What happened to Easton station? – The Lafayette

Buses and cars are generally considered the only forms of Transportation available for Lafayette students to Easton. But for much of the 20th century, another reliable way to get to and from the city existed: passenger rail.

A reminder of the railroad can be found close to town in the form of an abandoned freight and passenger station across the Lehigh River along W. Canal Street.

Rail transportation has been a key part of Easton for a century. According to the archives of the library of Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society (NCHGS), a group dedicated to preserving the town’s local history in the Sigal Museum in downtown Eastonthe Lehigh Valley Railroad was founded on January 7, 1853, with passenger service beginning in 1855.

Easton was soon to become the hub of many rail lines. According to an article from Easton Express beginning June 12, 1937, three notable railroad companies called at Easton Station: Lehigh Valley, DL&W, and New Jersey Central. This new attention would ultimately transform Easton from a farming town into a key industrial center.

“Iron foundries, rolling mills and steel mills sought Easton at the dawn of this new era as the abundant nearby iron ore deposits and rich limestone beds, together with the open coal springs, provided a site workmanship,” reads the article. “Other industries followed the transport lines and by the end of the 19th century Easton had become an industrial center of importance.”

Thomas Lannon, director of special collections and archives at Lafayette College, specifically developed the Lehigh Valley Railroad and their station in Easton. He spoke of the station, called 3rd and Canal only when used for passengers, and its use on the D&LV Railway for freight and passengers.

“Railroads developed during the 19th century when coal was used for power,” Lannon wrote. “The Lehigh Valley Railroad was built for the freight of coal, [carrying] anthracite (hard coal) from Pennsylvania fields to Eastern markets (New York City/New Jersey) and the Great Lakes region.

Currently, a number of homeless people are seeking refuge at the station. (Photo by Caroline Burns ’22 for The Lafayette)

Regarding the use of Easton to transport passengers, Lannon explained how the train service, specifically called the “black diamond”, was only used to transport people after it was forced to export and to import freight, freight transport being the line’s most frequent use. through the Lehigh Valley. NCHGS records indicated that Easton was located in the middle of the Black Diamond’s passenger routes between New York and Buffalo, which ran five times a day. The trains also made long-distance trips from New York to Chicago.

However, Lannon explained that the railway line was experiencing myriad problems that would ultimately lead to its downfall, as well as the closure of Easton station.

“The Lehigh Valley Railroad discontinued its last passenger trains around 1961,” writes Lannon. “The train station [in Easton] was abandoned after the decline and eventual demise of passenger train service (the automobile industry won out).

Freight service, on the other hand, closed in the 1970s due to declining demand for coal. According to NCHGS records, the station canopies and platforms were dismantled on July 24, 1985. Lannon wrote that although it was considered a possible location for a park, the fact that it was not not located on public land means its future is ultimately uncertain. .

Currently, Easton Station sits abandoned beside the Lehigh River, having been destroyed since its closure, according to Lannon. However, Amtrak having recently rail service restoration proposal in the Lehigh Valley, with one of the planned stations being located in Easton, the abandoned station may not be the last this town has seen of rail travel.

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James H. Wright