Lackawanna Cut-Off

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This article is about the rail line itself. For the New Jersey Transit project, see Lackawanna Cut-Off Restoration Project.
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 Restoration in progress (Port Morris Jct. - Andover)
Abandoned (Andover - Slateford Jct.)
Locale New Jersey
Termini Port Morris Junction
Slateford Junction
Opened 1911-1979, 2011–Present (NJ Transit currently uses short section from Port Morris Jct. for temporary storage)
Closed 1979-2011 (tracks removed in 1984)
Owner New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT); Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority (PNERRA)
Operator(s) Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad (1911–60)
Erie Lackawanna Railroad (1960–76)
Conrail (1976–79)
NJ Transit (2011–Present)
Character Surface
Line length 28.45 mi (45.8 km)
No. of tracks 2 (1911–58)
1 (1958-84)
0 (1984-2011)
1 under construction (2011–)
Sidings: 6 (1911); 3 (1979); 0 (1984)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Operating speed 80 mph (130 km/h)
Route map
Lackawanna Cut-Off Map.jpg

The Lackawanna Cut-Off (also known as the New Jersey Cut-Off or Hopatcong-Slateford Cut-Off) is a railroad line that was built by the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad (DL&W) between 1908 and 1911. Noted for its large cuts and fills, and two large concrete viaducts, the line was part of a 400-mile (640 km) main line between Hoboken, New Jersey, and Buffalo, New York. The Cut-Off ran west for 28.5 miles (45.9 kms) from Port Morris Junction — near the south end of Lake Hopatcong in New Jersey, about 45 miles (72 km) west-northwest of New York City — to Slateford Junction near the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania.[1] The Cut-Off was 11 miles (18 km) shorter than the Lackawanna Old Road, the rail line it superseded; it had a much better grade profile (0.55% vs. 1.1%); and it had 42 fewer curves, with all but one permitting passenger train speeds of 70 mph (110 km/h) or more.[1] The Cut-Off also had no railroad crossings at the time of its construction. All 73 structures on the line were constructed of reinforced concrete, which was considered a pioneering use of the material. The construction of the roadbed required the movement of millions of tons of fill material using techniques similar to those used on the Panama Canal.[2]

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 2018
52.3 Roseville Rd overhead br to be rebuilt 2016
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 2017
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 Cut-Off was built and operated by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad under the subsidiary company Lackawanna Railroad of New Jersey, which was merged into the DL&W proper after all its stock was retired in 1941. The Cut-Off continued to be operated by the Lackawanna Railroad until October 17, 1960, when the DL&W merged with the Erie Railroad. The resulting Erie Lackawanna Railroad (EL) operated the line until April 1, 1976, when the EL was conveyed into Conrail, which continued to operate the Cut-Off until January 1979. The Cut-Off was abandoned in 1983 and the track was removed the following year. In 1985, Conrail sold the right-of-way to two private developers from New Jersey. In 2001, the respective sections in the two states were acquired by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) and the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority (PNERRA).

In 2011, after a nearly three-decade effort to reactivate the line, NJ Transit began construction from Port Morris Junction to Andover, New Jersey (Andover station), a total of 7.3-mile (11.7 km), under the Lackawanna Cut-Off Restoration Project. By the Spring of 2012, NJ Transit had laid about four miles (6.5 km) of track, in three disconnected sections. Since that time, construction has been halted due to unresolved environmental issues. In 2013, NJ Transit began using a short section of the Cut-Off near Port Morris to temporarily store retired rail equipment. In 2015, NJ Transit announced that it expected to resume construction in October 2016, with a projected start date of rail service to Andover in October 2018. Although no specific plans have yet to be announced regarding the restoration of service west of Andover, a federal study has examined the feasibility of an extension into northeastern Pennsylvania, possibly as far as Scranton.[3]

History (1851–1905)[edit]

The line's origins involve two men who probably never met: John I. Blair and William Truesdale. Blair built the DL&W's Warren Railroad, chartered in 1851 and completed in 1862, to provide a connection between the mainlines of the DL&W in Pennsylvania and the Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ).[4] But when the Lackawanna-CNJ merger fell through and the Lackawanna merged with the Morris & Essex Railroad in New Jersey instead, the Warren Railroad became part of a circuitous patchwork of rail lines connecting two unanticipated merger partners.[2]

The 39-mile (63 km) route (later known as the "Old Road" after the New Jersey Cut-Off opened) had numerous curves that restricted trains to 50 mph (80 km/h) and two tunnels with speed limits of just 20 mph (32 km/h). The 975-foot (297 m) twin-bore tunnel near Manunka Chunk, and its eastern approach would occasionally flood with heavy rains. The 2,969-foot (905 m) single-bore Oxford Tunnel was double-tracked in 1869 to reduce the bottleneck. In 1901, gauntlet track was installed through Oxford Tunnel, providing more overhead and sideways clearance as rolling stock grew in size; however, the newly overlapping tracks decreased operating capacity through the tunnel, and the bottleneck worsened.[1][2]

Truesdale became DL&W president on March 2, 1899,[1][5] with a mandate to upgrade the entire 900-mile (1,450 km) railroad, including the building of a new line to replace the Warren Railroad route.[1] He would focus on smaller projects for several years, but by 1905 the railroad was gearing up for what would be by far its largest project up until that time, with teams surveying potential routes westward from Port Morris, New Jersey, to the Delaware River.

Planning and construction (1905–11)[edit]

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

During 1905-6, 14 routes were surveyed (labeled with letters of the alphabet), including several that would have required long tunnels. On September 1, 1906, a route without tunnels was chosen. This New Road (Route "M") would run from the crest of the watershed at Lake Hopatcong at Port Morris Junction to 2 mi (3.2 km) south of the Delaware Water Gap on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River at Slateford Junction.

At 28.5 miles (45.9 km), the line would be about 11 mi (18 km) shorter than the 39.6-mile (63.7 km) Old Road. The new route would have only 15 curves—42 fewer curves than the Old Road, the equivalent of more than four complete circles of curvature—which increased speeds and decreased running time—especially for freights, but for passenger trains as well. The ruling grade was cut in half from 1.1% to 0.55%.[1] The new line was also built without railroad crossings[6] to avoid collisions with automobiles and horse-drawn vehicles.

Construction officially began on August 1, 1908, with the route divided into seven sections, one for each contracting company. Sections 3-6 were 5 miles (8 km) each; sections 1-2 and 7 were of varying lengths. The amount of work per mile varied, with Section 3 (David W. Flickwir) seemingly having the most.

DL&W chief engineer George G. Ray oversaw the project, although the size and remote location of the project made it difficult for him to directly supervise all facets of construction.[1] Most workers resided in camps that were converted to barracks, whereas supervisory management generally stayed in local hotels. As many as 30 workers may have lost their lives building the Cut-Off, the names of some of whom will never be known because they were registered with their contractor by number only. In 1910, for example, five workers were killed in a single blasting mishap near Port Morris, one of several deadly accidents that involved dynamite. Other workers died in machinery accidents and landslides. At least one worker is known to have died of typhoid fever.


Features Length (ft) Max. height or depth (ft) Avg. height or depth (ft) Concrete used (yds3) Notes
Section 1: Timothy Burke, miles 45.7 - 48.2 (Port Morris Jct. - cut west of CR 605 bridge)
Port Morris Junction Tower -- -- -- -- Reinforced concrete, closed in 1979.
McMickle Cut 5,500 54 29 600,000 Located west of Musconetcong River
Section 2: Waltz & Reece Construction Co., miles 48.2 - 50.2 (Cut west of CR 605 bridge - Lake Lackawanna)
Waltz & Reece Cut 3,600 114 37 822,400 Crossed by Sussex County Route 605 overhead bridge
Bradbury Fill 4,000 78 24 457,000 Located in front of large cliff
Lubber Run Fill 2,100 98 64 720,000 At Lake Lackawanna
Section 3: David W. Flickwir, miles 50.2 - 55.8 (Lake Lackawanna - center of Pequest Fill)
Wharton Fill about 2,600 -- -- -- Just east of Roseville Tunnel
Roseville Tunnel 1,040 -- -- 35,000 Unstable rock made tunneling necessary instead of cut; track moved to center of bore in 1974.
Colby Cut 2,800 110 45 462,342 Rockslide detectors installed in 1950.
Pequest Fill (eastern half) 16,500 110 75 6,625,648 Numbers are totals; Pequest Fill was divided equally between two contractors
Section 4: Walter H. Gahagan, miles 55.8 - 60.8 (Center of Pequest Fill - Johnsonburg Station)
Pequest Fill (western half) -- -- -- -- World's largest railroad fill when built.
Greendell Station / tower -- -- -- -- Reinforced concrete, closed ca. 1942-3; tower closed in 1938; a flag stop for many years
Section 5: Hyde, McFarlan & Burke, miles 60.8 - 65.8 (Johnsonburg Station - 1 mile west of Blairstown Station)
Johnsonburg Station / creamery -- -- -- -- Reinforced concrete, located on Ramsey Fill; closed in 1942-3; station razed in 2007.
Ramsey Fill 2,800 80 21 805,481 Location of Johnsonburg station
Armstrong Cut 4,700 104 52 852,000 Largest cut on line; north side of cut collapsed and trimmed back in 1941
Blairstown Station / freight house -- -- -- -- Reinforced concrete, located within Jones Cut; closed in Jan 1970
Jones Cut -- -- -- 578,000 Location of Blairstown station
Vail Fill 1,700 102 33 293,500 Located on 1 degree curve
Section 6: Reiter, Curtis & Hill, miles 65.8-70.8 (1 mile west of Blairstown Station - west end of Paulinskill Viaduct)
Paulins Kill Viaduct 1,100 115 -- 43,212 Reinforced concrete bridge over Paulinskill and New York, Susquehanna & Western Railroad; world's largest reinforced concrete structure when built.
Section 7: Smith, McCormick Co., miles 70.8 - 74.3 (west end of Paulinskill Viaduct - Slateford Jct.)
Delaware River Viaduct 1,452 65 -- -- Reinforced concrete; originally planned as a curved structure[7]
Slateford Junction Tower -- -- -- -- Reinforced concrete, closed in Jan 1951

Some five million pounds (2,300 t) of dynamite were used to blast the cuts on the line. A total of 14,621,100 cubic yards (11,178,600 m3) of fill material was required for the project, more than could be obtained from the project's cuts. This forced the DL&W to purchase 760 acres (310 ha) of farmland for borrow pits.[1] Depending on the fill size, material was dumped from trains that backed out onto track on wooden trestles or suspended on cables between steel towers. During construction, several foreign governments sent representatives on inspection tours to study these new techniques.[2]

The Pequest Fill extended west of Andover to Huntsville, New Jersey. It was at its maximum height 110 feet (34 m) tall and was 3.12 miles (5.0 km) long, requiring 6,625,648 cubic yards (5,065,671 m3) of fill.[1] Armstrong Cut was 100 feet (30 m) deep and 1 mile (1.6 km) long, mostly through solid rock. The line's deepest cut was Colby Cut (immediately west of what would become Roseville Tunnel) at 130 feet (40 m) deep. The tunnel was not in the original plans for the Cut-Off, and in fact much of the cut above the tunnel had already been blasted when in October 1909 unstable anticline rock was encountered,[8] leading to a decision to abandon the cut and to blast what would become a 1,040-foot (320 m) tunnel instead.[6] Contractor David W. Flickwir, whose section included Roseville Tunnel and the eastern half of the Pequest Fill, worked around the clock during the summer of 1911 when construction fell behind schedule.[2]

Paulinskill Viaduct in Hainesburg, New Jersey, is 115 ft (35 m) tall and was the world's largest reinforced concrete structure when built.[2]

The Cut-Off's reinforced concrete structures (73 in all), which consumed 266,885 cubic yards (204,048 m3) of concrete and 735 tons of steel, include underpasses, culverts, and the two large viaducts on the western end of the line.[2]

Stations were built in Greendell, Johnsonburg and Blairstown; the Greendell area was already being served by the nearby Lehigh & Hudson River Railroad in Tranquility.[2] Interlocking towers were built at Port Morris Junction and Greendell, New Jersey, and Slateford Junction in Pennsylvania.

The final cost of the project was $11,065,512 in 1911 US dollars, equal to $281,024,739 today. DL&W spent three decades paying off the bonds that financed the new line, resulting in the Lackawanna Railroad of New Jersey remaining a separate corporate entity until 1941 when it was merged into the DL&W.[2][9] Although applying inflationary calculations to the original cost of the line would yield a modern equivalent of roughly $250 million, NJ Transit estimates the cost of replacing double-track on the Cut-Off at $275 million (single-track with passing sidings is proposed), a figure that would neither include what would be the cost of replacing the 73 reinforced concrete structures and the construction of the fills and cuts on the line, nor acquisition of the roadbed through an area more densely populated, and subject to environmental regulation, unlike a century ago.[1][10]

Operations (1911–58)[edit]

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

The first revenue train to operate on the Cut-Off under the new timetable that went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on December 24, 1911, was No. 15, a westbound passenger train that passed through Port Morris Junction at 12:15 a.m.[1] Most Long-distance trains that had previously traversed the Old Road shifted over to the Cut-Off, effectively downgrading the Old Road to secondary status.[1][2]

The Cut-Off was built to permit unrestricted speeds for passenger trains of 70 mph (110 km/h) (heavier rail that was installed later allowed speeds to increase to 80 mph (130 km/h)). Sidings were built at Slateford, Hainesburg, Johnsonburg, Greendell, Roseville, and Port Morris; about 25% of the route contained additional sidings. 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. As traffic decreased, Hainesburg, Johnsonburg and Roseville sidings were altered or removed. The remaining sidings remained in use until 1979.[6][12]

Roseville Tunnel posed occasional problems, especially during the winter with snow and ice buildup. Rockslides were a constant threat west of the tunnel. During the early years of World War II, watchmen were posted on the Cut-Off to look out for saboteurs; station agents were also expected to be on guard. Although no acts of sabotage occurred, the 1941 rockslide in Armstrong Cut (just west of Johnsonburg), which closed the line for nearly a month, was detected by a watchman. (Both Johnsonburg and Greendell stations were closed around 1942-43, but by that time the threat of sabotage was thought to have passed.) The north side of Armstrong Cut was then trimmed to prevent more rockslides.[1][6] In 1950, a detector fence was installed west of Roseville Tunnel to change trackside signals to red if rocks fell.[13]


Phoebe Snow poster showing the Pequest Fill on the new New Jersey Cut-Off, 11 miles (17.7 km) shorter than the old route.

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 a poster that touted the new line 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 was later joined by the Pocono Express, the Owl, and the Twilight. While the Lackawanna only operated mainline passenger trains between Hoboken, New Jersey, and Buffalo, New York, passengers could transfer to and from other railroads at Buffalo. For example, the Nickel Plate offered through sleeper service to St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, via the Lackawanna.

In 1949, the Lackawanna began modernizing its mainline passenger coaches. The railroad had already begun replacing steam engines with diesels in 1946, starting with mainline passenger trains. The Lackawanna Limited was also modernized and renamed the Phoebe Snow, helping breathe freshness back into a passenger train program that had seen only modest improvements since the 1930s. The Phoebe Snow would run for 11 years as a DL&W train and then as an Erie Lackawanna train from 1963 until November 1966. The Lake Cities, ironically a former Erie Railroad train, became the last regularly-scheduled passenger train on the Cut-Off; it made its last run on January 6, 1970.[1][6]

The only station on the Cut-Off at which mainline passenger trains would stop was Blairstown. Blairstown was also the first stop on westbound trains where passengers were permitted to unboard (i.e. westbound passengers boarding and detraining east of Blaistown were required to use suburban train service instead). This explains why Blairstown was the first stop listed on the destination board at the boarding gate at Hoboken for trains travelling via Scranton. In later years, Blairstown had a somewhat unique facet of operation: any trains arriving after the station agent went home for the night would automatically activate the station platform lights as the train entered the signal block. This practice was abandoned after passenger service ended.


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 challenge was keeping trains from going too fast. Initially, no speed limit existed on the Cut-Off, with engineers (both freight and passenger) being expected to exercise "good judgment". By the 1920s, however, most freights were restricted to 50 mph (80 km/h) or less, depending on the priority of the train and the type of locomotive and rail cars. By 1943, 131-pound-per-yard (65 kg/m) rail had been installed on the Cut-Off,[14] which permitted fast freights to run at 60 mph (97 km/h) through the Erie Lackawanna years. After Conrail took over operations in 1976, the speed limit was decreased to 50 mph.[15]

Local freights served customers at all three stations on the Cut-Off. Over the years, Blairstown handled the most local freight. 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 by Conrail: fertilizer for a customer in Johnsonburg that was delivered to Greendell, as the siding at Johnsonburg no longer existed.


The Cut-Off has seen two accidents during its operation:

  • 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 deadhead freight 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 also missed two track torpedoes that exploded as his engine ran over them, 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 a freight train traveling about 11 mph (18 km/h). The impact derailed the trailing locomotive and its coal tender, which the caboose of the leading freight, and two express cars in the trailing freight. The two cars immediately in front of the caboose were also damaged. Four employees were injured.[11]
  • In 1960, a freight train carrying automobiles derailed at Greendell.

Three other accidents, which did not occur on the Cut-Off itself, did indirectly involve the line:

  • On June 16, 1925, an eastbound passenger special from Chicago scheduled to run over the Cut-Off was rerouted over the Old Road to avoid freight traffic. A storm had washed debris onto the Hazen Road grade crossing three miles (4.8 km) west of Hackettstown, New Jersey, and at 2:24 a.m., the engine and train derailed. Forty-seven people died, most of them scalded by steam escaping the wrecked locomotive.[16] See:
    Main article: Rockport train wreck
  • At 11:27 p.m. on a misty July 2, 1948, a westbound passenger train, No. 9, derailed at the 40 mph (64 km/h) curve at Point of Gap while going faster than 73 mph (117 km/h). 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, suggesting that the train may have exceeded the speed limit during the 75-mile (121 km) trip.[14] 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 (529 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 perhaps 70 mph (110 km/h).[17] Legend has it that a chase locomotive was dispatched from Port Morris in a hopeless attempt to try to catch the cars. Within a half-hour the string had derailed at the sharp (40 mph or 64 km/h) curve at Point of Gap in the Delaware Water Gap, falling into the Delaware River at approximately the same location 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 had not properly set the brakes.

Decline (1958–79)[edit]

Westbound Conrail freight snakes through the Delaware Water Gap, just north of Slateford Jct., in this summer 1977 photo taken from Mount Tammany.

The DL&W was one of the most profitable corporations in the U.S. when it built the Cut-Off.[1][2] That profitability declined sharply after World War II, leading to the 1960 merger with the Erie Railroad.[1] DL&W single-tracked the Cut-Off in 1958 in anticipation of the Erie merger. The westbound track was removed, leaving a four-mile (6.4 km) passing siding at Greendell and shorter sidings at Port Morris and Slateford. After the merger, most freight traffic shifted to the Erie's mainline through Port Jervis, New York.[1][18] EL operated its last passenger train, the Lake Cities, on January 6, 1970, and then closed Blairstown station.

But freight traffic returned to the Cut-Off after the creation of Penn Central and the closure of its Maybrook Yard in Maybrook, New York. Nearly all EL freights were eventually routed to the Scranton Division via the Cut-Off.[18] In 1972, the CNJ abandoned operations in Pennsylvania, causing additional through freights to be run daily between Elizabeth, New Jersey, and Scranton, using the Cut-Off and the CNJ's High Bridge Branch. This arrangement with the CNJ ended on April 1, 1976, with the creation of Conrail.[18]

Labor contracts initially kept Conrail's freight schedule largely unchanged. The railroad replaced many rotted ties, returning it to better physical condition. But Conrail eventually shifted all freight traffic to other routes, citing the grades over the Pocono Mountains and EL's early-1960s severing of the Boonton Branch near Paterson, New Jersey. Conrail ran its final through freights in late 1978 and officially ended service on the Cut-Off in January 1979. Routine maintenance on the line ceased, and the signal system was shut off. 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 and service restoration (1979–present)[edit]

Preservation efforts began shortly after Conrail ended service in 1979. In spite of an Amtrak inspection train run in November 1979, and attempts to acquire the line by counties in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the tracks were removed on the Cut-Off in 1984. The right-of-way was sold to two different land developers the following year. The right-of-way was acquired by the State of New Jersey in 2001 (the short section in Pennsylvania was conveyed to the Monroe County Railroad Authority), and subsequent federal studies conducted on the Cut-Off and the mainline into Pennsylvania showed a need for the restoration of passenger service.

Starting in 2011, NJ Transit began relaying track between Port Morris and Lake Lackawanna (about 5 miles (8.0 km) west of Port Morris). By December 2011, about 1 mile (1.6 km) had been installed west of Port Morris Junction to Stanhope, New Jersey. At that time, a Norfolk Southern Corporation's Norfolk Southern Railway provided a track delivery train that brought 7.5 miles (12.1 km) of continuously welded rail to Port Morris. As of 2015, about 4.25 miles (6.84 km) of rail, in three unconnected sections, has been laid between Port Morris and Lake Lackawanna. Most of the right-of-way between Port Morris Junction and the lake has been cleared of trees and debris. Construction on the remaining sections of track is slated to restart in October 2016, with commuter service to Andover slated to begin in October 2018.[19]


From top left, photos depict scenes from east to west.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r 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 i j k l 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. ^ 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 six-foot-gauge 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 Delaware, New Jersey, and 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. ^ September 1, 1906, Map of Delaware Valley Cut-Off, Commissioned by DL&W
  8. ^ DL&W Presidents' correspondence file: October 28, 1909; Steamtown National Historic Site, Scranton, Pennsylvania.
  9. ^ The Lackawanna Cut-Off, New Jersey Tel-News, by Donald Maxton, July 1990
  10. ^ History of the Delaware Water Gap
  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 Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Near Greendell, New Jersey, on September 17, 1929, dated January 10, 1930
  12. ^ a b 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. ^ Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad employee timetable, 1950
  14. ^ a b Interstate Commerce Commission Investigation No. 3182. THE DELAWARE, LACKAWANNA AND WESTERN RAILROAD COMPANY, Accident near Slateford Jct., Pa., on May 15, 1948.
  15. ^ Erie Lackawanna - Death of an American Railroad, 1938-1992, by H. Roger Grant, Stanford University Press, 1994.
  16. ^ Dale, Frank (1995). Disaster at Rockport. Hackettstown Historical Society. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b c Zimmerman, Karl R. (1983). Quadrant Press Review 3: Erie Lackawanna East. Quadrant Press Inc. 
  19. ^ NJT Geographic Information Services (November 2005). "Map: Northwest New Jersey / Northeast Pennsylvania Rail Corridor: Lackawanna Cutoff" (PDF). New Jersey Transit. Retrieved November 18, 2012. 


  • The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad in the Nineteenth Century (1 volume) by Thomas Townsend Taber III, Lycoming Printing Company, 1977
  • The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad in the Twentieth Century (2 volumes) by Thomas Townsend Taber III, Lycoming Printing Company, 1979, 1980
  • 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.
  • Grant, H. Roger (1994). Erie Lackawanna: The death of an American railroad, 1938-1992. Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804723572. OCLC 246668407. 
  • 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
  • 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]