Delaware and Hudson Railway
|Dates of operation||1823–|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Previous gauge||4 ft 3 in (1,295 mm)
(see Stourbridge Lion)
|Length||1,581 miles (2,544 kilometers)|
|Headquarters||Albany, New York|
The name itself originates from the 1823 New York state corporation charter listing the unusual name of "The President, Managers and Company of the Delaware & Hudson Canal Co." authorizing an establishment of "water communication" between the Delaware River and the Hudson River.
Nicknamed "The Bridge Line to New England and Canada," the D&H helped connect New York with Montreal, Quebec and New England. It called itself "North America's oldest continually operated transportation company." In 1991, after more than 150 years as an independent railroad, the D&H was purchased by Canadian Pacific Railway (CP).
Delaware and Hudson Canal Company
In the early 1820s, Philadelphia merchant William Wurts, who had explored the sparsely settled regions of Northeastern Pennsylvania, realized the value of the extensive anthracite deposits. He interested his brothers in the idea of building a canal to make it easier to transport it to New York City, which was feeling the effect of import restrictions on British bituminous coal which it had been relying on.
The Delaware and Hudson Canal Company was chartered by separate laws in the states of New York and Pennsylvania in 1823, allowing William Wurts and his brother Maurice to construct the Delaware and Hudson Canal. In January 1825, its public stock offering following a demonstration of anthracite heating in a Wall Street coffeehouse raised a million dollars.
Ground was broken on July 13, 1825, and the canal was opened to navigation in October 1828. It began at Rondout Creek at the location known as Creeklocks, between Kingston (where the creek fed into the Hudson River) and Rosendale. From there it proceeded southwest alongside Rondout Creek to Ellenville, continuing through the valley of the Sandburg Creek, Homowack Kill, Basha Kill and Neversink River to Port Jervis on the Delaware River. From there the canal ran northwest on the New York side of the Delaware River, crossing into Pennsylvania on Roebling's Delaware Aqueduct at Lackawaxen and running on the north bank of the Lackawaxen River to Honesdale.
To get the anthracite from the Wurts' mine in the Moosic Mountains near Carbondale to the canal at Honesdale, the canal company built the Delaware and Hudson Gravity Railroad. The state of Pennsylvania authorized its construction on April 8, 1826. On August 8, 1829, the D&H's first locomotive, the Stourbridge Lion, made history as the first locomotive to run on rails in the United States. Westward extensions of the railroad opened to new mines at Archbald in 1843, Valley Junction in 1858, Providence in 1860 and Scranton in 1863. Passenger service began west of Carbondale in 1860.
The canal was a successful enterprise for many of its early years, but the company's management realized that railroads were the future of transportation, and began investing in stock and trackage. In 1898 the canal carried its last loads of coal and was drained and sold. The next year the company dropped the "Canal" from its name. The remaining fragments of the canal were designated a National Historic Landmark in 1968.
Delaware and Hudson Company (Railroad Corporation)
As railroads grew in popularity, the canal company recognized the importance of replacing the canal with a railroad. The first step of this was the Jefferson Railroad, a line from Carbondale north towards New York, chartered in 1864, built by the Erie Railroad in 1869 and opened in 1872. This was a branch of the Erie, running south from the main line at Lanesboro to Carbondale. Also built as part of this line was a continuation from the other side of the D&H's gravity railroad at Honesdale southeast to the Erie's Pennsylvania Coal Company railroad at Hawley. The Jefferson Railroad (and through it the Erie) obtained trackage rights over the D&H between its two sections, and the D&H obtained trackage rights to Lanesboro.
The other part of the main line was the Albany and Susquehanna Railroad, which the D&H leased on February 24, 1870. The Delaware and Hudson already had a history of working with the Albany and Susquehanna, agreeing in 1866 to jointly build an extension to Nineveh and subsequently ship coal across the entire line. The two companies then entered into an arrangement whereby the Delaware and Hudson perpetually leased the Albany and Susquehanna for $490,000 per year. The connecting Lackawanna and Susquehanna Railroad, chartered in 1867 and opened in 1872, was also absorbed. The Albany and Susquehanna provided a line from Albany southwest to Binghamton, while the Lackawanna and Susquehanna split from that line at Nineveh, running south to the Jefferson Railroad at Lanesboro. Also leased in 1870 was the Schenectady and Susquehanna Railroad, connecting the Albany and Susquehanna at Duanesburg to Schenectady, opened in 1872 (reorganized as the Schenectady and Duanesburg Railroad in 1873).
On March 1, 1871, the D&H leased the Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad Company, which, along with its leased lines, provided a network stretching north from Albany and Schenectady to Saratoga Springs, and continuing northeast to Rutland, Vermont, as well as an eastern route to Rutland via trackage rights over the Troy and Boston Railroad west of Eagle Bridge. The D&H also obtained a 1/4 interest in the Troy Union Railroad from this lease.
On March 1, 1873, the D&H got the New York and Canada Railroad chartered as a merger of the Whitehall and Plattsburgh Railroad and Montreal and Plattsburg Railroad, which had been owned by the Rutland Railroad. This provided an extension north from Whitehall to the border with Quebec, completed in 1875; a branch opened in 1876 to Rouses Point. Lines of the Grand Trunk Railway continued each of the two branches north to Montreal.
Some company directors questioned the wisdom of acquiring extensive rail systems in northern New York State. A direct line to Albany, New York existed for many years through the canal and river system, so most of the coal markets in the area were already accessible. These concerns were overruled by the majority, who believed there would be great benefit to having an all rail route to Upstate New York that was not nearly as vulnerable to winter weather as the canal. It was also desirable to avoid situations in which the company would have to rely on other railroads to reach its markets. The effort was helped by a report that estimated necessary upgrades to the canal would cost $300,000, an expenditure that would not be needed if rail routes could be purchased or leased.
The canal was last used on November 5, 1891, and the gravity railroad closed January 3, 1899. On April 28, 1899 the name was changed to the Delaware and Hudson Company to reflect the lack of a canal, which was sold in June of that year. Between Port Jackson and Ellenville, the right-of-way for the canal was used by the Ellenville and Kingston Railroad, a branch of the New York, Ontario and Western Railway, chartered in 1901 and opened in 1902.
In 1903, the D&H organized the Chateaugay and Lake Placid Railway as a consolidation of the Chateaugay Railroad, Chateaugay Railway and Saranac and Lake Placid Railway. In conjunction with the Plattsburgh and Dannemora Railroad, which had been leased by the Chateaugay Railroad, this formed a long branch from Plattsburgh west and south to Lake Placid.
In 1906, the D&H bought the Quebec Southern Railway and South Shore Railway, merging them into the Quebec, Montreal and Southern Railway. This line ran from St. Lambert, a suburb of Montreal, northeast to Fortierville, most of the way to Quebec City. The D&H sold that line to the Canadian National Railway in 1929.
The D&H incorporated the Napierville Junction Railway in 1906 to continue the line north from Rouses Point to St. Constant Junction near Montreal, Quebec, from which the D&H obtained trackage rights over the Grand Trunk Railway to Montreal. This line opened in 1907, forming part of the shortest route between New York City and Montreal.
In 1912, the D&H and the Pennsylvania Railroad incorporated the Wilkes-Barre Connecting Railroad, creating an interchange between the two lines at Hanover Township, PA, thus avoiding going through downtown Wilkes-Barre. Opened in 1915, it runs north 6.65 miles to the D&H mainline at Hudson crossing the Susquehanna River twice.
On April 1, 1930, the property of the Delaware and Hudson Company was transferred to the Delaware and Hudson Railroad Corporation, incorporated December 1, 1928.
In 1938, the D&H started to act as a bridge line, carrying large amounts of freight between other connecting lines.
Delaware and Hudson Railway
In 1968, Norfolk & Western wanted the Wabash & Nickel Plate Roads. The ICC at the time informed them that in order to get those two roads, they would also have to take the Erie Lackawanna & D&H. The D&H company was reorganized as the Delaware and Hudson Railway, and both roads were placed into Dereco, a holding company owned by Norfolk and Western Railway. After the New York and Pennsylvania were hit by Hurricane Agnes in 1972, which destroyed almost all of the EL mainline west of Binghamton, NY and following the bankruptcy of numerous northeastern U.S. railroads in the 1970s, including D&H and E-L, N&W lost control of Dereco stock. After several merger plans fell through, EL petitioned for and was included in the formation of the federal government's nascent Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail). While D&H was technically still owned by N&W, they were given enough financial support and told to "sink or swim" as an independent railroad again. In 1980, Conrail sold the former DL&W Mainline from Binghamton to Scranton to the D&H; Being a flatter more direct route to Scranton, this allowed the D&H to abandon their famed Penn Division between Carbondale and the connection with the ex-Erie/EL at Jefferson Junction. The reason the D&H was left out of Conrail was to maintain a semblance of competition in the northeast. While the success of this move has often been discredited since the D&H was simply too small to compete with all of the markets served by Conrail, the railroad doubled in size by being granted trackage rights over Conrail reaching Newark, Philadelphia, Buffalo, and Washington, D.C. The remainder of the Penn Division from Lanesboro, Pennsylvania, to Nineveh, New York, was abandoned after the Belden Hill tunnel was enlarged in 1986.
In 1984, Guilford Rail System purchased the D&H as part of a plan to operate a larger regional railroad from Maine and New Brunswick in the east, to New York and the Midwest in the west, Montreal in the north, and the Philadelphia/Washington, D.C. area in the south. For only $500,000, Guilford purchased the entire railroad, lock, stock and barrel. The price tag reflected the horrid financial shape and the condition of the physical plant. At the time of the purchase, the D&H had little freight traffic, relying on Federal and State money to keep operating. Guilford's plans for expanded service did not come to fruition, and after two intense labor strikes, Guilford declared the D&H bankrupt in 1988, abandoning its operation. Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, purchased the line south of Carbondale to Scranton and serves a growing number of industries in the valley under the auspices of designated-operator Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad.
With the D&H in limbo, the federal government ordered the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway to operate the D&H under subsidy until such time as a buyer could be found. Guilford claimed that the D&H had assets of $70M at the time of the bankruptcy.
Canadian Pacific ownership
In 1991, the Canadian Pacific Railway purchased the D&H for $25M to give the transcontinental system a connection between Montreal and the New York City metropolitan area.
CPR assumed all operations and the D&H did not maintain any locomotives or rolling stock. Under CPR, the condition of the D&H trackage was upgraded and much excess track removed. Although for a short time the D&H was again in limbo and in 1996 CPR placed it and other money-losing trackage in the eastern U.S. and Canada into a separate operating company named St. Lawrence and Hudson Railway. In 2000, the St.L&H was merged back into CPR.
The D&H has been a difficult money-making venture for some time. Originally constructed as a coal hauling route and when that business declined it proved difficult to turn a profit. It operates in some of the most rural areas of New York State, and very few industrial customers between Binghamton and Rouses Point remain. The railroad's current prognosis is arguably better than it has been in a long time. Along with the NYC connection, haulage agreements with other railroads are greatly increasing traffic. CP has been steadily using their high power AC traction locomotives on their road trains that run on the line, instead of their aging SD40-2 models. This is an indication of the increasing importance of reliable service. There are also major signal and track projects underway to modernize the former D&H lines.
In 2010, Canadian Pacific official merged the D&H into their system, ending D&H after 187 years of continuous operations in North America. Canadian Pacific had kept three of the D&H's former EMD GP38-2's, 7303, 7304, and 7312 in their famous Delaware & Hudson "Lightning Stripe" paint scheme and had designated the 7312, nicknamed the "B.C. O'Brien" after the longest running engineer on the D&H, as its heritage unit. In July 2013, 7312 was sent to National Railway Equipment in Silvis, Illinois for a complete rebuild and is scheduled to come back in CP red paint. 7303 & 7304 are scheduled for the same.
As of 2012, various trackage and haulage rights have been given to Norfolk Southern Railway over the D&H between Sunbury, PA and Mechanicville, NY and a connect to Canadian National via Rouse Point, NY. NS has incorporated the former bridge-line route into their "Patriot Corridor" and currently the majority of the traffic on the D&H is that of the NS.
A portion of former D&H lines were up for sale in October 2014. CP would retain the lines from Montreal to Albany in order to retain lucrative Bakken crude oil traffic. The lines south of CP's Mohawk Yard in Glenville, New York and Sunbury, Pennsylvania would be included. Much of the current traffic consists of NS intermodal container and auto carriers train bound for Ayer, Massachusetts via Pan Am Southern. On November 17, it was announced that NS will acquire the Schenectady, New York-Sunbury, Pennsylvania and Delanson-Voorheesville, New York segments for $217 million. On September 19th, 2015, NS became the official owner of this portion of the old D&H mainline.
The Delaware and Hudson is regarded by many as one of the best railroads in American history. Although it wasn't a rail giant such as Union Pacific or Norfolk Southern, what it lacked in size it made up for with innovation and excellent management. In the 1920s, during the Great Depression, D&H President L.F. Loree ordered many of the railway's larger locomotives to be taken off the mainline and serviced with the sole reasoning being to keep men working so they didn't lose their jobs. Most of these engines were in excellent condition and didn't need repairs. As for the innovation, the D&H had experimental steam locomotives such as the Horatio Allen (#1400), John B. Jervis (#1401), James Archbald (#1402), and L.F. Loree (#1403). Also, in 1939, the railroad experimented with welded rail before many other railroads.
D&H was a difficult money-making venture for some time. It traversed some of the most rural and mountainous areas of New York and Pennsylvania. Only about a dozen industrial customers between Sunbury and Rouses Point remain. The railroad's current prognosis is arguably better than it has been in a long time. Along with the New York connection, haulage agreements with other railroads greatly increased traffic. CP steadily uses their high power AC traction locomotives on road trains that operate instead of aging SD40-2 models.
As of 2012, various trackage and haulage rights over D&H have been given to NS, including between Sunbury, Pennsylvania, and Mechanicville, New York, and a connection to CN via Rouses Point, New York. NS has incorporated the former bridge-line route into their "Patriot Corridor".
On April 8, 2015 D&H filed a discontinuance of trackage rights exemption with the Surface Transportation Board. If granted, the exemption would allow D&H to discontinue any local and overhead trackage rights it holds on nearly 670 miles of lines in several northeastern US states (the lines themselves are owned by NS, CSX, ConRail, Amtrak, and several smaller railroads).
- Baltimore Coal & Union Railroad
- Northern Coal & Iron Company
- Plymouth & Wilkes-Barre Railroad and Bridge
- Oak Point Link
- Philip Hone: 1825-1826
- John Bolton: 1826-1831
- John Wurts: 1831-1854
- George Talbot Olyphant: 1858-1869
- Thomas Dickson: 1869-1884
- Robert M. Olyphant: 1884-1903
- David Wilcox: 1903-1907
- Leonor F. Loree: 1907-1938
- Thomas L. Hunter: 1938-1941
- Joseph Nuelle: 1941-1954
- William White: 1954-1967
- John P. Hiltz, Jr.: 1967
- Frederick C. Dumaine, Jr.: 1967-1968
- Frank W. McCabe: 1968
- John P. Fishwick: 1969-1970
- Gregory W. Maxwell: 1970-1972
- Carl B. Sterzing, Jr.: 1972-1977
- Selig Altschul: 1977
- Charles E. Bertrand: 1977-1978
- Kent Shoemaker: 1978-1982
- Timothy Mellon: 1984-1988
- Walter Rich: 1988-1991
- Shaughnessy, Jim (1967). Delaware & Hudson. Howell-North Books. p. 2.
- Norfolk Southern completes acquisition of Delaware & Hudson South Line, PRNewswire, September 18, 2015
- From the Coalfields to the Hudson
- Delaware & Hudson: The History of an Important Railroad Whose Antecedent Was a Canal Network to Transport Coal
- Early Railroads of New York's Capital District
- Anderson, Eric. "Deal on rail network close". Times Union. Times Union. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- Shaughnessy, Jim (1967). Delaware & Hudson. Howell-North Books. p. 310
- L. Lowenthal, From the Coalfields to the Hudson: A History of the Delaware & Hudson Canal, Purple Mountain Press, 2009.
- J. Shaughnessy, Delaware & Hudson: The History of an Important Railroad Whose Antecedent Was a Canal Network to Transport Coal, Syracuse University Press, 1997.
- T. Starr, Golden Age of Railroads in New York's Capital District, Timothy Starr, 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Delaware and Hudson Railway.|
- D&H Historical Society
- D&H Penn Division
- D&H Canal Historical Society
- Carbondale Historical Society and D&H Transportation Museum
- D&H 4-8-4s
- D&H 4-6-6-4s
- D&H Virtual Museum
- Norfolk Southern Railway