Peter Brill 268 pages softcover
The era covered by the first volume, 1791-1871, focused on anthracite in northeast Pennsylvania; the early efforts to mine it; transport it and develop markets for its consumption. By the end of the volume, the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company had built a railroad, the Lehigh & Susquehanna between Easton and Union Jct., to supplement its canal in moving anthracite to tidewater. Jersey Central, connecting with railroads from the anthracite fields at Phillipsburg, NJ, leased the L&S from LC&N on March 31, 1871 for 999 years. The L&S became CNJ's L&S Division. Industry was booming throughout the territory bordering the L&S. Hundreds of anthracite breakers would soon dot the Lehigh and Wyoming coal regions. A robust anthracite iron industry was developing in the Lehigh Valley and a cement industry was arising as well. Heavy manufacturing plants were erected to support the mining and railroad industries and build products from the pig iron output of the local blast furnaces. But, the booming freight traffic had to be shared with aggressive competitors such as the parallel Lehigh Valley Railroad which had the advantage of a sizeable head start. A host of competitors vied for anthracite tonnage in the Wyoming Region. Thus, CNJ did not enjoy unbridled success in the anthracite fields and several branches ultimately failed. Freight routings were streamlined. CNJ and LC&N cooperated to develop the Lehigh & Hudson River as a conduit for New England traffic via the Poughkeepsie Bridge. Construction of the Allentown Terminal Railroad provided a direct CNJ/P&R connection as well as access to industry in Allentown. Arrival of the NYO&W in Scranton gave CNJ an end to end connection with a friendly carrier in a city dominated by the DL&W. In the two decades covered by this volume, 1872-1891, CNJ upgraded the L&S with double track and heavier steel rail; constructed branches to serve new customers; built up a fleet of almost 20,000 6-ton coal jimmies and started the conversion to 25 and 30-ton coal gondolas. Employment rolls swelled as thousands of employees were needed to crew the trains; maintain the engines and rolling stock; maintain, upgrade and patrol the track; staff the stations and crossing shanties in every city, town and hamlet along the railroad; maintain records to track every car movement and expenditure; bill and collect freight charges and perform countless other tasks. So, this is a volume about growth, competition and a generally bright future as the anthracite railroads, buoyed by the ever-increasing industrialization and population of northeast Pennsylvania, burrowed deeply into the everyday lives of the public which depended on them for mobility and the delivery of many daily necessities.