Lehigh Valley Railroad, Trains #28 and #29 The John Wilkes (1939)

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Posted by NKP guy on Monday, February 1, 2021 9:22 PM


   Let's pose the question in a different way:   A person of means wishes to travel from Scranton to Manhattan (in whatever would be an appropriate year).  There are at least two choices, right?  A nice DL&W train like the Phoebe Snow or a 5:30 AM interurban ride to a LV RR train.  Which is the more likely choice?


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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, February 2, 2021 3:44 AM

NKP guy
There are at least two choices, right?

No, there's one.  Nothing the Lehigh Valley ran could come close to the time the DL&W could achieve using the Cutoff and the pre-I-80 route around Garrett Mountain.  

The Laurel Line -- for all the joy of its long tunnel and 'fountain-luncheonette and newsstand' at both ends of the trip -- would take 38 minutes to make the trip.  Think of that as just a little under 1/5 the time the Lackawanna took to get all the way there.  If you are wondering why a splendid train like the Bullet did not survive very long ... the Lackawanna would have been faster to Wilkes-Barre net of the interurban ride, even if the silly wings didn't flap.

I suspect this may have accounted for quite a bit of the 4.2-odd million passengers riding the Laurel Line at its peak year during wartime...

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, February 4, 2021 7:14 AM

I am sure the L&WV interurban connection to and from Scranton was used by Lehigh Valley passenges to and from intermediate points, like Allentown, Betlehem, Easton, Flemington, etc., possibly even conneting with the Reading in Bethlehem to Philadelphia.  While possible. the connection would have been better in Pittston, stations in closer poximity than in Willksbare.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, February 4, 2021 9:52 AM

Connection with the Reading was interesting, as in the timetable not only is service indicated from Bethlehem into Reading Terminal, but also (by a further change at Wayne Junction) via the B&O into Wilmington, Baltimore, and Washington!

Pittston might make better sense in another respect: it would be easier to find a seat on the John Wilkes if you boarded there.  I presume the train was serviced and turned at Coxton, and the stops there and then Pittston were 'making a virtue of necessity' for trains that had to run via Wilkes-Barre.

Interestingly, after the Laurel Line quit, the service to Scranton was via bus -- Pennsylvania Greyhound Lines, not Martz Trailways -- and it was only offered between Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, not Pittston...


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