Lehigh and New England Railroad
|Lehigh and New England Railroad|
L&NE system map
|Dates of operation||1895–1961|
|Successor||Central Railroad of New Jersey|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)|
|Length||217 miles (349 kilometres)|
The Lehigh and New England Railroad (reporting mark LNE) was a Class I railroad located in Northeastern United States that acted as a bridge line. The company holds the distinction of being the second notable U.S. railroad that filed for abandonment in its entirety, the first being the New York, Ontario and Western Railway.
The Lehigh & New England Railroad's oldest ancestor was the South Mountain & Boston, chartered in 1873 to construct a railroad between Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Boston, Massachusetts. Several reorganizations finally produced the Pennsylvania, Poughkeepsie & Boston Railroad (PP&B), which completed a line from Slatington, Pennsylvania on the Lehigh River, to Pine Island, New York, using tracks of the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway between Hainesburg Junction and Swartswood Junction, New Jersey. In 1891 the Philadelphia & Reading Railway leased the railroad, but canceled the lease when the PP&B entered receivership in 1893. Yet another reorganization in 1895 produced the Lehigh and New England Railroad (L&NE). After 1904 most of the L&NE's stock was owned by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company. When the Lackawanna Railroad (DL&W) was building the Lackawanna Cut-Off, the DL&W was obligated to maintain the integrity of the L&NE's right-of-way where the Cut-Off crossed over it in Knowlton Township, NJ. The Cut-Off opened in 1911, but the L&NE's tunnel was never used (see photo below).
In 1926 the L&NE and the Reading Railroad (RDG) agreed to a lease of the L&NE by the RDG, but the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) denied the application. In 1929 the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) and Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) both asked for four-way control of the L&NE by B&O, C&O, the New York Central Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad; that same year the Wabash Railroad asked to control the railroad. All three applications were withdrawn in 1930. The ICC's merger plan of 1929 assigned the L&NE to the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.
Declining traffic, first in anthracite, then in cement, made the L&NE's fate obvious to its owner. In the 1960 the railroad — which was still solvent — petitioned for abandonment. The Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ) organized the Lehigh and New England Railway to buy and operate the portions of the line between Hauto and Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, and from Bethlehem and Allentown through Bath to Martins Creek, Pennsylvania, approximately 40 miles (64 kilometres). The remainder of the L&NE was abandoned in 1961. In 1972 CNJ transferred its own Pennsylvania lines to the Lehigh Valley Railroad (LV) but continued to operate the L&NE remnants. In 1974 the ICC assigned operation of the line out of Bethlehem to the LV and the Hauto-Tamaqua line to the RDG. Two years later, both of those railroads were taken over by Conrail.
Facing south, the never-used tunnel (at right) for the Lehigh & New England RR under the now-abandoned Lackawanna Cut-Off. NJ Route 94 uses the tunnel on the left. The unused L&NE right-of-way continues for roughly a half-mile (1 km) south of here to where it would have connected with the right-of-way of the L&NE mainline from Hainesburg Jct.
- Drury, George H. (1994). The Historical Guide to North American Railroads: Histories, Figures, and Features of more than 160 Railroads Abandoned or Merged since 1930. Waukesha, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing. pp. 171–172. ISBN 0-89024-072-8.
- Kulp, Randolph L., ed. (1989). History of Lehigh and New England Railroad Company. Lehigh Valley Chapter, National Railway Historical Society, Inc.