Lehigh Valley competed with Lackawanna and Erie railroads for New York-Buffalo traffic across southern New York and northeast Pennsylvania. In 1958, the railroad offered three daily trains to Buffalo and three more trains that went only part of the distance from New York to Buffalo. Several of the trains also served Philadelphia via a branch that departed from the main line at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Click image to download a 7.1-MB PDF of this timetable.
Unlike Erie and Lackawanna trains, Lehigh Valley trains actually entered New York City instead of terminating at a ferry building on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. During World War I, the U.S. Railroad Administration ordered the Pennsylvania Railroad to allow the Lehigh Valley, Baltimore & Ohio, and other railroads to use its tracks to enter New York City and Penn Station. In 1928, PRR evicted the B&O from Penn Station, but allowed Lehigh Valley to continue, probably because PRR owned nearly a third of Lehigh Valley’s stock. Lehigh Valley trains still took nearly two hours between New York and Buffalo the New York Central’s, but the smaller railroad could offer travelers from intermediate points such as Wilkes-Barre and Allentown with direct access to Manhattan.
The cover of this menu, which was provided by the same Streamliner Memories reader who supplied the 1965 New York Central timetable, features one of the railroad’s five streamlined steam locomotives. A small black diamond on the lower right discreetly reminds passengers that Lehigh Valley, like the Lackawanna, was an anthracite-powered railroad.
Click image to download a 1.7-MB PDF of this menu.
The steam locomotive shown was one of three garbed for the train called the Black Diamond, while the other two were for a train called the John Wilkes, the difference being that the steps appeared to wrap, like fins, all the way around the front of the latter while the front of the former was smooth. (My previous mention of Lehigh Valley streamlining showed a photo of a John Wilkes locomotive but incorrectly identified it as a Black Diamond.)
The Erie Railroad was another also-ran in Chicago-New York service, unable to compete against the New York Central and Pennsylvania except in the cities that it uniquely served along the way. Some of these blotters from the Dale Hastin collection are aimed at travelers to or from those cities.
The first, and probably oldest, blotter is for Jamestown, New York and advertises three trains a day between Jamestown and New York City (really, Jersey City): the Erie Limited, Atlantic Express, and Lake Cities Express.
This would be one of the last Lackawanna timetables before the railroad merged with the Erie on October 17, 1960. The 16-page timetable is full of fluff, as the railroad really had only four trains a day between Hoboken and Buffalo (two of which continued to Chicago on the Nickel Plate). The timetable was made more complicated by schedule variations on weekends and holidays and connections with the Pennsylvania in Newark and the Nickel Plate and New York Central in Buffalo, but it could have easily fit on four pages.
Click image to download a 9.6-MB PDF of this timetable.
Page 5 notes that, in anticipation of the Erie merger, “Lackawanna trains operate over the tracks of the Erie Railroad between Binghamton, N.Y. and Elmira, N.Y.” According to Wikipedia, this 1958 change “added an hour to the scheduled time,” but the train’s time in this timetable is only 25 minutes longer than in 1954.
The Lackawanna didn’t make it any further west than Buffalo, but that didn’t stop it from offering escorted tours to Colorado, Yellowstone, California, and the Pacific Northwest. The California tours in this 1940 booklet had the added bonus of including the Golden Gate Exposition. Most tour costs included all transportation, hotels, and meals and even porters’ tips.
Click image to download a 17.0-MB PDF of this 28-page booklet.
The tours probably went on the Nickel Plate from Buffalo to Chicago. Tour 1 then continued to Denver, probably on the Burlington, then to Salt Lake over the Rio Grande’s Royal Gorge Route, and West Yellowstone on the Union Pacific. After a tour of Yellowstone, the tour went from Cody to Billings on the Burlington and back to Chicago on the NP. The cost for the fourteen-day tour was $257 from New York with a lower berth, or about $3,500 in today’s money.
The booklet is less about the train named Phoebe Snow and more about the advertising icon for which the train was named. At the turn of the 20th century, the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad burned anthracite coal to power its steam locomotives and advertised the cleaner coal with a series of ditties about Phoebe Snow, a fictitious woman who wore white when riding the trains. This booklet is a compendium of those ditties, such as, “Says Phoebe Snow about to go/Upon a trip to Buffalo/”My gown stays white from morn till night/Upon the Road of Anthracite.”
Click image to download a 3.3-MB PDF of this 24-page booklet.
After railroads Dieselized, the cleanliness of fuel was no longer an issue, but the Lackawanna capitalized on the good will generated by this advertising campaign by naming its chief streamliner the Phoebe Snow. Lackawanna had the shortest of four main rail routes between New York City and Buffalo: about 400 miles vs. 425 on the Erie, 435 on the New York Central, and 448 on the Lehigh Valley. The Lackawanna, however, didn’t actually go into New York City, instead having a terminal at Hoboken. At the other end, Lackawanna didn’t continue on to Chicago, though the Phoebe Snow had through cars to Chicago on the Nickel Plate.
New York Central’s timetable has shrunk four more pages since the World’s Fair edition. The “system map” on the cover doesn’t even bother to show Central’s secondary routes such as lines to Cairo and Peoria, Illinois; Grand Rapids and Mackinaw, Michigan; Louisville, Kentucky; Charleston, West Virginia; or Montreal.
Click image to download a 12.8-MB PDF of this 20-page timetable.
The same magic that made it possible to have five New York-Chicago trains but six Chicago-New York trains in 1964 worked a little harder in 1965 so that there were only three westbound trains but still six eastbound. The Meal-a-Mat car that served the World’s Fair Special in 1964 operated on the New York-Buffalo Cayuga (with the same train numbers as the World’s Fair Special) in 1965.
This timetable is just 24 pages long, but unlike the pre-war era, there wasn’t any need to have separate timetables for NYC’s various subsidiaries. I count just five trains a day from New York to Chicago and six from Chicago to New York, as the Pacemaker apparently is merged with the 20th Century westbound but is a separate train eastbound. There is just one train a day between New York and St. Louis; one between Chicago and Cincinnati; and two between New York and Cincinnati.
Click image to download a 16.2-MB PDF of this timetable.
To handle additional business generated by the 1964 New York World’s Fair, a Chicago-New York via Detroit train is named the World’s Fair Special; instead of a diner, it has a “Meal-a-Mat” car serving “complete entrées,” sandwiches, ice cream, and beverages from “the most recent vending machines.” Advertised as “a vacationer’s delight,” the eastbound train was timed to arrive in Buffalo in the morning so Chicago travelers could see Niagara Falls and return on the westbound train that evening.
Here are two more blotters from the Dale Hastin collection. The first advertises Niagara Falls, reached via New York Central subsidiary Michigan Central. Judging from the locomotive, which appears to be a 4-8-2 (compare with the second photo on this page), the blotter is from the 1920s or even the late 1910s. New York Central bought its first “Mohawk” locomotive in 1916 and, by 1918, owned more than 150 of them.
Click image to download a PDF of this blotter.
This war-time blotter encourages civilian passengers to purchase their tickets well in advance of travel, always good advice from the point of view of the carrier. As it indicates that “military demands are growing daily,” it is probably from 1942-1944.
This little along-the-way brochure is dated February 1954 and includes several of New York Central’s major routes in west-to-east format: Chicago-Buffalo via either Toledo or Detroit; Cleveland-Cincinnati; Cleveland-St. Louis; Cincinnati-Chicago; Albany-Boston; and Buffalo-New York.
Click image to download a 2.5-MB PDF of this brochure.
For some reason, the Central thought that its patrons might want to mail this brochure to their friends “as an interesting souvenir of your trip.” When folded up it becomes a “self-mailing folder.” But it wasn’t really self-mailing: you had to write an address and put on a stamp.