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Sixty years ago today, the Erie Railroad and the Delaware Lackawanna and Western merged to form the Erie Lackawanna.  Stretching from New York to Chicago, the EL was the fourth major eastern route between those cities.  Major sources of traffic would be the Automotive and Steel Industry, along with UPS traffic in later years.

As with most railroads in the greater North East, the Erie Lackawanna struggled to thrive.  Both the Erie and the Delaware Lackawanna and Western had major financial problems before the merger. Hurricane Agnes would ultimately force the Erie Lackawanna into bankruptcy.  Around this time, heavy industry in the region began to decline. 

Attempts to reorganize the railroad or find a suitable merger partner proved unsuccessful.  Ultimately the Erie Lackawanna found itself included in Conrail at the last minute.  The Conrail years were not kind to the Erie Lackawanna.

Almost immediately the mainline west of Marion Ohio was abandoned.  The rest of the railroad saw much of the through traffic moved off onto former Penn Central trackage.  By 1990, the Erie Lackawanna west of Youngstown was largely a memory.

Most of the surviving routes of the Erie Lackawanna ended up as part of Norfolk Southern.  Since the rise of intermodal traffic, there has been  speculation that the Erie Lackawanna could have been a leader in intermodal traffic.  The Erie Lackawanna has dedicated group of fans who are dedicated to preserving the history of the "Friendly Service Route."

Last edited by BessemerSam
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Had occaision in the 1980's to travel periodically on I65 through Indiana and to pass over the EL/Erie right-of-way. Track was intact for awhile, then removed. Finally observed "vultures" pulling up the ballast. All that was left, eventually, was a dirt path, albeit "wide gauged!".

Steam restoration expert/hero Dick Jensen kept his collection of steam locomotives in a roundhouse on the south side of Chicago, just off 51st street and the Dan Ryan expressway. At that time (late 1960's-early '70's) the house was owned by the Chicago & Western Indiana RR, but I understood that it was an Erie RR roundhouse earlier. As I strolled through the unoccupied  roundhouse on  stone cold silent Sunday mornings in those days, enjoying  GTW 4-6-2 #5629 and 2-8-2 #4070, plus CB&Q 4-8-4 #5632, my imagination drifted to a roundhouse in earlier days alive with noise, gaggles of workers and big Erie USRA heavy 4-6-2's, with prominent Elesco feedwater heaters out front. Things change, as the tiresome observation goes, but certainly not always for the better.

Last edited by mark s

My dad was a kid when they built the Bison yard in Buffalo in the mid 60s...he recalls seeing a string of new SD 45s coming into the yard.  He lived just a stones throw from the yard.

I got into the hobby in the beginning of the year and EL is pretty much the road I’m collecting along with the LV.

Theres a bike path now on the old LV trackage by the Bison yard now occupied by NS.  I take my boys down there and we get to see some train action.  Except they have those pesky fences now that weren’t there when I was a kid when my dad and I walked the tracks.

Phew...that’s my first post...glad I finally got that out of the way!

Tim

I was born in 1947 in Hoboken, the western terminal for the Lackawanna (Ferry service went across the Hudson, to their NYC terminal), and shortly later, in the 1950s, my aunt and uncle and cousin moved to Tannersville, PA, about 10 miles from Stroudsburg, on the Lackawanna main. We didn’t have a car most of my growing up, so my mom and I would take the name trains to Stroudsburg, and my aunt or uncle would pick us up. I loved the Lackawanna Limited, and later the Phoebe Snow. (My dad was a Hoboken fireman, and couldn’t always get time off). The train took about and hour and 59 minutes from Hoboken, and it was great. Tannersville was quite rural back then. When my younger brother came along, he loved it as well. My dad bought my first Lionel before I was born, and we had about a 5x9 layout we set up every year for the holidays, and beyond.

Once I was able to drive, I often drove out to the Secaucus yards to railfan, took lots of pictures, especially of the newer motive power (SD45, SDP45, and GP35’s). I still loved coming across E8’s, beeps, and RS3’s, and the switchers. I also hung out at the Hoboken terminal with friends most days. Great memories led me to a lifetime of modeling.

Artie

It brings back great memories, David. I’ve been up in Greentown now for 25 years, and still like to run out to Steamtown in Scranton. When this Covid thing is over, I’d like to go back and visit Hoboken terminal. It’s also a great ride in from Port Jervis on the old Metro North/NJ Transit line.( Former Erie/ Erie Lackawanna line).

@PRR1950 posted:

Just for clarification, wasn't Hoboken the eastern terminus of the EL?

Chuck

Hoboken was the "eastern terminus" of the DL&W. The Erie had their "eastern terminus" in Jersey City, just south of Hoboken, on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. Prior to the merger in 1960, the Erie worked out a "deal" with the DL&W to use their Hoboken Passenger Terminal for all their passenger trains. Thus, in the mid-1950s, all the Erie passenger service arrived and departed from the northern tracks of the DL&W Hoboken Passenger Terminal.

Artie,

I took the train once to Port Jervis and back, about, oh, six or seven years ago. But I started at Penn Station, and changed at Secaucus. The main thing I remember is Moodna Viaduct. Did some chasing along that line when the UP office car special went to Harriman in 2018.

Every year for the past three or four years my coworker and I have talked about going to Steamtown, but we haven't made it yet. Gotta do it soon, before he retires to Florida.

Add:

In the interest of equal time - this is as close as I can come to a pic of my own of the Erie terminal at Pavonia. This is the PATH station below the former terminal's site; the "E" on the pillar is for Erie.

pavonia

David

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Last edited by NKP Muncie

Yes, of course, Chuck and Hot Water are correct, Hoboken was the Eastern terminal for the railroad, (I think I was having a vodka/tonic as I was typing), and yes, the Erie moved to Hoboken before the merger. Steam town is worth a visit, and not just for the trains; the museum building is great for showing many aspects of railroading.

Good news! I finally found the elusive B-unit for my Lionel Phoebe Snow, and it should arrive this week.

@Artie-DL&W posted:

Yes, of course, Chuck and Hot Water are correct, Hoboken was the Eastern terminal for the railroad, (I think I was having a vodka/tonic as I was typing), and yes, the Erie moved to Hoboken before the merger. Steam town is worth a visit, and not just for the trains; the museum building is great for showing many aspects of railroading.

Good news! I finally found the elusive B-unit for my Lionel Phoebe Snow, and it should arrive this week.

Except,,,,,,,,,,,the DL&W never had any E8 "B-Units".

Now to throw a wrench in the gears. Long before the day of DEATH for the Lackawanna, it was in talks to merge the NKP in. The DL&W was looking for a way to get to Chicago on it's own rails. "IF" the NKP agreed, how different would today's railroads look. The Lackawanna was the only railroad that never went bankrupt or filed for bankruptcy in it's entire history. This merger would of made the DL&W financially secure, would of literally spelled the end of the Erie, New York Central, Reading, Lehigh Valley, Central Railroad of New Jersey, Lehigh and New England, Lehigh and Hudson, New York, Ontairo and Western and New York, Susquehanna and Western. Gave the Pennsylvania, Baltimore & Ohio, New Haven and Wabash a run for it's money all before the 1955 Flood, which left the DL&W almost cash broke. Just think, no EL, PC or Conrail. Would Norfolk Southern or CSX exist, Miss Phoebe Snow would still be riding the rails.

Long live Miss Phoebe Snow.

@Artie-DL&W posted:

No, they didn’t but the Lionel Phoebe Snow is powered by F3’s. Before the DL&W acquired the E8’s, the trains were pulled by F3’s. Oh, don’t I wish I could get the new Lionel E8’s in AA  combination!

I acquired the last and only run of Erie Lackawanna E-8's made by MTH in cab #820 and #822.  They put a multi chime horn on the engineers side and the single chime rear facing horn on the fireman's side like the DL&W acquired E-8's.  Since the DL&W E-8's had the above mentioned horn configuration, I wish they would have used the mold with the Mars light and did the cab numbers between 810-819 as I really like the MTH Mars light.

Regardless, I am just happy MTH did produce an EL E-8 as I have full 2 sets and a single additional car of both runs of Weaver EL 20" passenger cars (two sets with silhouette window strips and two sets with green tint window strips of each) to make a 9 car consist of each by dropping the baggage and observation car from the 2nd set of each.  I had to settle for pulling my Weaver EL cars with the Weaver Lackawanna E-8's previously.  I look forward to running both sets on the club layout with the westbound Phoebe Snow PSA announcements E-8's and the eastbound Lake Cities PSA announcements MTH Alco PA's.

Last edited by Chas
@Bill Brown posted:

BisonYard,

Welcome.  I live in Clarence Center, and every time I go to work, I pass by the Bison Yard.  Nice to hear you speak of it so fondly.  I also like running Erie and Erie Lackawana equipment.

Bill

Thanks Bill...nice to be here.  Caught a train show out in East Aurora today...look for another one in a month.  Was nice to be able to browse the tables again.

Here’s a photo of the old Erie freight terminal in the city I took back in the summer...not the greatest but got to capture the signage.

Tim

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@Artie-DL&W posted:

Chas, those E8’s and PA look and sound good.

Thanks Artie!

When the FCTT-Hi-Railers have their next show in Western New York I will post some videos.  I'll bring both the Alco PA's and E-8's with both sets of passenger cars and I'll try to arrange to have another club member run the other train in the same 1 hour time slot we are allowed.  The EL Phoebe Snow ran from 1963-1966 at the same time the Lake Cities ran.

@Artie-DL&W posted:

Chas, those E8’s and PA look and sound good.

Peter, it would have been nice if that merger had occurred. Ironically, I heard the E-L also he’d a majority share of Greyhound Bus Lines.

We can only say "what if" at this point. But just imagine if the NKP was merged into the DL&W. That would of taken the Erie out first, then I would figure the NYC would be next. Whatever railroad the Van cheating brothers had there fingers in would fall quickly, the DL&W was quick to get them off their board. Imagine how much the Lackawanna could have done with the trackage of the NKP, Erie and NYC. Chicago to Maybrook direct would of saw more railroads fold into the Lackawanna. I would've loved to see that happen Artie, but it's just a dream.

@DL&W Pete posted:

Now to throw a wrench in the gears. Long before the day of DEATH for the Lackawanna, it was in talks to merge the NKP in. The DL&W was looking for a way to get to Chicago on it's own rails. "IF" the NKP agreed, how different would today's railroads look. The Lackawanna was the only railroad that never went bankrupt or filed for bankruptcy in it's entire history. This merger would of made the DL&W financially secure, would of literally spelled the end of the Erie, New York Central, Reading, Lehigh Valley, Central Railroad of New Jersey, Lehigh and New England, Lehigh and Hudson, New York, Ontairo and Western and New York, Susquehanna and Western. Gave the Pennsylvania, Baltimore & Ohio, New Haven and Wabash a run for it's money all before the 1955 Flood, which left the DL&W almost cash broke. Just think, no EL, PC or Conrail. Would Norfolk Southern or CSX exist, Miss Phoebe Snow would still be riding the rails.

Long live Miss Phoebe Snow.

One slight problem.with this.  Would there have been enough money to rebuild after Hurricane Agnes?

Railroading in the East would have been a lot different if Agnes would not have shown up.

Last edited by Dominic Mazoch

Where on earth were the by-the-people elected politicians after Agnes tore heck out of the Northeast?  A low interest government loan to bail out the railroads would have been The American Way to save them and surely could have helped save the E-L.

Afterall, who rebuilt the highways and airports after that nasty lady dropped all that wind and rain in the NE to begin with?  The RRs paid taxes too and had every right to receive aid in their time of need as well.

The Old Woman (NYO&W) shouldda been helped too, however, that's another story in it's own right.

Agnes was almost 50 years ago, 1972.  A lot has changed in 48 years.

Mike CT: When you look at it, not all that much has changed in 48 years.  Amtrak is still a political issue in D.C. to this day.  Also, several railroads have been given permission to merge in recent years thus eliminating competition as a result of removal of track leaving many dedicated rail shippers forced to use motor transport as an alternitive.

Welcome to Corona.  The rest is yet to come...

Last edited by Trinity River Bottoms Boomer

Hi Earl, yes, I’ll let you know when I plan to take that trip from “Port” into Hoboken. I’m also solidifying plans to update my layout with Cab1 control to run both TMCC and conventional. Yeah, I remember seeing some strange lash ups on the Phoebe, such as E8 and PA combos on the head end, and certainly mixed Erie/Lackawanna paint schemes. Speaking of B-units; I finally found the RailSounds B-unit for my Phoebe Snow F3’s!

Regarding the original post, let's raise a glass to a pair of good railroads:

  • The Erie, with its RS2-powered commuter trains, semaphores, comfort-focused long-haul passenger trains, well-maintained locomotives and track, and genuine mountain grade district, and which ran like a turpentined cat across Ohio and Indiana;
  • and the Lackawanna, with some of the smoothest track east of the Mississippi, endearing electric commuter lines, trademark grey and maroon colors, fine passenger trains, and Mars Lights on the E8's.
@Number 90 posted:

Regarding the original post, let's raise a glass to a pair of good railroads:

  • The Erie, with its RS2-powered commuter trains, semaphores, comfort-focused long-haul passenger trains, well-maintained locomotives and track, and genuine mountain grade district, and which ran like a turpentined cat across Ohio and Indiana;
  • and the Lackawanna, with some of the smoothest track east of the Mississippi, endearing electric commuter lines, trademark grey and maroon colors, fine passenger trains, and Mars Lights on the E8's.

Do not forget the Lackawanna had 2400 hp FM hood units!

          EL was indeed a product of the combining of two great roads. In the decade prior to the 1960 Erie-DL&W merger, Erie had taken an aggressive approach on fast freight traffic, moving its first TOFC load Chicago to Croxton in July 1954 on their regular scheduled freight train #100, known as the Flying Saucer . By 1970, EL made intermodal news by launching a dedicated UPS trailer train between Chicago and Croxton, with scheduled service of 5 days a week, setting the standard for UPS trains today, but unheard of at the time. Previous to this, UPS had moved away from rail TOFC account of some bad experiences related to moving their trailers on existing (non UPS dedicated) Penn Central trains. (one can only imagine)

           Before their ultimate last minute inclusion in the 3R Act and Conrail, other railroads had expressed an interest in acquiring EL. N&W and their innovative "protective holding company" Dereco was formed as result of conditions put forth by ICC for approval to their N&W-NKP-Wabash merger, to oversee and operate EL, who opposed the merger unless it was included. Through this arrangement N&W became intimate with EL operations and a few years later concluded it wanted no part of the terminal complexities, high property taxes and other issues associated with railroading in the metropolitan New York, New Jersey region.

          Although there are many other events that occurred during this time (too many to go into detail here), the death kneel for EL was rang after the failure of the proposed N&W-Chessie merger. After N&W concluded it wanted no more of the EL, Chessie moved in and was very near consumating an EL-Chessie merger, however; talks fell through at the last minute, reported due to EL's operating crafts failure to come to an agreement with Chessie over union work rules, pay, employee protection and seniority dovetailing, thus leaving the bride at the altar so to speak.   

           Folding the EL into either of the two solvent roads in the Northeast at the time, N&W or Chessie, makes for some great "what if’s" but the most intriguing scenario I've read is that of Santa Fe Industries, the holding company that controlled AT&SF at the time. In 1975, EL's largest interchange partner was Santa Fe. An 85 page report titled "Erie-Lackawanna Railway Company, Proposal for Acquisition" on the matter was generated by Santa Fe in mid-1975, but is said to have been too late as EL was already committed (for the 2nd time) to be included in Conrail in April 1976, just a few months into the future at the time of this report.  The report was said to be overall favorable towards a Santa Fe acquisition of EL. One has to wonder what US railroading would look like today had this report come with a little more time. One carrier, L.A. to Croxton, managed by the proven competent operating personnel of both roads, would have the potential to have been quite a railroad.

Regards,

C.J.

Last edited by GP 40

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