Lehigh & Hudson River The Queen Village’s Jewel The Steam Era
Lehigh & Hudson River – The Queen Village’s Jewel The Steam Era by Peter Brill
The Lehigh and Hudson River Railway Company began life in 1859 as the Warwick Valley Railroad, a 12-mile, broad gauge line that opened in 1862 under Erie Railroad operation between Warwick and Greycourt, NY where it provided milk, agricultural produce and passenger traffic to the Erie. But the little line’s founders, notably Grinnell Burt, had far greater ambitions as they foresaw a busy main line railroad connecting the Pennsylvania anthracite region with New England.
Warwick’s initial pride as the operations center of a railroad was momentarily bruised when the Warwick Valley built an extension to McAfee, NJ and deprived Warwick of its status as the line’s terminus. But the railroad, soon to become the Lehigh and Hudson River Railway, was never to lose its focus on Warwick and for over a century, Warwick was a railroad village/town. For decades, the railroad served the creameries, produce farmers, limestone quarries and iron and zinc ore mines along its right-of-way and hauled ice trains from northern New Jersey and Pocono lakes. The importance of this on-line traffic dwindled as the railroad evolved into a heavy duty bridge line with little traffic generated locally.
The L&HR expanded westward across New Jersey to a connection with the Pennsylvania Railroad at Belvidere and with trackage rights over PRR’s Belvidere-Delaware Division reached Phillipsburg. Here the L&HR owned a bridge over the Delaware River that carried its tracks into South Easton and a connection with Jersey Central which granted trackage rights into Allentown Yard. In South Easton, the L&HR also interchanged with the Lehigh Valley.
Concurrently, the New Haven gradually developed a mammoth yard at Maybrook to funnel traffic to and from southern New England and employed its muscle to force as much freight traffic away from New York Harbor floats to its all-rail Poughkeepsie Bridge Route. The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western responded to the New Haven’s efforts by granting the L&HR trackage rights over the Sussex Branch from Andover Junction into its Port Morris Yard to facilitate bridging its freight to and from Maybrook.
The L&HR thus found itself a busy railroad forwarding freight traffic between CNJ’s Allentown Yard, the LV and PRR at Hudson Yard, near Phillipsburg, and the DL&W at Port Morris on the west side of the railroad and New Haven’s Maybrook Yard on the east end.