A glance will show / Why Phoebe Snow / Prefers this route / To Buffalo.
And Phoebe's right / No route is quite / As short as Road / of Anthracite.
In 1908 the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad began work on the New Jersey Cut-Off
to make its New York to Buffalo mainline (the Road of Anthracite so liked
by Phoebe Snow
) even shorter and faster. It was to have no grade crossings, and was to be as straight and level as possible — through hilly terrain. The 28-mile Lackawanna Cut-Off
, as it is now known, was built over three years, cost $11 million, and was an engineering marvel
of massive reinforced concrete bridges, enormous cuts, and the largest railroad embankment in the world. All of this has been abandoned
for years, though there are plans afoot to restore the Cut-Off for commuter rail
All 73 bridges and culverts on the Lackawanna Cut-Off were made entirely of concrete. The route shaved 11 miles off the New York City
trip, with a maximum grade of 0.6% and total height fluctuation of only 11 feet.
The two big bridges: Delaware Viaduct
and Paulin's Kill Viaduct
. Can you spot the Cut-Off on a terrain map
? (That's Pequest Fill
followed up with the Summit
Cut-Off in Pennsylvania, building two more huge concrete bridges — the Martin's Creek Viaduct
and the rather more impressive Tunkhannock Viaduct
, which is possibly the largest one to date.
The New York Times ran stories
on the completions
of the two cut-offs. There is some more information about the construction here
. You can also read a bit about working on the Lackawanna
The beginning of the end for the DL&W was the destruction
unleashed by Hurricane Diane in 1955. The rails on the Lackawanna Cut-Off were removed in the 1980s; the Summit Cut-Off still survives with one track in service. Naturally people explore the abandoned Paulin's Kill Viaduct
and other portions
. If you're ever in northwest New Jersey, you can tour the Lackawanna Cut-Off
. As for the Summit Cut-Off, you can see much of it from U.S. 11 north of Scranton, which follows the old alignment
. See also Steamtown