Lackawanna Cut-Off

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Lackawanna Cut-Off
Lackawanna Limited on Pequest Fill - 1912.jpg
Westbound Lackawanna Limited near Pequest Fill circa 1912.
This photo later inspired a Phoebe Snow poster
Status Abandoned (1983)
Reconstruction to Andover in progress (2014)
Locale New Jersey
Termini Port Morris Junction
Slateford Junction
Opening 1911
Closed 1979
Owner New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT)
Operator(s) Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad (1911–60)
Erie Lackawanna Railroad (1960–76)
Conrail (1976–79)
NJ Transit (2016–)
Character Surface
Line length 28.45 mi (45.8 km)
No. of tracks 2 (1911–58)
1 (1958-84)
Sidings: 6 (1911); 3 (1979)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Operating speed 80 mph (129 km/hr)
Route map
Lackawanna Cut-Off Map.jpg
Lackawanna Cut-Off
(133.0) to Scranton via DL&W RR mainline
74.3 SLATEFORD JCT. - Jct w/ Old Road
74.1 Slateford Rd overhead br - filled in 1990
73.4 Lackawanna Old Road and Slateford Rd
73.3 Delaware River Viaduct 
73.2 I-80 under easternmost viaduct arch
73.2 NYS&W RR - abd. 1942; now Simpson Rd
72.4 Stark Rd overhead bridge
71.3 L&NE - underpass used to access park
71.3 Route 94 underpass
70.8 Paulinskill Viaduct - Paulinskill River
70.7 L&NE RR/NYS&W RR (Paulinskill Trail)
70.4 Kill Rd underpass
69.7 Vail Rd underpass
68.4 Mt. Hermon Rd underpass
67.5 Cedar Lake Rd underpass
67.2 Belcher Rd underpass
65.6 Heller Hill Rd overhead bridge
64.8 Blairstown Station - Hope-Blairstown Rd
64.6 CR 521 - 2nd br added 2006
63.9 Camp Wasigan Rd underpass
63.2 Silver Lake (Hope-Marksboro) Rd bridge
62.1 Lanning Rd overhead bridge
61.2 Mill Rd underpass
60.7 Johnsonburg Station - Kerrs Corner Rd
60.4 CR 661 (Ramsey Rd) underpass
59.4 CR 519 (Dark Moon Rd) underpass
58.0 Henry Rd overhead bridge
57.8 CR 611 - bridge removed ~2002
57.6 Greendell Station - Wolfs Corner Road
56.3 Pequest Rd underpass
55.2 L&HR RR - abandoned 1988
55.4 CR 603 (Airport Rd) underpass
54.0 CR 517 underpass
53.8 Sussex Branch - abandoned 1977
53.7 US 206 (Main St) underpass
53.0 Andover Sta - Roseville Rd - to open 2014
52.3 Roseville Rd overhead bridge
51.7 Roseville Tunnel - 1040 ft (320 m)
51.5 Roseville Rd underpass #2
51.1 Roseville Rd underpass #1
50.5 CR 607 underpass at Lake Lackawanna
47.8 Sussex County Route 605 NJ.svg (Sparta-Stanhope Rd) overhead br
47.0 Sussex County Route 602 NJ.svg grade crossing; underpass aband 1990
46.2 bridge over Musconetcong River
46.2 wye track to PM Yard - to be rebuilt 2014
46.1 bridge over Center St
46.0 bridge over Morris Canal - removed ~1924
45.7 PORT MORRIS JCT. - to Hackettstown
(45.5) Morris County Route 631 NJ.svg overhead bridge
(45.5) (Lake Hopatcong Station)
(0.0) to Hoboken/NYC via Morristown/Boonton

The Lackawanna Cut-Off is a 28.45-mile (45.79 km) railroad line built by the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad (DL&W) between 1908 and 1911. With its rural landscape, tall fills, deep rock cuts, and two large viaducts, the line became renowned as a scenic highlight of the railroad's 400-mile (645 km) main line between Hoboken, New Jersey and Buffalo, New York.

The Cut-Off runs west from Port Morris Junction — near the south end of Lake Hopatcong in New Jersey, about 45 miles (72.4 km) west-northwest of New York City — to Slateford Junction near the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania.[1]

The Cut-Off is 11 miles (18 kilometres) shorter than the Lackawanna Old Road, the rail line it replaced, with gentler and far fewer curves, no steep hills, and no grade crossings. Construction required the movement of millions of tons of fill material using techniques similar to those on the Panama Canal.[2]

Opened on December 24, 1911, the Cut-Off was operated by the Lackawanna Railroad until it merged with the Erie Railroad in 1960. The resulting Erie Lackawanna Railroad (EL) operated the line until 1976, when the EL was conveyed into Conrail, which operated it until 1979. The line was abandoned in 1983 and the track was removed the following year. Conrail sold the right-of-way to two land developers in 1985, and the State of New Jersey acquired it in 2001.

In 2011, New Jersey Transit (NJT) began construction to restore passenger service in phases. The 7.3-mile (11.7 km) section to Andover, New Jersey, is slated to open in 2016; extensions of service have also been discussed, possibly as far as Scranton, Pennsylvania.[3]

History (1851–1908)[edit]

The Warren Railroad, chartered in 1851 and completed in 1862 under railroad magnate John I. Blair, was meant to provide a straight connection between the mainlines of the DL&W in Pennsylvania and the Jersey Central (CNJ) in New Jersey.[4] But when the Lackawanna-CNJ merger fell through and the Lackawanna merged instead with the Morris & Essex Railroad (M&E) in New Jersey, the Warren Railroad suddenly became a rail line located in the wrong place to serve these two unanticipated merger partners.[2]

Eastern portal of Oxford Tunnel on the Warren Railroad in August 2011; operational problems through the tunnel helped justify the building of the Cut-Off

The 39-mile (63 km) route (which would later be referred to as the "Old Road") would become a major bottleneck. Curves on the Warren Railroad restricted trains to 50 mph (80 km/h); the two tunnels on the line had speed limits of 20 mph (32 km/h), with the 975-foot (297 m) twin-bore Manunka Chunk Tunnel, and its eastern approach, often flooded by heavy rains; and, in 1901, the 2,969-foot (905 m) single-bore Oxford Tunnel required the installation of gauntlet track (in effect a single track through the tunnel), causing the bottleneck to worsen.[1][2]

William Truesdale, who became DL&W president on March 2, 1899,[1][5] had a mandate to rebuild the entire 900-mile (1450 km) railroad, which sooner or later would include a new route to replace the Warren Railroad.[1] By 1905, teams of surveyors had looked at more than a dozen replacement routes westward from Port Morris, New Jersey, although none of these routes fully pleased Truesdale.

Construction (1908–1911)[edit]

A May 1909 view of the Wharton Fill looking east from atop Roseville Tunnel, 10 months into construction

The route eventually blessed by Truesdale would run from the crest of the watershed at Lake Hopatcong at Port Morris Junction) to 2 miles (3.2 kilometres) south of the Delaware Water Gap on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River at Slateford Junction. Truesdale had his engineers realign one of the proposed lines to cross of the Pequest Valley on a massive fill, the Pequest Fill, to attain what he considered to be the best routing for what the vernacular of the time would consider to be a "super-railroad".

At 28.45 miles (45.8 km), the line was about 11 miles (18 kilometres) shorter than the 39.6-mile (64 km) Old Road, which was but one improvement brought by the new line. For example, the steepest grade on the Cut-Off (0.55%, a change in elevation of about 27 feet per mile or 5.5 meters per kilometer) was about half that of the Old Road, meaning that far less horsepower would be needed to pull trains of the same size over the Cut-Off.[1] The Cut-Off was built without railroad crossings[6] to avoid collisions with automobiles, horse-drawn vehicles and pedestrians. And all curves on the Cut-Off, except one (just west of the Delaware River, allowed speeds of 70 mph (113 km/hr) or more.

DL&W chief engineer Lincoln Bush oversaw the planning of the project, while his successor, George G. Ray oversaw the building of the project.[1] The work was dangerous and upwards of 30 workers were thought to have died or have been killed during construction.[7] For example, five workers alone were killed near Port Morris in 1910 in a blasting mishap; others were killed by machinery accidents and landslides; at least one worker died of typhoid fever. Most workers resided in camps that were converted to barracks. Construction began on August 1, 1908, with the project being divided into seven sections, one for each contracting company. Sections 3-6 were 5 miles (8.0 kilometres) each; sections 1-2 and 7 were of varying lengths.

The final cost of the project was $11,065,512 in 1911 dollars. The DL&W spent three decades paying off the bonds for the legal entity established to pay for the Cut-Off's construction, the Lackawanna Railroad of New Jersey, which remained a separate corporate entity until 1941 when it was merged into the DL&W.[2][8] In the 2000s, New Jersey Transit estimated the cost of replacing the track on the Cut-Off alone at $275 million, a figure that does not include replacing the structures on the line or the acquisition and building of the roadbed through an area more densely populated than it was a century ago.[1][9]

Roseville Tunnel and the Pequest Fill[edit]

Given the problems associated with the tunnels on the Old Road, it is not surprising the that DL&W ultimately chose a route without tunnels. Indeed, while surveying through Roseville (now part of Byram Township, New Jersey), the surveyors initially charted a route that would skirt a large hillock for this very reason. However, the skirting of the hillock caused the surveyed route to also detour to the south through the Pequest Valley. Truesdale, who wanted to minimize speed restrictions on the route, vetoed the detour.

That forced engineers to tackle the Roseville hillock. They planned a 150-foot (46 m)-deep cut, but when construction workers blasted about halfway down, they hit rock that was so soft that engineers deemed it would never support a stable cut. The engineers decided to abandon the idea of a cut and instead to create Roseville Tunnel.

Truesdale's decision also handed engineers an even bigger engineering challenge: crossing the Pequest Valley on a 3-mile land-bridge. They were forced to buy farm land to supply fill for the Pequest Fill, as the fill removal at Roseville and west of the Pequest Valley would not supply enough fill material alone.

Arguably, no section of the line created more challenges than Roseville Tunnel and the Pequest Fill.

The viaducts and reinforced concrete[edit]

The railroad decided to build 73 structures of reinforced concrete for the Cut-Off, including stations, overhead bridges, underpasses and culverts. The Lackawanna had been using the material for about five years with good results, but neither the railroad nor anyone else had tried to use the material at the scale required to span the Paulinskill and Delaware Rivers. Designed in the Beaux Arts architecture style and located four miles (6.5 km) apart on the western part of the Cut-Off, the Paulinskill Viaduct and Delaware River Viaduct were, when they were built, the world's largest structures of reinforced concrete.

Train operations (1911–1979)[edit]

A brochure about the construction of the Cut-Off, given to news reporters during November 1911 inspection trips

The first regular train to operate on the Cut-Off was No. 15, a westbound passenger train that passed through Port Morris Junction at 12:15 a.m. on December 24, 1911.[1] Long-distance trains shifted to the Cut-Off and the Old Road was downgraded to secondary status.[1][2]

Like many tunnels, Roseville Tunnel posed operational problems, especially when winter brought snow and ice. West of the tunnel, rockslides were always a threat. During World War II, watchmen were posted to look out for saboteurs. Station agents at Blairstown and Johnsonburg were also expected to be on guard. No sabotage occurred, but the 1941 rockslide at Johnsonburg was detected by a watchman. The slide closed the line for nearly a month while the north side of Armstrong Cut was trimmed to prevent further rockslides.[1][6] In 1950, a detector fence was installed west of Roseville Tunnel to change trackside signals to red if any boulders fell.[10] As of 1954, the railroad had a 50 mph (80 km/h) speed limit through Roseville Tunnel for trains on westbound Track 1. That restriction was lifted in 1958, when the line was single-tracked and Track 1 removed.

Passenger trains[edit]

Although the Cut-Off was built to allow passenger trains to run at 70 mph (110 km/h), heavier train tracks would later permit even higher speeds. About 25% of the route contained additional sidings, including ones at Slateford, Hainesburg, Johnsonburg, Greendell, Roseville, and Port Morris. With upwards of 50 trains a day,[11] towermen often ordered freight trains to take a siding, or even be rerouted over the Old Road, so as not to delay passenger trains. As traffic decreased, the Hainesburg, Johnsonburg and Roseville sidings were removed. The remaining sidings would remain in use until 1979.[6][12]

Named trains[edit]

The Cut-Off was a scenic highlight for passenger trains. Early in the 20th century, the DL&W's woman in white—Phoebe Snow— starred in posters that touted the Cut-Off and the Pequest Fill. At that time and into the early diesel era (late 1940s), the Lackawanna Limited was the railroad's premier train. It would be joined by the Pocono Express, the Owl, and the Twilight. In 1949 the Limited was renamed the Phoebe Snow, helping breathe freshness back into a passenger train program that had seen only modest modernization since the 1930s. The Phoebe Snow ran for 11 years as a DL&W train and then as an EL train from 1963 until November 1966. The Lake Cities, originally an Erie Railroad train, became the last regularly scheduled passenger train on the Cut-Off; it last ran on January 6, 1970.[1][6]

Freight trains[edit]

1922 DL&W map. The Lake Hopatcong-Slateford Jct. route via Washington, NJ (the Old Road) is 11 miles longer than the Cut-Off via Blairstown to the north.

Besides cutting travel time, the Cut-Off required fewer engines to pull eastbound freights up to the summit at Port Morris. For westbound freights, the issue was keeping trains from going too fast. Initially, no speed limit existed on the Cut-Off; engineers (both freight and passenger) were expected to exercise good judgment. By the 1920s, most freights were restricted to 50 mph or less, depending on the priority of the train and the type of locomotive and rail cars. By 1943, 131-pound (59 kg) rail had been installed on the Cut-Off,[13] which permitted fast freights to run at 60 mph through the Erie Lackawanna years. After Conrail took over operations in 1976, the speed limit was decreased to 50 mph.[14]

Local freights served customers at all three stations on the Cut-Off. The Johnsonburg creamery, built in anticipation of the opening of the line, served local dairy farmers for years. Another creamery and an ice house were built at Greendell.[1] The final local shipment was shipped in 1978: fertilizer for a customer in Johnsonburg that was delivered to Greendell because the Johnsonburg siding had deteriorated.


The Cut-Off saw one operational accident.

On September 17, 1929, at 6:31 a.m., an eastbound extra freight consisting of 47 cars and a caboose was rammed from behind by a freight train of 24 empty express refrigerator cars and a coach. The engineer at fault was reportedly eating his lunch as his train passed a "restricted speed" signal. He had also missed two track torpedoes that exploded as his engine ran past, and then missed the red signal near the west portal of Roseville Tunnel. His train emerged from the tunnel at 30 mph (48 km/h) and rear-ended the freight train in front of him. The impact derailed the trailing locomotive and its coal tender, the caboose of the leading freight, and two express cars in the trailing freight. The engine and caboose came to rest on their left sides on the westbound track. The two cars immediately in front of the caboose were also damaged. Four employees were injured.[11]

Three other accidents indirectly involved the line:

  • At 11:27 p.m. on a misty July 2, 1948, a westbound passenger train, No. 9, derailed at the 40 mph (64 km/hr) curve at Point of Gap while going faster than 73 mph (118 km/hr). The train had left Hoboken 38 minutes late, and had made up 14 minutes on the schedule by the time it was recorded as having passed Slateford Tower, indicating that the train may have exceeded the speed limit during the 75-mile (121-km) trip.[13] The engine (No. 1136, a 4-6-2) and tender overturned and ended upright in the Delaware River. The first car uncoupled from the tender and ended up in the river behind it. The remaining seven cars of the train continued for another 1,735 feet (533 m) down the track. The engineer and firemen were killed.
  • Shortly after 6 a.m. on August 10, 1958, a string of a dozen or more cement cars and a caboose broke loose from Port Morris Wye, beginning what was likely among the longest runaways in North American railroading history. The crew of the East End Drill was awaiting orders to move the cars when they began to drift westbound down the grade. Engineless, the cars ran through a switch and onto the eastbound track of the Cut-Off, beginning a 29-mile (47 km) journey that reached a top speed of possibly 80 mph.[15] Within a half-hour the string had derailed at the sharp (40 mph) curve at Point of Gap in the Delaware Water Gap, falling into the Delaware River at about the same place as the 1948 accident. No one was injured, although an eastbound freight quickly took Greendell siding just ahead of the runaway cars, narrowly avoiding a catastrophic collision. The runaway was blamed on a worker who did not properly set the brakes on the cars.
  • The third accident was the Rockport Wreck of June 16, 1925. An eastbound passenger special from Chicago, originally scheduled to run over the Cut-Off, was rerouted over the Old Road to avoid freight traffic. Rain washed debris onto the Hazen Road grade crossing three miles west of Hackettstown, New Jersey, and at about 2:24 a.m., the engine and train derailed, piling several cars up near the wrecked locomotive. Forty-seven people died, almost all of whom had been scalded by escaping steam.[16]


Decline (1958–1979)[edit]

Hoboken-bound railfan excursion exiting Roseville Tunnel, June 1973

The DL&W was one of the most profitable corporations in the U.S. when it built the Cut-Off.[1][2] That profitability gradually declined after World War I, and sharply after World War II, leading to the 1960 merger with the Erie Railroad, forming the Erie Lackawanna Railroad (EL).[1] The Lackawanna had already single-tracked the Cut-Off, and had made other routing changes throughout its system by 1958, in anticipation of the Erie merger. The Cut-Off's westbound track was removed, leaving a four-mile (6 km) passing siding at Greendell and shorter sidings at Port Morris and Slateford. After the EL merger, most freight traffic shifted to the former Erie's mainline through Port Jervis, New York.[1][17] EL operated its last passenger train, the Lake Cities, on January 6, 1970, leading to the closure of Blairstown station. By year's end, with the creation of Penn Central and its closing of Maybrook Yard in Maybrook, New York, however, EL freights began being shifted back to the Scranton Division via the Cut-Off. The line was rehabilitated, with many rotted railroad ties being replaced.[17] In 1972, the CNJ abandoned operations in Pennsylvania, causing additional through freights to be run daily between Elizabeth, New Jersey and Scranton. These trains used the Cut-Off and the CNJ's High Bridge Branch. This arrangement with the CNJ ended with the creation of Conrail, into which the EL was conveyed on April 1, 1976.[17]

Westbound Conrail freight snakes through the Delaware Water Gap in this summer 1977 photo taken from Mount Tammany

Labor contracts initially kept Conrail's freight schedule largely unchanged, although by mid-1978 Conrail had shifted nearly all freight traffic off of the Hoboken-Scranton route, citing the EL's early-1960s severing of the Boonton Branch near Paterson, New Jersey, and the grades over the Pocono Mountains, as reasons for the shift. Conrail would run its final through freights on the line in November 1978 and would officially end service on the Cut-Off (which included the closing of Port Morris Tower) on January 8, 1979.[3] Routine maintenance on the line ceased. Scranton-Slateford freights continued running into 1980 when coal delivered to the Metropolitan Edison power plant in Portland, Pennsylvania shifted from the Scranton Division to the former Bangor & Portland Railway.[12]

Preservation efforts (1979–1986)[edit]

With abandonment on the horizon, supporters of the Cut-Off convinced Amtrak to operate an inspection train between Hoboken and Scranton to look at intercity rail service between the two cities. Dubbed the "Pocono Mountain Special", the train left Hoboken and ran up the Morristown Line on November 13, 1979, reaching Port Morris shortly after 9 a.m. With the main line severed at Port Morris Junction, the special train detoured through Port Morris Yard, ran over Port Morris Wye, and then onto the Cut-Off. The train ran to Scranton, where it was met by a group of political dignitaries. It was the last passenger train in the Twentieth Century—and the only Amtrak train—to operate over the line.[12] The idea of Hoboken–Scranton service faded as Amtrak faced funding shortfalls and the need for station and track repairs.

The 133-mile (215 km) inspection trip marked the end of one era, and the beginning of a 30-plus-year effort to reactivate the Cut-Off. Finding an operator for the line would prove less pressing than preserving the track and right-of-way. Several attempts were made to purchase the line from Conrail, which worried that a competitor that might try to restore freight service. The Sussex County Freeholder Board in New Jersey pursued such a purchase.

Monroe County Railroad Authority in Pennsylvania also got involved, which nearly reached a deal to buy the 88-mile (142 km) section of track between Port Morris and Scranton for $6.5 million. The railroad authority would have borrowed $4.1 million from the federal government at 3.25% per year and issued bonds to cover the rest of the purchase price plus additional unspecified costs to restore the line. The deal would have allowed Conrail to remove approximately 40 miles (64 kilometres) worth of track with an option for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, through PennDOT, to purchase the second track to Moscow for operations out of Scranton's Steamtown National Historic Site. The agreement stipulated that the railroad operator would repay the loan from operational revenue.[12]

The deal began to fall apart and on August 10, 1983 when the U.S. Department of Transportation informed Monroe County officials that the federal loan guarantee had been revoked and would instead go to the financially ailing Detroit & Mackinac Railroad in Michigan. Monroe County officials remained optimistic, however, hoping that the U.S. Congress could be convinced to provide financial support, as the railroad authority invited 16 potential operators to submit proposals; seven did so on August 26, 1983.[12] Subsequently, the federal government changed the regulations surrounding the abandonment of railroad lines. In place of a lengthy regulatory process that had discouraged railroads from abandoning unwanted routes, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) would be allowed to approve the abandonment of any track if it were "out of service" and had no originating or terminating shipments for two years, and was not required to service any other track.[18] This allowed Conrail to abandon the Cut-Off almost immediately, as the line already satisfied these new regulatory criteria. Moreover, Atlantic City gambling interests in New Jersey opposed any restoration of rail service over the Cut-Off. They feared that renewed rail service would provide a "Gambler's Express" to not-as-yet-built casinos in the Poconos that might directly compete with the nascent casinos of the Jersey Shore. An NJDOT priority list of rail projects that was published during this timeframe listed the Cut-Off as Number 26 in a long list of unfunded projects.[12][19]

The Monroe County Railroad Authority continued its effort, with support from PennDOT and the threat to use a privately owned World War II tank to block any Conrail rail-removal train, Conrail eventually relented and agreed not to sever the line between Slateford and Scranton.[12] This would be one of the very few positive developments in what would prove to be a gloomy period in the effort to restore rail service on the line.

Members of several rail advocacy organizations promoting restoration and the 1989 New Jersey bond issue for the acquisition of the line on WFMV, 106.3 FM, a radio station located in the Blairstown Station

With all regulatory and political hurdles removed in New Jersey, Conrail began track removal on June 8, 1984.[20] Even as this was taking place, last-ditch attempts by the Morris County Transportation Department were made to try to delay track removal in New Jersey. In addition, dismantling efforts were hampered by saboteurs who replaced railroad spikes that had been removed by the Conrail crew. In spite of these efforts, all trackage on the Cut-Off had been removed by October 5, 1984.[21]

With track removal complete, the roadbed was sold to developer Jerry Turco, acquiring the 27 miles of right-of-way west of County Road 602 grade crossing in Hopatcong, New Jersey. Turco's parcel would be split into separate corporations, one for each town that the right-of-way passed through and separate corporations for each of the two viaducts, all of this under the umbrella of the OLC (Old Lackawanna Cutoff) Corporation. Turco reported that he originally had no intention of purchasing the abandoned line, but rather had inquired to Conrail about a 1,000 foot (300 m) section of the abandoned Lehigh & Hudson River Railway (L&HR) line in Andover. Conrail refused to sell the isolated Andover parcel, but subsequently offered to sell it under the condition that Turco acquire all of the L&HR right-of-way from Sparta Township to Belvidere, a total of 32 miles (51 km). Turco also claimed that it was during this time that Conrail added the Cut-Off to create a "package deal".

Turco eventually agreed to buy both rights-of-way, acquiring nearly 60 miles (97 km) for approximately $2 million. (Conrail would subsequently remove the track from the L&HR.[12]) Shortly thereafter, Conrail sold the remaining 1.5-mile (2.4 km) parcel east of the CR 602 crossing to developer Burton Goldmeier, who reportedly wanted to use that section of the Cut-Off as an access road to a proposed project. It is unknown if the Goldmeier Parcel was offered to Turco.

Restoration efforts (1986-present)[edit]

One of 12 orphan bridges on the Cut-Off, the new bridge over County Route 521 in Blairstown is a replica of its 1911 "orphan" companion to the left, seen here shortly before its opening in November 2006.

Public efforts to save the Cut-Off gained momentum in 1986, after Turco announced plans to remove fill material from the Pequest Fil and other large Cut-Off fills and transport it to the Westway project in New York City. The controversial proposal, which if approved would have also permitted Turco to dump building materials into the cuts along the line, helped win public support for a $25 million New Jersey bond issue for acquiring abandoned railroad rights-of-way.[22] Voters approved the bond issue in November 1989, and the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) subsequently began using eminent domain against the corporations created by Turco and Goldmeier.

By 2001, the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania had acquired their respective portions of the Cut-Off for a total of $21 million.[23] In 2003, U.S. Senator Arlen Specter secured initial funding for the restoration of passenger rail service between Scranton and New York City.[24] In May 2008, the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) approved funding to rebuild the first 7.3 miles (11.7 km) of the Cut-Off between Andover and Port Morris Junction.[25][26] Preparation to restore trackage between Port Morris and Andover was originally slated to begin in 2010 but was delayed until early 2011 due to environmental concerns and questions over the exact location of the Andover Station area. In September 2011, the first new track was laid at Port Morris; three months later, Norfolk Southern delivered 7.5 miles (12.5 km) of continuously welded rail to Port Morris, enough to re-lay a single track to Andover.[27] As of 2014, much of the right-of-way between Port Morris and Lake Lackawanna had been cleared of trees and debris. The section between Lake Lackawanna and Andover was still awaiting approval of environmental permits for roadbed clearing. A total of 3.5 miles (5.6 km) of track has been laid west of Port Morris Junction in three disconnected sections.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Taber III, Thomas Townsend (1981). The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad in the Twentieth Century, Vol. 1. Lycoming Printing Company. pp. 18, 34–39, 53, 131, 134–139, 144, 146–148, 172–173. ISBN 978-0-9603398-4-6. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Lowenthal, Larry; William T. Greenberg Jr. (1987). The Lackawanna Railroad in Northwestern New Jersey. Tri-State Railway Historical Society, Inc. pp. 10–98, 101. ISBN 978-0-9607444-2-8. 
  3. ^ a b NEW JERSEY – PENNSYLVANIA LACKAWANNA CUT-OFF PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE RESTORATION PROJECT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT Prepared by: U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration and NEW JERSEY TRANSIT in Cooperation with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, June 2008.
  4. ^ The Warren Railroad ran from the junction with the CNJ at Hampton, New Jersey, through Washington and Oxford, and connected with the DL&W at the Delaware River near Portland, Pennsylvania.
  5. ^ "May Succeed Samuel Sloan: William H. Truesdale Will Probably Become the President of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western". The New York Times. February 6, 1899. Retrieved November 5, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Taber, III, Thomas Townsend (1981). The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad in the Twentieth Century, Vol. 2. Lycoming Printing Company. pp. 739, 745, 747. ISBN 978-0-9603398-4-6. 
  7. ^ The Lackawanna Railroad in Northwest New Jersey, Larry Lowenthal and William T. Greenberg, Jr., Tri-State Railway Historical Society, 1980.
  8. ^ The Lackawanna Cut-Off, New Jersey Tel-News, by Donald Maxton, July 1990
  9. ^ History of the Delaware Water Gap
  10. ^ Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad employee timetable, 1950
  11. ^ a b Interstate Commerce Commission report, "Report of the Director of the Bureau of Safety in reinvestigation of an accident which occurred on the Delware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Near Greendell, New Jersey, on September 17, 1929, dated January 10, 1930
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h Dorflinger, Donald (1984–1985). "Farewell to the Lackawanna Cut-Off (Parts I-IV)". The Block Line (Morristown, New Jersey: Tri-State Railway Historical Society). 
  13. ^ a b Interstate Commerce Commission Investigation No. 3182. THE DELAWARE, LACKAWANNA AND WESTERN RAILROAD COMPANY, Accident near Slateford Jct., Pa., on May 15, 1948.
  14. ^ Erie Lackawanna - Death of an American Railroad, 1938-1992, by H. Roger Grant, Stanford University Press, 1994.
  15. ^
  16. ^ Dale, Frank (1995). Disaster at Rockport. Hackettstown Historical Society. 
  17. ^ a b c Zimmerman, Karl R. (1983). Quadrant Press Review 3: Erie Lackawanna East. Quadrant Press Inc. 
  18. ^ Blaszak, Michael W. (October 2010). "Free to Compete". Trains. 
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ The Block Line, Tri-State Rail of that year. Conrail reported that the 39-foot (12 m) sections of 131 lb (55 kg/m) stick rail that was removed was to be welded together into quarter-mile (406 m) sections to be relaid elsewhere in the Conrail system.<Tri-State Railway Historical Society, Inc., Fall 1984, p.22.
  22. ^
  23. ^ NJ Transit – New Jersey-Pennsylvania Lackawanna Cut-off Passenger Rail Restoration Project Draft Environmental Assessment
  24. ^ SENS. SPECTER AND SANTORUM ANNOUNCE APPROVAL OF FEDERAL FUNDING FOR THE SCRANTON-NYC PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE PROJECT: Transportation Funding as Part of FY03 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, press release dated February 14, 2003
  25. ^ Frank, Howard (May 31, 2008). "Small step for commuter rail eyed". Pocono Record. 
  26. ^ Lockwood, Jim (June 4, 2008). "Plans move forward to revive Lackawanna Cutoff rail line.". The Star-Ledger. 
  27. ^


  • The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad in the Nineteenth Century (1 volume) by Thomas Townsend Taber III, Lycoming Printing Company, 1977
  • The Lackawanna Railroad in Northwestern New Jersey by Larry Lowenthal and William T. Greenberg, Jr., Tri-State Railway Historical Society, Inc., 1987.
  • Farewell to the Lackawanna Cut-Off (Parts I-IV), by Don Dorflinger, published in the Block Line, Tri-State Railway Historical Society, Inc., 1984-1985.
  • Erie Lackawanna - Death of an American Railroad, 1938-1992, by H. Roger Grant, Stanford University Press, 1994.
  • The Lackawanna Story - The First Hundred Years of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad , by Robert J. Casey & W.A.S. Douglas, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1951.
  • Erie Lackawanna East, by Karl R. Zimmermann, Quadrant Press, Inc., 1975.
  • The Route of Phoebe Snow - A Story of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, by Shelden S. King, Wilprint, Inc., 1986.
  • The Lackawanna Cut-Off Right-of-Way Use and Extension Study (for the Counties of Morris, Sussex and Warren), Gannett Fleming and Kaiser Engineers, Corp., September 1989.
  • Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Company, Timetable No. 85, November 14, 1943
  • Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Company, Employee Timetable, 1954
  • Erie-Lackawanna Railroad Company, Timetable No. 4, October 28, 1962
  • Map of Proposed Route of Lackawanna Railroad From Hopatcong to Slateford. L. Bush - Chief Engineer. September 1, 1906.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]