In 1833, the Paterson & Hudson River Rail Road was chartered to build between Paterson, New Jersey, and Jersey City, and the Paterson & Ramapo Railroad north to the New York state line at Suffern. The two lines provided a shortcut between New York City and the New York & Erie at Suffern, even though they did not connect directly - passengers walked the mile between the two. The New York & Erie fought the situation until 1852, when it leased the two railroads, built a connecting track, and made that the main route, supplanting the original line to Piermont.
The New York & Erie came upon hard times in the 1850s. Cornelius Vanderbilt, the "Commodore," and Daniel Drew both lent the road money, and in 1859 it entered receivership and was reorganized as the Erie Railway. Drew and two associates, James Fisk and Jay Gould, engaged in some machinations, with the result that in the summer of 1868 Drew, Fisk, and Vanderbilt were out and Gould was in as president of the Erie.