Sayre, PA to Auburn, NY

The Auburn Branch

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This picture was taken in Freeville, looking south. The main customer on this line in later days was the Cornell University heating plant. When Hurricane Agnes caused a washout between Etna and East Ithaca in 1972, the line was embargoed south of Etna and never saw a train again. Photo by Joshua Blay, January 2004.

Originally part of the New York, Oswego and Midland Railroad, Lehigh Valley's Auburn Branch started in Sayre, PA, at the heart of the LV, and extended northward into New York state, and ultimately to its namesake town, Auburn. The line was abandoned in segments -- a majority of the line was deemed unnecessary as a result of the Conrail merger, and most of the tracks were taken up by 1978. The last segment (Locke-Freeville-Dryden-North Harford) was abandoned shortly after April 1, 1978.

Not all is lost, though. Today, a small portion of the line is in tact south of Dryden and operated by the Owego & Hartford. Numerous artifacts remain of this branch line, such as old wooden bridges, a lone switch stand, an abandoned telegraph pole, etc. A derelict roundhouse also stands in Auburn.

More information and additional pictures can be found on Joshua's website.

Thanks to Joshua Blay for contributing information about this route.

This line was originally the Southern Central, from Sayre PA north via Auburn to Fair Haven on Lake Ontario where a large dock existed for loading coal into lake boats.

It was taken over by the Lehigh Valley in the late 1800s.

It was abandoned in segments from the north end beginning in 1932, when the coal dock and end of track in North Fair Haven was abandoned.

North Fair Haven south to Cato was abandoned in 1938. There is a trail on the ROW today for hiking.

Cato down to Weedsport lasted through 1955 I believe.

Weedsport south to Auburn lasted to 1961 – a bridge was built by the state to allow it to cross the New York State Thruway, but it was removed in 1982.

In Auburn, it crossed the NYC Auburn branch and connected to an LV branch from Geneva. A short section of each of these branches remain. After 1968, the LV served this track via rights on the NYC/PC line.

Auburn south to Moravia was abandoned in 1966.

Moravia to Hartford Mills was state subsidized and remained through 1980. There is a trail on some of the right of way near Dryden.

At Freeville, this line connected to the Elmira, Cortland & Northern line, also an LV branch.

Hartford Mills to Owego also was a subsidized line that's seen multiple operators but today is a short line known as the Owego & Hartford.

At Owego, this largely north-south line turned westward and followed to the north of the Erie mainline before eventually crossing under it to reach Sayre, PA.

This section was an important connection between the LV and the Delaware & Hudson, who had trackage rights to Owego via the Erie/EL mainline. It was made redundant by the inclusion of the EL in the Conrail merger and then removed (1976).

Bill Kisselstein
Syracuse, NY
3/18/2014

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My Uncle Tom Blackman was a conductor on the Auburn Division of the Lehigh Valley (and CONRAIL). He is in the Nursing Home in Waverly (Elderwood) and is 81 years old.

Scott Haner
Candor, NY
1/2/2015

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Please correct the first line "Originally part of the New York, Oswego and Midland Railroad" not at all true. You are confusing this with the Freeville-Merrifield (Scipio Center) "Auburn Branch" of the NYO&M that came over from Norwich to DeRuyter, Cortland and Freeville (via UI&E trackage rights) and then its own line through northern Tompkins and southern Cayuga Counties. A different "Auburn Branch" completely. this one is the Southern Central, it crossed the UI&E/NYO&M (later EC&N then also LV) at Freeville.

David Rossiter
Ithaca, NY
9/17/2015

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Can you tell me more about the large green building at the bottom of Townline road and rte. 38 I hear this is the old train station. I can not find much on here about that.

Timothy Hilton
Auburn, NY
11/29/2015

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