The shortline railroads of Owego, New York




 
 
 
 
 


 

Page 2.

A history and timeline.

What are these railroads about?
who are they?

The history of these lines has always been somewhat confusing, but hopefully I can help
straighten it all out.

Since 1976, when the Lehigh Valley Railroad ceased to exist, a small 25-mile segment of former
LV Auburn Division trackage north out of Owego has featured four different shortlines, and has indirectly led to the creation of four more outside of Owego!

1. The original "Tioga Transportation Museum" in Flemingville. (with the operating 0-4-0 switcher, 1970's and 80's)
2. Tioga Central version 1 - the Owego years. (1984-1992)
3. Tioga Central version 2 - moved to Wellsboro, PA. (1994 - present)
4. Tioga Scenic in Owego, after Tioga Central moved itself to Wellsboro. (1992 - 2005)
5. The Owego & Harford in Owego. (1992 - present)
6. The Luzerne & Susquehanna, Wilkes-Barre, PA area,  a sister road of the O&H. (1994 - present)
7. The Meridian Southern of Mississippi, a sister road of the O&H. (2000 - present)
8. The new "Lehigh Railway", to begin operating out of Sayre, PA in 2009, also owned by the O&H.
 
 
 


 

A railroad history of the Owego area..

1834 - The Ithaca & Owego railroad opens between..Ithaca and Owego!
            Only the fourth railroad to open in New York state. This was a primitive Horse-drawn
            railroad, not yet steam powered. In 1834, the I&O was not connected to any other
            railroad..no other railroads existed nearby yet!

1840 - The first steam locomotive arrives in Owego, replacing the horses on the Ithaca & Owego.
           (this route would later become the DL&W Ithaca branch.) It has not been recorded how the
           early I&O locomotives reached the isolated railroad..since the Erie Railroad did not yet exist,
           the logical route was probably by barge via the Erie Canal to the Seneca Canal, then down 
           Cayuga Lake to Ithaca.

1849 - The Second railroad to enter Owego arrives, the New York & Erie Railroad, which built
            through Owego in 1849. This became the Erie Railroad, with its 6-foot gauge mainline 
            between New York City and Dunkirk, becoming the famous "Southern Tier Main", still in
            use today through Owego by Norfolk Southern.

1870 - A third railroad arrived in Owego, building the trackage currently operated by the
           Owego & Harford Railroad, Owego to Harford Mills, NY (and the trackage that is the
           subject of this webpage) This track was first laid down in 1870 as the Southern Central 
           Railroad, building south from Fair Haven on Lake Ontario, through Auburn, through
           Owego, and finally interchanging with the Pennsylvania & New York railroad at
          "Southern Central Junction", which would later become Sayre.

1878 - the Erie (current southern tier main) converts to standard gauge.

1881 - The Delaware Lackawanna & Western mainline arrives, building its mainline across the
           Susquehanna from Owego, builds a bridge to cross the river at Owego to join
           with its Ithaca branch (the former Ithaca & Owego)

1895 - The Southern Central is formally merged into the Lehigh Valley system.

            Owego railroads are now in the positions they would hold for the first half
            of the 20th century:

            Erie mainline running east-west through Owego.
            LV auburn division coming in from Sayre, then turning north at Owego.
            DL&W mainline across the river from Owego.
            DL&W Ithaca branch crossing the river at Owego and heading north to Ithaca.

           The Erie main and the DL&W main are both double-track mainlines.
           The LV Auburn division and the DL&W Ithaca branch are single-track routes.

           It doesnt show clearly on the map, but all three railroads interchange in Owego.
           DL&W crosses both the Erie and the LV with diamond crossings, and all three
           railroads interchange with each other. LV and Erie have a small interchange yard
           right above the name "Owego" on the map, which is still the interchange between the
           O&H and NS today. Not all trackage is shown on the simplified map.
 

1956 - The DL&W abandons the Ithaca branch. the bridge over the Susquehanna is removed,
            and DL&W Ithaca branch tracks through Owego are removed.

1960 - The Erie and the DL&W merge to form Erie Lackawanna.
            EL keeps the Erie route through the Southern Tier of NY as its mainline, and abandons
            most of the DL&W mainline in New York. Today, route 17 is built directly on top of the
            DL&W ROW for most of its run between Binghamton and Corning. 
 
 







1960's and 1970's - the "Sayre turn" becomes famous as the D&H and the LV operate a joint
            train between Sayre and Binghamton. The trains run on the LV between Sayre and Owego,
            then transfer to the EL main at Owego, then operate over the EL via D&H traffic rights from
            Owego into Binghamton. Trains run in both directions, using both LV and D&H locomotives.
            1975 features the famous D&H sharks!
            The last D&H-LV "Sayre turn" operates on March 31, 1976.

1976 - April 1. Conrail arrives. In Owego, former LV and EL trackage is now all Conrail.
           Conrail never operates the former LV Auburn division trackage between Sayre and Owego, 
           and the tracks are removed around 1977.

1976 - Upon the formation of Conrail, the D&H is given trackage rights over the 
           Conrail southern tier main between Binghamton and Buffalo.

This leaves only two railroad routes in Owego, both operated by Conrail in 1976.

1. The former LV trackage from Owego north.
2. Conrail's "Southern tier main" running east-west through Owego, the original Erie, then EL.
 
 
 


 
 

History of the Owego Shortlines.
 

1971 - Father and son team Gerry and Jim Mead buy the Flemingville depot with the intention of 
           turning it into a transportation museum, they already own a collection of antique
           horse-drawn vehicles. - source, Railpace Sep 1983.

1971 - Brooklyn Navy Yard #12, a 1918 Vulcan 0-4-0, arrives at the Tioga Transportation
           museum in Flemingville.  (it does not operate until 1979)

1971 - 1975 - the Meads and a team of dedicated volunteers fully restore the Flemingville depot.

1975 - The Tioga Transportation Museum opens for business in the Flemingville Depot.

1976 - April 1 - Conrail. The LV running past the Flemingville depot, and the EL in Owego,
           are both now part of the vast Conrail system.

1976 - 1980 - Conrail operates the line from Owego to Moravia.
                       the line is gradually cut back, until only Owego - Harford Mills remains.

1979 - The 0-4-0 steamer at Flemingville is restored to operating condition, and the museum
            begins short excursions up and down the 1,000 foot passing siding at Flemingville.
           source, Railpace Sep 1983.

1980 - Conrail sells the line (Owego - Harford Mills) to Tioga County. 
           (Tioga County Industrial Development Agency.)

1980 - D&H is named as the designated operator of the branch by the TCIDA.
           D&H will operate the branch 1980 - 1987.
          (D&H recieved operating rights on the Southern Tier Main between Binghamton and Buffalo when Conrail was created.)

1983 - in 1983, the collection of the Flemingville museum is listed as the 0-4-0 steamer,
           an ex-D&H coach, and the Cornell steam crane. source, Railpace Sep 1983.
              (I would also like to eventually put together a TIOC and TS rolling stock/passenger car roster)

1984 - September 1. The first diesel arrives for the excursion railroad at the Tioga Transportation
           Museum.  Alco S2 No. 14. Wearing its ex-Ontario Central black & yellow scheme for
           several years. source, Railpace Nov 1984 - "Tioga Central Inagural"

1984 - September 15 - The Tioga Transportation museum in Flemingville starts up the
           Tioga Central excursion railroad. They get permission from Tioga County and the
           D&H to to run their train out on the "mainline". (up until this point, the museum was
           limited to only the passing siding with their 0-4-0) The first Tioga Central excursion leaves
           Flemingville for Owego at Noon, Saturday September 15, 1984, using Alco S2
           No. 14 and two coaches. source, Railpace Nov 1984 - "Tioga Central Inagural"
 

1986 - August 10, Three Alco RS1 locomotives arrive in Owego, lettered TTM, but probably
            intended for the upcoming freight operation..
            they are former Washington Terminal 47, 59, and 62.
              (47 is wearing Amtrak paint, 59 and 62 are in W.T. blue)
           click here for photos of the units passing through Waverly, on their way to Owego.
 

1987 - April 14, The Tioga Central Railroad begins Freight service in Owego, now operating
           both freight and excursion service, leasing the entire line from Tioga County. Tioga
           Central took over the freight service from the D&H, source

1987 - With the startup of freight service, the Tioga Central moves its base of operations 
           from Flemingville to Owego.

1988 - March, another Alco arrives in Owego for the TC, former D&H bicentennial 
           RS3u No. 506.

1988 - RS1 No. 59, which operated with the Tioga Central only briefly, leaves Owego. 

1988 - As RS1 No. 59 leaves, another RS1 arrives. former NYSW 204 arrives in Owego,
           wearing yellowjacket paint. This is the 6th and last locomotive to arrive on the Tioga
           Central.  (Five of the six are still in Wellsboro today! (2008) all except number 59)

1991- The steam 0-4-0 operates for the last time in Flemingville.

1992 - Tioga Central in Owego is voted off the line by the Tioga County IDA, who owns the line.
          (another version of the story says the Tioga Central left of their own free will, choosing not to renew
               their lease with the county..not sure yet exactly what happened..)
            in any event, the TC moves all its equiment out of Owego, stores it for a year
            in Whitney Point, then re-forms in Wellsboro, PA.
          source 1
             source 2

1992 - May 1, the Owego & Harford begins service, winning the bid to operate the freight portion
           of the Owego line. source

          The O&H begins service in May 1992 with leased Lackawanna Valley MLW RS18 1801

1992 - The Tioga Scenic is also formed, to operate the excurision/tourist/passenger line out
            of Owego. Tioga Scenic and Owego & Harford are the same operation, just two different 
            railroad names for the freight and excursion businesses. 

1993 - The first O&H locomotive arrives, GP9 number 151, painted in a EL-like scheme.
            From 1993 to around 1996, the O&H and the Tioga Scenic operate with
          O&H GP9 151.

1993 - The TC collection sits idle in Whitney Point.

1994 - May - The second incarnation of the Tioga Central begins excursion service in
           Wellsboro, PA.  using most of the same locomotives and rolling stock that operated
           in Owego.

         Ironically, the name "Tioga Central" fits very well for both the Owego and Wellsboro locations! Because Owego is in
              Tioga County, NY - and Wellsboro is in Tioga County PA! different counties in different states, but both are "Tioga County"

              And, since we are on the subject, the name "Tioga" is an Indian name referring to the Tioga River, which is now called
              the Chemung river. The indians called the Chemung river "Tioga" and it was a very important transportation route,
              joining with the Susquehanna River at "Tioga Point" in Athens, which was a very important strategic location,
              controlled by the Senecas in later years, who were called "The keepers of the Southern Door"..the "southern door"
              refering to Tioga Point, the southern "entrance", or door, of the Iroquois Nation.
 

1995 or 1996 - (still need to pinpoint the exact date) The Tioga Scenic gets its own locomotive,
             TS EMD SW1 #40, which was (I believe) the only locomotive lettered with the Tioga
             Scenic name. Unit was dark green for several years, with "Tioga Scenic" script
             lettering on the side. This unit remained the main TS locomotive until the end of excursion
             operations in 2005.
           (Number 40 is still in Owego in 2008, now painted solid red, with no lettering, believed still owned by the O&H.)

1997 - Brooklyn Navy Yard #12, the 0-4-0 in Flemingville, is donated to the
        R&GV Railroad Museum, and is moved to Industry, NY on November 4, 1997. 
           The museum hopes to someday restore number 12 to operation!

1997 - OHRY 151 is sold and leaves Owego, heading back home to Canada.

1998 - Two MLW RS18u's arrive in Owego, 1811 and 1850.
            1811 goes to work with O&H, 1850 is stored for a private owner.

1998 - O&H paints 1811 from CP red into the current O&H black scheme.

1999 - Conrail ends its 23 year reign when it its sold and split up between CSX and NS.
           The "Southern Tier Main" through Owego is now Norfolk Southern.

2005 - The Tioga Scenic in Owego runs its last excursion season in 2005, then calls it quits, 
           putting its excursion train up for sale in October.
        source 1
           source 2

2007 - Over in Wellsboro, The Tioga Central (passenger/excursion railroad) and the
           Wellsboro & Corning (freight) which up to now were seperate railroads operating on
           the same line, are both sold.. 
         (The W&C was a subsidiary of the North Shore Railroad, and the TC was its own independant operation)
            One buyer, the Myles Group, bought both railroads and plans to operate both the excursion
            business and the freight business as one railroad. The sale was effective January 3, 2008.
         source

2008 - The Tioga Central in Wellsboro begins its first season under its new ownership,
            with five Alcos on the roster. the former Wellsboro & Corning #800, the ex-LV SW8 "pup",
            was not part of the sale, and returns to the North Shore Railroad, who owns it.

2008 - Sadly, The OHRY's first locomotive, (the unit that wore the "EL scheme"), the 151, 
           is scrapped in Hamilton, Ontario Canada. The only locomotive in the history of the
           Owego shortlines, so far, to be scrapped. -source
 

2008 - October, the announcement that the Owego & Harford is going to create a new line based
           in Sayre, PA (technically Athens) first hits the internet. The new railroad, the
          "Lehigh Railway", LRWY,  is planned to operate the NS "Lehigh Line" (former LVRR mainline) 
           between Athens and Mehoopany, PA. The new railroad is scheduled to begin service
           in early 2009.

2008 - December, Susquehanna sells two of its locomotives, GE U23B 2302 and 2304.
           but sold to who?


2009 - January 5, the first "sneak peek" of a Lehigh Railway locomotive hits the internet!
           "Kingfish" confirms that the former NYSW 2302 and 2304 have been sold to the
            Lehigh Railway. as of early January, both are still at the NYSW Utica shop, being
            repainted from their former P&W Orange & Black scheme into the solid black scheme
            of the "O&H family" lines.

           These two U23B's are members of the last order of U-boats built for North America!
           they are part of Conrail's 10-unit 1977 U23B order, built right before dash-7 production
           began. Sister unit CR 2798 is "The last U-boat" and is now preserved at the 
           Railroad Museum of New England, in Thomaston, CT.

2009 - January 17 - The two Lehigh Railway units, 2302 and 2304, have been painted, and the first
            photos of the two units together appear on-line..
            Two photos by
Joseph Sakovitch, taken January 17, 2009 in Binghamton:
           
http://www.rr-fallenflags.org/nysw/nysw2302jsb.jpg
               http://www.rr-fallenflags.org/nysw/nysw2302jsc.jpg


2009 - January 21 - the units arrive in Sayre!

 
 
 


 
 
 

Today the LV and Erie stations still stand in Owego, but the DL&W station is gone.

the LV station is the station in the O&H yard, the one used by the Tioga Central
and Tioga Scenic excursions.

The Erie station still stands just east of route 96 (North ave), south side of the Erie main.

and the DL&W station is gone.The DL&W station was along the DL&W mainline,
on the south side of the river, space now occupied by Route 17.
 
 



 
 








 


 
 

So! to summarize:

This shortline story began with the Tioga Transportation Museum in Flemingville
in 1971.

The Tioga Central in Owego and the Tioga Central in Wellsboro were essentially the same
railroad, but in two different locations. The railroad picked up from Owego and re-settled in Wellsboro.

The Wellsboro & Corning used to be the Freight operator of the Wellsboro to Corning line,
and the Tioga Central ran the passnger excursions on the same line, but they were two
different unrelated railroads. Until 2007 that is, when both were sold, then bought by the same outfit, (The Myles Group) who now plans to continue both freight and excursion operations, and now both railroads have a common owner. (as far as I can tell, they have kept the names Tioga Central and Wellsboro & Corning)

The Owego & Harford and the Tioga Scenic in Owego were the same system, common owner, but completely unrelated to the Tioga Central of Owego and Wellsboro.

Tioga Scenic in Owego stopped passenger excursion service in Owego in 2005.
Now only freight service remains in Owego on the O&H.

The Owego & Harford started up in Owego in 1992, and also operated the Tioga Scenic excursion railroad until 2005.

They then started a second operation, the Luzerne & Susquehanna in the Wilkes Barre, PA area in 1994 (engine house in Pittston) 

Then a third "O&H family" shortline came about, the Meridian Southern Railway 
of Mississippi, Which began operations on April 1, 2000.
(im not going to chronicle the MS on this page, because it seems its roster is unrelated to the OHRY/LS/LRWY operations, just because its so far away...if locomotives begin to swap between NY/PA and Mississippi, I might reconsider! and start a MS roster as well, but for now, im not going to.)

And finally, the fourth, and newest shortline in the O&H family, the Lehigh Railway,
LRWY, to begin in early 2009 south out of Sayre/Athens PA on the former LV mainline.

Owego & Harford (1992 - present, Owego, NY)
Tioga Scenic (now defunct) (1992-2005, Owego, NY)
Luzerne & Susquehanna (1994 - present, Pittston PA)
Meridian Southern (2000 - present, Pittston PA)
Lehigh Railway (2009 - present, Sayre PA)
 

All the railroads on this webpage are related to the O&H (common ownership)
except for the Tioga Central.

The Tioga Central and the O&H have never been related in an ownership sense.
They both exist on this webpage because they operated on the same trackage in Owego.

I hope this all clear! ;)
 

Roster summary: 

 


               
  All-Time Tioga Central Roster.         
               
  Number Railroad Model Built Built as current status  
               
  14 TIOC Alco S2 1947 Buffalo Creek 46 Operating, Wellsboro  
  47 TIOC Alco RS1 1945 WATC 47 Stored, Wellsboro  
  59 TIOC Alco RS1 1948 WATC 59 Off the TIOC roster. Stored, New Jersey  
  62 TIOC Alco RS1  1950 WATC 62 Operating, Wellsboro  
  240 TIOC Alco RS1 1945 NYSW 240 Stored, Wellsboro  
  506 TIOC Alco RS3u 1952 D&H 4112 Operating, Wellsboro  
               
  All-Time Owego & Harford - Tioga Scenic - Luzerne & Susquehanna - Lehigh Railway Roster  
               
  Number Railroad Model Built Built as current status  
               
  30 LS EMD SW1 1953 B&M 1127 Operating with LS.  
  40 LS-TS-OHRY EMD SW1 1953 B&M 1126 Operating with OHRY.  
  50 LS EMD SW7 1950 PRR 9363 Operating with LS.  
  151 OHRY GMD GP9 1956 QNSL 151 Scrapped.  
  1216 LS-OHRY GMD SW1200 RS 1956 CN 1587 Operating with OHRY.  
  1811 OHRY MLW RS18u 1958 CP 8761 Operating with OHRY.  
  1751 LS EMD GP9 1959 PRR 7242 Operating with LS.  
  2302 LRWY GE U23B 1977 CR 2794 Operating with LRWY  
  2304 LRWY GE U23B 1977 CR 2796 Operating with LRWY  
 





 
               

























 

Much more detail on each locomotive is available in their individual sections
in the following pages.
 
 
 

Continue to Page 3, The Tioga Central 
 
 

Back to "Railroads of Owego" main page.

 


 
 
 
 
 

Scot Lawrence
Rochester, NY

sscotsman@yahoo.com