Watercolor… Snowbirds at R Tower Allentown. The ALCO Century Series C628 locomotive was produced from 1963 until 1968 and the Lehigh Valley Railroad had seventeen of these 16-cylinder, 2,750 horsepower, C628 locomotives, numbered 625 through 641. The white ones were nicknamed “Snowbirds”… illustrated here, rolling through the Allentown, Pennsylvania Yard at R Tower (MP 88.2)…. in the early 70’s… although… apparently… they were also called “White Elephants” by employees.
The origins of the Lehigh Valley Railroad (LVR) date to the Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill & Susquehanna Railroad of 1846, as an attempt to break the anthracite coal transportation monopoly enjoyed by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company on the Lehigh Canal. But the Lehigh Valley Railroad, aka the “Route of the Black Diamond” didn’t really coalesce until Asa Packer acquired the railroad in 1853. In 1855 the LVR extended mainline service through Bethlehem, which in no small part facilitated the subsequent birth of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. At the height of its success, the LVR reached from Buffalo, NY through Pennsylvania and New Jersey into New York City… with a sizable barge and tugboat roster based in the NYC Harbor. Ultimately the LVR was absorbed by the CONRAIL merger of 1976.