The Lackawanna Cutoff

The Lackawanna Cutoff is an architectural work of art. It started a new era of Railroading and brought many new ideas to the table. The Cutoff was used for many things and was traveled by thousands of people throughout the years. The Lackawanna Cutoff was a 28-mile long; double-track mainline constructed by the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad companies between the years of 1908-1911.
The rail line ran from Port Morris, New Jersey to Slateford, Pennsylvania.According to Fred Stratton, from Fred’s interactive Erie Railroad website, The Cutoff founded the use of reinforced concrete on an enormous scale, as well as the use of massive cutting and filling. These methods would all later become standard procedures in railroad construction. Starting about 1905, more than a ten potential routes between Port Morris, New Jersey and Slateford, Pennsylvania were surveyed. The Lackawanna Cutoff was not one of the early possibilities surveyed. The Lackawanna Cutoff plan would run directly from Slateford, Pennsylvania, to Port Morris, New Jersey.Robert Savino, of the website GSMRRClub said, it was exactly 28.
45 miles in length. He said that the Cutoff plan reduced the maximum grade of 60. 2 feet per mile, which was the lowest of all the other surveyed routes, to 29. 04 feet per mile. The Cutoff required exceptionally heavy cuts and fills totaling over 15 million cubic yards, according to Fred Stratton. The Lackawanna Railroad company had to purchase over 760 acres of farmland for “borrow pits. ” They had to scoop out the earth and gravel to a depth of twenty feet and hauled it up to the top of the embankments.

This left large lakes where there were formerly level grounds. Concrete was used as the main material for the construction of signal towers, stations, and the highway crossings. There was not a single at-grade crossing on the Cutoff. According to Robert Savino, “at one time, ten steam shovels were at work on one fill alone, resembling work on the Panama Canal. ” Five million pounds of dynamite were used in to break apart the hills to create the cuts. The Lackawanna Cutoff opened to service on the Christmas Eve of 1911. The Cutoff was built for speed.
Not one curve on the whole track had a speed limit of less than 70 miles per hour. With curves having superelevation, the speed limit was later raised to 80 miles per hour. According to Fred Stratton, “No official record exists of over speed operations on the Cutoff, but “making up time” on the schedule when trains were late during the is reported to have occurred, with speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour having been attained on occasion. ” By 1979, the Cutoff had been placed out of service. This meant that all maintenance on the line was stopped.Ironically, a company, Conrail, had just changed many of the crossties on the Cutoff in 1976, so the line was in the best shape it had been in nearly 15 years. The Lackawanna Cutoff was the first of its kind.
It showed architects that anything was possible no matter how big the project. Sadly it is no longer in use, but you can still visit the historic sites it has left behind.Works Cited Stratton, Fred. “LACKAWANNA CUTOFF. ” FRED’S INTERACTIVE ERIE RAILROAD PAGE. 19 Oct. 2006.
Web. 8 Nov. 2010. Savino, Robert J. “The Lackawanna Cutoff – Then & Now. ” GSMRRClub. 12 Nov.
2009. Web. 8 Nov. 2010.

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