The Warwick Valley Rail Road Company became the Lehigh & Hudson River.
Shown above is Lehigh & Hudson River No 29 at Warwick.
My Stock in the Warwick Valley Railroad
Recently a good friend of mine found a stock certificate for the Warwick Valley Rail Road Company. I knew a little bit about it and decided to investigate even further. The Lehigh & Hudson River began as a small line, the Warwick Valley Railroad that connected the town of Warwick, NY with the Erie Railroad at Greycourt, NY. The line expanded south into New Jersey, and in 1882 the Warwick Valley and its affiliates merged to become the L&HR. The line extended from Belvidere, NJ to Maybrook, NY where the New Haven Railroad provided a gateway to New England. The L&HR built a bridge between Phillipsburg, NJ and Easton, PA and ran via trackage rights on the Pennsylvania RR and the Jersey Central Railroad to Allentown, PA. The L&HR handled zinc traffic from the area around Franklin, NJ but mostly it was a bridge line carrying overhead freight. The mergers and abandonments of the 1960 did the L&HR harm, but the New York Central – PRR merger in 1968 caused much traffic to be diverted. The line went bankrupt in 1972 and inclusion in Conrail spelled the end in 1976. The line north of Sparta Jct. became part of the New York, Susquehanna & Western main line in 1982 and the line south of that point was abandoned by Conrail in 1986.
Stations and Interchanges in 1964
|Miles||Stations||Interchange||Telegraph office calls||Other details|
|0.0||Maybrook||New Haven||BK||Station open days
Yard Limit board
|3.7||Girarde||112 car passing siding|
|10.2||Hudson Junction||116 car passing siding|
|10.6||Chester||K||Station open days except weekends|
|14.5||Lake||109 car passing siding|
|19.5||Warwick||Q||Station open day and night
Yard Limit board
|27.2||Vernon||RN||Station open days except weekends
83 car passing siding
|35.7||Franklin||FJ||Station open days
112 car passing siding
75 car passing siding
Yard Limit board
|42.3||Sparta Junction||New York, Susquehanna & Western||68 car passing siding
57 car passing siding
|48.6||Andover||Erie Lackawanna||AD||Station open day and night
70 car passing siding
123 car passing siding
Yard Limit board
|57.9||Port Morris||Erie Lackawanna|
|59.8||Vienna||112 car passing siding|
|60.6||Great Meadows||MO||Station open days except weekends|
|65.7||Pequest||112 car passing siding|
|69.6||Oxford||83 car passing siding|
|72.0||Belvidere||G||Station open day and night
Yard Limit board
|85.8||Easton||Pennsylvania, Central RR of NJ, Lehigh Valley|
|5 —||Eastward trains are superior to westward trains of the same class.
|N. Y. 0. & W. CROSSING AT BURNSIDE|
|23 —||An automatic interlocker is in service governing the crossing with the N. Y. 0. & W. at Burnside.
Should a train find the signal governing movement over this crossing at stop, a member of the crew must obtain permission from the N. Y. O. & W. train dispatcher, observe that no train is approaching on the N. Y. O. & W. crossing in either direction, then operate the push button located at the crossing. After three (3) minutes, the signal should clear. If the signal does not then clear, it must not be passed until authorized by both the N. Y. O. & W. and the L. & H. R. train dispatchers, and then only on hand signal from the trainman standing on the crossing.
Trains must not enter the main track of the N. Y. O. & W. without permission from the N. Y. O. & W. train dispatcher.
MAXIMUM SPEED RESTRICTIONS
|29 —||Passenger trains must not exceed a speed of 50 miles per hour.|
|30 —||Freight trains must not exceed a speed of 45 miles per hour.|
|31 —||Trains hauling cars loaded with zinc ore must not exceed a speed of 30 miles per hour.|
|32 —||Trains must not exceed a speed of 10 miles per hour over the N. Y. S. & W. R. R. crossings at Sparta Junction and Franklin.|
|33 —||Regardless of the indication of the crossing signals, all trains carrying passengers must stop at the signals before proceeding over the N. Y. S. & W. R. R. crossings at Sparta Junction and Franklin.|
|34 —||Trains will not exceed a speed of 20 miles per hour over Elm, Main and South Streets and Forester Avenue crossings at Warwick, N. Y.|
|35 —||Trains handling steam derrick will not exceed a speed of 20 miles per hour.|
|36 —||Trains must not exceed a speed of 20 miles per hour upon the bridge over the Delaware River between Phillipsburg, N. J., and Easton, Pa.|
|37 —||Trains crossing from one track to another, entering or leaving main trades or sidings, or taking diverging routes, must not exceed a speed of 15 miles per hour.|
|Speed signs located on the right of track and 500 feet in advance of points of curve indicate maximum speed in miles per hour permitted on that curve.|
MAXIMUM SPEEDS ON CURVES
|West of Maybrook ————||0.6||0.8||40|
|West of E. & J. Bridge ——||2.4||2.6||40|
|East & West of Craigville —||7.0||7.8||35|
|West of Greycourt ———–||9.3||10.3||35|
|West of Chester ————-||11.4||11.6||40|
|West of Sugar Loaf ———-||13.3||13.8||40|
|East end Lake Siding ——–||14.1||14.3||40|
|West of Warwick ————-||21.4||22.0||40|
|West of New Milford ———||22.6||23.1||40|
|East & West of Hamburg ——||33.3||34.2||35|
|Lake Grinnell —————||39.3||40.2||35|
|West of Great Meadows ——-||61.5||61.6||40|
|East & West of Townsbury —-||62.6||63.1||30|
|West of Pequest Crossing —-||66.1||66.3||30|
CAR CAPACITY OF TRACKS
|46 Ft. Per Car||Cars|
|North wye ————————–||14|
|South wye ————————–||8|
|South wye siding ——————-||7|
|No. 1 ——————————-||17|
|Grange and Fuel Gas Co ————||10|
|Conklin Siding ———————||4|
|No. 52 ——————————||13|
|No. 54 ——————————||4|
|No. 57 —————————–||13|
|No. 1 ——————————||73|
|No. 2 ——————————||69|
|No. 3 ——————————-||65|
|No. 4 ——————————||61|
|No. 5 ——————————||57|
|No. 6 ——————————||53|
|No. 7 ——————————||48|
|McAfee – Team Track||———————||8|
|Hamburg – Commercial||——————–||17|
|Mine Hill ——————————–||20|
|No. 1 ————————————||23|
|No. 2 ————————————||20|
|No. 3 ————————————||11|
|West Commercial ————————–||50|
|Woodruff’s Gap Station||——————-||5|
|Sparta Jct – Interchange||———————-||20|
|Extension to Sparta 1||————————||23|
|No. 1 ———————————-||29|
|No. 2 ———————————-||25|
|Freight House ————————-||10|
|Gamma Chemical ———————–||3|
|Oxford 1 ——————————||65|
|No. 1 ———————————||27|
|No. 2 ———————————-||30|
|No. 3 ———————————-||26|
|No. 1 ———————————||72|
|No. 2 ———————————-||70|
|No. 3 ———————————-||53|
|No. 4 ———————————-||50|
|Tail Track —————————–||69|
The Central of New Jersey carried freight between the Midwest and New England. From Allentown two routes to New England were used:
(1) CNJ to Easton, Lehigh & Hudson River RR to Maybrook and the New Haven RR’s Poughkeepsie Bridge Route:
(2) CNJ to Wilkes-Barre, Delaware & Hudson RR to Schenectady and Boston & Maine RR. The D&H also reached Montreal and its connections to eastern Canada. Then too, Philadelphia was connected to these New England gateways via the Reading to Allentown. The Jersey Central’s Allentown yard was a focal point in the expeditious movement of all these services.
Lehigh & Hudson River Station in Warwick
NYS&W Hanford Branch
The Hanford Branch of the NYS&W went from Beaver Lake through Franklin and Sussex to M&U Jct. at Hanford on the NJ – NY border. At that point it connected with the Middletown & Unionville RR then went to Middletown NY where it connected with the Erie RR and NYO&W Ry. The Hanford Branch was the original main line of the NYS&W until it opened on April 15, 1884 its westward extension (new) main line from Beaver Lake through the Delaware Water Gap to Stroudsburg, PA . At Stroudsburg it connected with the Wilkes-Barre & Eastern RR. The last passenger service on the Hanford Branch was, I believe, a mixed train operation that ended on Mar. 22, 1941. The Branch was abandoned in 1958 and the tracks removed by Hyman-Michaels Co. of Chicago except for about a 2 1/2+ mile section from Franklin Jct. to Ogdensburg, which was sold to the Lehigh & Hudson River Ry.
New Jersey’s Answer To Tehachapi:
Right almost in our backyard is the biggest event in railfanning in years.
It is the route that the Sealand container trains take from Buffalo to New York
Instead of taking the smooth, modern CONRAIL main across central New York through the Mohawk Valley, Selkirk, etc; these trains go from Buffalo to Binghamton on the Delaware & Hudson (really CONRAIL, but D&H has rights and runs trains). Then they go the rest of the way via the New York, Susquehanna & Western.
That’s right, the once decrepit and bankrupt NYS&W now runs trains of over a mile in length. Of course, a lot of things have changed. The NYS&W is now owned by the Delaware Otsego System of Cooperstown.
From Binghamton, trains follow CONRAIL’s ex-Erie main to Maybrook, but are hauled by NYS&W diesels (primarily ex-Burlington Northern SD45s).
At Maybrook, trains enter CONRAIL’s branch to Warwick. This was once the Lehigh and Hudson River. Because of all the tracks that have been ripped up in recent years by Erie-Lackawanna, Penn-Central and CONRAIL, the trains have to change directions here (i.e. locomotives do an end-for-end move). At Warwick, ownership changes from CONRAIL to NYS&W. This line continues across the border into New Jersey and meets the old NYS&W at Sparta Junction. It was formerly part of CONRAIL’s Hudson Branch.
At Sparta Junction, the L&HR line ends. It used to continue on to Pennsylvania. The “old” New York, Susquehanna & Western begins at this point.
The NYS&W goes from Sparta Junction to the Hudson River at Little Ferry. This seems fairly simple except that the western portion of the line was closed for 15 years. The fact that this railroad is operating at all, no less running container stack trains (5 car articulated sets which are 19 feet high and 265 feet long) from Long Beach, California, is incredible. Before reopening, NYS&W traffic went from Binghamton to Passaic Junction on a “per car” arrangement with CONRAIL. Passaic Junction is only a few miles from Little Ferry but not only didn’t CONRAIL want the business, but New Jersey Transit kept the line busy.
The big railfan spot on all this is a good-sized hill on the NYS&W just past the junction with the old Lehigh & Hudson River called Sparta Mountain. East-bound trains must do a lot of work in climbing to the crest of the mountain. Six miles of 1.2% grade is a lot of pulling to do.
Best viewing spot is a grade crossing between Sparta and Ogdensburg.
The company behind all this is the Delaware Otsego of Cooperstown which is headed by Walter Rich. His railroad empire has grown from a tiny tourist line running less than three miles in 1968. The “DO System” owns and runs several other lines in New York and Pennsylvania. In 1980, they purchased the then-bankrupt NYS&W. In 1982, they purchased from CONRAIL the old DL&W branches from Binghamton to Syracuse and Utica. At the same time, they got 13 miles of the Lehigh and Hudson River from Warwick to Franklin (this included trackage rights from Binghamton to Warwick). Until the SD45s, motive power was mostly Alcos. In the early 1980s, the Delaware Otsego ran ex-Autotrain domeliners in excursion service.
Having seen the NYS&W from Oakland to Little Ferry, I decided to see the western portion that had just been returned to service and find out what this big railfan “thing” was at Sparta Junction.
From the NY Thruway at Suffern (actually in Mahwah), I headed down Route 17 and US 202 to Oakland. The NYS&W crosses the road at Oakland. After crossing US 202, the railroad was hard to follow so I detoured off the main road to follow it better. Immediately after Oakland, I arrived in Pompton Lakes. It took me about a half hour and 17 miles to get here. The old station at Pompton Lakes is now a Christian Science Reading Room.
The New York, Susquehanna & Western broke away from the Erie in 1940 after being owned by it for 48 years. Upon gaining independence, the road bought some gas-electric cars and began to shuttle passengers from North Bergen, NJ into Manhattan in order to build its service. The so-called “Susquehanna Transfer” ran shuttle busses to Times Square, Some of the gas-electrics were new from ACF while others had seen service on the Illinois Central, Boston & Maine and the Cumberland and Pennsylvania. The road was dieselized shortly after World War II with Alco RS-1s and S-2s. Some GP-18s were added later. In 1956, nine trains departed Erie’s Jersey City station. Eight of these went as far as Butler. By 1964, only two went to Butler while a third went to Hawthorne.
Running time from Butler to Susquehanna Transfer (near the North Bergen area) was a little over an hour. The distance was 36 miles and there could be as many as 18 stops (several stations were “flag stops” only). At Susquehanna Transfer station, passengers were transferred to/from busses for the hop into Manhattan.
Passenger service at one time was run with several RDC-1s and some Budd streamliners which were sold to Central of New Jersey well before service was discontinued in 1966. Passenger service ended with the NYS&W using some old Boston & Albany coaches.
Returning to the west-bound highway. I encounter a grade crossing at Riverdale. The track is rusty and looks like the NYS&W used to look. This is only a spur off the main line to serve a grain and feed operation. It joins the main line at Pompton Junction and used to belong to the Erie. It was part of the Greenwood Lake Division and had automatic interlocking signals at the NYS&W junction back in the 1950s when both railroads still carried passengers. The Erie-Lackawanna operated this branch into the 1960s.
At Bloomingdale, I see lots of signs of the restorations that have taken place on the line (fresh ballast, unrotted ties, etc).
Butler has a coal and feed mill. The station is now a town museum. There was a junction with the Central of NJ at Green Pond Junction. Actually, the connection was with the Wharton & Northern Railroad. This 15 mile CRRNJ subsidiary ran freight-only from Lake Junction as part of the since-abandoned High Bridge branch. Near Newfoundland, the railroad follows alongside Route 23. At Oak Ridge, there is a 48 mile marker. I presume this is the distance from Little Ferry.
The Sussex county line has taken me an hour to reach and is 34 miles from my starting point. Ballast work and brush clearing are clearly evident along this portion of the right-of-way.
Before Franklin, I follow Route 517. The NYS&W is on the hillside to my right. After I pass through Ogdensburg there is a grade crossing. A hot dog vendor has set up nearby (how convenient for train watching!). This crossing has a sign about how trains are now using crossing.
Following Route 181 past Sparta, the railroad is now to my right. Past the junction with Route 15, it crosses the road. I take a left onto Route 669 just before the old Lehigh and Hudson River crossing. I follow this road to the Sparta plant of Eastern Propane where the tracks have been bent northward to the L&HR and the old section has been abandoned. Sussex County purchased the old L&HR from Franklin to just below Sparta Junction and is reselling it to the Susquehanna on the installment plan. CONRAIL has abandoned the trackage south of here. Until recently, the NYS&W joined the L&HR heading in a southerly direction. As part of the rebuilding, the route now heads north which saves running backwards. There are a couple of section cars and an old box car on the abandoned section.
Sparta Sand & Gravel Co. has a siding as well as the propane plant. The Limecrest quarry is the southern-most point served by the NYS&W. I leave the side roads past the Sparta Recycling Center and rejoin Route 15. I turn right on Route 94 and follow it north to an unmarked road to Franklin and back to Route 23.
At Hamberg, the L&HR crosses to my right. Near the Great Gorge ski area, it crosses to my left and follows the road up the valley.
70 miles and 2 hours from my start, I cross into New York State. I pause at Covered Bridge Road and Onderdonk Road which are off Route 94 near Warwick. South of Warwick is an end of block sign for CONRAIL and a sign that NYS&W begins here. At Warwick, CONRAIL engine 1962 and a caboose are parked in the yard along with many stored hoppers. The old Lehigh & Hudson River headquarters is now a booksearch company. In town, an old caboose serves as a tourist information booth.
The Lehigh & Hudson River began in 1860 when the Warwick Valley Railroad started to build from Warwick to Greycourt (on the Erie). It was then extended to serve the iron mines in the vicinity of Franklin. It went all the way to the Delaware River in 1882 and became the Lehigh & Hudson River. After the Poughkeepsie Bridge was built, an extension was built in 1890 to Maybrook. The New Haven’s purchase of the Poughkeepsie Bridge turned the L&HR into a bridge route for agricultural products and coal. The road served as an important route between the New Haven and the DL&W at Port Morris. It also connected with the Lehigh Valley at Phillipsburg and the Jersey Central at Allentown.
The importance of the Lehigh & Hudson River Railway resulted from its location: connecting the Middle Atlantic States with New England by a direct line.
In 1958, it ran five freights each way daily. In the days of steam, coal-burning Consolidations plus three heavy Mikados built in 1944 handled the tonnage. It dieselized in 1950 with Alco and also was the first fully radio-equipped road in the northeast. It paid dividends from World War I through 1969 and was able to keep its operating ratio under 70%.
Obviously, the closing of the Poughkeepsie Bridge and the creation of Erie-Lackawanna killed this railroad. It could no longer function as a bridge line when the same railroad owned each end of the “bridge”. In 1972 it was forced into bankruptcy. 2 million tons of coal in 1964 had shrunk to 200,000 by 1970. PC and Erie-Lackawanna no longer needed it. Before its 1976 sale to CONRAIL, it was owned by Central of New Jersey, Reading, Penn-Central, Erie-Lackawanna and Lehigh Valley, It was a 95-mile line which had 6 locomotives in 1975. It was not noted as a passenger carrier.
I leave the L&HR at Warwick and follow Route 17A through Greenwood Lake back towards my starting point.
Returning to Route 17, I follow the NY Transit (CONRAIL;ex-Erie) route towards Suffern. At Tuxedo, the station is also the police station. This line, like the NYS&W and L&HR, was quiet like you might expect for a warm Spring Saturday afternoon.
The Chester Historical Society Subject: Photo of L&H Railroad switch tower XA.
My husband has ancestors from the Chester area who worked for the L&H Railroad. Clif Patrick and I have been sending notes back and forth and he suggested that you may be able to help me date an old photograph I have of a switch station.
I have a list of L&HR Railroad towers as of 1964 and XA is gone.
See the full list.
Here are the towers I have:
BK = Maybrook
K = Chester
Q = Warwick
RN = Vernon
FJ = Franklin
AD = Andover
MO = Great Meadows
G = Belvidere
Near Chester: Hudson Junction shows no tower but does show a 116-car passing siding. This could have been the tower location but closed by 1964????
The Lehigh New England carried both anthracite and cement; but declines in the traffic caused the parent Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company to abandon the still-solvent road in 1960.
Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company was formed in 1822. It’s well-known logo was a red target surrounded by a white circular band and saying “Old Company’s Lehigh”. In the 1930’s it owned over 8,000 acres of coal land and four colleries. It also owned several water companies and mountain resorts. In addition to the Lehigh and New England Railroad, they owned the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad and it’s extension the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton Railroad. The L&S went from Easton, PA to Wilkes-Barre and was leased to Central RR of New Jersey for $2 million/year.
The Lehigh & New England had a Reading Company heritage but was owned by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company after 1904. Reading tried to lease it in 1926 but the ICC denied; instead the ICC wanted the L&NE merged into the New Haven (they met at Maybrook). The L&NE carried both anthracite and cement; but declines in the traffic caused the parent Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company to abandon the still-solvent road in 1960. Central Railroad of New Jersey bought portions (about 40 miles) of the once 217-mile line. These pieces went over to Conrail.
The Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad was completed between Phillipsburg, New Jersey and Wilkes-Barre, PA in 1866. It was leased to the Central Railroad of New Jersey (Jersey Central Lines) in 1871. The L&S was extended to Scranton in 1888 by means of the subsidiary Wilkes-Barre & Scranton. Jersey Central’s Pennsylvania lines were consolidated in 1972 with the Lehigh Valley and thus the CRR of NJ was out of Pennsylvania.
The Wilkes-Barre and Eastern Railroad was among several railroads attracted by the anthracite coal fields of northeastern Pennsylvania, It was an extension of the NYS&W chartered in 1892 and gone by 1940 (except a couple of small sections). It went from Stroudsburg over the Pocono Mountain grades to Kingston, PA (across the Susquehanna River from Wilkes-Barre).
Campbell Hall, NY is located on Metro North’s Southern Tier Line (ex Erie). Back in the day, say 1945, Campbell Hall was host to the Erie, Lehigh & Hudson River, Lehigh & New England, New York, Ontario & Western and the New Haven. The New York Central used their Wallkill Valley Branch out of Kingston, NY to Montgomery, NY where, with trackage rights, they then used the Erie’s Montgomery Branch down to Campbell Hall. At Campbell Hall, they reversed ends, then proceeded east to Maybrook Yard.
The Campbell Hall scene was indeed dominated by many of the much discussed “Anthracite roads”. Originally, Campbell Hall had its own railroad which was absorbed into the New Haven around 1917 or so. It remained a “paper” railroad but had a station at Campbell Hall that was kept operational by the New Haven. The New Haven was building its new facility at Maybrook, and once completed, the station was not needed and was eventually sold to the New York Ontario & Western RR. The O&W operated the the station on its own with leasing rights to the Lehigh and New England Railroad, which operated over the Erie Railroad’s Montgomery branch line into Campbell Hall. There was a diamond at the station which was Erie crossing over O&W track leading into Maybrook. This track was the LNE’s access into Maybrook Yard via New Haven’s OWN tracks
The Erie Railroad’s Montgomery Branch continued west (south) to Goshen, NY to join the Erie’s Main Line. With the building of the Graham Line, diamonds where installed at MQ. The L&NE reached Goshen over Erie’s Pine Island Branch over which it also had trackage rights (from Pine Island Jct. to Goshen). At Goshen, it briefly used the Erie Main as it crossed over to the Montgomery Branch just west of the station.
The L&HR did not go through Campbell Hall, but instead had its own track directly into the west (south) end of Maybook Yard, several hundred yards to the east (by compass direction) of where the New Haven’s west-end of yard lead comes out.
Currently, Norfolk Southern runs the freight, Metro North the passenger and the Susquehanna runs freight via track rights. New Haven’s Maybrook Yard was just about 2 miles north of Campbell Hall. This was a huge facility that was known as the “Gateway to New England”.
Some other information on Campbell Hall can be found in Maybrook connections, Maybrook Yard, and the Alphabet Route.
More About the Lehigh and Hudson River
It was the first to use a refrigerator car and first to use radio. L&HR was a very progressive RR
L&HR participated in the “Central States Dispatch” which was a fast-freight “alphabet route” that linked the B&O, WM, RDG, L&HR, and NH to link Cumberland MD and Boston MA.
President Franklin D Roosevelt rode the L&HR once too!
Why did the L&HR end?
| In a Way you can say Penn Central finished off the L&HR with no New England traffic out of Maybrook. It was truly useless however you could say its DEATH started in 1960 with the EL Merger!
The L&HR was a feisty little railroad. A Penn Central railroader who worked the Maybrook Line once said that PC actually put on a New England-Potomac Yard train routed via L&HR to P-Burg. The NEC was already getting crowded. But the train was rerouted after L&HR demanded a higher percentage of the revenue!
However it happened, after the Poughkeepsie Bridge burned in Spring 1974 and was taken out of service, that was the end of the L&HR as a through route. They took a huge hit on that one. But they were pretty successful converting themselves to a scaled-down local carrier.
There are several miles of the Wallkill Valley still in use. Technically from Clinton St. into Walden was Wallkill Valley track. Conrail and now NS run a local to the lumber yards and two other consignees in the village. Perhaps four plus miles almost up to the abutments for the bridge that used to span Route 52.
There were a few hundred feet of track in place along Greenkill Avenue in Kingston but most was scrapped and the rails were donated to the Trolley Museum.