John Brahaney’s LVRR Buffalo Division

Crosstown pickup takes the L&LE at Tifft Junction.

The Lehigh Valley Buffalo Division – Flooded with bailout money in 1973, the railroads in the northeast were reduced to three major carriers – Penn Central, Erie Lackawanna, and Lehigh Valley… All roads were trimmed, modernized, and supported with what we now call tax abatements and deregulation. The Lehigh, expanding it’s Apollo traffic with the Nickel Plate at Buffalo, extended into New England by merging with the D&H in 1977. Union agreements forced each company to maintain its’ own identity and seniority, but concessions also created smooth running, high-speed freight from NY to Chicago. So good is the service by 1994, that each line purchases their first Dash-9’s, and bright red COFCs can be seen moving through Niagara Junction.

My love for the Lehigh started after having been Locomotive Engineer on her former territory, with Finger Lakes Railway at Geneva, and now GVT Rail System in Batavia. The more I unearth about the Lehigh, the more I appreciate the history, the people (many of whom are gone now) and the lost art of what was railroading in the United States – before radios, lime-green vests, and 35 pounds of rulebooks. I love the challenge of researching and modeling a railroad whose physical plant was gutted like a fish.

This layout – which I hope to complete before I croak – will be double-decked 32′ by 14′, with a 22 x 60 helix. While the lower deck trackwork is basically completed, the upper level is still under construction. From the Buffalo Creek Railroad switching into the steel mills and grain elevators near Tifft Yard, the railroad climbs out through Tifft Junction, under the Erie & DL&W at Niagara Junction, over the PC Auburn Road at Geneva Junction, and past the military complex at Seneca Army Depot. Locals will switch Sylvania at Batavia, the B&O at P&L Jct, and a new power plant at the former Manchester Yard. GC-1 based out of Geneva will switch the new Armalite rifle plant and PC Interchange, and deliver munitions and military hardware to the base. Apollo stack trains will be handed off to the NKP at Tifft Jct, and the PC crew will be across the yard, yelling obscenities as they try to re-rail some Flexi-Vans…again.

The pictures are of a work in progress. I’m trying to take baby steps, as I’m tired of tearing up work when I learn something new! I am happy with trying to include most of my favorite railroads, and this layout – tweaked I’m sure – can easily include power from LV, PC, EL, Chessie, BCK, NKP, South Buffalo, PRR, NYC, and D&H. ( This also justifies their continued purchase, as I love power.) I am trying an MRC Prodigy wireless DCC system, but I’m open to suggestions for something better.

My hope is to find a LV milepost or interlocking signs to place as the centerpiece of my collection, and open it to the public so others can learn about her as well. Steel, goods, & grain…….they tore up the wrong railroad!

John Brahaney (johnbrahaney69 at gmail dot com)

LV 231 & 283 meet eastbound EL empty coal train on the DL&W at Niagara Junction.

LV 643 idles as she waits for the light that will start the train towards Niagara Junction. Joe Drouin’s grandson must be getting some coffee for the train to have waited this long.

Just in from Conneaut, OH, an eastbound AP-2 stack train waits at Tifft Jct behind GE Dash 9 number 642. The PC crew is shoving west to clear Bison yard with a pickup for Niagara Falls, and a couple of railfans down from Middleport, NY are taking shots with their instamatics. Wee!

LV 642 & LV 643 lean into the grade just east of the Seneca River Bridge, and start up the east side of Seneca Lake. Once the train is clear of the 25 mph restriction at Geneva Junction, Sayre is only an hour away.

GC-2 has been broken in two parts today, and the #7640 with the head-end work is rushing through Geneva Junction east to the Seneca Army base to get rid of some armor for maintenance.

While #210 waits in the hole with the other GC-2 work, LV-2 gets her “High Irish”…

LV 3

…and heads for the climb at Burdett. Geeps #317 and #323 pull the train with a borrowed PC unit.

LV 4

With LV movements in the clear, Penn Central job GY-1 pulls coal dropped in the siding earlier that morning. They’ll shove down to GY Tower and head east on the “Auburn Road” for Tri-Gen Energy in Syracuse.

EL GP35 @ NJ

A local handled by EL GP35 and a sister head east on the former DL&W with empty coal hoppers from Bison Yard.

SD60 775

SD60 #775 is about to pass under the DL&W bridge. Respected railroad enthusiast Mr. Devan Lawton can be seen just above the PC covered hopper. The Block Operator would have been in the Brick “tower”, while the dispatcher handled things in the trailer behind.


LV2 waits in the clear at Niagara Junction for an AP-1 bound for the Nickel Plate at Buffalo.

stacks 002

U-boats roll eastward toward Geneva Junction with a stack train for Oak Island.

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GVT Rail Alcos 2035 and 1802 headed for the shops at Sayre…(my Lehigh does contract diesel work, too)

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