Erie’s Great Rival
History of the Delaware, Lackawanna, & Western Railroad
Scranton Weekly Republican, Thursday February 2, 1871
Delaware, Lackawanna, & Western Railroad—
Its Railways and Coal Fields—
A New Line to the Lakes and the West—
Rise of a New Power in New Jersey Politics.
The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Company, which, by its recent struggle with the Erie Company, has come into almost equal notoriety with that organization, is, unlike its rival, one of the richest and most powerful corporations in the country, and promises, by its rapid extensions, to become the chief. Its remarkable growth has hardly given the public time to become familiarized with its name; and some account of its present condition, with a glance at the history of its rapid rise into importance, may not therefore be uninteresting.
Among its enterprises perfected or in progress are the establishment of a new and direct line from New York to the great lakes and the West (already in working order;) the boring of a new tunnel through Bergen Hill, and the building of a new road from New York to the coal fields of Pennsylvania. Schemes affecting the commercial interests of New York as these will affect it, must be full of interest to its citizens.
The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad proper extends from Great Bend, near the northern boundary of Pennsylvania, to the Delaware River, at a point about seven miles south of the famous Delaware Water Gap, through which it passes.
Exclusive of its recent extensions and roads acquired by lease, the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Company comprises two divisions-the Northern and Southern-the former extending from Great Bend to Scranton (49 miles,) and the latter from Scranton to the Delaware River (64 miles.) The Northern Division was the first opened. The original organization was the Leggett’s Gap Railroad Company. The road north from Scranton was opened for traffic in October, 1851. During the same year the title was changed to the Lackawanna & Western Railroad Company.
The Southern Division was organized as the Delaware & Cobbís Gap Railroad Company, and finished in May, 1856. The two divisions were consolidated in April, 1853, under the style of Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Company.
The object in constructing this railroad was to find an outlet north and east for the vast deposits of coal in the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valleys, as well as to build up a large manufacturing interest midway at a point where both coal and iron ore could be supplied with little or no cost of transportation.
The northern outlet was secured by a connection the Erie & Great Bend and the subsequent lease (in 1855) of the Cayuga & Susquehanna Railroad extending from Oswego to Itha64-milesica (35 miles.) For a time the latter place became the chief shipping depot for coal, sent y the company to the Western markets. Coal thus sent reached the Eric Canal by transportation down Cayuga Lake and was thence diffused through Western New York and Canada. Not much later an engagement was made with the Syracuse, Binghamton & New York Railroad (since operated by the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Company, by which, over a line of eighty miles from Binghamton north, Syracuse became an important point for the shipment of coal to the West. In 1869 by the construction of the Valley Railroad between Great Bend and Binghamton, the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Company no longer depended on the Erie Company for service between these points, and completed a wide guage line from New York direct to Oswego.
In 1869, also, the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad leased facilities
for coal and other traffic over its line of thirty-six miles. During the same
year they likewise secured by lease the Greene Railroad, extending from Chenango
Fork, on the Syracuse, Binghamton & New York Railroad to the village of Greene, in Chenango county, New York, (eight miles), and the Utica, Chenango & Susquehanna Valley Railroad, running from Utica south to connection with the Greene Railroad, a distance of seventy-six miles, with a branch of twenty-two miles, to Richfield Springs.
The last two roads are so nearly finished that traffic over their entire length
will be begun before the 1st of February. Reverting to the southern end of
the road we find, in 1856, a connection made between the terminus of the Delaware,
Lackawanna & Railroad at the Delaware River, and the Central Railroad of New Jersey and New Hampton. This line lies wholly in New Jersey, and is called the Warren Railroad. It is about twenty miles in length, and is leased by the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Company. At the opening of the road east the only outlet by rail to tide water for coal mined in the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valleys, was over the Delaware, Lackawanna, & Western Railroad, and its connection, the Central Railroad of New Jersey.
The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Company provided ample accommodations for their business at Elizabethport (about twelve miles from New York city, on Staten Island Sound,) and still continue to ship a large quantity of coal at that point. They, however, secured another outlet soon after by way of the Morris Canal, from Washington, N.J., to Jersey City, which route they also use at present.
On the first of January, 1869, they also leased the Morris & Essex Railroad, extending from Hoboken to Easton (eighty-four miles), with branches to Chester and Montclair. In order to relieve that portion of this line east of Morristown from the presence of through freight and coal business, which was interfering with the growing passenger traffic, they immediately set about and have completed what is called the Boonton branch, running from Danville, via Paterson, to Hoboken, a distance of thirty-four miles. This provides an outlet, not only for the company ís own coal, but for the large quantity that is mine on the Lehigh Valley and Lehigh & Susquehanna Railroad, and promises to make Hoboken one of the largest coal ports of the county.
This branch runs through one of the most beautiful and interesting districts in New Jersey. It gives the extensive nail and iron manufactories of Boonton and Sinjac direct communication with New York, and affords the merchants and citizens of Paterson an opportunity to escape the extortions of the Erie Railway Company. Passenger trains now run over the road notwithstanding the determined opposition of the Erie Company in the recent tunnel fight, and passenger depots are being erected alone the route. Over this line to Washington, N.J., and thence to Binghamton the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Company are now running through trains to Syracuse and Oswego, reaching these cities at equal time with the trains of the New York Central Railroad. At Oswego connection is made with boats running to Detroit and Chicago. The establishment of this line aroused the opposition of the Erie Railway Company whose traffic with Paterson, Binghamton and Great Bend it was expected to diminish. The quarrel over the laying of rails at Bergen Tunnel grew out of this opposition, which is now, by the decision of the New Jersey Court of Chancery, satisfactorily settled, leaving, however, the questions of precedence and tolls still open.
Early in the history of the company they became interested in and now operate
the Lackawanna & Bloomsburg Railroad, which runs from Scranton to Northumberland
in Pennsylvania, about eighty miles. Almost every foot of this road runs over
either iron ore, coal or limestone, and many large furnaces and rolling mills
have been built on its line. Among the later acquisitions of the Delaware,
Lackawanna & Western Railroad Company is the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company,
whose property they have leased for the term of 999 years. The Lehigh Coal & Navigation
Company is one of the oldest in the coal fields, and its property is extensive
and valuable. By the new lease the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad
Company assume control of all this property, compromising about 8,000 acres
of coal lands in the Lehigh district, on hundred and fifty miles of locomotive
railway, and thirty-six miles of gravity roads, with a canal sixty miles in
Within the last fortnight the company has opened a branch road from Binghamton
to Norwich, Chenango County, N.Y., where it intersects Midland Railroad. From
this point a third rail will be laid upon the Midland Track, a distance of
nine miles, to effect a connection with the Utica & Chenango Valley Railroad, which is already constructed. Over this route the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Company will run coal trains, supplying Utica and the populous country along the line, with coal direct from the mines in Pennsylvania.
Having enumerated the several railways owned, leased, and operated by this
large corporation, it is not quite out of place to add some remarks on the
business they have been doing and propose to do over the several lines. Of
course, having originally organized for the transportation of coal to market
as its principal object, the company has early secured, and has since lost
no opportunity of securing valuable tracts of coal lands, both in the Lackawanna
and Wyoming Valleys. From these lands, partly owned and party leased, they
have increased their production from 97,000 tons in 1853, to 2,500,000 ton
in 1870. This is independent of large quantities carried for other producers.
To this vast traffic is to be added a very large business in the transportation
of iron rails, ore and pig iron, together with lumber, hides, leather, etc.
The local passenger traffic is chiefly confined to the Morris & Essex Railroad,
which running out of New York, into one of the finest portions of New Jersey,
carries large numbers of people to and from the city. On taking possession
of this line, the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Company set about
correcting abuses that had almost reached the dignity of custom, especially
those relating to square self- protection with a desire to accommodate the
public—using only the means they found ready in their hand—the company
was for a time soundly abused; but their efforts made quietly, and as fast
would permit, have apparently been successful in removing the chief cause of
complaint, and enemies are becoming friends.
One of the curiosities of the growth of this enterprise (which now embrace over 700 miles of railroad and 30,000 acres of coal land, representing an investment of nearly $100,000,000) is the development of the city of Scranton. From a village of less than 1,000 people in 1852, it has grown to be the third city of Pennsylvania in population- numbering about 40,000 inhabitants-and exceeded only by Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. This has been the result of the opening of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad, both North and South, which affords an outlet for the products of the immense industries that make the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valleys among the busiest places on this continent. Immense rolling mills, huge blast furnaces, extensive locomotive works and machine shops are some of the materials which have gone to make up the rapid growth of Scranton, but the development of the recent coal fields must be regarded as the chief source of its flourishing condition and increasing wealth.
It is well known that the corporation thus described originated and still
continues the system of monthly auction sale of coal, at each of which they
dispose of from 80,000 from to 100,000 tons of what is known in the market
which though chiefly mined in the Lackawanna Valley, and being identical with
other coals, called Lackawanna coals, early received a distinctive
name of the place where the headquarters
of the company's mining operations were located.
The first regular auction sale was held early in 1863, and with few interruptions from strikes and floods, these auctions have been kept up with satisfaction to the company and the customers until the ninetieth sale has been held.
Several attempts have been made by various interests to discourage these sales,
but their success and gratifying results indicated their regular continuance.
In the place where these sales are made extensive improvements have been made,
showing a desire on the part of the company to provide, a pleasant, well-ventilated
and commodious room in which to receive the numerous and increasing assemblage
of purchasers who attend the auctions.
The officers of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western RR Company at present are as follows: President, Samuel Sloan; Treasurer, A.J. Odell; Secretary, Charles E. Carryll; Managers, Wm. E. Dodge, [name not readable], Geo. Buckley, John J. Blair, Rufus R. Graves, S.B. Chittenden, John Brisbin, George Bliss, Percy R. Pyne, W.W. Phelps, J.H. Scranton, James Blair, Denning Duer, W.G. Hunt.
A few of the enterprises now contemplated by the company are indicated in
bills passed in the New Jersey Legislature and others, the passage of which
will be secured at the session which opens tomorrow. The most important is
the boring of a new tunnel through Bergen Hill, about a mile north of the one
now controlled by the Erie Railway Company. The right of way for this tunnel
has already been purchased, Legislature authority has been secured, and the
work will soon be commenced. It will be 4,000 feet in length, and will cost
$1,000,000. A well known firm of contractors have offered to do the work at
this price, though no contract has as yet been entered into.
Among the bills to be presented to the Legislature are three authorizing the company to construct branches at different points for the accommodation of its coal and local trade.
—New York Standard