For the time being D&H coal moved over the Erie from Lanesboro to the A&S at Binghamton. To circumvent the roundabout nature of this route it drew up plans to build a 27-mile shortcut from Lanesboro to Nineveh, New York where coal could move directly across both railroads and thus eliminate the Erie in the process. The new line was opened on June 17, 1872 providing the D&H a direct rail route from Wilkes-Barre to Albany via Binghamton. In the coming years a series of acquisitions pieced together a main line through northern New York, western Vermont, and finally terminating at Montreal, Quebec. It is interesting that for a company which had established the successful transportation of coal to southern markets the D&H decided to expand its rail empire in the opposite direction! There was a very real and understandable point to all of this, of course. It already served the former region, and was attempting to open new markets for anthracite.
Creating The Modern Delaware & Hudson
In his book, Mr. Shaughnessy thoroughly covers all of the Delaware & Hudson's northern expansion, superbly detailing the construction and how these lines joined its network. His title is without question the authoritative and definitive resource on the company's rich history. For purposes of this article only a brief summary will be provided highlighting this subject. The 1870s witnessed a quick expansion of the D&H; in 1871 it leased the Rensselaer & Saratoga (R&S), stretched further north via the New York & Canada (NY&C), and finally reached Montreal via the Napierville Junction Railway (NJRR). The R&S, formally leased during May of 1871, comprised the bulk of Delaware & Hudson's central network running from a connection with the A&S at Albany to Whitehall along the southern tip of Lake Champlain. The R&S was originally chartered on April 14, 1832 to construct a rail line from Troy to Ballston Spa; the first segment opened from Waterford to Ballston Spa on August 18, 1835 while the entire line was completed into Troy a month later on October 6th.
In the succeeding years many small systems were added to the R&S network: in 1851 it leased the Saratoga & Schenectady, connecting its namesake cities and interchanging with the R&S at Ballston Spa. The Albany & Vermont, Rutland & Washington and Troy & Rutland were a series of small roads that eventually opened between Albany and Rutland via Salem and Eagle Bridge although they were not particularly successful. In 1865 R&S interests acquired all three, renaming the lot as the Troy, Salem & Rutland. These properties were largely responsible for forming the D&H's inside route between Rutland and Albany. Its western corridor to Whitehall and an eastern extension towards Rutland was constructed by the Saratoga & Washington, chartered in 1834 to build from Saratoga Springs to Whitehall. The entire line opened on December 10, 1848. In 1850 it completed a short branch east of Whitehall to the Rutland & Whitehall, which extended further east to a connection with the Rutland & Washington at Castleton. The Rutland & Whitehall was soon leased by the R&S and all properties involved were leased by the Rensselaer & Saratoga in 1865.
Delaware & Hudson's Passenger Services
The railroad never had a significant or large passenger fleet, obviously due to its small size. However, it did have a few notable trains including the Montreal Limited and Laurentian, the latter of which was its best known. The Montreal Limited provided overnight service between New York City and Montreal, courtesy of help from the New York Central, while the Laurentian provided daytime connections throughout upstate New York and across the Great Lakes region. Perhaps most interesting is that these trains grew in popularity following the arrival of new president Frederic Dumaine in 1967. Dumaine was a big proponent of passenger service, upgrading the fleet with newer secondhand equipment. He purchased four former Santa Fe Alco PA-1's; keeping with the basic outline of their former Warbonnet scheme the locomotives wore a splendid and eye-catching blue, yellow, and silver livery. They were originally built as #59-L, #60-L, #62-L, and #66-L for the Santa Fe and became #16-19 on the Delaware & Hudson. In 1975, the D&H had the locomotives overhauled by Morrison-Knudsen, carrying upgraded, 2,400 horsepower model 251F prime movers. The quartet was later sold to Mexico although in 2002 the shells of #59-L and #62-L were returned to the States for restoration; the former is undergoing work by the Museum of the American Railroad in Frisco, Texas to return it to its originally look and the later is nearly operational as Nickel Plate Road #190. Curiously, while both trains were axed by Amtrak following its startup on May 1, 1971 a push by the Delaware & Hudson and State of New York actually worked in reviving the New York-Montreal run as the Adirondack, which still operates today.
Laurentian: (New York - Albany - Montreal)
Montreal Limited: (New York - Albany - Montreal)
To push service beyond Whitehall the New York & Canada was incorporated in 1872. On January 15, 1873 the new company officially entered the railroad business when it acquired the Whitehall & Plattsburgh and Montreal & Plattsburgh (as well as the steamship service across Lake Champlain provided via the Oakes Ames, which was soon sold off). To simplify the corporate process a revised New York & Canada Railroad was born on February 25, 1873 to consolidate all three. The W&P and M&P were still largely undeveloped when acquired by the NY&C. The first section from Whitehall to Port Henry, via Ticonderoga, opened on November 30, 1874 along the western shore of Lake Champlain. This segment, and the final section to Plattsburgh which opened on November 29, 1875, was arguably the most scenic along the Delaware & Hudson's entire system overlooking Willsboro Bay. In one location a 606-foot tunnel was needed while another featured a tight rocky shelf carved out of the Red Rocks high above the bay. It became an often photographed spot on the D&H.
The company now had direct rail service to Canada although not over its own rails; above Plattsburgh the D&H utilized trackage rights over the Ogdensburgh & Lake Champlain for 12 miles to Rouses point where a connection was reached with the Grand Trunk Railway to move coal, freight, and passengers onto Montreal. To circumvent this issue the D&H built its own line from Plattsburgh to Rouses Point, opening the route in November of 1876. The final extension to Montreal came via the Napierville Junction Railway, which the D&H acquired on April 9, 1907. The NJRR linked Rouses Point with St. Constant with trackage rights via the Grand Trunk to St. Lambert along the eastern shore of the St. Lawrence River. To reach downtown Montreal the D&H secured additional rights over the Canadian Pacific's bridge spanning the river. With this final piece in place the modern Delaware & Hudson was essentially complete. There were a handful of other branches, notably the Adirondack Railway and Chateaugay & Lake Placid (C&LP); these two roads were originally conceived to serve Upstate New York's early iron ore industry.
The C&LP was a July 29, 1903 consolidation of the Chateaugay Railroad and Saranac & Lake Placid, which the D&H acquiring on that date. The system stretched from a connection at Plattsburgh to Saranac Lake/Lake Placid via Loon Lake. It was once a popular tourist destination for travelers escaping to resorts in the Adirondacks. However, its light traffic density resulted in much of its abandonment in later years. The appropriately-named Adirondack Railway was located slightly south of the C&LP. Its origins date back to 1826 when rich deposits of iron ore were discovered near present-day Mount Marcy. The first prospects for a railroad did not begin until the Sackets Harbor & Saratoga Railroad was incorporated in 1852 to build a line from Saratoga Springs to Lake Ontario. Unfortunately the idea, and others, never made it beyond the planning stages until the Adirondack Company was formed on October 24, 1863. The idea of reaching Lake Ontario at Ogdensburg or Sackets Harbor was soon abandoned for more realistic goals. After a series of financial hardships the railroad opened from Saratoga Springs to North Creek in early 1871. During the financial Panic of 1873 the Adirondack Company entered receivership and the railroad became known as the Adirondack Railway on September 29, 1881. After a few additional years of private operation it was sold to the Delaware & Hudson on June 11, 1889.
The Delaware & Hudson Into The 20th Century
Before 1900 the last vestiges of the systems which had spawned the D&H empire were retired. IT was a rather sad day on November 5, 1898 when the final boat loaded with coal worked its way over the canal while the gravity railroad discontinued service a few months later on January 3, 1899 (segments were later overhauled for standard steam locomotive operation). As the company was no longer in the canal business the title as the Delaware & Hudson Canal Company seemed rather pointless. As a result a name change was carried out a month after the gravity operation ceased; in February, 1899 the Delaware & Hudson Company was organized and officially recognized by the state of New York later that April. Three decades later one final name change occurred when the Delaware & Hudson Railroad Corporation was created in 1930 to operate the railroad and all subsidiary properties of the Delaware & Hudson Company. The modern D&H system comprised a system of just over 700 miles; its 1950 network was listed at 765 miles. Interestingly, it briefly eyed expansion deep into New England through a one-time ownership of the Rutland Railway during the late 19th century and even considered pushing further north into Canada. However, both prospects were eventually dropped.
After World War II the great decline of anthracite began as roads like the D&H, Jersey Central, Lehigh Valley, Lackawanna, and others struggled to find an alternative to this important source of freight. According to Mike Schafer's book, "More Classic American Railroads," anthracite still comprised more than half of the railroad's annual freight tonnage through the 1930s. It did handle other business such as cement, iron ore, steel, wood products, and even some bituminous coal although not in large enough volumes to replace anthracite. To make up for the loss it turned to bridge traffic. This business moved from New England points and others throughout the Northeast, subsisting the D&H through the 1970s. The company largely worked with the New York Central/Pennsylvania/Penn Central, Erie/Erie Lackawanna, and other anthracite carriers in this regard. Its Montreal gateway was a somewhat unique asset, only the NYC and Central Vermont served Quebec's important southern metropolis.
During the 1950s the D&H was still a healthy and strong carrier at which time it entered into talks with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western and Erie regarding a three-way merger. According to H. Roger Grant's authoritative title, "Erie Lackawanna: Death Of An American Railroad, 1938-1992," the D&H was the strongest of the three and certainly would have greatly aided the new company's outlook. However, it backed out of the proceedings formally on April 13, 1959. Ironically, it wound up with the EL anyway when it officially joined Norfolk & Western's Dereco, Inc. on July 1, 1968 (Interestingly, the name of this corporation, originally intended to control the D&H, EL, Reading, Jersey Central, and Boston & Maine was "Derjco": the "D' for Delaware & Hudson, "E" for Erie Lackawanna, "R" for Reading, and "J" for Jersey Central while the B&M was apparently given no letter! Comically, it was shortened to "Dereco" which was easier to pronounce according to the N&W's top brass.) The D&H remained a ward of Dereco until Hurricane Agnes forced the EL into bankruptcy and the N&W lost interest in its portfolio.
With the collapse of the Penn Central and nearly all other Northeastern carriers the railroad was destined to likely disappear into either the Consolidation Rail Corporation (a quasi-government entity designed to revive the Northeast's bankrupts) or another large carrier. Instead, in an effort to retain a semblance of rail service in the region the D&H remained and was even provided a broader market to offer competition against Conrail. The result was a railroad which nearly doubled in size when Conrail started on April 1, 1976! The new routes provided the D&H trackage rights over Conrail between Binghamton and Buffalo (and a connection with the Norfolk & Western) as well as Newark (New Jersey), Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. In 1980 it purchased the ex-DL&W main line between Binghamton and Scranton. From a railfan perspective it was a sad event which led to the abandonment of the fabled Penn Division soon afterward; D&H could now reach Binghamton direct via Wilkes-Barre and Scranton instead of utilizing the old twisting and rugged route to Nineveh via Lanesboro. To read more about the route's history please click here.
Diesel Locomotive Roster
The American Locomotive Company
|C420||200-209 (Ex-LV), 404-415 (Ex-LV)||1963-1964||22|
|C424||451-463 (Ex-EL and Ex-Reading)||1963||13|
The Baldwin Locomotive Works
|RF16||1205, 1216 (Ex-NYC)||1951||2|
The Electro-Motive Corporation/Electro-Motive Division
|GP39-2||7401-7420 (Ex-Reading), 7601-7620||1974-1976||40|
|U33C||650-656 (Ex-PC), 751-753 (Ex-EL), 754-762||1968-1970||19|
Steam Locomotive Roster
|B-4 Through B-7||Switcher||0-6-0, 0-8-0|
|E-2 Through E-7||Consolidation||2-8-0|
Alas, due to the railroad’s small size it was eventually destined to be purchased, which happened in 1981 when Guilford Transportation acquired the property. The D&H lasted only a few years in the Guilford system before its purchase by the Canadian Pacific in 1991, which slowly merged operations with its own. In 2014, Norfolk Southern announced its intent to purchase a section of the former D&H main line. The acquisition was approved by the Surface Transportation Board in May of 2015; it consists of 267 miles of former D&H main line between Sunbury/Kase, Pennsylvania and Schenectady, New York as well as 15 miles from Voorheesville Junction to Delanson, New York. As a result, today most of what remains of the original railroad is split between NS and CP. The little D&H has certainly lived an interesting and fascinating life, a big reason why it has gained a lot of interest over the years. While the railroad itself is all but a memory it continues to live on in a historical society dedicated to its history.
Books Featured In This Article
Delaware & Hudson