Lehigh Valley Railroad
&
Erie Railroad
Coal Transfer facility
Waverly, NY
1869 - 1876(?)




The Pennsylvania & New York Railroad worked her way north
up the Susquehanna river from central PA, reaching Waverly, NY in 1867.
Waverly was a very important junction with the mighty Erie Railroad..
but at that time, the Erie was still broad-gauge (six foot gauge)
and the P&NY was Standard gauge.

(At that time, the P&NY was basically a subdivision of the LV..
LV was the "parent" of the P&NY)

The interchange of Coal at Waverly between the 2 different gauges required
the construction of a very large coal transfer trestle.
Coal came up the P&NY/LV from central Pennsylvania to Waverly,
which at this time was the northernmost point on the LV system,
they were not yet any tracks north from Waverly.
so the Erie was the only outlet for traffic!
The LV hoppers were pushed up to the top of the trestle,
the coal was unloaded into the body of the structure,
and transferred to 6-foot gauge Erie hoppers to continue to market.
(Buffalo via the Erie)

The Coal transfer trestle began operations in 1869.

I dont know exactly how long the facility was in use, but it was likely a short time.
only 2 to 6 years.
Because in 1870, only one year after the after the transfer facility began,
the Southern Central Railroad came in from Owego,
and made a connection with the P&NY in an obscure,
empty, open area between Waverly and Athens.
There was no civilization for miles! Waverly was miles off to the north,
and the next closest town, Athens PA, was miles to the South.
it was just open wilderness!

The Southern Central built south from Auburn, then into Owego,
and finally working West to interchange with the P&NY
at that obscure location, quickly dubbed "Southern Central Junction"
Then! the next year, in  1871, only two years after the transfer facility began to be used,
the Ithaca & Athens railroad became the 4th railroad in the area.
they also interchanged with the P&NY and the Southern Central in that open,
empty land between Waverly & Athens..
(seeing the irony of the "open, empty land" yet? ;)

Now the P&NY had a second outlet for its coal, instead of being forced to rely on the Erie alone!
The Southern Central could haul coal up to Lake Ontario at Fair Haven..
(and was also Standard Gauge! a clear advantage over the Erie)
But coal could still not reach the major port of Buffalo without the Erie.
A third rail was laid along the Erie main, allowing LV trains to run all the way to Buffalo, from Waverly,
using their own Standard Gauge trains.
This service was running by 1876.

This must have been the end for the Coal transfer trestle. There was no longer any need to transfer
coal to Broad Gauge Erie cars. Standard Gauge LV cars could now run all the way to Buffalo,
(via the 3rd rail on the Erie) and also to Fair Haven on the Southern Central.

The 3 Standard Gauge railroads were all basically under LV control when they were built,
and later all were absorbed under the LV flag to became part of the larger LV system.
The P&NY became the LV main from Waverly south.
The Southern Central became the Auburn Division.
And the Ithaca & Athens became the LV main north out of Waverly.

This arrangement went on for another 20 years..
it wasnt until 1892 that the LV completed her own mainline to Buffalo westward from Geneva.

oh yeah, and that empty, barren land between Waverly and Athens? where the 3 railroads came together?
Of course that important junction became Sayre.
Construction of the Sayre yards, and the town, was well underway by the late 1870's.
 
 
 

I only know of 2 existing photos of the facility..
the first, and best, is in the book:
"A history of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. The Route of the Black Diamond" by Robert F. Archer.
since the photo is published in that book, I cannot copy it to show here..
So go and get your copy, and turn to page 50!

(I might think about asking permission to publish it here..not likely, but you never know..)
meanwhile, pretend the photo below is the photo in the Archer book! ;)

(and if you dont have that book, you NEED it!
its in-print again, and readily available)
 

The photo above, from page 50 of the Archer book, shows the south (PA) side of the facility,
looking East. The tracks to Sayre curve off to the right.
little huts and shacks are visible on proto-broad st in Waverly on the left.
3 LV engines are at work on top of the trestle.
 
 
 
 

Here is the second known photo, shows the Waverly-side of the coal trestle.
The view is on the Waverly (north) side, looking East.
Thats an Erie train below, LV trains would be up on top. (none visible here)
 
 
 
 

And here we have an old drawing of the facility!
Frank Evans of Sayre, PA sent me all the photos on this page, thanks Frank!
this view is looking North..Waverly is at the top, South Waverly at the bottom.
In the upper right corner is where the Erie crosses over Cayuta ave today, at the corner of Cayuta ave & Broad st.
I assume the second bridge must be the creek..
Even though in reality the creek is not that close, remember this is a stylized drawing, and not 100% accurate as to distances
and proportion!


 

And here is another drawing, probably based on the first one..
This is the "pure" drawing as sent by Frank..
(except I added in the "from the collection of" text)
and below is the same drawing, but will all my scribbling added in! ;)

This is dated 1871.
The P&NY engine house is shown, to the South of the coal trestle.
 
 


 
 
 
 

After the trestle was torn down, the area of the Western end of the trestle contained a neighborhood with houses,
the houses were torn down for the construction of the Route 17 exit in the late 1960's..


Here is a topo map from 1954, showing the neighborhood area. the "second generation" of the trestle area.
(green arrow)
 
 
 

And finally, above is a modern Aerial photo of the area, with the position of the trestle drawn in red.
If you are at the Car Wash on Broad St..across the tracks is a wooded area, between the tracks & route 17.
This area has remained basically undeveloped (I believe) since the days of the trestle.
Im tempted to take a walk out through there! although I doubt there is anything to see..
I have heard that in past decades, people have found bolts and other metal bits from the trestle,
using metal detectors..

thats it!
Another Southern Tier Ferroequinearchaeological mystery solved! 
Thanks (once again) to the crew at the New York Forum on www.railroad.net for all the great help!
 

Return to Lehigh Valley Survivors.
 

Scot Lawrence.
October 30, 2003
sscotsman (at) yahoo (dot) com