The EL and the Southern Tier- Rich or Poor?

Discussion relating to the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western, the Erie, and the resulting 1960 merger creating the Erie Lackawanna. Visit the Erie Lackawanna Historical Society at http://www.erielackhs.org/.

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Re: The EL and the Southern Tier- Rich or Poor?

Postby pumpers » Tue Nov 18, 2014 6:20 pm

gearhead wrote:The Southern Tier was declared by Gov. Rockefeller to be part of Applalacia in the 1970s. On the other hand the EL from what I can see had a lot of on line industries from all the factories existant and abandoned in Binghamton and Elmira....

I'm late to the thread, and we all know industrial decline all too well. But what I want to say is that I would venture the declaration by Rockefeller was a political exercise - I am surmising there was a big pot of $$ being made available from Washington to help Appalachia - so by making the declaration he was making it possible for federal $$ to be funneled to NY. Just what a governor is supposed to do. JS
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Re: The EL and the Southern Tier- Rich or Poor?

Postby scottychaos » Fri Nov 21, 2014 11:13 am

pumpers wrote:
gearhead wrote:The Southern Tier was declared by Gov. Rockefeller to be part of Applalacia in the 1970s. On the other hand the EL from what I can see had a lot of on line industries from all the factories existant and abandoned in Binghamton and Elmira....

I'm late to the thread, and we all know industrial decline all too well. But what I want to say is that I would venture the declaration by Rockefeller was a political exercise - I am surmising there was a big pot of $$ being made available from Washington to help Appalachia - so by making the declaration he was making it possible for federal $$ to be funneled to NY. Just what a governor is supposed to do. JS


very interesting! thanks for sharing that.
That would fully explain why there are references to the Southern Tier of NY being "part of Applalacia" when in reality it absolutely is not!
the explanation is: politics! ;)
that totally makes sense..thanks!
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Re: The EL and the Southern Tier- Rich or Poor?

Postby JoeCollege » Fri Nov 21, 2014 12:29 pm

scottychaos wrote:
pumpers wrote:
gearhead wrote:The Southern Tier was declared by Gov. Rockefeller to be part of Applalacia in the 1970s. On the other hand the EL from what I can see had a lot of on line industries from all the factories existant and abandoned in Binghamton and Elmira....

I'm late to the thread, and we all know industrial decline all too well. But what I want to say is that I would venture the declaration by Rockefeller was a political exercise - I am surmising there was a big pot of $$ being made available from Washington to help Appalachia - so by making the declaration he was making it possible for federal $$ to be funneled to NY. Just what a governor is supposed to do. JS


very interesting! thanks for sharing that.
That would fully explain why there are references to the Southern Tier of NY being "part of Applalacia" when in reality it absolutely is not!
the explanation is: politics! ;)
that totally makes sense..thanks!
Scot


Pumpers nailed it. The point was to address the crushing rural poverty of the counties so identified, and to make them eligible for the big pot of federal funds that would be attached to the ARC. Technically, and politics aside, the area is most certainly geographically, sociologically and in may cases culturally, I (as a life long resident who has lived and/or worked in 4 of the NYS counties deemed part of Appalachia), indeed a little slice of West Virginia, minus the coal mines. The metrics used to define the region are congruent in many, many ways from the northern end (Chenango County) down into Tennessee. But that's a topic for another forum, I guess.
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Re: The EL and the Southern Tier- Rich or Poor?

Postby GulfRail » Thu Jun 16, 2016 1:41 am

I've heard people argue one of the reasons for the Erie's financial weakness was that it served the Southern Tier instead of the Empire Corridor. Too see if this theory held any water, I decided to check a digital edition of the Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States. This book was published in 1932, decades before industry started migrating to the Sunbelt. On the map labeled Principal Manufacturing Cities, I was able to identify the following industrial centers in New York State and which railroads they were served by.

New York City, NY (NYC)
Yonkers, NY (NYC)
Poughkeepsie, NY (NYC, NH)
Cornwall, NY (NYC, NYO&W)
Albany, NY (NYC, D&H)
Troy, NY (NYC)
Schenectady, NY (NYC, D&H)
Johnstonville, NY (B&M)
Rotterdam, NY (NYC, B&M)
Amsterdam, NY (NYC)
Little Falls, NY (NYC)
Utica, NY (NYC, DL&W, NYO&W)
Syracuse, NY (NYC, DL&W)
Auburn, NY (NYC, LV)
Rochester, NY (NYC, PRR, B&O, LV, ERIE)
Buffalo, NY (NYC, PRR, B&O, LV, DL&W, PM, NKP)
Niagara Falls, NY (NYC, ERIE, LV, CN, CP)
Lackawanna, NY (NYC, B&O, PRR, NKP)
Binghamton, NY (ERIE, DL&W)
Elmira, NY (ERIE, DL&W, PRR)
Jamestown, NY (ERIE)

By far the largest industrial center of all was New York City (which the Erie did not serve via. rail - only the New Haven, Pennsylvania and New York Central had direct connections to New York City), but Buffalo and Rochester were fairly substantial as well. Syracuse was also larger than average. All the other industrial centers listed were fairly small; however, what said industrial centers lacked in size they made up for in density. There's a large cluster of industry concentrated at the crossroads of the Hudson and the Erie Canal, as well as sporadic clusters along the Erie Canal The only industrial centers along the Southern Tier were Binghamton, Elmira and Jamestown, none of which were very large. While the Erie served both Buffalo and Rochester, neither was located on the Erie's main line and both were dominated by the New York Central. By virtue of absorbing the Lackawanna, the Erie would eventually gain access to Syracuse and Utica, but both were accessed via. branchlines and neither was especially large. Again, the New York Central was the dominant railroad in both Utica and Syracuse.

With these facts in mind, I'm going to have to lean towards "poor." The Erie Lackawanna was clearly at a disadvantage when it came to generating traffic along its lines vis-à-vis the New York Central/Penn Central. Even in its heyday, the Erie (and Lackawanna) served fewer people and less industry than the New York Central did.
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Re: The EL and the Southern Tier- Rich or Poor?

Postby GulfRail » Sun Jun 19, 2016 1:39 am

Just to prove my point, here's a scan of the map in question.

Image
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Re: The EL and the Southern Tier- Rich or Poor?

Postby ExCon90 » Sun Jun 19, 2016 2:04 pm

A map can also be worth 10,000 words--you can practically trace the NYC, Erie, and DL&W by connecting the dots.
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Re: The EL and the Southern Tier- Rich or Poor?

Postby GulfRail » Mon Jun 20, 2016 1:39 am

ExCon90 wrote:A map can also be worth 10,000 words--you can practically trace the NYC, Erie, and DL&W by connecting the dots.

It's astonishing just how much industry there was along the Central and how little there was along the Erie in general. While the Erie served places like Indianapolis, Dayton and Cincinnati via. branchlines, the single most industrialized region along the Erie's New Jersey-Chicago mainline (aside from North Jersey and Chicago, of course) was the Mahoning Valley. In many respects, the Erie was a rural railroad; while that endeared the Erie to the communities it served, it was also a major factor in the Erie's eventual demise.
Last edited by GulfRail on Mon Jun 20, 2016 3:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The EL and the Southern Tier- Rich or Poor?

Postby Matt Langworthy » Mon Jun 20, 2016 10:59 am

I lived in the Southern Tier from 1969 to 1991, and in Monroe County (greater Rochester) since then. I agree that the Southern TIer is mostly poor, and has been for a long time. Rochester and Buffalo in particular grew to be much bigger than Elmira or Corning because of their proximity to useful water resources. The larger populations of Nuffalo, Rochester and Syracuse attracted major industries because of the greater numbers of potential workers.

That's not say the Southern Tier was devoid of industry or other sources of rail traffic. The milk business was pretty good for the Erie, DL&W and LV, but it basically dried up during the 1940s. Similarly, anthracite had been a good source of traffic, but it too declined during the '40s and '50s as both homes and businesses shifted over to oil or natural gas.

Another killer that didn't get direct mention is the expressway aka Route 17. That really opened up the competition for tractor trailers, especially after opening in 1962. The trucking business didn't crush the RRs just by having better customer service. They also offered door to door service, which was attractive to companies that weren't located along a RR line or didn't want to deal with a rail spur.

I've been doing alot of research on the B&H through the years. The original mainline was a good source of traffic for Erie and EL. Agnes seems to have forced a shift to trucks because 2 B&H customers (Westinghouse and Mercury) shipped entirely by truck after 1972. Likewise, the wineries increased their truck usage dramatically post-Agnes. I think this was due to the Wayland Branch not being restored to service till August, while the highways were generally re-opened by July (according to my older relatives). Given EL's correct decision to prioritize restoring the mainline, it seems logical that trucks probably gained ground with other branchline customers, as well.

Add in the other factors discussed previously in this thread, and it's no surprise that Southern Tier traffic dropped badly after World War II ended.
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Re: The EL and the Southern Tier- Rich or Poor?

Postby GulfRail » Mon Jun 20, 2016 11:13 pm

Matt: would it be fair to say the Erie's biggest problem was that the sources of traffic it had along the Southern Tier were either obsolete (anthracite) or vulnerable to trucks (milk)?
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Re: The EL and the Southern Tier- Rich or Poor?

Postby Matt Langworthy » Tue Jun 21, 2016 12:48 pm

Yes, I would agree they were the biggest challenges for the Erie in upstate NY after World War II, with the rising property tax rates running close behind. In addition to the Southern Tier, these problems also affected the B&SW and the Rochester Division. The Erie had actually proposed abandoning the Rochester Division between Wayland and Livonia in the 1940s, but shippers and connecting shortlines strongly objected. The Erie successfully abandoned that segment in 1956 because its own shippers had dwindled. The K&P, which had been a good interchange partner on the Rochester Division, ended operations in 1959 for the same reason. The B&H fared better because the wineries were non-traditional freight customers. The wine-related traffic evolved quite a bit before collapsing in the '90s. It helped to keep the Wayland Branch/Bath Secondary alive west of Savona.
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Re: The EL and the Southern Tier- Rich or Poor?

Postby GulfRail » Tue Jun 21, 2016 6:03 pm

Matt Langworthy wrote:In addition to the Southern Tier, these problems also affected the B&SW and the Rochester Division. The Erie had actually proposed abandoning the Rochester Division between Wayland and Livonia in the 1940s, but shippers and connecting shortlines strongly objected. The Erie successfully abandoned that segment in 1956 because its own shippers had dwindled. The K&P, which had been a good interchange partner on the Rochester Division, ended operations in 1959 for the same reason.

I assume most of the shippers on the Rochester Division had switched to trucks by then.

Matt Langworthy wrote:The B&H fared better because the wineries were non-traditional freight customers. The wine-related traffic evolved quite a bit before collapsing in the '90s. It helped to keep the Wayland Branch/Bath Secondary alive west of Savona.

I was under the impression New York's wine industry was one of the largest in the nation: did something happen in the 1990's to drive wine traffic off the rails?
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Re: The EL and the Southern Tier- Rich or Poor?

Postby johnpbarlow » Wed Jun 22, 2016 5:08 am

The Southern Tier may not have been the industrial hot bed that the Albany-Buffalo NYC corridor was but up until the '70s prior to Hurricane Agnes and Conrail formation, EL was running 30 scheduled trains per day through the Tier (see attachments from EL 1971 Employees TT). Clearly a lot of these trains was bridge traffic as some of these trains were New England interchange traffic with D&H / B&M at Binghamton. And there was NJ interchange traffic with CNJ east of Scranton, PA traffic with Reading at Newberry Jct/Rupert, and New England traffic at NH at Maybrook (and later PC at Utica). But the industrial center of Buffalo/Niagara Falls (via partly EL-owned Niagara Jct Rwy) was served by EL from both the east and the west. And Syracuse/Oswego/Rochester/Utica were also served by EL freights (I remember regularly seeing a single EL piggyback flat car with 2 trailers at the EL's terminal next to the Genesee River in Rochester prior to C-day).

While the lack of major shippers along the Tier made it an easy decision for Conrail to pluck the bridge traffic off the EL main (and the nearby LV, as well) and divert it to the Water Level route, I think CSX could have kept a decent train count along the EL if CSX and EL unions could have come to terms at Conrail formation, possibly putting a dent in Conrail's future profitability.
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EL wb Freight Train Schedule 1971 small.jpg
EL eb Freight Train Schedule 1971 small.jpg
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Re: The EL and the Southern Tier- Rich or Poor?

Postby Matt Langworthy » Wed Jun 22, 2016 11:04 am

GulfRail wrote:
Matt Langworthy wrote:In addition to the Southern Tier, these problems also affected the B&SW and the Rochester Division. The Erie had actually proposed abandoning the Rochester Division between Wayland and Livonia in the 1940s, but shippers and connecting shortlines strongly objected. The Erie successfully abandoned that segment in 1956 because its own shippers had dwindled. The K&P, which had been a good interchange partner on the Rochester Division, ended operations in 1959 for the same reason.

I assume most of the shippers on the Rochester Division had switched to trucks by then.


Correct.

GulfRail wrote:
Matt Langworthy wrote:The B&H fared better because the wineries were non-traditional freight customers. The wine-related traffic evolved quite a bit before collapsing in the '90s. It helped to keep the Wayland Branch/Bath Secondary alive west of Savona.

I was under the impression New York's wine industry was one of the largest in the nation: did something happen in the 1990's to drive wine traffic off the rails?


The wine industry in New York has grown substantially since the Farm Wine Act of 1976, but Constellations Brands (formerly Canandaigua Winery) is the only wine-related rail customer in upstate NY at this time. Taylor/Great Western provided the majority of the B&H's revenue back in the day, but they were a bit different from the other wineries because they brought in large amounts of liquid sugar and blending wine prior to shutting down in 1995. This is why the B&H laid heavier rail between Rheims and Bath during the late 1960s, as well as upgrading from GE 44 tonners to Alco S1s in 1970. Meanwhile, the trend in the NY wine industry was toward smaller wineries and European grapes. Ultra-sweet blended wines became passe, which was part of the reason for downfall of Taylor/Great Western. Taylor is mainly used as cooking wine today. Great Western is still in Rheims but they ship in very small quantities, which is not ideal for rail service. Likewise, Glenora has been located next to the Finger Lakes Railway (and Conrail before them) since the late 1970s. They don't use ship or receive anything by rail, either.

At one point, I had hope that another large winery or two might take hold in upstate NY... but my contacts in the wine industry have told me that is unlikely to happen. The trend is more small, boutique wineries which won't use rail.
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Re: The EL and the Southern Tier- Rich or Poor?

Postby Matt Langworthy » Wed Jun 22, 2016 11:47 am

johnpbarlow wrote:The Southern Tier may not have been the industrial hot bed that the Albany-Buffalo NYC corridor was but up until the '70s prior to Hurricane Agnes and Conrail formation, EL was running 30 scheduled trains per day through the Tier (see attachments from EL 1971 Employees TT). Clearly a lot of these trains was bridge traffic as some of these trains were New England interchange traffic with D&H / B&M at Binghamton. And there was NJ interchange traffic with CNJ east of Scranton, PA traffic with Reading at Newberry Jct/Rupert, and New England traffic at NH at Maybrook (and later PC at Utica). But the industrial center of Buffalo/Niagara Falls (via partly EL-owned Niagara Jct Rwy) was served by EL from both the east and the west. And Syracuse/Oswego/Rochester/Utica were also served by EL freights (I remember regularly seeing a single EL piggyback flat car with 2 trailers at the EL's terminal next to the Genesee River in Rochester prior to C-day).

While the lack of major shippers along the Tier made it an easy decision for Conrail to pluck the bridge traffic off the EL main (and the nearby LV, as well) and divert it to the Water Level route, I think CSX could have kept a decent train count along the EL if CSX and EL unions could have come to terms at Conrail formation, possibly putting a dent in Conrail's future profitability.


Thanks for sharing the timetable. Even after Agnes, a map in Trains showed Hornell ot Binghamton averaging 27 trains a day in 1974. Ten trains ran on the EL main west of Hornell, while the other 17 ran on the Buffalo Division.

One minor correction: CSX didn't exist in 1976. The EL unions were negotiating with Chessie.
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Re: The EL and the Southern Tier- Rich or Poor?

Postby GulfRail » Thu Jun 30, 2016 7:49 pm

Matt Langworthy wrote:Thanks for sharing the timetable. Even after Agnes, a map in Trains showed Hornell ot Binghamton averaging 27 trains a day in 1974. Ten trains ran on the EL main west of Hornell, while the other 17 ran on the Buffalo Division.

The question we should be asking ourselves is not how many trains used the Southern Tier on a daily basis, but how many of those trains originated on the Tier. While 27 trains a day may have traversed the Southern Tier, most of those trains originated or terminated in Chicago, Buffalo or North Jersey, not in Binghamton or Elmira. Overhead traffic is all well and good, but a railroad needs online sources of traffic to sustain it. In that respect, the Southern Tier was at a distinct disadvantage when compared to the Pennsylvania's Philadelphia-Pittsburgh or the Central's Albany-Buffalo mainlines.
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