By Otto Vondrak/photos by the author
Welcome to Photo Line! Regional railroad New York, Susquehanna & Western can trace its roots back to the 1860s as part of a plan to connect New York with the Great Lakes. By the 1870s, became an important link to carry anthracite coal from eastern Pennsylvania to the port of New York. after a brief period of control by the Erie Railroad, the Susquehanna emerged at mid-century as an important link for industrial northern New Jersey. By the 1980s, the line had retrenched as a terminal railroad on the brink of oblivion. The state of New Jersey worked out a deal with Delaware Otsego Corp. to acquire, rehabilitate and operate the line. Through a series of strategic investments, the Susquehanna grew into an important regional line carrying lucrative container traffic over a rejuvenated and expanded line connecting New York with Binghamton. Throughout this period of revival, executive Walter Rich, himself a rail enthusiast, promoted a series of passenger excursions throughout the system. As a result of the Conrail breakup, and the Susquehanna’s strategic position, the railroad was purchased in 1997 by a joint partnership of CSX and Norfolk Southern. Passenger operations began to wind down almost immediately, and ceased permanently upon the death of Walter Rich in 2007. Take a fond look back at the Susquehanna’s last passenger trains with Railfan & Railroad associate editor Otto Vondrak!
Maplefest Shuttle at Cortland, New York
Each spring, the Susquehanna operated special shuttle trains from Cortland to nearby Marathon, New York, to help ease traffic in the tiny village during its annual Maplefest celebration. The train is loading passengers at the ex-Lackawana station in Cortland on the morning of April 6, 2008.
Through the Tioughnioga Valley
As viewed from Interstate 81, a Maplefest Shuttle train rolls down the old Lacakwanna line along the Tioughnioga River en route to Marathon on April 6 2008. Two EMD SD40T-2’s bracket the excursion train, which includes a Susquehanna business car in the consist.
Maplefest Shuttle at Messengerville
Two former Southern Pacific “tunnel motors” bracket the Maplefest Shuttle train at River Road in Messengerville, New York, on April 6, 2008.
Steaming through Dover
Susquehanna 142 was originally built by the Tang Shan Locomotive Works in China in 1989 for the Valley Railroad in Connecticut. Locomotive 141 had been purchased by Susquehanna, but the ship carrying it to America sank in a storm. The 142 was acquired and immediately put into excursion service throughout the system. This 2002 excursion train was approaching Dover, New Jersey, on the old Lackawanna line currently operated by NJ Transit.
OnTrack approaches Syracuse University station
The Susquehanna began operating its first regular commuter trains since 1966 with the introduction of OnTrack service in 1994. The initial system connected Syracuse University with Armory Square and the Carousel Center Mall using Budd RDC’s acquired second-hand from Metro-North. The service was suspended in 2007.