road, Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway, Northern Pacific Railroad and Oregon Navigation Company. However, William Henry Vanderbilt of the NYC bought the Nickel Plate in 1882, killing that plan. The NYC then proceeded to drive the New York, West Shore and Buffalo into bankruptcy via a brutal rate-war that the WS could not financially withstand

The Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) recognized that the WS would make a great addition to its system, allowing it to penetrate deep into NYC territory. At the same time, the NYC was building the South Pennsylvania Railroad across southern Pennsylvania: deep in the Pennsylvania Railroad's territory. A destructive rate-war loomed, which was anathema to top railroad financier J.P. Morgan. His personal intervention with these two railroads' presidents, aboard his steam yacht "Corsair" in New York Harbor, forced the PRR and NYC railroads into an agreement under which the NYC would buy the WS and stop building the South Pennsylvania (sections of which were much later used for the Pennsylvania Turnpike, in 1940.) The NYC bought the New York, West Shore and Buffalo Railway on November 24, 1885, and reorganized its new acquisition as the West Shore Railroad on December 5, leasing it for 475 years from January 1, 1886.

In many sections, the WS ran on a straighter path than the NYC, and was thus used for through freight. For instance, between Oneida and Utica, the WS followed the general line of the never-built Syracuse and Utica Direct Railroad, which had been merged into the NYC.

Passenger service on the line ended to Albany in 1958 and to West Haverstraw in 1959, ending direct New York Central train service on the west side of the Hudson River. The line became part of Penn Central in 1968, and passed to Conrail in 1976 after Penn Central's bankruptcy. When Conrail was divided between CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern, the West Shore Railroad, along with most of the old New York Central lines, became part of CSX.

It became CSX's River Subdivision, which begins west of the Hudson Palisades at North Bergen Yard in Hudson County, New Jersey. Proceeding north it passes through Bergen County and Rockland County, New York, and up the west side of the Hudson River to Selkirk Yard, from which there are connections to points west and east. South of North Bergen Yard it connects to the Northern Running Track, part of Conrail. The tunnel under the Palisades is part of the Hudson Bergen Light Rail which emerges at the Hudson Waterfront at Weehawken Port Imperial.

Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, New Jersey Transit, the main provider of contemporary rail and bus service in the locale, expressed interest in potentially restoring passenger service to the line due to ever-increasing ridership on the local bus lines.

In 1997, a $3.97 million grant was given to New Jersey Transit by the Federal Transit Administration. At the time, many towns along the line supported the idea, and went as far as conducting zoning procedures to allow room for the new additions the railroad would bring. Considering the current line is not under proprietorship of New Jersey Transit, a new right-of-way would be installed parallel to the existing freight line.

However, funding remained an issue, as did disagreement with CSX. Ultimately, focus on the project was dropped in favor of progress on the Northern Branch Corridor Project and Meadowlands Rail Line (completed in 2009). An official status on the project has not since been noted.

The Morris and Essex Railroad was a railroad across northern New Jersey, later part of the main line of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad.

The M&E was incorporated January 29, 1835, to build a line from Newark in Essex County west to and beyond Morristown in Morris County. The first section, from Newark west to Orange, opened on November 19, 1836. Under an agreement signed on October 21, the New Jersey Rail Road provided connecting service from Newark east to Jersey City via the Bergen Hill Cut. The original connection between the two lines was in downtown Newark; the M&E turned south on Broad Street to meet a branch of the NJRR at Market Street. Service to Paulus Hook in what is today Jersey City commenced on October 14, 1836 and passengers could transfer to the Jersey City Ferry and cross to lower Manhattan at the nearby ferry slips.

On January 1, 1838, the M&E was extended their route to Morristown. On October 29 of that year, an agreement was signed to move the NJRR connection to the foot of Centre Street (via the northeast side of Park Place, to the NJRR alignment along the Passaic River), and the track on Broad Street was removed. Through car service began August 1, 1843, with horse power used along the streets, between Broad Street station and the foot of Centre Street.

Continuations opened west to Dover on July 31, 1848, Hackettstown in January 1854, and the full distance to Phillipsburg in 1866.

A new alignment, including a bridge over the Passaic River, was built by the NJRR and opened on August 5, 1854, ending at East Newark Junction with the NJRR main line in Harrison. This eliminated the street running in downtown Newark; those tracks were removed the next year after a lawsuit was filed by Newark.

On March 6, 1857, a supplement to the M&E charter was passed, authorizing it to buy the new alignment (until then owned by the NJRR as their East Newark Branch) and build a new line to Jersey City, as long as it passed under Bergen Hill in a tunnel. With this authority, the M&E became important as a possible competitor to the NJRR, and began negotiations with the Camden and Amboy Railroad. The New Brunswick, Millburn and Orange Railroad was proposed as a connection between the two, allowing for a C&A route to Jersey City without using the NJRR.

The Hoboken Land and Improvement Company operated a ferry across the Hudson River between Hoboken and New York City. Until early 1859 the NJRR paid the HL&I for the business that instead used the NJRR ferry. Because of this, the HL&I decided to help the M&E by building their new alignment, using the New York and Erie Railroad's Long Dock Tunnel. To use the Erie's tunnel a supplement to their charter was needed; this was passed March 8, 1860 after arguments against the bill from the NJRR. Another legal obstacle was the NJRR's monopoly over bridges, granted to the Passaic and Hackensack Bridge Company, invalidated by the state in 1861. The first excursion train operated on the new alignment on November 14, 1862, but a contract required the M&E to continue using the NJRR until October 13, 1863. The next day, regular service began via the new alignment.

On November 1, 1865, the Atlantic and Great Western Railway leased the M&E as part of its planned route to the west. However, the A&GW went bankrupt in 1867 and the lease was cancelled. The Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad leased the M&E on December 10, 1868, connecting to their Warren Railroad at Washington.

In 1868 the Morris & Essex leased the Newark and Bloomfield Railroad, which connected Roseville Avenue to Bloomfield and Montclair, then West Bloomfield.

In 1876 the new tunnel under Bergen Hill opened, after hostilities including a frog war in late 1870 and early 1871, caused by the M&E's attempts to modify the connection between their Boonton Branch, a newer freight bypass, and the Erie tunnel.

The DL&W built the New Jersey Cut-Off, a long low-grade bypass in northwestern New Jersey, opened in 1911 from the M&E at Port Morris west to Slateford Junction just inside Pennsylvania.

On July 26, 1945 the M&E was formally merged into the DL&W. However it remained the Morris and Essex Division, and even today New Jersey Transit calls it the Morris and Essex Lines. In 1960 the DL&W merged with the Erie Railroad to form the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad, becoming part of Conrail in 1976.


  1. New York (Foot of Barclay Street)
  2. New York (Foot of Christopher Street) (ferry)
  3. Hoboken (MP 1.25) (ferry)
  4. West End (MP 3.25)
  5. Seaboard (MP 5)
  6. Kearny Junction (MP7.0)
  7. Harrison (MP 9)
  8. Newark (MP 10) - Junction Newark and Bloomfield Railway
  9. Roseville, Avenue (MP 11.0)
  10. East Orange (MP 12)
  11. Brick Church (MP 13)
  12. Orange (MP 13)
  13. Highland Avenue (MP 14)
  14. Mountain Station (MP 15)
  15. South Orange (MP 16)
  16. Maplewood (MP 17)
  17. Millburn (MP 19)
  18. Short Hills (MP 20)
  19. Summit (MP 22)
  20. Chatham (MP 26)
  21. Madison (MP 28)
  22. Convent (MP 30)
  23. Morristown (MP 32)
  24. Morris Plains (MP 34)
  25. Mount Tabor (MP 38)
  26. Denville (MP 38) - Junction with Boonton Branch
  27. Rockaway (MP 40)
  28. Dover (MP 43) - Junction with Chester Railway
  29. Wharton (MP 44)
  30. Chester Junction (MP 45)
  31. Lake Junction (MP 45) - Junction with Central Railroad of New Jersey
  32. Mount Arlington (MP 47)
  33. Drakesville (MP 48)
  34. Lake Hopatcong (MP 49)
  35. Port Morris Junction (MP 50)
  36. Port Morris (MP 51)
  37. Sussex Branch Junction (MP 53)
  38. Netcong/Stanhope (MP 53)
  39. Waterloo (MP 56) - Junction with Sussex Railroad of New Jersey
  40. Hacketttstown (MP 62)
  41. Port Murray (MP 67)
  42. Washington (MP 71) - Junction with Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad
  43. Broadway (MP 76)
  44. Stewartsville (MP 80)
  45. Phillipsburg Union Station (MP 85)
  46. Easton (MP 85), - Junction with Lehigh Valley Railroad, Central Railroad of New Jersey, and the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad

The Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway (reporting mark BR&P) was one of the more than ten thousand railroad companies founded in North America. It lasted much longer than most, serving communities from the shore of Lake Ontario to the center of western Pennsylvania.

By the middle of the 19th century, American industry had found the means of both utilizing the bituminous coal of western Pennsylvania and transporting it economically from the mines to those who needed it. Initially, this meant steam power, in both the railroad locomotives and the factories. The immediate consequence was the need for a railroad line to haul coal from the hills of Pennsylvania to the cities of Rochester and Buffalo as well as the smaller towns and villages. The needs of the latter motivated them to invest, both individually and municipally, in the new rail companies that arose almost as profusely as spring flowers.

In the simplest terms, the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway was required to pick up precisely what the Rochester and State Line Railroad and the Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad had dropped, the coal-hauling market between the coalfields of western Pennsylvania and the cities of Buffalo and Rochester. The mines produced steam coal, and the factories and the railroads of the Northeast needed it, in vast amounts. The reality, however, was far less simple. The great need of the coal-transportation market attracted aggressive competitors, and the laissez-faire environment of the day encouraged tactics that included paper railroads, buying and selling of corporations as though they were used cars, and financial manipulation by syndicates of investors.

For Buffalo, existing coal transportation was limited to lake boats; for Rochester, the canals and the east-west railroads. These bottlenecks caused fuel shortages which, in turn, led to the development of such paper railroads as the Buffalo and Pittsburgh Railroad as well as the Attica and Allegheny Valley, in the same year. The Rochester and Genesee Valley Railroad was another scheme, although this one was actually built, to a degree.

In Rochester, both the seasonality of the Erie Canal and the near monopoly of the Erie Railroad intensified the pressure for a new railroad running through to the coalfields. Another failed attempt to resolve this saw the also-never-built Rochester and Pittsburgh in 1853. Another line which was partially built but never reached Pennsylvania was the three-foot-gauge Rochester, Nunda, and Pennsylvania.

By 1869, much money had been spent, most of it to no good purpose, and many words had been uttered and printed, but there was still no efficient, reliable, all-weather route for the coal.

Although probably mythical, there's a story that the Mumford merchant, Oliver Allen, arose from a dinner with some fellow businessmen at which the need for a new railroad had been the topic of a spirited discussion and exclaimed, "Let's build a railroad." Allen did not build the road himself, but his was the drive that led to the Rochester and State Line Railroad.

The Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad Company was born on 29 January 1881 from the remains of the R&SL. The latter had been sold on 20 January for $600,000 to a New York syndicate of investors led by Walston H Brown. Brown, of Brown, Howard, and Company, had experience in railroad building; his company typified the many financial speculators and investment organizations which dealt in railroad companies and their securities. Another investment company to figure prominently in the BR&P history was that of Adrian Iselin. Ab initio, these investors planned expansion into the lucrative coal-haulage market. The source of the coal had by this time expanded south through western Pennsylvania into the Beech Tree area between Brockwayville and DuBois.

In a practice typical in the industry, so-called "construction companies" were formed. They were paper railroads intended for the actual building of new lines and branches but not permanent existence operating them. Thus, the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad Company, the Great Valley and Bradford Railroad, the Bradford and State Line Railroad, and the Pittsburgh and New York Railroad built their respective lines, and then the latter three companies were folded back into the Rochester and Pittsburgh in November 1881.

The R&P purchased the Pitkin Building on Main Street West and Oak Street in Rochester and added a two-story Gothic structure to it. The board then hired a highly qualified manager in George E Merchant, who had excelled as a division superintendent for the Chicago, Milwaukee, St Paul, and Pacific. Among the issues he faced upon beginning work in the head office in Rochester were several pending lawsuits against the R&SL and disputes arising from the shady land acquisition practices of the company's forebear. Resolving these, he proceeded to improve the capital plant, including refurbishing the older locomotives and buying new ones. He bought more 4-4-0 Brooks engines, as well as a number of 2-8-0 Consolidations. Line construction absorbed considerable resources as well.

In 1882, through its subsidiary, the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad, it extended its trackage south from Salamanca to reach the coal fields of Pennsylvania. To accomplish this required bridging the Kinzua Creek Gorge. The R&P used what was, for the time, the world's highest railroad bridge. Built by the New York, Lake Erie, and Western Railroad and Coal Company, the structure was more than 300 feet (91 m) above the creek and more than 2,000 feet (610 m) long. Construction took only ninety-four days. The single track over the bridge was shared by the Erie and the R&P; this proved to be a bottleneck, and the company which succeeded the Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad Company, the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway, built a forty-mile detour, opening it in 1893.

While the R&P was expanding on its south side, it also built on the north end. Using the Rochester and Charlotte, the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh, and the Perry Railroad as construction companies, it brought much greater capability to the old RS&L yard at Lincoln Park and extended its line to the coal pier on the Genesee River at Lake Ontario (Charlotte).

Succumbing to over-expansion, the R&P went bankrupt in May 1885 after existing less than four years.

The vigorous expansion of the railroad, including land acquisition, the employment of literally thousands of laborers, and the purchase of locomotives and freight and passenger cars, placed upon the Rochester and Pittsburgh a burden that its revenue and capitalization could not sustain. On 30 May 1885, the Supreme Court appointed a referee to whom it gave the authority to sell off the company's assets. The foreclosure had been forced by the Union Trust Company of New York City. On 16 October 1885, Adrian Iselin bought the remains of the R&P.

That October, it emerged in the form of a new company called the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway, a name which accurately reflected the physical reality of its route structure. One of the forces at work in the reorganization which engendered the BR&P was a Rochester coal merchant named Arthur Yates. Not coincidentally, Yates was the line's biggest coal shipper.

The power used by the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway had a broader range than that of most Eastern roads of the steam era. From a tiny two-foot-gauge 0-4-0 switcher used in their cross-tie factory and the eleven Brooks-built "American" style 4-4-0 engines inherited from the Rochester and State Line Railroad to the massive Alco 2-6-6-2 and 2-8-8-2 Mallets used as pushers at the notorious Clarion Hill, the BR&P ran engines that were well maintained and in which crews took justifiable pride. By the time the Rochester and Pittsburgh had inherited the R&SL motive power, the original eleven had aged quickly, the RS&L having spent little on maintenance. The R&P had to send the locomotives back to Brooks for rebuilding in 1881. By the end of 1881, the company had a total of sixteen locomotives, all of them Brooks 4-4-0s.

With the advent of the R&P came expansion into the hills of Pennsylvania, and that meant heavier and more powerful engines. In 1881, five Consolidation 2-8-0s were added to the roster, with another fifteen early in 1882. In 1883, another fifteen were acquired, along with four more 4-4-0s. The next type procured was the 0-6-0 switcher, as well as more Consolidations. By 1884, the R&P was operating 60 engines, and this represented the extent of the R&P's locomotive inventory.

From the inception of the BR&P, the company purchased locomotives as the need for them arose and then maintained them well. Some of these engines were used for both passenger and freight service, but many fell into one category or the other. Since the BR&P came to an end in 1932, it remained a steam-only railroad, with some of its locomotives serving the B&O through the 1950s.

While the BR&P simply purchased the great majority of its locomotives, several were acquired by means of leases when the company faced a serious but temporary shortfall, while others came to the BR&P through subsidiary companies, such as the Allegheny and Western Railroad, the Silver Lake Railway, the Rural Valley Railroad, and the Clearfield and Mahoning. Although the first engines were all Brooks, that shop's inability to keep up with demand led to the first BR&P purchase being made at Baldwin Locomotive Works.

Hauling coal was the company's trade, and coal cars are heavy. Some of the consists at the time ranged from 2,175 tons to 3,700 tons. The semi-mountainous terrain of western Pennsylvania demanded enormous pulling (and pushing) capability, and even the 250-ton 2-6-6-2s were often doubled up.

Although the BR&P was not a passenger line, it put a first-class effort into the passenger service that it provided the public. The locomotives used represented the best available, as did the care given these engines, leading to an enviable record for on-time completion of trips.

The first passenger service was hauled by special Brooks 4-6-0 engines acquired in 1898 and dedicated to passenger trains. Larger than the then-standard 4-4-0 Brooks, these engines were the pride of the company. In 1901, they were supplanted by the more-capable 4-4-2 Atlantics. The last of these came on board in 1909. The Atlantic class was fast and capable when coupled to a three-car train.

As train length was increased and heavier steel cars replaced the wood cars, the Atlantics were, in turn, replaced by the heavier 4-6-2 Pacifics, which lasted until the B&O ended passenger service in 1955. The BR&P owned a total of 22 Pacifics, acquisition ranging from 1912 to 1923. Used widely by railroads throughout the country, it proved popular and reliable. The Pacific was built in several weights, with the lighter numbers 675 to 679 Brooks engines known by the crews as the "sport model".

The public face of a railroad is its stations, and the BR&P demonstrated its respect for its customers with well-designed, well-built, and well-maintained railway stations, most of which outlasted the company. Some were erected anew, while others, like the terminus in Rochester, were improvements of existing buildings.

The original Scottsville station of the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh sat at the west end of Maple Street, well to the north of the end of the road. Its 1911 replacement was on the curve where Maple turns south to Wyvil and Hanford. The railroad built a new station in Scottsville, formally dedicating it in 1911. Sitting approximately one hundred meters south of the original building, it was introduced to the public in a modest ceremony featuring Surrogate Judge Selden S Brown and businessman David Salyerds.

In the summer of 1911, the line started a new station on the west side of Main Street in Mumford, completing it in October 1912. Over seven hundred people attended the opening, including Judge Brown again. This station, on the very south side of Wheatland, accommodated both Mumford and Caledonia.

The Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh stations in Springville, New York and Orchard Park, New York were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 and 2007, respectively.

The Rochester station at 320 Main Street West survives Nick Tahou's. That part of Oak Street which ended at the station on Main Street disappeared when the I-490 expressway and Frontier Field were built. The track behind the station, however, survives as part of the Rochester and Southern, whose parent company, the Genesee and Wyoming, purchased the Rochester to Ashford Junction portion of the former BR&P in 1986.

The Bradford station saw enormous activity at the end of the 19th century. The BR&P had a maintenance facility in this oil town, along with their cross-tie and timber factory, which operated its own two-foot-gauge micro-railroad for moving the timbers about. Other railroads active in Bradford at the time included the Bradford, Bordell, and Kinzua, the Olean, Bradford, and Warren, the Kindell and Eldred, and the bizarre little Bradford and Foster Brook Monorail. At the time, the BR&P averaged some fifty freight crews operating out of Bradford, with the Erie, Pennsylvania, and short lines contributing their share.

The Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway was a company built on and around taking coal north out of Pennsylvania. The financial backer of the newly founded Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad, the banking house of Adrian Iselin, owned not only an interest in the rail line but coal mines and coke processing facilities. The Iselin presence at the southern end of the BR&P was such that today's maps of the coal mining region show such place names as Adrian, Adrian Furnace, Adrian Mines, and Iselin Heights; moreover, the railroad named one entire branch after him. Iselin's intention was to ship 2000 tons of coal daily, to which end Iselin and the railroad established the Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal and Iron Company, entirely owned by the R&P. Walston H Brown was president of both corporations. The company town at the southern end of the railroad, in the 11,500 acres (47 km2) acquired by the coal company in the Punxsutawney area, was given the name Walston, Pennsylvania. The initial coal production facilities yielded approximately six hundred tons daily, at a total mine-to-carload cost of seventy-three cents per ton.

The first coal to be shipped on the R&P went to the Rochester coal merchant, Arthur G Yates. Such was the demand for coal that the coal shipments began well before track construction had been completed, leading to constant conflict in scheduling. By 1886, the railroad had some 4,182 freight cars, and 3,028 of them were coal cars. Of those, perhaps 500 belonged to the Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal and Iron Company. By the mid-1880s, the railroad was running forty or more coal trains a day. Since coke was a valuable commodity, the coal company built a mile and a quarter long string of 475 coke furnaces, the largest in the world at the time, producing 22,000 tons a month, some of which was shipped out by train. Much of the coke, however, was consumed on-site in refining the iron ore brought in by lakes freighter and trans-shipped to the iron mills by the coal trains on their way back south.

Two coal companies accounted for the coal trade carried by the railroad. At first competitors, the Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal and Iron Company and the Bell, Lewis, and Yates Coal Mining Company became very good friends when Frederick Bell, George Lewis, and Arthur Yates took seats on the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway board of directors. In fact, with Iselin's resignation as president of the railway company, Yates took his place. The two coal companies then negotiated an agreement which eased competitive pressures and allocated access to the railroad's coal-transporting capacity. While Yates concentrated on coal, Merchant ran the railroad.

Part of Yates' contribution to the BR&P's ability to haul coal was the extension of the line north from Lincoln Park through Rochester up to the coal dock it built at the mouth of the Genesee River in 1896. With an initial capacity of 4,000 tons a day, it was expanded in 1909 and 1913. To get coal to Canada, the BR&P arranged a cross-lake ferry service with the Grand Trunk Railway. This service was highly successful, carrying passengers and coal cars to Cobourg and other lake destinations. By 1913, over a million tons of coal a year passed through the Rochester coal dock.

As the national economy grew, more and more coal mines were developed along the BR&P routes. In fact, the new Indiana Branch soon yielded the greatest traffic volume as mines opened in the area south of Punxsutawney. By the 1920s, coal trains averaged 3,750 tons, requiring considerably better motive power than the archaic Consolidations of the earlier era. However, long coal drags with one or two Mallets at the head did not last forever. In the first quarter of the new century, the market share held by the comparatively costly union-made coal of Pennsylvania was driven down by the cheaper coal from the non-union mines of Kentucky and West Virginia. The companies of the Pittsburgh Coal District sought federal regulation of coal industry wages but lost. In a series of moves to protect themselves, the coal companies transferred to the BR&P not only the short-line railroads they'd built themselves but also the Genesee Coal Dock facility. This had the effect of improving the coal companies' fiscal performance, but it effectively hung an anchor on the railroad's neck as it swam in deeper and deeper waters.

The headquarters of both the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway and the Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal and Iron Company were in the elegant building on Main Street West in Rochester, and the bitter arguments between William Noonan, the head of the railway, and L W Robinson, the head of the coal company, became the stuff of local legend. In the end, both companies lost. The railroad disappeared into the B&O, and the coal company, which survived at least until 1981 in dramatically reduced size, is today no longer to be found in Rochester.

The Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway thrived on the haulage of heavy freight, primarily Pennsylvania coal, but its passenger service was characterized as "second to none". The first passenger run took place on the Rochester and State Line Railroad on its 15 September 1874 run from Rochester to Le Roy. The last was on 15 October 1955, when the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad ended its Buffalo - Pittsburgh service.

At the start of the 20th century, the BR&P inaugurated a through service connecting Rochester and Pittsburgh. The first run of the Pittsburgh Mail and Express left Rochester at precisely 0900 on 10 October 1899, bound for Pittsburgh, 330 miles (530 km) to the south. The night departure was called the Pittsburgh Night Express. The return trips were the Buffalo Rochester Mail and Express and the Buffalo Rochester Night Express. These later became the Great Lakes Express and the Pittsburgh Flyer.

The company took pride in doing its job properly. In its report for the year ending 30 June 1915, the New York State Public Service Commission observed that the BR&P had operated 13,877 passenger runs. Of these, 12,628 were on time. The average delay was two minutes.

Commuter rail service on the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania connected outlying towns and villages to Rochester. In some areas, Darwinian competition resulted in the failure of other rail lines, e.g. the Springville and Sardinia Railroad.

Early freight operations consisted of trains of fewer than twenty cars, for the cars were weak and the locomotives small. The hilly terrain over which the BR&P routes ran posed problems, especially in the days before steel rolling stock. To negotiate these grades, the railroad needed to use helpers and pushers. If the second (or third) engine were put at the head of the train, then too much weight aft might result in a broken coupler and the lethal problem of a runaway. If the additional power were at the back end, then the soft wood cars tended to buckle under the compression. Occasionally, a compromise would put the helper locomotive at or near the center of the train. Using helpers brought an additional problem. Since these engines were needed only on steeper grades and since the railroad would never countenance the expense of a second engine and crew on the entire run, the helpers had to return to the bottom of the grade for the next heavy train needing a push. At first, this meant running backward after uncoupling from the rear of the train. The BR&P discouraged backward running as bad practice, a problem that eventually was solved with the construction of wyes for turning around. Additionally, care had to be exercised to avoid placing a caboose between a pusher and a train, as this crushed the soft cabooses.

One practice not encouraged by management was disconnecting helper locomotives on the fly. The engineer of the helper would back off on the throttle to unload the coupler, and the fireman would pull the pin to separate the two engines. The helper would then sprint ahead to the siding, throw the switch, pull off the line, and reset the switch, preferably all before the train arrived at the turnout.

The BR&P had four divisions, and helpers/pushers were used on all of them. The real difference arose because of the preponderance of heavy loads running northbound. For instance, coal trains were loaded northbound and empty southbound, as were the oil tankers. However, prior to World War I, the BR&P ran ore trains from Buffalo south to the iron mills in DuBois. The steepest grades were in the Buffalo Division, but they were uphill southbound and thus not a problem for the coal trains northbound. The ore trains had to negotiate these grades uphill, and, in the days before the Mallets, the ore trains out of Buffalo Creek had two Consolidations at the front and three at the rear. The Clarion Hill grade of the Middle Division, while not the steepest, did pose the greatest challenges. The worst grades on the BR&P were in the 84 to 89 feet (27 m) per mile range.

In later years, when wood freight cars had long been forgotten, helpers and pushers remained, although in the form of much larger, heavier, more powerful locomotives assisting far heavier trains. The BR&P operated two 700 series of Mallets: the comparatively light 700 through 741 and the heavier 742 through 754. Since they differed in frame design, this meant that the weaker 8th century were never doubled together. Instead, a light 700 would be coupled ahead of the heavier one for a double. When two 700 series Mallets were pushing, the same constraint was applied. If the run utilized two light Mallets, then the second one was placed at the rear, ahead of the caboose, and pushed. One more issue with doubled Mallets was whether or not all the bridges on the run were strong enough for two of the 9th century or the heavy 8th century running together.

With the mass and power of locomotives like the Mallets, care had to be exercised in their operation. A light Mallet used as a pusher naturally connected to the train with its front coupler, and the strength of this drawhead was not infinite. While the engine could not push hard enough to break the drawhead, the engineer needed to avoid slack. On the downhill part of one run one day on the Buffalo Division from Beaver to Hoyts, the pusher engineer did not keep up with the train ahead and saw it pull away from him with his drawhead hanging from the last car.

Sometimes, the problems with pushers and helpers arose not from the hardware but the politics and the economics. In the 1880s, the BR&P and the Erie shared locomotive facilities at Clarion Junction. They had an agreement that each company would provide helper service to each other on the basis of whose engine was first up at the enginehouse when a train came along needing a push. After some years of this, the BR&P management realized that their engines were doing most of the work. The Erie crews had acquired the knack of finding something wrong with their engines, keeping them conveniently immobilized when it was time for work. The agreement ended.

Both roads faced the same problems at Clarion Junction: how best to get heavy trains over Clarion Hill. By the end of the 19th century, the Erie kept two engines there, while the BR&P had up to five. Initially, they used 2-8-0 Consolidations, but the limitations of these antiquated locomotives forced adoption of specialized engines, such as the 4-8-0 Mastodon in 1896. This did not suffice, leading to the heavier Y Class 2-10-0 Decapod in 1907. The increased traffic of WW I led to the solution, the XX Class 2-8-8-2 Mallets. The BR&P bought these engines in 1918 essentially for one purpose, to "push Clarion Hill off the map". These locomotives were well suited to the task, as they were slow and capable of massive drawbar traction. The cooperation between the BR&P and the Erie ended in 1928, when the Erie made sweeping improvements, including introduction of 2-8-4 Berkshires and 2-8-2 Mikados, making the BR&P helpers/pushers superfluous to requirements. On some runs, the Erie put two engines at the head of the train and a third at the rear. This saved as much as ten to twelve minutes on the hill and enabled longer consists. Since the third engine, the pusher, was lighter than the BR&P Mallet, it could push against the caboose rather than needing to be placed ahead of it, making it much easier and faster to detach from the train.

In the days before radio, dispatching locomotives involved using whatever means of communication were available. The BR&P maintained a helper station at a siding between Dellwood and Lanes Mills, south of Brockwayville. The 700 series Mallets stationed here were required to assist coal trains up to McMinn Summit. When this was necessary, the dispatcher would call the crew to work by ringing a phone booth located next to the siding. A loud bell generally sufficed to wake up the engine crew. On those occasions when it did not, the dispatcher would call the McMinn farm nearby, and one of the McMinn children would run over to the siding to awaken the engineer and fireman.

Steam locomotives imposed enormous maintenance burdens on the railroads. Primitive in design, they contained numerous self-destructive moving parts which were manufactured using, by contemporary standards, exceptionally primitive techniques. In fact, a number of railroads were capable of making their own locomotives and cars, and did so.

When the Rochester and Pittsburgh Railroad took over the facilities of the Rochester and State Line Railroad, it acquired little in the way of usable maintenance assets. To remedy this deficiency, the R&P bought land in the Lincoln Park section of Rochester and, in 1881, built a machine shop for repair work. In 1882, they erected a roundhouse, today at the corner of West Avenue and Buffalo Road. (The turntable has been preserved by the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum in Rush, NY, while the building itself has been converted for use by a scrap company.) This facility, with its fourteen-stall enginehouse, was the central shop for the entire line. The other end of the line (at the time) was in Salamanca, where the company built a smaller facility, including a two-stall enginehouse, a turntable, and the Ramsey Transfer mechanism needed for interchange with the Erie. Additional facilities were installed at Perry and Gainesville in the 1880s, along with more at Ashford Junction and Clarion Junction.

Since railroad shops meant employment, small towns vied aggressively to convince the railroads to build facilities in their taxing jurisdictions. Bradford, for instance, gave the R&P 8 acres (32,000 m2) of land and an eight thousand dollar grant for construction. The investment by the town paid off: the R&P set up a roundhouse and turntable, a machine shop, a car repair shop, as well as coaling and watering facilities.

In the 1880s, the line to Buffalo was built, terminating at Buffalo Creek. A more modest shop was established here, including a seventy-foot turntable that had to be enlarged to one hundred five feet to accommodate the Mallets. There were only two ways to turn a locomotive around, and the wye alternative was very costly in terms of land area. Thus, Buffalo Creek had one of only two BR&P turntables capable of swinging a Mallet engine. On the rare occasion of a Mallet reaching Rochester, it had to be turned on a wye. The Mallet would fit into only a single stall of the Lincoln Park roundhouse; even then, it stuck out considerably in the back, so the railroad built an extension to the stall to enable the doors to be closed. The Buffalo Creek roundhouse lacked this refinement. When two Mallets were parked in it, their tenders not only stuck out but very nearly touched. To deal with this, the BR&P built the "Malley House" near the roundhouse; it accommodated two of the ninety-two-foot wheelbase engines.

The BR&P, having grown considerably, needed still more. The mine branches in the Punxsutawney area imposed their own burden on the BR&P repair capabilities, and shops were built at Elk Run, just to the north. However, the company needed a major facility at which the biggest repairs could be done; at the time (1880s), the most serious work on locomotives required sending the engines back to their builders in Dunkirk and Rome. To resolve this, the BR&P selected DuBois as the location of their primary maintenance plant.

The archetypal railroad town, DuBois had its first BR&P facility in 1886, with the car repair shop. The locomotive repair shop grew from a six-stall roundhouse at Valley and Jared Streets. When DuBois granted the railroad land and money, the expansion hit high gear. By the early 20th century, the railroad had sufficient capability at DuBois to handle everything, including building a locomotive from scratch. The BR&P could now cycle engines through the shop on a regular basis, thus keeping their motive power available and reliable.

This expansion did not occur at the expense of other sites. East Salamanca was chosen in 1906 for a new roundhouse, enginehouse, and classification yard, thanks to a location convenient to the Buffalo, Middle, and Rochester Divisions. The introduction of the huge Class XX 2-8-8-2 Mallets in 1918 necessitated construction of appropriate shop facilities at East Salamanca. This included electric jacks that could lift the Mallet off the ground.

Among the other annoyances that management had to face, one peculiar to steam locomotive operation plagued the BR&P. In addition to the accidents resulting from employee carelessness, in which doors and walls were destroyed by the impacts of engines that weren't stopped in time, the engines themselves were prone to go walkabout if left idling with a head of steam. A worn valve might pass sufficient steam to enable the locomotive to go through a roundhouse wall or door, drive into a turntable pit, or amble down the rail line, all on its own.

In April 1930, sparks from a crane ignited the roof of the older roundhouse at DuBois; the fire put the building out of operation 'til autumn, and the eleven locomotives inside suffered considerable damage.

Railroads are required not to have accidents, but the historical record shows that they occasionally do. Most accidents are deadly serious, with mere destruction of property if those involved are fortunate and death and injury if they are not. The R&P operated in the days of looser and more tolerant labor practices. In the winter of 1881, the engineer of a southbound oil train approaching the bridge north of Ellicottville stopped upon observing the "settled and bent condition" of the bridge ahead of him. A mail train from Rochester slowed to a stop behind him as he awaited instructions. The conductor of the second train ordered the first engineer to take his engine across to "test" the bridge. The engineer and his locomotive survived the transit, but the bridge settled several inches. While the conductor tried to talk the mail train engineer into shoving the oil cars across the bridge, the ice in the current carried away one of the bridge supports. Time for Plan B. The conductor walked across the bridge and rode the first engine into Ellicottville, where he picked up a boxcar and returned for the mail and passengers. They walked across the bridge and arrived in Salamanca in time to make their connections.

It was less amusing one Sunday morning in July 1883 when an R&P coal train broke in two on a grade of 57 feet (17 m) per mile at Rasselas, twenty-five miles south of Bradford. A not altogether atypical occurrence in the days before reliable couplers, this resulted in seven loaded coal cars and a single passenger car with fifteen to twenty people aboard accelerating back down the grade out of control. The investigation that followed alleged that the conductor and brakeman were both asleep. Neither survived. The runaway string of cars smashed into a train proceeding in the same direction. The engineer of this train saw the cars coming and, with his fireman, leapt off the locomotive after reversing it, surviving with serious bruising. Since the passenger car was the last on the first train, it hit the locomotive at full speed and was split in half. The destroyed passenger car was immediately struck by the coal cars; seven people died, and eight were injured.

Even well-run railroads have accidents, and the BR&P had its share. In the final analysis, all accidents result from someone's failure, whether in design, manufacture, construction, operation, or maintenance. The company set its standards higher than most did, but the risks of railroading still took a painful toll.

Some wrecks damaged locomotives and cars, tracks and buildings, and careers, but without the loss of life or the injuries that were common in the period. In late May 1893, two freight trains near Brockwayville, in Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, tried to occupy one space, with predictable results: both locomotives and both trains were totally destroyed. Others had graver consequences. One night in February of that same year, a coal train and a freight train came together because of excessive speed and the inadequate brakes of the day. The newspaper accounts, more graphic than is customary today, gave a blood-chilling picture of what happens to a man crushed in the wreckage and exposed to a continuous blast of live steam. In these harrowing stories, two themes emerge. The trains ran at speeds low enough to allow the crews to leap off when disaster was imminent; and more than one engineer or brakeman remained at his position on the doomed train to the very end, often with fatal consequences.

In other incidents, less noble working behavior led to accidents. In April 1908, an engineer disregarded signals at Rock Glen, leading to a high-speed head-on collision on a curve with another locomotive one mile (1.6 km) north of the station. While no passengers died, the fireman succumbed to steam scalding, dying half an hour after the crash. Criminal charges brought the engineer's arrest for manslaughter. In a more poignant incident in June 1900, engineer William Kation died in a head-on collision between two passenger trains that occurred right in front of his own home, on what was to have been his very last run before retiring. The crash resulted from a simple clerical error in the train orders for that day.

Train crews are forever at the mercy of what others do. In February 1927, a Bradford yard employee left a switch in the wrong position, derailing a passenger train. The fireman was injured but survived; the engineer, who had worked for the line for forty-five years, was close to retirement, and had a reputation as a meticulous and careful worker, was crushed, scalded, and dismembered when the locomotive overturned.

Some disasters are the fruit of errors made years before, as in bridges not built or maintained properly. In the BR&P East Salamanca yard on 28 August 1911, a slow freight train toppled off a bridge the south abutment of which failed. The engineer saw the rails tipping slowly and yelled to the fireman to jump. He and the brakeman survived the plunge into the water, but the fireman did not. In the news reports, railroad officials expressed gratitude that the next train on the line, a passenger run, had not been the one to encounter the collapsing bridge. They also claimed that the bridge had been in good working order all along and that the high water in Great Valley Creek had done the damage. Fifteen minutes prior to the collapse, two freight trains had passed on the bridge with no hint of trouble.

Sometimes it was bad judgment, other times it was just bad luck: When the line acquired its Mallets in 1917, they naturally gave thought to how the weight of these machines would affect the existing trackage. Some work was done strengthening bridges and railworks, but it proved not wholly adequate. On 19 April 1918, the BR&P ran a very heavy Mallet over a light track north of Clarion Junction near Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania. The result of the rails spreading apart under the weight of the 280 ton engine was an upside-down locomotive. This was not a rare occurrence, as these 800-series Mallets were not only the heaviest that the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway operated, they were the heaviest ever used in normal service in the entire area. Less than two weeks earlier, number 806 had suffered the same ignominy when the railbed beneath her gave way on Clarion Hill. The crew sent to retrieve the engine simply tied a set of rails onto the locomotive's 57-inch (1,400 mm) drivers and then rolled it upright onto a temporary roadbed, using three cranes. This temporary rail was then tied into the main line, enabling the number 806 to slink back home for repairs.

Officially, the end came in 1932, when the line was absorbed into the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, giving the B&O increased access to New York State. (They already had a toe-hold with their acquisition of the Staten Island Rapid Transit at the other end of the state.)

The acquisition exemplified the endless machinations of the railroad era. For a while, the Van Sweringen brothers wanted the BR&P, and Iselin was pleased to make the divestiture in 1928. The sale value of the company had been inflated by the contention between the Delaware and Hudson and the Baltimore and Ohio for the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway, making its sale a compelling decision for Iselin. The Pennsylvania coalfields were waning, thanks to non-union mines in Kentucky and West Virginia, and the revenues from the railroad had fallen correspondingly.

The D&H wanted westward routes, and the BR&P figured in their plans. The B&O had routes that the Van Sweringens wanted, making a swap attractive to both companies. The ICC now regulated the railroads with a tight grip, and its view was that the B&O proposal to buy the BR&P would serve shippers better than would the D&H plan to lease the company's lines.

The B&O agreed in March 1929 to the purchase of the BR&P from the Alleghany Corporation, getting ICC approval in February of the following year. The deal yielded the B&O the BR&P, the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad, and the Mt Jewett, Kinzua, and Riterville. It gave the Van Sweringens the Wheeling and Lake Erie. The formal hand-over occurred on 1 January 1932, forever ending the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway.

A number of Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway stations are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They are:

New York, Lackawanna adn Western Railroad - The Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (also known as the DL&W or Lackawanna Railroad) was a U.S. Class 1 railroad that connected Buffalo, New York, and Hoboken, New Jersey (and by ferry with New York City), a distance of about 400 miles (640 km). Incorporated in Pennsylvania in 1853 primarily for the purpose of providing a connection between the anthracite coal fields of Pennsylvania's Coal Region and the large markets for coal in New York City, the railroad gradually expanded both East and West, eventually linking Buffalo with New York City. Like most coal-focused railroads in Northeastern Pennsylvania (e.g. Lehigh Valley Railroad, New York, Ontario and Western Railroad and the Lehigh & New England Railroad), the DL&W was profitable during the first half of the twentieth century, but its margins were gradually hurt by declining Pennsylvania coal traffic, especially following the 1959 Knox Mine Disaster and competition from trucks following the expansion of the Interstate Highway System in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1960, the DL&W merged with rival Erie Railroad to form the Erie Lackawanna Railroad that would be taken over by Conrail in 1976.

The "Leggett's Gap Railroad" was incorporated on April 7, 1832, but stayed dormant for many years. It was chartered on March 14, 1849, and organized on January 2, 1850. On April 14, 1851, its name was changed to the "Lackawanna and Western Railroad". The line, running north from Scranton, Pennsylvania, to Great Bend, just south of the New York state line, opened on December 20, 1851. From Great Bend, the L&W obtained trackage rights north and west over the New York and Erie Rail Road to Owego, New York, where it leased the Cayuga and Susquehanna Railroad to Ithaca on Cayuga Lake (on April 21, 1855). The C&S was the reorganized and partially rebuilt Ithaca and Owego Railroad, which had opened on April 1, 1834, and was the oldest part of the DL&W system. The whole system was built to 6 ft (1,829 mm) broad gauge, the same as the New York and Erie, although the original I&O was built to standard gauge and converted to wide gauge when rebuilt as the C&S.

The "Delaware and Cobb's Gap Railroad" was chartered December 4, 1850, to build a line from Scranton east to the Delaware River. Before it opened, the Delaware and Cobb's Gap and Lackawanna and Western were consolidated by the Lackawanna Steel Company into one company, the "Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad", on March 11, 1853. On the New Jersey side of the Delaware River, the Warren Railroad was chartered on February 12, 1851, to continue from the bridge over the river southeast to Hampton, on the Central Railroad of New Jersey. That section got its name from Warren County, the county through which it would primarily run.

The rest of the line, now known as the Southern Division, opened on May 27, 1856, including the New Jersey section (the Warren Railroad). A third rail was added to the standard gauge Central Railroad of New Jersey east of Hampton to allow the DL&W to run east to Elizabeth via trackage rights (the CNJ was extended in 1864 to Jersey City).

On December 10, 1868, the DL&W bought the Morris and Essex Railroad. This line ran east–west across northern New Jersey, crossing the Warren Railroad at Washington and providing access to Jersey City without depending on the CNJ. The M&E tunnel under Bergen Hill opened in 1876, relieving the M&E and its owners the DL&W from having to use the New York, Lake Erie and Western Railway's tunnel to reach Jersey City. Along with the M&E lease came several branch lines in New Jersey, including the Boonton Line (opened in 1870), which bypassed Newark for through freight.

The DL&W bought the Syracuse, Binghamton and New York Railroad in 1869 and leased the Oswego and Syracuse Railroad on February 13, 1869. This gave it a branch from Binghamton north and northwest via Syracuse to Oswego, a port on Lake Ontario. The "Greene Railroad" was organized in 1869, opened in 1870, and was immediately leased to the DL&W, providing a short branch off the Oswego line from Chenango Forks to Greene. Also in 1870, the DL&W leased the Utica, Chenango and Susquehanna Valley Railway, continuing this branch north to Utica, with a branch from Richfield Junction to Richfield Springs (fully opened in 1872).

The "Valley Railroad" was organized March 3, 1869, to connect the end of the original line at Great Bend, Pennsylvania, to Binghamton, New York, avoiding reliance on the Erie. The new line opened on October 1, 1871. By 1873, the DL&W controlled the Lackawanna and Bloomsburg Railroad, a branch from Scranton southwest to Northumberland (with trackage rights over the Pennsylvania Railroad's Northern Central Railway to Sunbury). On March 15, 1876, the whole system was re-gauged to standard gauge in one day. The "New York, Lackawanna and Western Railroad" was chartered on August 26, 1880, and opened on September 17, 1882, to continue the DL&W from Binghamton west and northwest to Buffalo. The main line ran to the International Bridge to Ontario, and a branch served downtown Buffalo. A spur from Wayland served Hornellsville (Hornell). On December 1, 1903, the DL&W began operating the Erie and Central New York Railroad, a branch of the Oswego line from Cortland Junction east to Cincinnatus. That same year, it also began to control the Bangor and Portland Railway. By 1909, the DL&W controlled the Bangor and Portland Railway. This line branched from the main line at Portland, Pennsylvania southwest to Nazareth, with a branch to Martins Creek.

The DL&W built a Beaux-Arts terminal in Hoboken in 1907, and another Beaux-Arts passenger station (now a Radisson hotel) in Scranton the following year. A new terminal was constructed on the waterfront in Buffalo in 1917.

The "Lackawanna Railroad of New Jersey", chartered on February 7, 1908, to build the Lackawanna Cut-Off (a.k.a. New Jersey Cutoff or Hopatcong-Slateford Cutoff), opened on December 24, 1911. This provided a low-grade cutoff in northwestern New Jersey. The cutoff included the Delaware River Viaduct and the Paulinskill Viaduct, as well as three concrete towers at Port Morris and Greendell in New Jersey and Slateford Junction in Pennsylvania. From 1912 to 1915, the Summit-Hallstead Cutoff (a.k.a. Pennsylvania Cutoff or Nicholson Cutoff) was built to revamp a winding and hilly system between Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, and Hallstead, Pennsylvania. This rerouting provided another quicker low-grade line between Scranton and Binghamton. The Summit Cutoff included the massive Tunkhannock Viaduct and Martins Creek Viaduct. The Lackawanna's cutoffs had no at-grade crossings with roads or highways, allowing high-speed service.

The DL&W ran trains from its Hoboken Terminal, its gateway to the New York City market, to its Scranton, Binghamton, Syracuse, Oswego, and Buffalo stations and to Utica Union Station. Noteworthy among these were:

  • Nos. 2 Pocono Express / 5 Twilight (Hoboken-Buffalo, with New York Central connections to Chicago)
  • Nos. 3 / 6 Phoebe Snow, nee Lackawanna Limited (Hoboken-Buffalo)
  • Nos. 7 Westerner / 8 New Yorker (Hoboken-Buffalo, with Nickel Plate City of Chicago connection to Chicago)
  • Nos. 10 New York Mail / 15 Owl (Hoboken-Buffalo)
  • Nos. 1301 / 1306 Interstate Express (Philadelphia-Syracuse)
  • Nos. 1702 Keystone Express / 1705 Pittsburgh Express (Scranton-Pittsburgh)

Additionally, the DL&W ran commuter operations from northern New Jersey suburbs to Hoboken on the Boonton, Gladstone, Montclair and Morristown Lines. Early publicity for the passenger service featured a young woman, "Phoebe Snow", who always wore white and kept her clothing clean while riding the "Road of Anthracite", powered by clean-burning coal.

The most profitable commodity shipped by the railroad was anthracite coal. In 1890 and during 1920–1940, the DL&W shipped upwards of 14% of the state of Pennsylvania's anthracite production. Other profitable freight included dairy products, cattle, lumber, cement, steel and grain. The Pocono Mountains region was one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country—especially among New Yorkers—and several large hotels sat along the line in Northeastern Pennsylvania, generating a large passenger traffic for the Lackawanna. All of this helped justify the railroad's expansion of its double-track mainline to three and in a few places four tracks.

Changes in the region's economy undercut the railroad, however. The post-World War II boom enjoyed by many U.S. cities bypassed Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and the rest of Lackawanna and Luzerne counties. Oil and natural gas quickly became the preferred energy sources. Silk and other textile industries shrank as jobs moved to the southern U.S. or overseas. The advent of mechanical refrigeration squeezed the business from ice ponds on top of the Poconos. Even the dairy industry changed. The Lackawanna had long enjoyed revenues from milk shipments; many stations had a creamery next to the tracks.

Perhaps the most catastrophic blows to the Lackawanna, however, were dealt by Mother Nature. In August, 1955, flooding from Hurricane Diane devastated the Pocono Mountains region, killing 80 people. The floods cut the Lackawanna Railroad in 88 places, destroying 60 miles (97 km) of track, stranding several trains (with a number of passengers aboard) and shutting down the railroad for nearly a month (with temporary speed restrictions prevailing on the damaged sections of railroad for months), causing a total of $8.1 million in damages (equal to $78,253,043 today) and lost revenue. One section, the Old River line (former Warren Railroad), was damaged beyond repair and had to be abandoned altogether. Until the mainline in Pennsylvania reopened, all trains were canceled or rerouted over other railroads. The Lackawanna would never fully recover.

In January, 1959, the final nail was driven in the Lackawanna's coffin by the Knox Mine Disaster, which flooded the mines along the Susquehanna River and all but obliterated what was left of the region's anthracite industry.

The Lackawanna Railroad's financial problems were not unique. Rail traffic in the U.S. in general declined after World War II as trucks and automobiles took freight and passenger traffic. Declining freight traffic put the nearby New York, Ontario and Western Railroad and Lehigh & New England Railroad out of business in 1957 and 1961, respectively. Over the next three decades, nearly every major railroad in the Northeastern US would go bankrupt.

In the wake of Hurricane Diane in 1955, all signs pointed to continued financial decline and eventual bankruptcy for the DL&W. Among other factors, property taxes in New Jersey were a tremendous financial drain on the Lackawanna and other railroads that ran through the state: a situation that would not be remedied for another two decades.

To save his company, Lackawanna president Perry Shoemaker sought a merger with the Nickel Plate Road, a deal that would have created a railroad stretching more than 1,100 miles (1,800 km) from St. Louis, Missouri and Chicago, Illinois to New York City and would have allowed the Lackawanna to retain the 200 miles (320 km) of double-track mainline between Buffalo and Binghamton, New York. The idea had been studied as early as 1920, when William Z. Ripley, a professor of political economics at Harvard University, reported that a merger would have benefited both railroads. Forty years later, however, the Lackawanna was a shadow of its former financial self. Seeing no advantage in an end-to-end merger, Nickel Plate officials also rebuffed attempts by the DL&W, which owned a substantial block of Nickel Plate stock, to place one of its directors on the Nickel Plate board. (The Nickel Plate would later merge with the Norfolk and Western Railroad.)

Shoemaker next turned, in 1956, to aggressive but unsuccessful efforts to obtain joint operating agreements and even potential mergers with the Lehigh Valley Railroad and the Delaware and Hudson Railway.

Finally, Shoemaker sought and won a merger agreement with the Erie Railroad, the DL&W's longtime rival (and closest geographical competitor), forming the Erie Lackawanna Railroad.

The merger was formally consummated on October 17, 1960. Shoemaker drew much criticism for it, and would even second-guess himself after he had retired from railroading. He later claimed to have had a "gentlemen's agreement" with the EL board of directors to take over as president of the new railroad. After he was pushed aside in favor of Erie managers, however, he left in disillusionment and became the president of the Central Railroad of New Jersey in 1962.

Even before the formal merger, growing ties between the Erie and Lackawanna led to the partial abandonment of the Lackawanna's mainline trackage between Binghamton and Buffalo. In 1958, the main line of the DL&W from Binghamton west to near Corning, which closely paralleled the Erie's main line, was abandoned in favor of joint operations, while the Lackawanna Cut-Off in New Jersey was single-tracked in anticipation of the upcoming merger. On the other hand, the Erie's Buffalo, New York and Erie Railroad was dropped from Corning to Livonia in favor of the DL&W's main line. Most passenger service was routed onto the DL&W east of Binghamton, with the DL&W's Hoboken Terminal serving all EL passenger trains. In addition, a short segment of the Boonton Branch by Garret Mountain in Paterson, New Jersey, was sold off to the state of New Jersey to build Interstate 80. Ultimately, the west end of the Boonton Branch was combined with the Erie's Greenwood Lake Branch, while the eastern end was combined with the Erie's main line, which was abandoned through Passaic, New Jersey. Sacrificed was the Boonton Branch, a high-speed freight line thought to be redundant with the Erie's mainline. This would haunt EL management less than a decade later (and Conrail management a decade after that).

Soon after the merger, the new EL management shifted most freight trains to the "Erie side", the former Erie Railroad lines, leaving only a couple of daily freight trains traveling over the Lackawanna side. Passenger train traffic would not be affected, at least not immediately. This traffic pattern would remain in effect for more than ten years—past the discontinuation of passenger service on January 6, 1970—and was completely dependent on the lucrative interchange with the New Haven Railroad at Maybrook, New York. The January 1, 1969 merger of the New Haven Railroad into the Penn Central Railroad changed all this: the New England Gateway was downgraded, and closed on May 8, 1974 by fire damage to the New Haven's Poughkeepsie Bridge, causing dramatic traffic changes for the Lackawanna side. Indeed, as very little on-line freight originated on the Erie side (a route that was more than 20 miles longer than the DL&W route to Binghamton), once the Gateway was closed (eliminating the original justification for shifting traffic to the Erie side) virtually all the EL's freight trains were shifted back to the Lackawanna side. After the New England Gateway closed, EL's management was forced to downgrade the Erie side, and even considered its abandonment west of Port Jervis. In the meantime, the EL was forced to run its long freights over the reconfigured Boonton Line, which east of Mountain View in Wayne, NJ meant running over the Erie's Greenwood Lake Branch, a line that was never intended to carry the level of freight traffic to which the EL would subject it.

In 1972, the Central Railroad of New Jersey abandoned all its operations in Pennsylvania (which by that time were freight-only), causing additional through freights to be run daily between Elizabeth, NJ on the CNJ and Scranton on the EL. The trains, designated as the eastbound SE-98 and the westbound ES-99, travelled via the Lackawanna Cut-Off and were routed via the CNJ's High Bridge Branch. This arrangement ended with the creation of Conrail on April 1, 1976.

During its time, the EL diversified its shipments from the growing Lehigh Valley and also procured a lucrative contract with Chrysler to ship auto components from Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania. The EL also aggressively sought other contracts with suppliers in the area, pioneering what came to be known as intermodal shipping. None of this could compensate for the decline in coal shipments, however, and, as labor costs and taxes rose, the railroad's financial position became increasingly precarious although it was stronger than some railroads in the eastern U.S.

The opening of Interstates I-80, I-380, and I-81 during the early 1970s, which in effect paralleled much of the former Lackawanna mainline east of Binghamton, New York, caused more traffic to be diverted to trucks. This only helped to accelerate the EL's decline. By 1976, it was apparent that the EL was at the end of its tether, and it petitioned to join Conrail: a new regional railroad that was created on April 1, 1976, out of the remnants of seven bankrupt freight railroads in the northeastern U.S.

The EL's rail property was legally conveyed into Conrail on April 1, 1976. Initially, Conrail's freight schedule did not change much from the EL's due to labor contracts that restricted any immediate alterations. This, too, would change. In early 1979, Conrail suspended through freight service on the Lackawanna side, citing the EL's early-1960s severing of the Boonton Branch near Paterson, New Jersey and the grades over the Pocono Mountains as the primary reasons for removing freight traffic from the entire Hoboken-Binghamton mainline and consolidating this service within its other operating routes.

The busy Morristown Line is the only piece of multi-track railroad on the entire 900-mile Lackawanna system that has not been reduced to fewer tracks over the years. In the 1986 photograph to the right, a set of Arrow III single units and an Arrow II married pair runs eastbound after passing the NJ Transit station in South Orange, New Jersey. The line was triple-tracked nearly a century prior, and remains so today.

The Lackawanna Cut-Off was abandoned in 1979 and its rails were removed in 1984. The line between Slateford Junction and Scranton remained in legal limbo for nearly a decade, but was eventually purchased, with a single track left in place. The Lackawanna Cut-Off's right-of-way, on the other hand, was purchased by the state of New Jersey in 2001 from funds approved within a $40 million bond issue in 1989. (A court later set the final price at $21 million, paid to owners Gerald Turco of Kearny, New Jersey and Burton Goldmeier of Hopatcong, New Jersey.) NJ Transit has estimated that it would cost $551 million to restore service to Scranton over the Cut-Off: a price which includes the cost of new trainsets. A 7.3-mile section of the Cut-Off between Port Morris and Andover, New Jersey, which was under construction, was delayed until 2021 due to environmental issues on the Andover station site; the Cut-Off between Port Morris and Andover is slated to re-open for rail passenger service no earlier than 2025.

In 1979, Conrail sold most of the DL&W in Pennsylvania, with the DL&W main line portion between Scranton and Binghamton (which includes the Nicholson Cutoff) bought by the Delaware and Hudson Railway. The D&H was purchased by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1991. CPR continued to run this portion of the DL&W main line until 2014, when it sold it to the Norfolk Southern.

The Syracuse and Utica branches north of Binghamton have been retained, sold by Conrail to the Delaware Otsego Corp., which operates them as the northern division of the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway.

In 1997, Conrail accepted an offer of purchase from CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway. On June 1, 1999, Norfolk Southern took over many of the Conrail lines in New Jersey, including most of the former DL&W. It also purchased the remnants of the former Bangor & Portland branch in Pennsylvania. Norfolk Southern continues to operate local freights on the lines. In 2014, it purchased the former DL&W main from Taylor, PA to Binghamton, NY from the Canadian Pacific Railway, which it continues to operate to this day.

New Jersey Transit Corporation, branded as "NJ Transit", took over passenger operations in 1983. The State of New Jersey had previously subsidized the routes operated by the Erie Lackawanna, and later Conrail. NJ Transit operates over former DL&W trackage on much of the former Morris & Essex Railroad to Gladstone and Hackettstown. In 2002, the transit agency consolidated the Montclair Branch and Boonton Line to create the Montclair-Boonton Line. NJ Transit also operates on the original eastern portion of the Boonton Line known as the Main Line. NJ Transit's hub is at Hoboken Terminal.

Trains on the Morristown Line run directly into New York's Pennsylvania Station via the Kearny Connection, opened in 1996. This facilitates part of NJ Transit's popular Midtown Direct service. Formerly, the line ran to a terminal in Hoboken and a transfer was required to pass under the Hudson river into Manhattan. This is the only section of former Lackawanna trackage that has more through tracks now than ever before.

Since the 1999 breakup of Conrail, the former DL&W main line from Scranton east to Slateford in Monroe County has been owned by the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority (PNRRA). The Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad and Steamtown National Historic Site operates freight trains and tourist trains on this stretch of track, dubbed the Pocono Mainline (or Pocono Main). Under a haulage agreement with Norfolk Southern, the D-L runs unit Canadian grain trains between Scranton and the Harvest States Grain Mill at Pocono Summit, Pennsylvania and wood deliveries to Bestway Enterprises in Cresco. Excursion trains, hauled by visiting Nickel Plate 765 and other locomotives, run from Steamtown to Moscow and Tobyhanna (with infrequent extensions to East Stroudsburg or Delaware Water Gap Station, both on the Pocono Mainline).

The D-L also runs Lackawanna County's tourist trolleys from the Electric City Trolley Museum, under overhead electrified wiring installed on original sections of the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad that was also purchased by Lackawanna County. It also runs trains on a remnant of the DL&W Diamond branch in Scranton.

In 2006, the Monroe County and Lackawanna County Railroad Authorities formed the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Rail Authority to accelerate the resumption of passenger train service between New York City and Scranton.

Most of the main line west of Binghamton in New York State has been abandoned, in favor of the Erie's Buffalo line via Hornell. The longest remaining main line sector is Painted Post-Wayland, with shortline service provided by B&H Railroad (Bath & Hammondsport, a division of the Livonia, Avon, and Lakeville Railroad). Shorter main line remnants are Groveland-Greigsville (Genesee & Wyoming) and Lancaster-Depew (Depew, Lancaster & Western). The Richfield Springs branch was scrapped in 1998 after being out of service for years; as of 2012, the new owners of the right-of-way were looking for a new narrow-gauge shortline passenger operator. The Cortland-Cincinnatus Branch, abandoned by Erie Lackawanna in 1960, was partially-rebuilt for an industrial spur about 1999.

As of 2018, the Reading Blue Mountain and Northern operates the former Keyser Valley branch from Scranton to Taylor, as well as the former Bloomsburg branch from Taylor to Coxton Yard in Duryea. The Luzerne and Susquehanna Railway operates the former Bloomsburg branch from Duryea to Kingston. The North Shore Railroad (Pennsylvania) operates the former Bloomsburg branch from Northumberland to Hicks Ferry.

In 2012, the Lackawanna Railroad paint scheme returned to the rails on Norfolk Southern NS #1074, an EMD SD70ACe locomotive, as part of Norfolk Southern's celebration of 20 of its predecessor lines.

The Norfolk and Western Railway (reporting mark NW), commonly called the N&W, was a US class I railroad, formed by more than 200 railroad mergers between 1838 and 1982. It was headquartered in Roanoke, Virginia, for most of its existence. Its motto was "Precision Transportation"; it had a variety of nicknames, including "King Coal" and "British Railway of America".

The N&W was famous for manufacturing its own steam locomotives, which were built at the Roanoke Shops, as well as its own hopper cars. After 1960, N&W was the last major Class I railroad using steam locomotives; the last remaining Y class 2-8-8-2s would eventually be retired between 1964 and 1965.

In December 1959, the N&W merged with the Virginian Railway (reporting mark VGN), a longtime rival in the Pocahontas coal region. By 1970, other mergers with the Nickel Plate Road and Wabash formed a system that operated 7,595 miles (12,223 km) of road on 14,881 miles (23,949 km) of track from North Carolina to New York and from Virginia to Iowa.

In 1980, the N&W merged its business operation with those of the Southern Railway, another profitable carrier to create the Norfolk Southern Corporation holding company. The N&W and the Southern Railway continued as separate railroads operating under a single holding company.

In 1990, the Southern Railway was renamed Norfolk Southern Railway and the holding company transferred the Norfolk & Western Railway to the control of the newly renamed company.

The N&W's earliest predecessor was the City Point Railroad (CPRR), a 9-mile (14 km) short-line railroad formed in 1838 to extend from City Point (now part of the independent city of Hopewell, Virginia), a port on the tidal James River, to Petersburg, Virginia, on the fall line of the shallower Appomattox River. In 1854, CPRR became part of the South Side Railroad, which connected Petersburg with Lynchburg, where it interchanged through traffic with the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad (V&T) and the James River and Kanawha Canal.

William Mahone (1826–95), an 1847 engineering graduate of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), was employed by Francis Mallory to build the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad (N&P) and eventually became its president in the pre-Civil War era. Construction of N&P began in 1853. Mahone's innovative corduroy roadbed through the Great Dismal Swamp near Norfolk, Virginia, employed a log foundation laid at right angles beneath the surface of the swamp. It is still in use 150 years later and it withstands immense tonnages of coal traffic.

Mahone married Otelia Butler, from Smithfield in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, a daughter of Robert Butler (1784–1853), a Virginia state treasurer. Popular legend has it that Otelia and William Mahone traveled along the newly completed N&P naming stations along the 52-mile (84 km) tangent between Suffolk and Petersburg from Ivanhoe, a book she was reading by Walter Scott. From Scott's historical Scottish novels, Otelia chose the place names of Windsor, Waverly and Wakefield. She tapped the Scottish Clan "McIvor" for the name of Ivor, a small Southampton County town. When they could not agree on a name for a station just west of the Sussex County line in Prince George, it is said that the young couple invented a new word in honor of their "dispute", which is how the tiny community of Disputanta was named. The N&P was completed in 1858.

Of small stature, dynamic "Little Billy" Mahone became a major general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. He was widely regarded as the hero of the Battle of the Crater during the Siege of Petersburg in 1864–65. Otelia Mahone served as a nurse in the Confederate capital of Richmond.

The N&P was severed by the war. The portion east of the Blackwater River at Zuni, Virginia, was held by the Union for most of the war. The eastern portion of the City Point Railroad played a crucial role for Union General Ulysses S. Grant during the Siege of Petersburg, and was operated by the United States Military Railroad. The South Side Railroad was also heavily damaged.

William and Otelia Mahone were illustrious characters in post-bellum Virginia. Mahone got quickly to work restoring "his" N&P, and resumed his dream of linking the three trunk lines across the southern tier of Virginia to reach points to the west. He became president of all three, and drove the 1870 merger of N&P, South Side Railroad and the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad to form the Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio Railroad (AM&O). The AM&O extended 408 miles (657 km) from Norfolk to Bristol, Virginia. The Mahones moved to the headquarters city of Lynchburg, the midpoint of the AM&O. The acronym AM&O was said to stand for "All Mine and Otelia's."

The AM&O operated profitably in the early 1870s but like many railroads encountered financial problems during the Panic of 1873. A fourth road of the AM&O family was planned to extend west through the Cumberland Gap to Kentucky, but was never built. Mahone retained control of AM&O for several more years before his relationship with English and Scottish bondholders deteriorated in 1876 and receivers were appointed to oversee his work. After several years of operating under receiverships, Mahone's role as a railroad builder ended in 1881 when northern financial interests took control.

At the foreclosure auction, the AM&O was purchased by E.W. Clark & Co., a private banking firm in Philadelphia with ties to the large Pennsylvania Railroad. The PRR was seeking a southern connection for its Shenandoah Valley Railroad (SVRR), which was then under construction up the valley from the Potomac River.

In 1881, the AM&O was reorganized and renamed Norfolk and Western, a name perhaps taken from an 1850s charter application filed by citizens of Norfolk, Virginia. George Frederick Tyler became president. Frederick J. Kimball, a civil engineer and partner in E.W. Clark & Co., became First Vice President. Henry Fink, whom Mahone had hired in 1855, became Second Vice President and General Superintendent.

Kimball and his board of directors selected Big Lick, a small Virginia village on the Roanoke River, to be the junction of SVRR and the N&W. Big Lick was later renamed Roanoke, Virginia. Over time, Roanoke began to grow and in the 1950s, reached a population of over 90,000.

At its founding, the N&W primarily transported agricultural products. Kimball, who had a strong interest in geology, led the railroad's efforts to open the Pocahontas coalfields in western Virginia and southern West Virginia. In mid-1881, the N&W acquired the franchises to four other lines: the New River Railroad, Mining and Manufacturing Company, the Bluestone Railroad, and the East River Railroad. Consolidated into the New River Railroad Company, with Kimball as president, these railroads became the basis for N&W's New River Division, which was soon built from New Kanawha (near East Radford) up the west bank of the New River through Pulaski County and into Giles County to the mouth of the East River near Glen Lyn, Virginia. From there, the new line ran up the East River, crossing the Virginia-West Virginia border several times to reach the coalfields to the west near the Great Flat Top Mountain. Coal transported to Norfolk soon became NW's primary commodity, and led to great wealth and profitability.

Kimball served as N&W president from 1883 to 1895. Under his leadership, the N&W continued expansion westward with its lines through the wilderness of West Virginia with the Ohio Extension, eventually extending north across the Ohio River to Columbus, Ohio by the Scioto Valley Railroad. Acquisition of other lines, including the Cincinnati, Portsmouth and Virginia Railroad (CP&V) (which it had long supported and leased) extended the N&W system west along the Ohio River to Cincinnati, Ohio, south from Lynchburg to Durham, North Carolina, and south from Roanoke to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. By the time Kimball died in 1903, the railroad had attained the basic structure it would use for more than 60 years.

In 1890 the N&W bought out the Shenandoah Valley Railroad. This gave the railroad a reach north of the Potomac River and the Virginia-Maryland border, and a line with territory reaching as far north as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This would become referred to as the Shenandoah Valley Division.

In 1885, several small mining companies representing about 400,000 acres (1,600 km2) of bituminous coal reserves grouped together to form the coalfields' largest landowner, the Philadelphia-based Flat-Top Coal Land Association.The N&W bought the association and reorganized it as the Pocahontas Coal and Coke Company (PCCC). The PCCC was later renamed the Pocahontas Land Corporation (PLC) and is now a subsidiary of NS.

As the availability and fame of high-quality Pocahontas bituminous coal increased, economic forces took over. Coal operators and their employees settled dozens of towns in southern West Virginia, and in the next few years, as coal demand swelled, some of them amassed fortunes. The countryside was soon sprinkled with tipples, coke ovens, houses for workers, company stores and churches. In the four decades before the Crash of 1929 and subsequent Depression, these coal towns flourished. One example was the small community of Bramwell, West Virginia, which in its heyday boasted the highest per capita concentration of millionaires in the country.

In 1886, the N&W tracks were extended directly to coal piers at Lambert's Point, which was located in Norfolk County just north of the City of Norfolk on the Elizabeth River, where one of the busiest coal export facilities in the world was built to reach Hampton Roads shipping. A residential section was also developed to house the families of the workers. Many early residents of Lambert's Point were involved in the coal industry.

The opening of the coalfields made the N&W prosperous and Pocahontas coal world-famous. By 1900, Norfolk was the leading coal exporting port on the East Coast. Transported by the N&W, and later the neighboring VGN, it fueled half the world's navies and today stokes steel mills and power plants all over the globe.

The company was famous for building its own steam locomotives, a practice rare outside Britain (where most railways either built their own locomotives or had outside contractors build locomotives to their designs). The locomotives were built at the Roanoke Shops at Roanoke. The Shops employed thousands of craftsmen, who refined their products over the years. The A, J, and Y6 locomotives, designed, built and maintained by NW personnel, brought the company industry-wide fame for its excellence in steam power. The N&W's commitment to steam power was due in part to its investment in the manufacturing capacity and human resources to build and operate steam locomotives, and partially due to the major commodity it hauled, coal. During the 1950s, N&W rebuilt its W Class 2-8-0 Consolidations into Shop Co W6 0-8-0Ts. In 1960, the N&W became the last major railroad in the United States to abandon steam locomotives for diesel-electric motive power.

Today, the Roanoke Shops continue to build and repair rolling stock.

The Roanoke & Southern Railway Company was organized in 1887, succeeding separate companies called Roanoke & Southern in North Carolina and Virginia. Norfolk and Western leased the Roanoke & Southern (called the Norfolk, Roanoke & Southern Rail Road by 1896) starting in 1892 but it became part of Norfolk and Western in 1911.

The N&W operated profitably through World War I and World War II and paid regular dividends throughout the Depression. During World War I, the N&W was jointly operated with VGN under the USRA's wartime takeover of the Pocahontas Roads. The operating efficiencies were significant, and after the war, when the railroads were returned to their respective owners and competitive status, the N&W never lost sight of the VGN and its low-gradient routing through Virginia. N&W meanwhile during World War 2 used their J's, K1's, A Class, and S1 Switchers to handle the troop trains from Ohio to Norfolk, a point of embarkation. Other three were New York, San Francisco, and San Diego. However, the US Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) turned down attempts at combining the roads until 1959, when a proposed N&W-VGN merger was finally approved.

The N&W also operated safely in this time, being the recipient of the Gold E. H. Harriman Award for 1938. In a promotional booklet published in 1939, the N&W wrote "For the second time in 12 years, the American Museum of Safety has awarded the Harriman Memorial Gold Medal to the Norfolk & Western Railway for the outstanding safety record during 1938 among class I railroads of the United States." It is further noted that the railway carried one million passengers more than 86,000,000 miles (138,000,000 km) without incident in the period from 1924 to 1938.

At the end of 1925, the N&W operated 2,241 miles (3,607 km) of route on 4,429 miles (7,128 km) track; at the end of 1956 NW operated 2,132 miles (3,431 km) of route on 4,759 miles (7,659 km) of track.

VGN was conceived and built by William Nelson Page and Henry Huttleston Rogers. Page had helped engineer and build the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O) through the mountains of West Virginia and Rogers had already become a millionaire and a principal of Standard Oil before their partnership was formed early in the 20th century.

Initially, their project was an 80-mile (130 km)-long short line railroad. After failing to establish favorable rates to interchange coal traffic with the big railroads (who shut them out through collusion), the project expanded. Rogers was apparently a silent partner in the early stages, and the bigger railroads did not take Page seriously. However, the partners planned and then built a "Mountains to Sea" railroad from the coal fields of southern West Virginia to port near Norfolk at Sewell's Point in the harbor of Hampton Roads. They accomplished this right under the noses of the pre-existing and much bigger C&O and N&W railroads and their leaders by forming two small intrastate railroads, Deepwater Railway, in West Virginia, and Tidewater Railway in Virginia. Once right-of-way and land acquisitions had been secured, the two small railroads were merged in 1907 to form the Virginian Railway.

Engineered by Page and financed almost entirely from Rogers' personal resources, VGN lines were laid on the principle that picking the best route and buying the best equipment would save operating expenses.

Mark Twain spoke at VGN's dedication in Norfolk, Virginia, only 6 weeks before Rogers died in May 1909 after his only inspection trip on the newly completed railroad. That June, Booker T. Washington made a whistle-stop speaking tour on VGN, traveling in Rogers' private car, Dixie, and later revealing that Rogers had been instrumental in funding many small country schools and institutions of higher education in the South for the betterment of Negroes.

VGN operated over more modern alignments than the C&O, and the N&W, and its track was built to the highest standards. It provided major competition for coal traffic to C&O and the N&W. The 600-mile (970 km) VGN followed Rogers' philosophy throughout its profitable history, earning the nickname "Richest Little Railroad in the World." It operated some of the largest and most powerful steam, electric, and diesel locomotives.

The VGN electrified 134 miles (216 km) of its route between 1922 and 1926 at a cost of $15 million, and had its own power plant at Narrows, Virginia. It shared electrical resources with N&W from 1925 to 1950, when the N&W discontinued its own, shorter, electrified section through the Elkhorn Tunnel and Great Flat Top Mountain region. The VGN track was de-electrified in 1962, after the N&W-VGN merger.

In 1955, the N&W operated in North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, and Ohio.

When the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) approved VGN's 1959 merger into the N&W, it heralded a merger movement and a modernization of the entire U.S. railroad industry. In 1964, the former Wabash; Nickel Plate; Pittsburgh and West Virginia Railway; and Akron, Canton and Youngstown Railroad were brought into the system in one of the most complex mergers of the era. This consolidation, plus the 1976 addition of a more direct route to Chicago, Illinois, made NW an important Midwestern railroad that provided direct single-line service between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes and Mississippi River.

In the late 1960s, the N&W acquired Dereco, a holding company that owned the Delaware & Hudson (D&H) and Erie Lackawanna (EL) railroads. Dereco's troubled railroads were not merged into the N&W; EL eventually joined Conrail and D&H was sold to Guilford Transportation Industries, and is now part of Canadian Pacific.

In 1970, the N&W operated in North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa.

On September 1, 1981, the N&W acquired Illinois Terminal Railroad. The N&W was also a major investor in Piedmont Airlines. And sometime in the 1980's the song "Cargo Moving People" was made and recorded, it never was officially released to the public though.

By 1996, N&W ran in most of the Midwest and Eastern states. Many N&W lines by 1998 were abandoned and some of them were never used again. However, the Norfolk to Bluefield line still exists but traffic has slowed because of its 12-mile 1.2% grade.

In the 1950s, Canadian National Railway (CN) introduced a group of innovative bi-level autorack railcars. These autoracks had end doors and were very large by the standards of the time; at 75 feet (23 m) long, each autorack could carry 8 completed automobiles. These autoracks were a big success and helped lead to the development of today's fully enclosed autoracks. Tri-level autoracks were developed in the 1970s.

During the 1960s, autoracks took over rail transportation of newly completed automobiles in North America. They carried more cars in the same space and were easier to load and unload than the boxcars formerly used. Ever-larger auto carriers and specialized terminals were developed by NW and other railroads.

The railroads were able to provide lower costs and greater protection from in-transit damage, such as that which may occur due to vandalism or weather and traffic conditions on unenclosed truck trailers. Using the autoracks, the railroads became the primary long-distance transporter of completed automobiles, one of few commodities where the industry has been able to overcome trucking in competition.

In 1980, the profitable N&W teamed up with the Southern Railway, another profitable company, to form the Norfolk Southern Corporation and it paved the way for today's Norfolk Southern Railway (formerly the Southern Railway) and compete more effectively with CSX Transportation, itself a combination of smaller railroads in the eastern half of the United States.

Today, former N&W trackage remains a vital portion of the Norfolk Southern Railway, a Fortune 500 company. The headquarters of the Norfolk Southern Railway and the parent Norfolk Southern Corporation are near the coal piers at Lambert's Point.

While the Powhatan Arrow (all-coach, Norfolk–Cincinnati/Columbus) was the N&W's flagship passenger train, sporting a regal maroon livery with gold trim and hauled by a J Class 4-8-4 Northern Type steam locomotive, the railroad also operated a number of other passenger trains. These include:

The N&W also participated in five inter-line passenger trains:

The last three were unusual in that the Southern Railway operated the trains, either side of the N&W stretch between Lynchburg and Bristol.

The Norfolk-bound trains arrived at Norfolk Terminal Station, which also served as the N&W company offices.

Steam locomotive types on the Norfolk and Western

The N&W had run excursion trains since its first days of passenger traffic, and deliberately powered them with steam engines after 1960, when most other trains had been switched to diesels. The excursion trains were powered by several of the N&W's famous steam locomotives, including J class #611 and A class #1218. The practice continued after the 1982 merger, under the first president of the merged Norfolk Southern, Robert B. Claytor, but was finally halted in 1994.

Today, #1218 is on static display at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, Virginia; locomotive #611 has been restored to working order for the VMT by the North Carolina Transportation Museum; N&W class Y6a #2156 has been brought to Roanoke from the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis, Missouri; and Class M #475 continues to operate at the Strasburg Railroad in Strasburg, Pennsylvania, where 611 will participate in Fall 2019 for the "Reunion of Steam" event.

N&W Class M #433 survives at the trailhead of the Virginia Creeper in Abingdon, Virginia. The Virginia Creeper runs on the old Right of Way of the Norfolk and Western Abingdon branch line.

N&W Class E #578 survives at the Ohio Railway museum in Worthington, Ohio.

Four other engines survive known as the Lost Engines of Roanoke; a group of engines that survived in a Roanoke Scrapyard from the late 1950s until all were retrieved in 2009. These four engines included a Class W2 2-8-0 #917, Class M2 #1118 and #1134, and Class M2c #1151. #917 is displayed without a tender in Bellville, Ohio as a display for a restaurant. M2 #1118 is owned by the Roanoke Chapter Historical Society without a tender. M2 #1134 is displayed in Portsmouth VA at the Railroad Museum of Virginia with a tender. M2c #1151 is owned by the Virginia Museum of Transportation, and currently sits unrestored with a tender from an A class engine.

Thousands of men and women worked for the AM&O and NW after the Civil War. Among the leaders were:

As a part of Norfolk Southern's 30th anniversary, the company painted 20 new locomotives into predecessor schemes. NS #8103, a GE ES44AC, was painted into the Norfolk and Western's blue scheme. NS also has SD40 #1580, of N&W heritage, stored at their Altoona works, awaiting restoration to its original N&W colors. However, as of 2021, there is still no information on where #1580 will go when it is donated.

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