John Speller's Web Pages - US Railroads

Lehigh Valley "Black Diamond" Express
Billed in LVRR publicity as "The Handsomest [sic.] Train in the World," the "Black Diamond" was the Lehigh Valley Railroad's crack express.

The train originally consisted of a baggage/café car, two day coaches and a Pullman observation/parlor car, in later years painted in a distinctive black and crimson livery that was adopted for the train. The LVRR had three Pullman observation cars, named "Seneca," "Lehigh" and "Ganoga."

The train was put on in 1896 and ran until 1959. The "Black Diamond" initially ran from Jersey City (with ferry connection to New York City) through the Lehigh Valley and up to Buffalo, New York. After 1918 the USRA insisted on the LVRR being allowed to run into Penn Station, New York.

Although this was by no means the fastest route to Buffalo -- in 1905 it was running at an average speed of 44 m.p.h. -- it was an extremely comfortable train and ran in daylight through some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. For this reason it was considered a very romantic way to travel and the train was particularly popular with newlyweds who wished to honeymoon at Niagara Falls. An early Edison film, made by James White and William Heise, of the "Black Diamond" near Towanda, Pennsylvania, in May 1900 may be seen here.
A reproduction of the hand-colored photograph that used to hang in the Lehigh Valley Railroad's offices in Bethlehem, showing the train behind "F-4" Class Baldwin 4-4-2 No. 2452, built in 1900. 2452 is the engine's post-1905 number, so the picture must date from after 1905. Photograph kindly supplied by Richard Palmer, , author of The Handsomest Train in the World (Sayre Historical Society)
"The Black Diamond" shortly after it was put on in 1896 at 55 m.p.h. Photograph kindly supplied by Richard Palmer
The "Black Diamond Express" passing through Lodi, New York, in the early years of the twentieth century
Inaugural run of the "Black Diamond" at Easton, Pennsylvania, 1896.
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