History of Pike County
Chapter IV



IT was a writer on the natural history of Ireland who, under the conspicuous caption Snakes of Ireland, wrote a chapter consisting solely of the declaration "There are no snakes in Ireland." So it may be said of the railroads of Pike County - there are no railroads in Pike County - excepting, of course, the Honesdale Branch of the Erie, which cuts off a northern corner, but in no adequate manner serves the people of the county.

Nevertheless, it will prove interesting to ex­amine briefly the advantages which the county offers for the building of a railroad and to re­view the several projects for providing one which have proved futile, it is true, but may at least afford some suggestion of the final solution of the problem.

The valley of the Delaware River from the Water Gap to Port Jervis affords to the en­gineering eye a plane upon which some day, sooner or later, the iron horse will draw with­out breakage of bulk the wealth of the coal fields of Central Pennsylvania to the manufac­tories of the New England States; returning with the products of the loom, it will distribute the same on their way to the far West. First, because it is the most direct and therefore short­est air line between the East and West, and, secondly because the descent from Port Jer­vis, Orange County, New York, on the east, to Stroudsburg, Monroe County, Pa., on the west, is only one hundred and twenty-seven feet, or three feet per mile of the forty-three miles to be traversed in closing the gap between the New York, Lake Erie and Western Rail­road, with its eastern connections, and the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad and other coal roads running into Stroudsburg.

Again, the wealth of "blue-stone," as it is now known in the market, of which there is an inexhaustible supply in Pike County along the Delaware River, will be a further source of profit to the carrying trade of such a railroad.

Professor J.P. Lesley, State geologist, in his report of 1881, says: "The whole Catskill formation measures 3430 feet in northern and eastern Pike as exposed in the cliffs and slopes of the long canal-like gorges of the Paupack and Delaware." "The flagstone belt is very broad and crosses the county."

Where accessible to the Erie Railroad, quar­ries have been operated and on an average fifty car-loads are shipped weekly to New York City alone. Should a railroad be opened up the length of the Delaware River from Strouds­burg to Port Jervis, immense quarrying interests would start into being and the traffic in blue stone become a matter of much moment to the railroads.

Blue-stone flagging, worth to-day in Phila­delphia from thirty-five to fifty cents per square foot, is worth, on the banks of the Delaware River at Milford ten cents per square foot. All the way up the Delaware River, on the Jersey side, smoke can be seen day and night issuing from the many lime-kilns dotting the hillsides, hardly a farm being without its own kiln, lime­stone of excellent quality cropping out all along the river.

The abutments of the wagon and foot-bridge crossing the Delaware River a mile below Mil­ford, quarried on the Jersey bank, are a witness to the quality of the stone.

The many mountain streams emptying into the Delaware River for the whole length of these forty miles will afford in the future most valuable water-power for manufactories when once a railroad opens up this county to marts of commerce.

The Paupack stream, on the northern border of Pike County, has already been utilized by the Lambert Silk Company, who have impos­ing mills and a water-power of the greatest advantage.

This stream is only a sample of the many in the county plunging over cascades from five to sixty feet high, until they accomplish a descent of two hundred and sixty feet in a distance of only one mile.

The next stream flowing into the Delaware, the Blooming Grove, rushes along, making fre­quent cascades over its rocky bed, falling at the rate of one hundred feet per mile. The Shohola descends at a very rapid rate, falling five hun­dred and fifty feet in five miles.

Next, the Sawkill enters the Delaware at Milford, rising in the Sawkill Pond, some ten miles back, with a fall of one hundred and fifty feet to the mile. From a score of others on down the valley, which we will not minutely describe, unlimited power can be obtained, and in the near future will be utilized for manufac­turing purposes.

The passengers traffic of our ideal railroad will include, beside those who will travel on it as a through line, the many summer tourists who now visit this wild and rugged county in search of health and recreation.

Under the influence of these many advan­tages by the lumber interest and others, as far back as the year 1848 a charter was sought and obtained from the Legislature of Pennsylvania to build a railroad from Milford to Port Jervis.

The breaking of ground for this early enter­prise has been followed up to the present time by plots and counter-plots, by efforts of igno­rant and shrewd railroad builders and specu­lators and by internal dissensions of the boards of directors of the various companies chartered, etc., until it would seem almost a miracle to the inhabitants of Pike County were the project to be taken hold of in earnest by honest men and the gap between the railroads, east and west, now existing, be filled up by the extension of some one of the present lines so as to reach the head-waters of the Delaware River.

By the original route of the New York and Erie Railway, that road was to cross the Dela­ware into Pennsylvania by a bridge opposite Port Jervis to a little hamlet on the Pennsyl­vania side known as Matamoras, a town now of some fifteen hundred inhabitants.

In consideration of an annual payment of ten thousand dollars to the State of Pennsyl­vania, the right to enter the State at that point was granted the company by the Legislature. Finding their proposed route was impracticable, the New York and Erie applied to the Legisla­ture of Pennsylvania for the privilege of chang­ing the place of entrance of the road into the State from Matamoras to Sawmill Rift, farther up the river. This change was disastrous to the projected Milford and Port Jervis Railroad, as it depended upon the bridge to be built by the Erie to cross the Delaware River. But the Erie, in consideration of the change, agreed to construct a wagon and railroad bridge across the Delaware at Matamoras and to maintain the same forever. Failure to keep a bridge across the river at the point named rendered the company liable to a forfeiture of all its rights in Pennsylvania.

The bridge was built in the year 1852. Con­flicting interests and jarring directors delayed the building of the Milford and Port Jervis Railroad, the charter allowing twenty-five years for building, etc.

Early in 1870, however, measures were taken looking to an early completion of the road, but in March the bridge was wrecked and destroyed in a terrible gale.

As under the act allowing the Erie Railroad a change of entrance to the State, that company was bound to maintain this bridge, it was supposed it would be speedily rebuilt.

Precious time was lost, and when at last an effort was made to compel the Erie to rebuild the bridge it was found that a company, called the Lamonte Mining and Railroad Company, had been incorporated by an act of the Legislature of Pennsylvania, for the purpose of mining in Pike County, and was authorized to purchase all the right, title and franchise of any other company in all bridges, etc., in the county. To this company the Erie Railroad had sold all its rights pertaining to the bridge in question, and claimed that the responsibility of maintaining it hereafter lay with the Lamonte Mining Company.

It was found that the names of the incorpor­ators of the Lamonte Mining and Railroad Company were fictitious, and no information could be obtained of who introduced the bill or anything in regard to it.

In the same year the Legislature of Penn­sylvania appropriated to the Milford and Mata­moras and Port Jervis Railroad for ninety-nine years the ten thousand dollar annual payment made to the State by the Erie Railroad.

At last another effort was made to build the long-talked-of first ten miles of the railroad which would in the future open up the valley, trusting that time, etc., would remedy the lost bridge, etc.

But internal dissensions in the board of directors, and plots of scheming men, rendered all efforts futile. The original stock­holders of the road were pushed aside, and the brother of the member of Assembly from this district, when all the nefarious legislative work was accomplished, was elected president of the road, and was henceforth to look after the State appropriation. The matter was laid before the State authorities by the original stockholders, and before long the act of appro­priation was repealed.

Unfortunately, this had its bad effect upon the genuine and honest promoters of the rail­road, and the bridge matter had in the mean­time undergone further changes.

An incorporated company of New York State, entitled the Barret Bridge Company, had purchased of the Lamonte Mining Com­pany, and a bridge was speedily promised.

Work was immediately begun, and travelers up the Delaware River Valley and inhabitants of the county were gladdened by the sight of the actual work being prosecuted. But lo! in the kaleidoscopic changes which had occurred one could hardly recognize any trace of the former valuable bridge liabilities and fran­chises. In this instance the soul and living spirit of the matter had departed; nothing was left but what was of value to a "soulless corporation."

The Barret Bridge Company, under its New York charter, built only a wagon bridge, and has since levied a heavy toll upon all passen­gers. Stock of this bridge is all in the hands of a few Port Jervis capitalists, and pays an enormous dividend.

In the year 1873, the advantages of the plane of the Delaware River for a railroad bed again aroused attention, and a company, known as the Lehigh and Eastern Railroad Company, having a charter for a railroad from Hazelton, Pa., to the Delaware River, at Port Jervis, began operations.

Again a survey was made, ground was broken, fences torn down, etc., and a railroad up the valley was an assured fact; but when the matter of the old bridge at Matamoras, which the Erie should have kept and main­tained, was examined, and it was discovered that Credit Mobilier methods were to be used in the construction of the road, the whole matter assumed a new aspect, and the work was abandoned in the hopeless depths of rascality.

Legislative enactments and inquiries, Erie opposition, local dissensions and rascality, etc., wore out the patience of stockholders, and all that remains of the much-talked-of project is, here and there along the line, surveyors' stakes, a culvert or two and graded stretches.

Some three or four years later an abortive attempt was made to carry out the project by the chartering of the Delaware Valley Rail­road, but this effort, too, came to naught. It followed in the old ruts and no mind con­nected with it seemed to have the ability to straighten its affairs out.

Products of the county in this year of grace 1886 are carted fifteen and twenty miles, as in "ye olden time." The Erie at Port Jervis receives the heavier freight of blue-stone, lumber, ties, hoop-poles, etc., whilst farm­ing products are carted to the Delaware, Lacka­wanna and Western Railroad, at Stroudsburg, or cross the Delaware River, either at Milford or Dingman's, to reach the New York, Ontario and Western Railroad, at Branchville, Deckertown or Newton, fifteen and more miles away.

In the past ten years large hotels have been built in Milford, Dingman's, etc., and the neces­sity of rapid communication with New York and Philadelphia is much more urgent than when, in 1848, the original projectors of a railroad laid their plans, which have been so violently distorted and set at naught.

Page(s) 851-854; History of Wayne, Pike and Monroe counties, Pennsylvania, Mathews, Alfred, Philadelphia, R. T. Peck & Co., 1886