The Lehigh Valley Railroad was originally chartered in 1846 as the Delaware, Schuylkill and Susquehanna Railroad, to carry anthracite coal from Mauch Chunk to Easton, Pennsylvania. It assumed the Lehigh Valley name in 1853 and opened 2 years later. The road expanded rapidly through building and acquisitions through the 1860s and 1870s, reaching Buffalo in 1876 when it financed the Erie’s conversion from 6-foot to standard gauge. The LV laid its own track to Buffalo in 1892.
By the 1920s the Pennsylvania Railroad had obtained a substantial interest in the LV, and eventually gained complete control in the mid-1960s. By 1961, passenger service was discontinued, and in 1973 the LV was absorbed into the Conrail system.
The Lehigh Valley system operated nearly 1,000 miles of track, with the main branch extending 340 miles from Perth Amboy, New Jersey to Geneva, New York. It is known to be the first to utilize a new type of locomotive with a fourth set of flexible-beam drivers (invented in 1842 by Baldwin). The additional set of drivers provided more tractive force, allowing for better curve negotiation. The new engine, called the Consolidation (2-8-0) in honor of the Lehigh Valley, became the standard heavy freight engine for the next quarter of a century.