Welcome to Vintage Railroad Postcards!

Thank you for stopping by! This is the blog for the Russell P. Panecki Collection of vintage railroad-related postcards. The entire collection consists of nearly one thousand so far with images dating from circa 1904 to the 1950s. To leave a comment, ask a question, to contribute or correct historical information, a comment box is located to the left for your convenience.

Each page, including this homepage, has an index located in the lower portion of the page. In addition to the index, posts were updated with historical information, new postcards added from storage files, while some posts were completely rewritten or edited for corrections. Three articles have been added and are worth reading. They include how vintage postcards were made, the history of Pennsylvania Station, and the history of Grand Central Terminal.

My apologies, but the postcards in my collection and on this blog are not available for sale, copying, or for contribution to projects. Please keep in mind that I reserve all rights to the images and content of this blog.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Black Diamond Express, Lehigh Valley Railroad

In these two circa 1906 views, we see the Lehigh Valley Railroad's Black Diamond Express that provided luxury service between Manhattan with Buffalo, New York. The first card shows both the galley and plush dining car interior. The second card shows the train itself pulled by a center-cab locomotive. Following the postcards is an interesting promotional article written about this famous train after its launching. 

The following enthusiastic review of this famous train, certainly written with the suspected help of the railroad, is from the December, 1907 issue of the industry journal "Railway and Locomotive Engineering".

The "Black Diamond" on the Lehigh.

Whenever you see the representation of a small red flag, something like a U.S. Commodore's pennant, with a black centre made in the shape of a lozenge bearing the letters "L. V.," the whole sur rounded with a wreath, that is the emblem of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. Number 9 and Number 10 are the black diamond expresses, the odd number is the westbound train between New York and Buffalo, and No. 10 is the eastbound train. The time table distance between Jersey City and Buffalo is 447.6 miles and No. 9 goes over this distance in 613 minutes, or at an average speed of 44 miles a renewal of the name first applied when the Black Diamond Express was inaugurated in 1896, 'The Handsomest Train in the World.' The train operates on its present fast schedule between New York and Buffalo, having a through coach from and to Philadelphia. 

The train itself is about 315 ft. long. On the flag the black diamond is a conspicuous figure, and on the road itself the "Black Diamond Express" is the most important train. The railway was in former days often thought of only as a coal road, and from this probably came the idea of the black diamond, but although the well known emblem has been retained, the road has long ago become one of the best passenger highways in the land. an hour. The train consists of one baggage and library car, two day coaches, a dining car and one Pullman parlor car with an observation end. The equipment, put on last month, is entirely new, and we are informed that "This new equipment has been constructed from plans especially designed to provide the acme of comfort and safety, and the builders have put upon it the very best skill, resulting in the production of a train which warrants over all and with engine and tender at tached will occupy about 388 ft. of Lehigh Valley track, but at the average speed made, this whole train would take just about 6 seconds to pass a person standing by the side of the track. The estimated weight of the train, without engine and tender, is 599,770 lbs., so that if a 230-lb. man stepped on board the train would turn the scale at 300 tons, supposing there was a scale large enough for it to turn. The baggage and library car weighs 116,600 lbs.; the two day coaches each weigh 117,660 lbs.; the diner weighs 131,850 lbs. and the parlor car 116,000 lbs. The train, therefore, without engine and tender, weighs about 600,000 lbs. and at its average speed of 44 miles an hour it moves over 3,872 ft. in each minute. 

The Lehigh Valley trains pass through a most beautiful part of the country, and the scenery along the road, especially where it passes through the mountains, has been called the Switzerland of America. The high lands in Virginia and Pennsylvania are called by the general name of the Allegheny mountains. At Easton the Lehigh river joins the Delaware river and this junction of water was called by the Indian word lechauwekink which means "where there are forks" and this curious word has been corrupted into Lehigh. The valley of this river is followed as far as White Haven, where the line strikes across to the Susquehanna valley at Wilkesbarre. At Lehigh Gap the road winds round the end of the Blue range, and at Pen Haven it passes through the Pohopoko mountains. 

Our frontispiece illustration shows the Black Diamond Express bowling along beside the Susquehanna river, near To- wanda, Pa. Some of the names of the towns along the line are interesting in their origin. Towanda-, for instance, is an Indian word, pure and simple. Sayre, close to the State line between New York and Pennsylvania, was named after R. S. Sayre, at one time chief engineer of the road. Wilkesbarre was named in honor of two members of the British parliament who were noted American sympathizers. They were John Wilkes and Colonel Barre. Mauch Chunk is from two Indian words, machk, meaning bear, and tschunk, mountain. Scranton comes from the name of the late Mr. J. II. Scranton. Tunkhannock is from two words used by the Delaware Indians and means small stream. 

Our illustrations of the train itself, the coach and the view of Mauch Chunk, were made from photographs kindly given by Mr. B.F. Hardesty, chief of the advertising department. The coaches are lighted by electricity, with Pintsch gas as a reserve, and are heated by direct steam from the engine, the Gold system being used. The Black Diamond engines are fine  examples of the modern passenger power, and are hard coal burners. The fact that they consume black diamonds of the anthracite variety, which does not give off much smoke, has prompted the management to describe their line as "America's cleanest railroad." Three engines are required for the run from Jersey City to Buffalo. The first section is from this terminus to Easton, a distance of 77 miles; the next run is from Easton to Sayre, a distance of 194 miles; and the mountains, but from the traveler's standpoint it is the most enjoyable, as it is the most picturesque of any. 

At the time that the photograph was taken, from which our frontispiece half tone is made, the Black Diamond express was headed by an Atlantic type engine, and only four cars were hauled. At the present time these trains are made up of five cars and are hauled by engines of the Pacific, or 4-6-2 type, and one of these handsome machines is repre sented among our illustrations. For this engine and the information concerning it we are indebted to Mr. F. H. Hibbits, the superintendent of motive power of the road. The engines have cylinders 22 x 28 ins.; driving wheels, 76 and 1/2 ins. diameter; the tractive effort is about 28,340 lbs. The engine in working order weighs 241,360 lbs. and with the tender weighs 384,510 lbs. The train, with the engine and tender to be exact, weighs in all 984,280 lbs., or about 492% tons. The total heating surface of the boiler is 3,858 sq. ft. Suppose the train was on the average 9 ft. n ins. wide all along, counting engine and tender. As a matter of fact, it is not quite so wide, but for sake of example suppose it was. The shadow of it on the ground with the sun straight over head would in area about equal the total heating surface which is tucked away in the tubes and fire box of this engine.

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