Depew to Tonawanda

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  • States: New York   
  • Railroads: LV   

The Niagara Falls Branch

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Map submitted by Mike Fromholt.

This Lehigh Valley railway was abandoned in the late 1970s.

The Tonawanda is listed but the trackage went through Amherst, Williamsville, Tonawanda, Kenmore, through Buffalo and into West Seneca before terminating in Lackawanna/ South Buffalo. When I travel on the NYS Thruway I can see the remnants of the LV. I know the tracks are completely gone yet some crossing remains. My question I have is: the right of way, was this always LV? The know that the DL&W went through the area, was this always a LV line or DL&W? I know there was little traffic on the tracks and was maybe the first to go. When did they remove the tracks and did any portion ever go to trails?

Robert Benkelman
Elizabeth, NJ
9/5/2013

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I lived not far from where this split from the NYC branch. While remnants of the railbed are still visible if yoou know where to look, no part of this branch ever became a trail, though a depot in Williamsville was saved and is now a rr historical society, if I recall. It was always LV, the old EL line was former Erie and paralleled the NYC in parts of tonawanda and N Tonawanda. I don't remember ever seeing a train on the tracks but the rails were removed by the early to mid 80s. Hope this helps

Matt
Los Angeles, CA
11/14/2013

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The information does help. I remember the branch through Kenmore was rarely used. It went south and east by the university. The crossing at Kenmore ave has been removed. Paralleling the branch was the Erie that was extensively used. The two branches plus the NYC made up the iron island section of east buffalo. Most of the embankment or elevated sections have been removed. In the west side sections remain.

Robert Benkelman
Elizabeth, NJ
11/15/2013

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The portion that paralleled the 290; I remember seeing the bridges over the main roads but now most of the embankments have given way to on ramps. the portion that went under the airport is now a road.

Matt
Los Angeles, CA
11/15/2013

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I remember the section along I 290. Never saw any use and I would speculate that section might have been shut down prior to the Conrail debut. Much of the LV has been removed in the Buffalo area, as rail traffic decreased during the 1970s. Conrail would doom several ROWs eliminating any redundant trackage.

Robert Benkelman
Elizabeth, NJ
11/15/2013

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This line did not go through Kenmore. The line that crossed Sheridan Dr. and Kenmore Ave. was the Erie.

Mike Farin
Kenmore, NY, NY
2/4/2014

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I appreciate the information. I know that the track had little use and assumed it was LV. I had a cousin that lived near there in the 60s and along the ROW had the ruins of a water tower. Has the ROW been made into a trail?

Robert Benkelman
Elizabeth , NJ
2/5/2014

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The old EL rails were ripped up about 10 years ago, no trail. None of the ex LV was made into a trail. As I stated above, large portions of the LV ROW along I-290 are now on / off ramps of said freeway. Additionally the segment that ran under the airport is now an actual road.

Matt
Los Angeles, CA
2/5/2014

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Thanks for the information. I never saw activity along the 290 segment. I know that Conrail would seal the fate on these underused ROWs. I know that the EL went into the east side of Buffalo and the other ROW that paralleled it is gone too, even the earthen mound has been removed--not much remains. You mention the ROW that is now a road, it that the old West Shore branch of the NYC? I believe the ROW that ran alongside the Thruway was LV but I believe it might have been the old DL&W that terminated in Lackawanna. Like I said before, much of the LV out of Buffalo has been removed.

Robert Benkelman
Elizabeth, NJ
2/5/2014

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The West Shore Branch was a line that was to compete with the NYC. It got its name because it paralleled the west shore of the Hudson. The NYC eventually acquired the West Shore branch and portions still exist. The Hudson section survives but most has been removed.

Robert Benkelman
Elizabeth, NJ
2/5/2014

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The railroad was the LV. When I moved to Williamsville in the '70's the Railroad had two bridges over Main street. The LV trains with the LV Flags went trough town several times a day. There was still a siding with a coal distributor/tower right next to main street. When the RR was abandoned and the rails pulled up I drove my 4x4 all the way from Williamsville out to Depew on the right of way back in '82.

Gregory Qucik
Cedar Falls, IA, IA
2/21/2014

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Much of LV was abandoned with the exception of the branch going to Niagara Falls. Norfolk Southern acquired many of the ROWs from Conrail and made what was left into shirt lines. The CR row into Rochester no longer reaches Rochester--they monopolized the rail industry. My grandfather worked the Erie to Hornell and that still exists. I never saw a train on the Tonowanda branch but I lived in Hamburg and only went through there to my aunts house.

Robert Benkelman
Elizabeth, NJ
2/21/2014

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This was the Suspension Bridge Branch which ran from Niagara Junction (Depew) to Tonawanda Junction (Tonawanda)and continued to Niagara Falls via trackage rights on the Peanut Line (PC/NYC)to the PC Falls Road in the City of Tonawanda. It crossed the EL Niagara Falls Branch referenced by others via a diamond. Having grown up about 500 yards from the branch, I was able to watch a lot of trains pass over the years until the abandonment on 3-31-76. During the later years, there were two through freights. NE-1 originated at Oak Island and ran to Niagara Falls with a stop at Sayre (and other locations as needed). The locomotives were turned at the Suspension Bridge yard and returned on COJ-32 which terminated at Sayre. A local (Cross Town Pickup)also worked between Tift Yard and Suspension Bridge Yard a couple of days a week. The branch was also part of the route that the Maple Leaf traveled and was double tracked until the second track was removed in the summer of 1965.At the start of Conrail, local service was provided to the Williamsville station until 1982. The section between Williamsville and Tonawanda Junction was removed in early 1980. The section between Williamsville and Niagara Junction was removed sometime later after Conrail discontinued service to Williamsville. The Williamsville station has been preserved and there is a walking trail from the station to Cayuga Street.

Terry Lang
Fulton, NY
1/1/2015

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The only section I ever saw any activity was the EL section through Kenmore that crossed Kenmore Ave. I told little activity on the track but showed once had more usage by the remnant of a water tower. I saw a train once in the mid 1960s, short local. The track crossing Kenmore Ave (grade crossing) was removed in 2013 when Kenmore Ave was repaved. LV ran the portion in West Seneca and I did see a local used on it. By 1976 that too was abandoned by CR. I believe DL&W once owned the track because they terminated in Lackawanna.

Robert Benkelman
Elizabeth, NJ
1/3/2015

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I have lived in Williamsville all my life about 1/4 mile from the Lehigh Valley tracks. A friend of mine had an unkle and grandfather who were engineers on that line. We use to get picked up at Wehrle Dr and ride with them on the GE pups doing switching. I am presently developing an N guage layout of the Niagara line. If anyone has double track layout info I would appreciate anything u got. I have a track layout dated 1973.

Tim Garrison
Williamsville, NY
2/2/2015

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Hello,

- Would like to clarify a few of the things from the comments about this branch. It did go further than Tonawanda, as it went all the way into Niagara Falls on its own trackage up until the late 50s early 60s, then it was merged along with the EL into a track share with the NYC that went through tuscorora wye and into Niagara Falls as the City did not want any tracks going through the heart of the city.

-The trackage did not extend through West Seneca, the LV main line that was orignally the L&LE (Lehigh and Lake Erie) went into South Buffalo and tift yards, it is abandoned LV tarckage but not the Niagara Falls Branch. That is what you are seeing next to the exit of the 219.

- The Original RoW is not a road that leads under the airport now, that road (Aero Drive is a little bit north of the right away), The original Road bed can be seen from Aero Drive, if you look through the fence there is a tunnel under the airport runway and then it parallels Aero drive and then crosses Wherle drive. Some telephone pole can still be seen in the weeds. The Overpass for I-90 has been filled in.

- A few years ago a housing deevlopment was put in on the other side of Cayuga drive obliterating the road way. But there is a very small part of this that is a trail leading from the Williamsville Station to Cayuga. Less than a mile but it is the only part that is a trail.

Josh
Cheektowaga, NY
3/10/2015

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The LV went through the Town of Tonawanda. It crossed Ellicott Creek (we used to walk across the bridge) by the park and merged with the NYC just south of Tonawanda Creek (NYS Canal) Tracks went west through The City of Tonawanda and connected with the Erie and NYC Falls Road. Then crossed over the Canal to North Tonawanda to Niagara Falls.

Paul
Rochester, NY
9/10/2015

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A piece of this rail still survives, from just east of Wales Avenue, in Tonawanda. https://www.google.com/maps/@43.0197816,-78.8593896,294m/data=!3m1!1e3

There is a plant there, but I've never seen cars moving on the tracks, only that every time I cross the bridge on NY 425, I swear the hopper cars are in different positions around the buildings.

I never saw an LV train in Tonawanda/Amherst, but I do remember in the 80s the bridges spanning Niagara Falls Blvd and Sheridan before the roads were widened and bridges moved. I also remember watching people jump off the bridge over Ellicott Creek (ewww) and riding in a car over the crossing and the drop in my stomach.

Brian
Tonawanda, NY
5/9/2016

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I remember discovering a rail left behind when they pulled the rails of the former Buffalo and Erie Traction Company in Angola, NY. The tracks were removed around 1940 and the time I found that rail some 40 years later. What I find haunting is seeing signals and other hardware from ROWs long removed.

Robert Benkelman
Elizabeth , NJ
5/11/2016

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I lived behind the LV Railroad In Tonawanda between 1958 to 1974. I grew up with the train right behind our house. We played by the tracks daily. I remember two accidents with cars, that did not stop at the track crossing on Ellicott Creek by the park.

Kevin H.
N. Tonawanda, NY
10/3/2016

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I remember the number of trains that traveled on the tracks that came from the east side to Tonnawanda and the use of the LV yard that went over the thruway. Suddenly traffic ceased after 1976. Never gave it much though who owned the tracks until later on.

Robert Benkelman
Elizabeth , NJ
10/5/2016

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