Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad

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Laurel Line logo.png

Operating Name Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad
a.k.a. "the Laurel Line"
Area Served Wilkes-Barre, Pittston, and Scranton, PA
Operated 1903-1952 (passenger service)
1903-1976 (freight service)
Livery Bright red with yellow accents

The Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley R.R., also known as the Laurel Line, was an electric interurban railway running between Scranton and Wilkes Barre in Pennsylvania. It handled both passengers and freight. It operated passenger rail service between 1903 to 1952, with freight service continuing until 1976.

History

Built in 1903 with financial backing from the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Co., the Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Railroad was a third rail electric interurban line which operated commuter train and freight service between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. It was commonly referred to as the "Laurel Line" because of the predominance of the wild flower along its 19-mile route, which originated at Scranton, continued southward to Rocky Glen and Moosic, through Avoca, Pittston, Plains and finally into Wilkes-Barre, following the Susquehanna river until just past the courthouse, then turning into the downtown.

Shortly after completion, the railroad company conducted a newspaper contest for an attractive logo to symbolize the new line's identity. The winner received a $25 gold piece for an entry that contained three "T-rails" joined at their bases to form a triangle, depicting the "3rd rail."

A laurel wreath surrounds the rails and the initials as a symbol of triumph over all challenges to achieved success.

During the heyday of the region's mining industry, the Laurel Line carried as many as 4.2 million passengers a year. The commuter rail had 19 stops with major stations at Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Pittston. Simple covered platforms served other stops along the way.

The line was powered by a 650 volt direct current fed into the third rail except within the Wilkes-Barre city limits and the area by the Scranton car house for safety reasons.

The Laurel Line had exclusive rights to two parks along its route, "Rocky Glen Amusement Park," and a smaller picnic park called "Valley View" at Inkerman. It also carried many pleasure seekers to Scranton's "Luna Park" on the Dunmore branch near Nay Aug Park. These excursions served as a means of generating extra revenue during the warm weather months.

The Laurel Line also operated freight service. Most of the freight was meat or produce.

Connections were established with other major railroads, including: the Lehigh Valley Railroad, which operated out of Wilkes-Barre; the Delaware Lackawanna & Western (DL & W) in Scranton; and the Erie Railroad in Pittston.

In 1947, the Laurel Line built a 2½ mile freight branch from the Virginia station, south of Rocky Glen, to a new industrial park in Minooka.

Construction was a challenge due to its steep grade and need for many curves. Overhead trolley wire was used instead of the third rail. The line boasted some unique construction features. The most impressive of these was a 4,750 foot tunnel under the streets of South Scranton called the Crown Avenue Tunnel.

Opened in October 1905, the tunnel enabled the electric cars to avoid the original steep hill that led into the Scranton terminal. It was one of the longest interurban streetcar tunnels ever built, and was recently rehabilitated at a cost of more than $3 million.

There was also the 682-foot Avoca Viaduct that carried the Laurel Line over the Lehigh Valley and the Delaware & Hudson rail lines as well as U.S. Route 11, and the 554-foot Prospect Viaduct, named after a nearby coal breaker of the Lehigh Valley Coal Company just north of the Wilkes-Barre city line.

The height of success came in the 1920's. But as the mining industry and population declined after World War II, the Laurel Line attracted fewer passengers. Highway development and affordable cars also limited the ridership that once fed the line. As a result, commuter service ended on Dec. 31, 1952. For the remainder of the decade, the Laurel Line was strictly a freight railroad.

In 1957, the DL&W took over the line and used it as a branch rail into Wilkes-Barre. By 1960 the DL&W merged with the Erie Railroad to create the Erie Lackawanna.

Points north of Pittston were shut down and dismantled with the southern section being operated until Conrail took over in 1976. Shortly after, Conrail decided to close the line because it paralleled the Lehigh Valley tracks into Wilkes-Barre and was no longer needed.[1]

- Entire section cited from "The Laurel Line, a trolley ride to remember" The Citizens' Voice, William C. Kashatus, August 14, 2011.

Timeline of important events

This section is incomplete, you can help!

  • 1903: The Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad begins service.
  • 1952: The Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad ends passenger service.
  • 1976: The Lacakwanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad ends freight service.

Line map of interurban route



Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad line map.png

Note: Map is not to scale, nor actual direction of travel.

Bus roster

This section is incomplete, you can help!

Fleet Number(s) Thumbnail Year Manufacturer Model Engine Transmission Notes
45 1954 GMC TGH-3102 Gasoline Hydraulic
51

Interurban roster

This section is incomplete, you can help!

Fleet number(s) Thumbnail Year Manufacturer Model Motors Notes
1-9, 10 (1st) 1902 ALCo Coach
10 (2nd) 1908 Stephenson Coach
11-23 1904 Stephenson Coach
31-34 1924 Osgood Bradley Coach
35-36 1925 Osgood Bradley Coach
37-39 1928 Osgood Bradley Coach
101-103 1902 ALCo Combine nee 11-13.
104 1903 ALCo Combine nee 14.
111-113 1904 Stephenson Combine
114-115 Osgood Bradley Combine
116 1928 Osgood Bradley Combine
201-204 1903 ALCo Express Express motors.
301 1903 ALCo Construction Construction car.
401 1895 Brooklyn Locomotive Works Locomotive
402 1907 Brooklyn Locomotive Works Locomotive
403 1920 L&WV
(in house)
Locomotive

Further reading

Websites

The Laurel Line: A trolley ride to remember, The Citizens' Voice, William C. Kashatus, August 14, 2011.

References

  1. The Laurel Line: A trolley ride to remember, The Citizens' Voice, William C. Kashatus, August 14, 2011.