The Lehigh Valley Railroad

The Lehigh Valley Railroad (LVRR), organized by Asa Packer, was created through an act of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on April 21, 1846. Its original name, The Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill, and Susquehanna Railroad company, was changed to the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company on January 7, 1853.  The original purpose of the railroad was to transport anthracite (and workers) between the Delaware River at Easton, PA and the mines near Mauch Chunk, PA (present day Jim Thorpe).  On January 1, 1857, a junction with the North Pennsylvania Railroad was established in Freemansburg, PA (later to be changed to Bethlehem), facilitating a great growth in the surrounding area.

The period of the 1860s and 70s saw great growth in the LVRR, expanding its lines into New Jersey and north of Mauch Chunk to Hazelton, Pa and eventually to Buffalo, NY.  The latter decades of the 19th century saw even greater growth, as the Railroad Company became known as a premier passenger service, with a train dubbed the “Black Diamond Express” debuting in 1896, making its first run between Buffalo and Jersey City.  The early twentieth century saw even greater expansion and the LVRR offered its services in both World Wars, transporting raw materials, foodstuffs, and troops to serve the war efforts.

Major changes to American transportation; the popularity of the automobile and several government acts, including the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1856 contributed to the decline of the LVRR, and by the early 1960s the railroad was close to bankruptcy.  The Pennsylvania Railroad purchased some 85% of LVRR in 1962, but this action did little to ebb the inevitable collapse of railroads across America.  The subsequent bankruptcy of the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1970 and consolation of bankrupt railroads under the U.S. governments Consolidated Rail System (Conrail) in 1976 officially ended the LVRR’s one hundred and thirty plus years of operations.

 

Sources:

Archer, Robert. The History of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. Berkeley : Howell-North Books, 1977.
Lehigh Valley Railroad Centennial: 1846-1946. Lehigh Valley Railroad, 1946.
Map of the Lehigh Valley Railroad
"The Black Diamond"
1958 Lehigh Valley Railroad Timetable
0:00
0:00