Lehigh and New England Railroad

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Lehigh & New England Railroad
L&NE on US map cropped.png
L&NE system map
Reporting mark LNE
Locale New Jersey
New York
Dates of operation 1895–1961
Successor Central Railroad of New Jersey
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length 217 miles (349 kilometres)
Headquarters Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Lehigh & 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,[1] the first being the New York, Ontario & Western Railway.[2]


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.[1] When the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western 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, New Jersey. The Cut-Off opened in 1911, but the L&NE's tunnel was never used.[citation needed]

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 & Ohio Railroad (B&O) and Chesapeake & 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 All three applications were withdrawn in 1930.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 & Hartford Railroad.[1]

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 & 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.[1][3]

Revenue freight traffic, in millions of net ton-miles
Year Traffic
1925 348
1933 244
1944 550
1956 338
1960 143
Source: ICC annual reports



  1. ^ a b c d 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. 
  2. ^ kodtrak.railfan.net
  3. ^ Kulp, Randolph L., ed. (1989). History of Lehigh and New England Railroad Company. Lehigh Valley Chapter, National Railway Historical Society, Inc. 

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