The Cowanesque Valley Railroad started in 1874 from a connection with the Wellsboro & Lawrenceville Railroad at Lawrenceville and headed west 12 miles to Elkland. The intent was to connect with the Coudersport and Port Allegany Railroad that was building east from Port Allegany and meet in the middle, eventually at Ulysses. Both railroads took advantage of an abundance of lumber and ore mining in the region.
In 1875, the mortgage of the CVRR was purchased and the line came under the operation of the Corning, Cowanesque and Antrim Railroad. In 1892, a merger of regional railroad interests, including the CC&A, formed the Fall Brook Railroad. The FBRR was leased to the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad in 1899, was purchased by the NYC&HR in 1909, and began operating under the name of the Geneva, Corning & Southern Railroad.
The New York Central came along in 1914 and began operating the line as its Cowanesque Valley Branch. Under the NYC, abandonment of the line began, starting with the western end of the line between Ulysses and Westfield in 1932, with the remainder of the line ultimately being abandoned under ownership of the Penn Central Railroad.