• Erie-DL&W "Plan C" Joint Track Proposal - 1955

  • 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/.
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/.

Moderator: blockline4180

  by scottychaos
Just came across these very interesting maps!
apparently this is a plan for consolidating Erie & DL&W trackage in the Southern Tier of NY in 1955..5 years before the merger.

The Area around Waverly is especially interesting to me.
Heading westbound from Binghamton toward Waverly, the proposed passenger main, dual track, is the DL&W, and the Erie is single tracked between Binghamton & Waverly.

Then passenger trains switch to the Erie main at Waverly, the passenger main West of Waverly is the Erie, double tracked, and the DL&W is single tracked West of Waverly..

none of this ever happened of course!
with the EL merger in 1960, the DL&W was abandoned completely.
interesting stuff nonetheless! :P

http://lists.elhts.org/erielackphoto.cg ... n-text.jpg

http://lists.elhts.org/erielackphoto.cg ... ortion.jpg

http://lists.elhts.org/erielackphoto.cg ... tion-a.jpg

http://lists.elhts.org/erielackphoto.cg ... tion-b.jpg


  by calorosome
Interesting. So many "what if"s...

I often wonder if the reverse had happened and the DL&W remained intact, where would rt 86 had been built?

But the map drawn in 1955 shows the Ithaca branch as "abandoned" which didn't happen until the end of 1956...

  by scottychaos
calorosome wrote: But the map drawn in 1955 shows the Ithaca branch as "abandoned" which didn't happen until the end of 1956...
probably because the map, although drawn in 1955, was intended to show "the future"..not the present.

and they probably knew in 1955 that the Ithaca branch was going to be abandoned, so it shows as abandoned on the "map of the future".

  by Matt Langworthy
I wonder if Plan C was dropped because the state of NY was already planning to build Rt. 17 and desired a graded, former ROW to used as the roadbed.

At any rate, consolidating down to one line made sense because of the savings in maintenance and property taxes.
  by henry6
You are probably close, Matt. The right of way for route 17 was a bargaining chip in allowing the merger to happen. The DL had the broader sweeps along the Susquehanna which favored passenger trains and highways while the Erie was tighter to the river with more industries served. So Messrs Rockefeller, Shoemaker and Johnson came to the final agreement which allowed for the highway to be built favorable to State needs while the two railroads were merged favorable to stockholder needs. Although the DL's main remained into Vestal, as far as Main St westerly from Johnson City, and into Nichols easterly from Elmira for several years after the merger. The DL&W right of way was crucial mostly from west of the Vestal station through the "narrows" west of Owego, almost to Lounsbury, for route 17. From there west the ROW can be seen (though farmers have taken a lot of it away) to the north of the highway almost to Nichols, then to the south to the Nichols exit where it moves to the north again around the hill and on almost to the Susquehanna crossing where in again moves to the south of the highway to the Church St. exit at Elmira.

President Perry Shoemaker is quoted as saying in Erie Lackawanna death of an American railroad by H. Roger Grant as saying "The Erie people wanted to run the whole show and I guess we let them on that Southern Tier Line Consolidation.

Tabor's book says the City of Elmira wanted the Erie route abandoned because it was like a Chinese wall in the city. The Erie had more freight customers in Owego, Johnson City, Elmira, and Waverly. There was no PRR connection at Elmira and one would have had to have been built with a bridge over the Chemung River. The DLW's line was higher and in better condition.

Hurricane Agnes which did considerable damage to EL subsequently hit the route chosen hard. EL was hardest hit between Elmira and Hornell. The Hornell route was chosen after the merger with Erie over the Lackawanna's line to Buffalo.

I like the Erie I like the Lackawanna forget about Erie-Lackawanna
  by Matt Langworthy
To be honest, either route would have been hit hard by Agnes in 1972. Both the Erie and DL&W mainlines were in close proximity to the Chemung River, and both were damaged in earlier floods (e.g. 1935, 1946, 1955).

Also, the Lackawanna main had serious grades on the hill at Dansville. That same location was also plagued by drainage problems in later years, according to local history books, so I'm not surprised that Bill White pulled the plug on the Dansville-Wayland segment late in 1963. The Erie line to Buffalo had access to the yards and maintenance facilities in Hornell, which DL&W lacked.

What is the Tabor book you mention? I've never heard of it. My father, an Elmira native, had told me the city of Elmira wanted to keep the Erie main because the DL&W had fewer customers- which is also mentionned in Grant's excellent tome.

FWIW, I wish the merger hadn't been necessary but increased competition from highways and the long, slow decline of the Rust Belt forced Erie and Lackawanna to act. EL made the best out of the situation and IMO it was certainly preferrable to what followed- CONRAIL!
  by henry6
There are actually three books by the Tabers about the DL&W. First is THE DELAWARE LACKAWANNA AND WESTERN RAILROAD IN THE 19TH CENTURY by Thomas T. Taber and Thomas T. Taber II. The senior Taber died but son continued with a two volume set of the DL&W "IN THE 20th CENTURY". These three books are the most complete and comprehensive histories of the the DL&W. All three books have been reprinted and might still be available at the bookstore at Steamtown; or check fan mags or online, even from Thomas T. Taber of Milton, PA (google or ask for details). They are hard to come by.

Other important books: Shelden King's ROUTE OF THE PHOEBE SNOW circa 1975 and later reprinted. Check the usual sources. Not as comprhensive as Tabers' but heavier on upstate NY pics. CNY CHAPTER, NRHS has several good books, too, concentrating on the Lackawanna's Syracuse and Oswego branch. And for a very comprhensive look at the DL&W in NJ Larry Lowenthal's LACKAWANNA IN NORTH JERSEY and MINING RAILROADS OF NEW JERSEY (?) fills in a lot of gaps and updates what the Tabers had earlier missed. And of course there is Casey's LACKAWANNA STORY, a 1950's PR job, but still a good read.

  by calorosome
I was in Steamtown yesterday. They have all the Taber books except Vol I of the two volume 20th century set.

What I'd REALLY like to see is a DL&W book covering the western division, especially points between Corning and Buffalo. Seems to be a BIG gap in photo coverage here.
  by henry6
Yeah, Calorosome, that was Shelden King's idea in presenting his book. But he, too, had a shortcoming in presenting more about his hometown line in Cortland than the Buffalo Division. How 'bout your dad? What's he got on the Lackawanna Railroad of New York?

  by calorosome
Pics of Elmira, Horseheads, Corning, Dansville, early 20th century Buffalo before elevation - that's it. Lots of Binghamton, which there is no shortage of elsewhere. Syracuse before/during/after elevation, some of Cortland. He just bought photos (not the negatives) of the 1911-12 grade crossing survey of the Ithaca branch (talk about a wayback machine) and mainline crossings from Owego to Elmira. Some of the houses in those photos are still standing.

He does have an amateur film of GM Train of Tomorrow arriving at Dansville and from inside the train. Amateur footage from a DL&W engineer named LeRoy Sprague - from the cab of steam and diesel engines. The narrows near Lounsberry is obvious in the Sprague film. He even dug up a local amateur film of the last WB/EB Phoebe Snow to pass through Nichols, in 1959.
  by henry6
That Sprague footage is priceless!

The part of Tabor's book I am quoting is page 142 The Delaware Lackawanna & Western Railroad in the Twentieth Century Vol 1.

I am not of the opinion that the DLW tracks would have suffered the same damage as the Erie route because the tracks were higher. The DLW line to Buffalo I believe had been split into two segments by the time William White became President and had been seriously downgraded.

The complaints to the ICC about the track consolidation from Elmira was protracted. It is quite possible that customers on the Erie Route did complain about the possibility of its being abandoned. There were definitely elements in Elmira though that wanted the Erie route abandoned in favor of the DLW routing as the Erie route was on what was considered prime real estate. The plan C being discussed involved using portions of both routes. I am not totally close minded on the theory that the DLW right of way would have suffered the same damage as the Erie right of way from Hurricane Agnes but I would like some documentation on that theory because it runs against what I have heard and the documents I have read indicate.

The eastbound grade on Dansville Hill was 1.4 %

The other issue I would like to point out is that senior clerks bumped junior clerks as a result of the line consolidation resulting in customers dealing with people who did not know the job they had assumed the stations at Elmira and Binghampton were consolidated. This was I should point out the result of both the Erie and the Lackawanna qualifying people on a job before they were ready to save money on training. EL faced a fiasco in its billing and accounts payable department when they consolidated facilities in Cleveland and Scranton you'd had thought they would have learned something from the problems they had in Elmira and Binghampton but didn't. I consider this mess more on managements fault than labor. "Your well trained personell is your greatest asset". If there was a mess as a result of Senoir Employees displacing Junior Employees than I guess management should have trained them better before qualifing them on their positions.

  by calorosome
I lived in the Southern Tier during Hurricane Agnes. The flood did no damage to DL&W ROW or to rt 17 built on the ROW between Vestal and Corning, and Erie and DL&W equal number of river crossings. I think Nichols would have been vulnerable though.

At Corning, the DL&W was farther north of the Chemung River (where the worst flooding in NYS was) than the Erie and left the river valley west whereas the Erie followed the river valley where it suffered flood damage.

NYC lost their bridge in Corning, I don't know if the EL Gang Mills yard was under water.
  by henry6
Of course the joke today is that when RT17 was rerouted around Corning Conrail had to move the track from the Erie right of way to the DL right of way!