Facebook Page
Great Railroad Stations - Berkshire

RSHS Depot Email List
Home Subscribe to the List Join the RSHS


Great Railroad Stations 

by John C. Dahl

Berkshire, NY

Of all the trunk line railroads that crisscrossed New York State, the Lehigh Valley RR remains a favorite among railfans. Her roots were in the gritty business of coal, her line may have been the longest in terms of miles from New York to Buffalo, and her financial status was never that of a super star. The Lehigh Valley vanished into Conrail in 1976. What she lacked in standards of economic measurement, she made up for in spades in character, and her legacy lives on!

Consider this sharp example of early 20th Century railroading. The neat as a pin Berkshire depot is the focal point of the small rural community located north of Owego. Branchline railroading was well represented here. The wood frame station sports a quaint lower quadrant semaphore signal, as well as the typical Western Union telegraph sign on the bay window. The polished rails of the main track look well maintained, but lightly ballasted. One of the Valley’s black and gold lettered wooden signboards gives travelers and general public alike instant notice that they have arrived in beautiful Berkshire! Yes, these were the days when the Lehigh Valley depot was the most important commercial landmark in town. It looks as if most of the able bodied men of the village have turned out for this photograph! A prominent citizen in his horse and buggy is also getting in on the occasion. The station agent is on the platform, probably with some mail for the next train, which must be due shortly.

Photo from the collection of John C. Dahl

The Lehigh Valley acquired the line through Berkshire from the Southern Central Railroad, itself a successor to earlier schemes to connect the Southern Tier with Lake Ontario. In a series of financial and lease maneuvers, the Lehigh Valley eventually wound up owning the line. It was soon incorporated into the web of branches that linked scenic parts of the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes to the Lehigh’s hub just across the state line in Sayre, Pennsylvania. For several decades, these many branch lines would offer the towns and villages through which they ran, excellent rail and communication access to the outside world.

Turn of the century railroading may have been a grinding, dirty affair in reality. It was a dangerous profession. Wrecks and accidents with fatalities were not uncommon. The workdays were long and hard, and workers were often paid very little. In today’s world of global corporations, the railroaders of turn of the century America seem as remote as the dinosaurs. However, it is with great fun and interest that we can appreciate this old photo for the good things it represents about a long vanished railroad and time.

In the distance a locomotive whistle is sounding for the dirt road crossing south of town, the distant synchronized music of steam is growing louder. The daily local will soon be arriving at the Berkshire depot. A flurry of activity will mark another summer afternoon in time on our beloved Lehigh Valley Railroad.

Back to Great Railroad Stations Index


This page was last updated Tuesday, June 24, 2003

©2003 John Dahl - Page created by Jim Dent
RSHS Depot Email List Homepage space graciously provided by

All content contained herein is the sole property of its owner/creator,
and may not be used without express permission of that owner.