The working electric railroad turntable in Port Jervis, New York is the largest operating turntable in the United States. There was originally a roundhouse on the site, which was burned down by arson. Originally built by the Erie Railroad, the turntable was restored in 1996 after 20 years of disuse.

(Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Erie Railroad Herald.


The Erie Railroad (reporting mark ERIE) was a railroad that operated in the northeastern United States, originally connecting New York City — more specifically Jersey City, New Jersey, where Erie's Pavonia Terminal, long demolished, used to stand — with Lake Erie, at Dunkirk, New York. It expanded west to Chicago with its 1865 merger with the former Atlantic and Great Western Railroad, also known as the New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio Railroad (NYPANO RR). Its mainline route proved influential in the development and economic growth of the Southern Tier of New York State, including cities such as Binghamton, Elmira, and Hornell. The Erie Railroad repair shops were located in Hornell and was Hornell's largest employer. Hornell was also where Erie's mainline split into two routes, one northwest to Buffalo and the other west to Chicago.

On October 17, 1960, the Erie merged with former rival Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad to form the Erie Lackawanna Railroad. The Hornell repair shops were closed in 1976, when Conrail took over, and repair operations moved to the Lackawanna's Scranton facility. This had a devastating effect on Hornell, from which it has never recovered. (The repair shops have subsequently been used, intermittently, for the assembly of railroad and transit cars, and are now owned by Alstom.) Some of the former Erie line between Hornell and Binghamton was damaged in 1972 by the floods of Hurricane Agnes, but the damage was quickly repaired and today this line is a key link in the Norfolk Southern Railway's Southern Tier mainline. What was left of the Erie Lackawanna became part of Conrail in 1976. In 1983, Erie remnants became part of New Jersey Transit rail operations, including parts of its Main Line. Today most of the surviving Erie Railroad routes are operated by the Norfolk Southern Railway.


A map of all the rails the Erie ever had rights over.

A map of all the rails the Erie ever had rights over.

(Wikimedia | © OpenStreetMap)


1834 plan. Click to enlarge. (Benjamin Hall Wright, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


1855 map. Click to enlarge. (J. H. Colton, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


New York and Erie Rail Road: 1832–1861

The New York and Erie Rail Road was chartered on April 24, 1832, by Governor of New York Enos T. Throop to connect the Hudson River at Piermont, north of New York City, west to Lake Erie at Dunkirk. On February 16, 1841, the railroad was authorized to cross into the northeast corner of Pennsylvania on the west side of the Delaware River, a few miles west of Port Jervis, NY, as the east side was already occupied by the Delaware and Hudson Canal to a point several miles west of Lackawaxen, PA. Construction began in 1836 and was opened in sections until reaching the full length to Dunkirk on May 19, 1851. At Dunkirk, steamboats continued across Lake Erie to Detroit, Michigan. The line crossed the Kittatinny Mountains at 870 feet.

When the route was completed in May, 1851, President Millard Fillmore and several members of his cabinet, including Secretary of State Daniel Webster, made a special, two-day excursion run to open the railway. It is reported that Webster viewed the entire run from a rocking chair attached to a flatcar, with a steamer rug and jug of high-quality Medford rum. At stops, he would step off the flatcar and give speeches.

The line was built at 6 ft (1,829 mm) wide gauge; this was believed to be a superior technology to standard gauge, providing more stability.

In 1848, the railroad built the Starrucca Viaduct, a stone railroad bridge over Starrucca Creek in Lanesboro, Pennsylvania, which has survived and is still in use today. In fact, current owner Central New York Railway spent $3.2 million in 2021 centering its single remaining track, re-ballasting and repairing masonry. The viaduct is 1,040 feet (317 m) long, 100 feet (30.5 m) high and 25 feet (7.6 m) wide at the top. It is the oldest stone rail bridge in Pennsylvania still in use.


Railway switch in Nutley, New Jersey. Click to enlarge. (GK tramrunner229, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Former Erie Railroad tracks pass through Nutley, New Jersey. Track on left is out of service. Click to enlarge. (GK tramrunner229, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Erie Railway: 1861–1878

In August 1859, the company went into receivership due to inability to make payments on the debts incurred for the large costs of building, and, on June 25, 1861, it was reorganized as the Erie Railway. This was the first bankruptcy of a major trunk line in the U.S.

In the Erie War of the 1860s, four well-known financiers struggled for control of the company; Cornelius Vanderbilt versus Daniel Drew, James Fisk and Jay Gould. Gould ultimately triumphed in this struggle, but was forced to relinquish control in 1872–73 due to unfavorable public opinion following his involvement in the 1869 gold-rigging scandal and to his loss of $1 million of Erie Railroad stock to the British con-man Lord Gordon-Gordon.

In 1869, the railroad moved its main shop facilities from Dunkirk to Buffalo. Rather than demolishing the shops in Dunkirk, the facility was leased to Horatio G. Brooks, the former chief engineer of the NY&E who was at the controls of the first train into Dunkirk in 1851. Horatio Brooks used the facilities to begin Brooks Locomotive Works, which remained in independent business until 1901 when it was merged with seven other locomotive manufacturing firms to create ALCO. ALCO continued new locomotive production at this facility until 1934, then closed the plant completely in 1962.

The cost of breaking bulk cargo in order to interchange with standard gauge lines led the Erie to introduce a line of cars designed to operate on either broad or standard gauge trucks. Starting in 1871, this allowed interchange traffic by means of truck exchange, including through passenger and freight connections to Saint Louis, Missouri using a Nutter car hoist in Urbana, Ohio.

Beginning in 1876, the Erie began plans to convert its line to standard gauge, as it became clear that the cost of changing from one gauge to another was not justified by the added stability brought by the wider gauge. By the time of its reorganization in 1878, the Erie had built a third rail along the entire mainline from Buffalo to Jersey City. This project all but brought the railroad to bankruptcy.


Erie system map, circa 1884. Click to enlarge. (Erie Railroad, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

A modern photo of the Erie Depot, Port Jervis, NY. Click to enlarge. (Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

New York, Lake Erie and Western Railroad: 1878–1895

The Erie still did not see profits, and was sold in 1878 via bankruptcy reorganization to become the New York, Lake Erie and Western Railroad.

The work of converting the railroad to standard gauge was continued, and, on June 22, 1880, the entire trackage of the Erie was converted to standard gauge.

In 1886, it was reported that the Erie and the Philadelphia and Reading Railway shared ferry services between their two Jersey City terminals, the larger being Pavonia Terminal, and Fulton Ferry in Brooklyn, New York for 11 round trips on weekdays and Saturdays, and four round trips on Sunday. In 1889, it opened a new bridge across the Hackensack River improving service to its terminals.


Jamestown, New York station, about 1909. Click to enlarge. (Photographer not credited, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Westbound Passenger Timetable of the Erie Railroad Main Line (New York to Susquehanna) under United States Railway Administration Effective 1919-04-06Click to enlarge. (C.L. Chapman, General Passenger Agent, Erie Railroad; Walker D. Hines, Director General of Railroads, United States Railroad Administration, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Erie Railroad: 1895–1960

By 1893, the New York, Lake Erie and Western Railroad went into bankruptcy reorganization again and emerged in 1895 as the Erie Railroad.

George W. Perkins brought Frederick D. Underwood into the Erie Railroad in 1910. During the eastern railroad strike of 1913 Underwood agreed to accept any ruling made by mediators under the Newlands Reclamation Act. One of the demands made by Erie employees was a 20% increase in wages. Erie management had refused a wage increase, but compromised by asking employees to wait until January, 1915 for any advance. Union leaders agreed to make this an issue which Erie management would settle with its own men. However, W.G. Lee, president of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, asserted that the only way "to deal with the Erie is through J.P. Morgan & Company, or the banks". Underwood responded from his home in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, saying "I am running the Erie Railroad: not George W. Perkins, nor J.P. Morgan & Co., nor anybody else."

In the mid-1920s, the successful Van Sweringen brothers of Cleveland, Ohio gained control of the Erie, improving operations (such as standardizing the railroad's locomotives and rolling stock) and bottom-line earnings. Unfortunately, both brothers—who at the time owned several other railroads—died at an early age, but had they lived the shape of railroads in the east would likely look very different today.


An Alco RS3 with Erie Railroad and EL markings at Hoboken terminal, September 3, 1965. Click to enlarge. (Roger Puta, courtesy Marty Bernard, railfan 44, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Erie Western Electric Railway, Toledo, Ohio. Click to enlarge. (Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Despite the ravages of the Great Depression, the Erie managed to hold its own until it entered bankruptcy on January 18, 1938. Its reorganization, accomplished by December, 1941, included the purchase of the leased Cleveland and Mahoning Valley Railroad, swapping high rent for lower interest payments, and the purchase of formerly-subsidized and leased lines. The reorganization paid off, as the Erie managed to pay dividends to its shareholders after the dust had settled.

In 1938, the Erie Railroad was involved in the famous U.S. Supreme Court case of Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins. The Erie doctrine, which governs the application of state common law in federal courts, is still taught in American law schools today.

On September 15, 1948, the Cleveland Union Terminal Company allowed the Erie to use the Union Terminal adjacent to Terminal Tower in lieu of its old station. Also that year, the Erie purchased a share of the Niagara Junction Railway, along with the New York Central and the Lehigh Valley.

Steam last operated on the Erie on March 17, 1954, when the fires were dropped on K-1 class Pacific locomotive No. 2530, used on a commuter run between Jersey City and Spring Valley, New York.

The Erie prospered throughout the mid-1950s, but then began an irreversible decline. The company's 1957 income was half of that in 1956; by 1958 and 1959, the Erie posted large deficits. The business recession that occurred in the 1950s led the Erie to explore the idea of doing business with the nearby Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W). The first result of this was the abandonment of duplicate freight facilities in Binghamton and Elmira, New York. Between 1956 and 1957, the Erie shifted its passenger trains from its Pavonia Terminal to the DL&W's newer Hoboken Terminal. Also, the DL&W's mainline between Binghamton and Elmira was mostly abandoned in favor of the Erie's parallel mainline, in 1958. These successful business consolidations led to merger talks (which, at first, also included the Delaware and Hudson Railroad); on October 17, 1960, the two railroads merged to create the Erie Lackawanna Railroad. Erie's large repair facility in Hornell was closed when Conrail took over in 1976 and operations were consolidated at the Lackawanna's Scranton facility. However, the merged railroad only survived for 16 years before continued decline forced it to join Conrail in 1976.

Year-end mileage operated, including C&E but not NYS&W/WB&E: 2451 route-miles, 6013 track-miles in 1925; 2320 route-miles, 5395 track-miles in 1956. NJ&NY adds 46 route-miles in 1925, 39 in 1956.

The former Erie tracks between Hornell and Binghamton were partially damaged in 1972 by Hurricane Agnes.


An Erie Railroad Gallery. Click Image to enlarge.


Erie passenger train in the hills of Western New York, near Corning, NY. (Plastichrome, Public doain, W. Lenheim Collection)


Erie's Centennial Train, 1951.  Photo by Marvin H. Cohen. (Audio-Visual Designs, Earlton, NY, Public domain, W. Lenheim Collection)


EMD E8 No. 834 at Rome Locomotive Works, Rome, NY, November 7, 1990. Formerly NJ Transit 4323. Photo by John Bartley. (Audio-Visual Designs, Earlton, NY, Public domain, W. Lenheim Collection)

A model of an Erie Baldwin Triplex locomotive from 1913. The model was made by Ernest "Mooney" Warther. (Kaufman Color Service, Orville, OH, Public domain, W. Lenheim Collection) 

Erie Railroad No. 2736, a 4-6-2, at Caldwell, NJ, November 1951. Photo by William E. Warden. (Mary Jayne's Railroad Specialties, Inc., Public domain, W. Lenheim Collection)

Erie 754. In 1954 GE built a set of A-B-B-A cab units totaling 6,000 hp. They operated on the Erie until 1959. Three of the four units are shown here at Salamanca, NY, along with an Alco FA. Photo by John Bartley. (Audio-Visual Designs, Earlton, NY, Public domain, W. Lenheim Collection)


Erie 713 with merchandise  freight at Maybrook, New York. Photo by Marvin H. Cohen. (Audio-Visual Designs, Earlton, NY, Public domain, W. Lenheim Collection)


Erie Business Car No. 4 is moved out of Dearborn Street Station in Chicago in this 1960 view, while ATSF PA No. 78 waits for a baggage car to be loaded. D. Christensen Photo, D.C. Wornom Collection. (Audio-Visual Designs, Earlton, NY, Public domain, W. Lenheim Collection)

Alco PA No. 856, still in Erie colors at Port Jervis, NY, September , 1964. The Erie bought 14 PAs from Alco between 1949-51. Photo by Robert A. Gayer. (Audio-Visual Designs, Earlton, NY, Public domain, W. Lenheim Collection)

The Erie Limited en route from New York to Chicago crossing the century old Starrucca Viaduct near Susquehanna, PA. (Audio-Visual Designs, Earlton, NY, Public domain, W. Lenheim Collection)

An Erie Diner-Lounge car ca. 1944. (Erie Railroad, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Modern "Four Horsemen" with 22,500 hp stop for fuel at the Erie Railroad's Diesel Shop at Hornell, NY. (Audio-Visual Designs, Earlton, NY, Public domain, W. Lenheim Collection)


An eastbound freight with clean F units at Hancock, NY, May 12, 1956. Photo via New York Division, Railroad Enthusiasts Collection. (Audio-Visual Designs, Earlton, NY, Public domain, W. Lenheim Collection)


An Erie Alco PA with a local New York to Port Jervis after a brief stop at Middletown, NY, in 1958. Photo by Douglas Wornom. (Audio-Visual Designs, Earlton, NY, Public domain, W. Lenheim Collection)

Lima builder's photo of the Erie 2-8-4 No. 3325 on August 31, 1927. (Altona, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)


Lines Operated

To see a complete list of the Erie's Lines Operated at Wikipedia click HERE.


A pair of Erie Railroad ink blotter advertisements, courtesy Streamliner Memories.

(Erie Railroad, via



Revenue freight traffic, in millions of net ton-miles. Totals include Chicago & Erie and NJ&NY, but not NYS&W/WB&E or L&WV. Total for 1960 is Erie through 16 October and then Erie-Lackawanna.
Year     Traffic
1925     9,474
1933     6,318
1944   15,004
1960     8,789

Source: ICC annual reports


Erie Railroad passengers at Rutherford station, circa 1940. Click to enlarge. (Works Progress Administration (WPA), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


One of the Erie's electric commuter trains on its Rochester Branch, ca. 1911. Click to enlarge. (Internet Archive Book Images, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons)

Passenger service

The Erie Railroad operated a number of named passenger trains, although none were as well-known or successful as others like the Pennsylvania Railroad's Broadway Limited or New York Central Railroad's 20th Century Limited. Some of the Erie's most well known trains included the Erie Limited, Lake Cities, Pacific Express, Atlantic Express, Midlander, Southern Tier Express and Mountain Express. All of these had their western termini in Chicago, except the Mountain Express which terminated in Hornell, in the Southern Tier of New York.

The Erie operated an extensive network of commuter routes in northern New Jersey and the lower Hudson Valley of New York. Most of these routes became part of Conrail along with the rest of Erie Lackawanna's rail operations in 1976. The New Jersey routes are now part of NJ Transit's Hoboken Division, originating and terminating at Hoboken Terminal. The Hudson Valley routes are now part of Metro-North Railroad.

In addition to its steam and diesel services the Erie also operated an electric commuter rail line to its terminal station in Rochester, New York. The station was one of the Erie's few electrified railroad stations, and the railroad became one of the first to provide electric commuter services in 1907.


Company officers

Hugh J. Jewett, President 1874–1884.
Eleazer Lord (1833–35), (1839–41), (1844–45)
James Gore King (1835–1839)
James Bowen (1841–1842)
William Maxwell (1842–1843)
Horatio Allen (1843–1844)
Benjamin Loder (1845–1853)
Homer Ramsdell (1853–1857)
Charles Moran (1857–1859)
Samuel Marsh (1859–1861), (1864)
Nathaniel Marsh (1861–1864)
Robert H. Berdell (1864–1867)
John S. Eldridge (1867–1868)
Jay Gould (1868–1872)
John A. Dix (1872)
Peter H. Watson (1872–1874)
Hugh J. Jewett (1874–1884)
John King (1884–1894)
Eben B. Thomas (1894–1901)
Frederick Douglas Underwood (1901–1926)
John Joseph Bernet (1927–1929)
Charles Eugene Denney (1929–1939)
Robert Eastman Woodruff (1941–1949)
Paul W. Johnston (1949–1956)
Harry W. Von Willer (1956–1960)


Hugh J. Jewett, President 1874–1884. Click to enlarge.

(Edward Harold Mott, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Heritage unit

As part of the 30th anniversary of Norfolk Southern Railway being formed, NS decided to paint 20 new locomotives into the paint scheme of predecessor railroads. NS No. 1068, an EMD SD70ACe, was painted into Erie Railroad's green passenger scheme. It was released on May 25, 2012.



Headquarters: New York, New York (1832–1931); Cleveland, Ohio (1931–60)
Reporting mark: ERIE
Locale: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois
Dates of operation: 1832–1960
Successor: Erie Lackawanna Railway
Track gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Previous gauge: 6 ft (1,829 mm) gauge
Length: 2,316 miles (3,727 km)


See Also:

Railroads A-Z