The Lehigh and Hudson River Railroad

Three L&HR C420 diesels are serviced at the railroad's
Warwick, NY facility in the late 1960's. Photo by Jay Mikesh

The Lehigh and Hudson River Railroad was chartered in 1881, and underwent a process of merger and consolidation typical of the short rail lines of the time, directed by Grinnell Burt and his associates. Their leadership in these acquisitions and deals resulted in the LH&R becoming the best link between the western and New England states. Freight revenues for iron, coal, zinc, and milk rose dramatically and was the LH&R became attractive that its shares were snapped up by the great railroad bosses of the day.

Passenger time to
New York City went from nearly eight hours by horse carriage to under four hours in the early 1880's, making it possible for affluent and influential New Yorkers to establish homes here and still maintain essential ties to the big city. By the late 1960's however, the balance tipped in the favor of trucking freight on new highways, and upheavals within other rail lines resulted in increasing deficits in revenue.

In 1972, the LH&R was forced to declare bankruptcy. After being controlled in an increasingly competetive, difficult, and volitile transportation environment by Conrail for years the Warwick-based company was finally dissolved in 1982. The freight trains that run through
Warwick today serve few of the local businesses, but provide property tax revenue and hold the possibility of future revival of one of the economic cornerstones of the valley.

For more details on local railroads see:

History of Warwick New York by Richard Hull

Lehigh and Hudson River Railroad Page

Marty Feldner's L&H Scrapbook

Harper's New York and Eric rail-road guide book online at the Making of America site

"Four Wheel Red Work Horse"--The LH&R Caboose No. 81

Built in 1909, this small four wheeler truly was a workhorse for many years. Equipped with four bunks, stove, desk and lamps, it was home to the men who had to be away from their families for several days at a time while working for the railroad. No. 81 was called into service at all hours of the day or night, especially to help clear and rerail freight and passenger cars that had derailed, and also to be part of snowplowing operations. After more powerful diesel engines came to be used, snow plowing was rarely necessary. In the later years of the railroad when it came under the jurisdiction of Conrail, No. 81 still was a partner in essential operations such as rail laying, providing shelter during storms and at the end of the day's work. As the LH&R faced demise as an operating railroad, Edmund H. Brown, Jr., then Vice-president of the line, learned of the impending destruction of the caboose and he purchased it from the Trustee of the LH&R. It was eventually deeded to the Historical Society and on May 14, 1979, No. 81 was placed on the property of the Shingle House. This important and charming artifact of a way of life and an industry essential to understanding Warwick's past has been preserved and maintained by the Society, and has brought pleasure to many visitors ever since.

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