The Erie Railroad (reporting mark ERIE) was a railroad that operated in the northeastern United States, originally connecting New York City — more specifically Jersey City, New Jersey, where Erie's Pavonia Terminal, long demolished, used to stand — with Lake Erie, at Dunkirk, New York. It expanded west to Chicago with its 1865 merger with the former Atlantic and Great Western Railroad, also known as the New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio Railroad (NYPANO RR). Its mainline route proved influential in the development and economic growth of the Southern Tier of New York State, including cities such as Binghamton, Elmira, and Hornell. The Erie Railroad repair shops were located in Hornell and was Hornell's largest employer. Hornell was also where Erie's mainline split into two routes, one northwest to Buffalo and the other west to Chicago.
|Headquarters||New York, New York (1832–1931)|
Cleveland, Ohio (1931–60)
|Dates of operation||1832–1960|
|Successor||Erie Lackawanna Railway|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Previous gauge||6 ft (1,829 mm) gauge|
|Length||2,316 miles (3,727 kilometers)|
On October 17, 1960, the Erie merged with former rival Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad to form the Erie Lackawanna Railroad. The Hornell repair shops were closed in 1976, when Conrail took over, and repair operations moved to the Lackawanna's Scranton facility. This had a devastating effect on Hornell, from which it has never recovered. (The repair shops have subsequently been used, intermittently, for the assembly of railroad and transit cars, and are now owned by Alstom.) Some of the former Erie line between Hornell and Binghamton was damaged in 1972 by the floods of Hurricane Agnes, but the damage was quickly repaired and today this line is a key link in the Norfolk Southern Railway's Southern Tier mainline. What was left of the Erie Lackawanna became part of Conrail in 1976. In 1983, Erie remnants became part of New Jersey Transit rail operations, including parts of its Main Line. Today most of the surviving Erie Railroad routes are operated by the Norfolk Southern Railway.
The New York and Erie Rail Road was chartered on April 24, 1832, by Governor of New York Enos T. Throop to connect the Hudson River at Piermont, north of New York City, west to Lake Erie at Dunkirk. On February 16, 1841, the railroad was authorized to cross into the northeast corner of Pennsylvania on the west side of the Delaware River, a few miles west of Port Jervis, NY, as the east side was already occupied by the Delaware & Hudson Canal to a point several miles west of Lackawaxen, PA. Construction began in 1836 and was opened in sections until reaching the full length to Dunkirk on May 19, 1851. At Dunkirk, steamboats continued across Lake Erie to Detroit, Michigan. The line crossed the Kittatinny Mountains at 870 feet.
When the route was completed in May, 1851, President Millard Fillmore and several members of his cabinet, including Secretary of State Daniel Webster, made a special, two-day excursion run to open the railway. It is reported that Webster viewed the entire run from a rocking chair attached to a flatcar, with a steamer rug and jug of high-quality Medford rum. At stops, he would step off the flatcar and give speeches.
In 1848, the railroad built the Starrucca Viaduct, a stone railroad bridge over Starrucca Creek in Lanesboro, Pennsylvania, which has survived and is still in use today. In fact, current owner Central New York Railway spent $3.2 million in 2021 centering its single remaining track, re-ballasting and repairing masonry. The viaduct is 1,040 feet (317 m) long, 100 feet (30.5 m) high and 25 feet (7.6 m) wide at the top. It is the oldest stone rail bridge in Pennsylvania still in use.
In August 1859, the company went into receivership due to inability to make payments on the debts incurred for the large costs of building, and, on June 25, 1861, it was reorganized as the Erie Railway. This was the first bankruptcy of a major trunk line in the U.S.
In the Erie War of the 1860s, four well-known financiers struggled for control of the company; Cornelius Vanderbilt versus Daniel Drew, James Fisk and Jay Gould. Gould ultimately triumphed in this struggle, but was forced to relinquish control in 1872–73 due to unfavorable public opinion following his involvement in the 1869 gold-rigging scandal and to his loss of $1 million of Erie Railroad stock to the British con-man Lord Gordon-Gordon.
In 1869, the railroad moved its main shop facilities from Dunkirk to Buffalo. Rather than demolishing the shops in Dunkirk, the facility was leased to Horatio G. Brooks, the former chief engineer of the NY&E who was at the controls of the first train into Dunkirk in 1851. Horatio Brooks used the facilities to begin Brooks Locomotive Works, which remained in independent business until 1901 when it was merged with seven other locomotive manufacturing firms to create ALCO. ALCO continued new locomotive production at this facility until 1934, then closed the plant completely in 1962.
The cost of breaking bulk cargo in order to interchange with standard gauge lines led the Erie to introduce a line of cars designed to operate on either broad or standard gauge trucks. Starting in 1871, this allowed interchange traffic by means of truck exchange, including through passenger and freight connections to Saint Louis, Missouri using a Nutter car hoist in Urbana, Ohio.
Beginning in 1876, the Erie began plans to convert its line to standard gauge, as it became clear that the cost of changing from one gauge to another was not justified by the added stability brought by the wider gauge. By the time of its reorganization in 1878, the Erie had built a third rail along the entire mainline from Buffalo to Jersey City. This project all but brought the railroad to bankruptcy.
The Erie still did not see profits, and was sold in 1878 via bankruptcy reorganization to become the New York, Lake Erie and Western Railroad.
The work of converting the railroad to standard gauge was continued, and, on June 22, 1880, the entire trackage of the Erie was converted to standard gauge.
In 1886, it was reported that the Erie and the Philadelphia and Reading Railway shared ferry services between their two Jersey City terminals, the larger being Pavonia Terminal, and Fulton Ferry in Brooklyn, New York for 11 round trips on weekdays and Saturdays, and four round trips on Sunday. In 1889, it opened a new bridge across the Hackensack River improving service to its terminals.
By 1893, the New York, Lake Erie and Western Railroad went into bankruptcy reorganization again and emerged in 1895 as the Erie Railroad.
George W. Perkins brought Frederick D. Underwood into the Erie Railroad in 1910. During the eastern railroad strike of 1913 Underwood agreed to accept any ruling made by mediators under the Newlands Reclamation Act. One of the demands made by Erie employees was a 20% increase in wages. Erie management had refused a wage increase, but compromised by asking employees to wait until January, 1915 for any advance. Union leaders agreed to make this an issue which Erie management would settle with its own men. However, W.G. Lee, president of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, asserted that the only way "to deal with the Erie is through J.P. Morgan & Company, or the banks". Underwood responded from his home in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, saying "I am running the Erie Railroad: not George W. Perkins, nor J.P. Morgan & Co., nor anybody else."
In the mid-1920s, the successful Van Sweringen brothers of Cleveland, Ohio gained control of the Erie, improving operations (such as standardizing the railroad's locomotives and rolling stock) and bottom-line earnings. Unfortunately, both brothers—who at the time owned several other railroads—died at an early age, but had they lived the shape of railroads in the east would likely look very different today.
Despite the ravages of the Great Depression, the Erie managed to hold its own until it entered bankruptcy on January 18, 1938. Its reorganization, accomplished by December, 1941, included the purchase of the leased Cleveland and Mahoning Valley Railroad, swapping high rent for lower interest payments, and the purchase of formerly-subsidized and leased lines. The reorganization paid off, as the Erie managed to pay dividends to its shareholders after the dust had settled.
In 1938, the Erie Railroad was involved in the famous U.S. Supreme Court case of Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins. The Erie doctrine, which governs the application of state common law in federal courts, is still taught in American law schools today.
On September 15, 1948, the Cleveland Union Terminal Company allowed the Erie to use the Union Terminal adjacent to Terminal Tower in lieu of its old station. Also that year, the Erie purchased a share of the Niagara Junction Railway, along with the New York Central and the Lehigh Valley.
The Erie prospered throughout the mid-1950s, but then began an irreversible decline. The company's 1957 income was half of that in 1956; by 1958 and 1959, the Erie posted large deficits. The business recession that occurred in the 1950s led the Erie to explore the idea of doing business with the nearby Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W). The first result of this was the abandonment of duplicate freight facilities in Binghamton and Elmira, New York. Between 1956 and 1957, the Erie shifted its passenger trains from its Pavonia Terminal to the DL&W's newer Hoboken Terminal. Also, the DL&W's mainline between Binghamton and Elmira was mostly abandoned in favor of the Erie's parallel mainline, in 1958. These successful business consolidations led to merger talks (which, at first, also included the Delaware and Hudson Railroad); on October 17, 1960, the two railroads merged to create the Erie Lackawanna Railroad. Erie's large repair facility in Hornell was closed when Conrail took over in 1976 and operations were consolidated at the Lackawanna's Scranton facility. However, the merged railroad only survived for 16 years before continued decline forced it to join Conrail in 1976.
Year-end mileage operated, including C&E but not NYS&W/WB&E: 2451 route-miles, 6013 track-miles in 1925; 2320 route-miles, 5395 track-miles in 1956. NJ&NY adds 46 route-miles in 1925, 39 in 1956.
The former Erie tracks between Hornell and Binghamton were partially damaged in 1972 by Hurricane Agnes.
|Railroad||Branch||From||To||Approx. Mileage||Years Erie-Operated||Notes|
|Erie Railroad||Original Main Line||Piermont||Dunkirk||448 miles (721 km)||1841 - 1960||Construction began in 1836, and opened from Piermont to Goshen on September 23, 1841. After some financial problems, construction resumed in August, 1846, and the next section, to Port Jervis, opened on January 7, 1848. Further extensions opened to Binghamton December 27, 1848, Owego January 1, 1849, and the full length to Dunkirk May 19, 1851. At Dunkirk steamboats continued across Lake Erie to Detroit, Michigan.|
|Newburgh Branch||Main Line at Greycourt near Chester||Newburgh||18.6 miles (29.9 km)||January 8, 1850 - 1960 (Except five miles at the east end)||The Erie's charter was amended on April 8, 1845, to allow the building of the branch. This amendment was later used to spur the construction of a railroad line to the bustling port city of Newburgh, NY. Newburgh was once the site of coal piers owned by the Pennsylvania Coal Company and later served as a connection to the New York and New England Railroad via a car float operation across the river to Beacon, New York. When opened in 1850, it was Newburgh's first railroad. Today, the line is completely abandoned except for a small portion between Newburgh and Vails Gate that is used as an industrial spur.|
|Newburgh and New York Railroad (Newburgh Shortcut)||Newburgh Junction, near Harriman||Newburgh Branch at Vails Gate||12.7 miles (20.4 km)||July 1869 - 1936||Known as "the shortcut" because it was a more direct link between Newburgh and the southern section of the mainline when compared to the Newburgh Branch. When the Graham Line was constructed between 1906 and 1909, the first two to three miles of the "Shortcut" right of way were utilized and elevated to eliminate any grade crossings. Due to the decline of Newburgh's coal industry, the line was formally abandoned between 1936 and 1937. Parts of it remain in service today as Metro North's Port Jervis line and a short industrial spur in Vails Gate, NY, while others, like a small section in Highland Mills, NY, remain intact but abandoned.|
|Graham Line||Newburgh Junction, near Harriman||Otisville||42.3 miles (68.1 km)||1909 - 1960||Due to the steep grades, sharp curves, and numerous grade crossings of the Erie mainline between Harriman and Otisville, NY, the Graham Line was constructed between 1906 and 1909 as a freight bypass. In order to eliminate any grade crossings, the line was elevated considerably. Numerous local railroad marvels were built as a part of the Graham Line, such as the Moodna Viaduct and the Otisville Tunnel. The line remains in service today as the Metro-North Port Jervis Line.|
|Paterson and Ramapo Railroad||New Jersey Line||New York Line at Mahwah||Paterson||14.5 miles (23.3 km)||1852 - 1960||Opened as an independent company in 1848. Through ticketing began in 1851, with a required change of cars at Ramapo due to the gauge break. A third gauge rail was built by 1853.|
|New York Line: Union Railroad||New Jersey Line at Suffern||Main Line in Suffern||0.82 miles (1.32 km)|
|Paterson and Hudson River Railroad||Paterson||Penhorn Creek in Jersey City||15.7 miles (25.3 km)||1852 - 1960||Opened as an independent company in 1833. Through ticketing began in 1851. In November 1853, Erie stock began operating to the New Jersey Rail Road's Jersey City terminal after a third rail for wide gauge was finished.|
|Buffalo and New York City Railroad||Hornellsville||Buffalo||92.3 miles (148.5 km)||Leased November 17, 1852 – 1857; owned October 31, 1857 – 1859||Founded as the Attica and Hornellsville Railroad in 1845. In 1852, bought the Buffalo and Rochester Railroad's old alignment from Buffalo to Attica, and subsequently renamed itself to the Buffalo and New York City Railroad, and converted to the Erie's wide gauge. The Buffalo and New York City began leasing their track to the Erie upon the completion of their extension from Attica southeast to Hornellsville, opened on November 17, 1852, giving the Erie access to Buffalo, a better terminal than Dunkirk- thus it became a branch of the Erie's mainline. Upon the Erie's bankruptcy, sold line from Buffalo to Attica to the Buffalo, New York, and Erie.|
|Chemung Railroad||Horseheads||Watkins||16.7 miles (26.9 km)||Leased 1850–1853; 1857-1859||Upon independence of Canandaigua and Elmira, the Erie subleased the Chemung Railroad to the Canandaigua and Elmira. Reverted to the Erie in 1858 during the C&E's bankruptcy.|
|Elmira, Canandaigua and Niagara Falls Railroad||Watkins||Canandaigua||47.7 miles (76.8 km)||Leased 1851–1853; 1859-1866||Founded as the Canandaigua and Corning Railroad on May 14, 1845. Upon completion, was renamed to the Canandaigua and Elmira Railroad, and immediately leased to Erie. Upon independence from Erie, began subleasing the Chemung. Renamed to EC&NF 1857. Went bankrupt from 1858 to 1859, during which time the Chemung was leased to Erie. Reorganized in 1859 as Elmira, Jefferson and Canandaigua Railroad, at which time the Erie leased it again. In 1866 transferred to the Northern Central, and a third rail was built to allow the Northern Central's 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge trains to operate over it.|
|Canandaigua and Niagara Falls Railroad||Canandaigua||North Tonawanda||86.5 miles (139.2 km)||Leased 1853 - 1858||Leased by the Canandaigua and Elmira to continue it beyond Canandaigua. When the line went bankrupt in 1858, it was reorganized as the Niagara Bridge and Canandaigua Railroad and was leased by New York Central Railroad. The NYC converted it to standard gauge and blocked the Erie from it.|
|Buffalo and Niagara Falls Railroad||North Tonawanda||Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge in Niagara Falls||12.2 miles (19.6 km)||Trackage rights 1853 - 1858||Trackage rights obtained by C&NF|
|Buffalo, Bradford and Pittsburgh Railroad Company||Erie Main Line at Carrollton||Gilesville (later Buttsville) in southeast Lafayette||25.97 miles (41.79 km)||February 26, 1859||Formed by the merger of two earlier railroads in northwest Pennsylvania for the Erie to acquire a source of fuel for its locomotives. Extended from Bradford to Gilesville, the site of a bituminous mine, by January 1, 1866.|
|New York, Lake Erie, and Western Coal and Railroad||BB&P in Lafayette||Johnsonburg||29.68 miles (47.77 km)||1882-||This section encompassed the once significant Kinzua Bridge: partially destroyed by a microburst "tornado" in by 2003.|
|Section of Pennsylvania Railroad||Johnsonburg||Brockway, Pennsylvania||27.76 miles (44.68 km)||Trackage rights 1897-1907|
|Section of Buffalo, Rochester, and Pittsburgh Railway||Clarion Junction, north of Johnsonburg||Eleanora Junction (later Cramer), northeast of Stump Creek||50.67 miles (81.55 km)||Leased 1907-|||
|Eriton Railroad||Eriton Junction, SE of West Liberty||Eriton Mines, south of West Liberty||0.869 miles (1.399 km)||1908-(1940s)|
|Buffalo, New York and Erie Railroad||Original Main Line||Erie Main Line at Corning||Buffalo||41.6 miles (66.9 km)||Leased 1863-||Created during the Erie's bankruptcy in 1858. Took over the Buffalo and New York City from Attica to Buffalo in 1859. Acquired the Buffalo, Corning and New York Railroad the same year and connected the two lines. Leased the Rochester and Genesee Valley Railroad in 1858.|
|Rochester and Genesee Valley Railroad||BNY&E at Avon||Rochester||98.5 miles (158.5 km)||Completed 1853; leased to Buffalo, NY, and then Erie in 1858.|
|Avon, Geneseo and Mt. Morris Railroad||BNY&E at Avon||Mount Morris||15.3 miles (24.6 km)||Leased 1872-||Founded as Genesee Valley Company. Acquired land initially bought by Rochester and Genesee Valley in 1856. In 1859, reorganized as the AG&MM.|
|Atlantic and Great Western Railroad||Erie and New York City Railroad||Erie main line at Salamanca||Pennsylvania Line near Niobe in Harmony||47.7 miles (76.8 km)||1868–1880, 1874–1880, 1883-1960||Founded in 1862, as all three railroads merged were renamed in their respective states as the A&GW Railway. Reorganized as the New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio Railway in 1880|
|Meadville Railroad||New York Line in Freehold Township||Ohio Line in South Pymatuning Township||87.9 miles (141.5 km)|
|Franklin and Warren Railroad||Pennsylvania Line in Orangeville||Dayton||250 miles (402 km)|
|Oil City Branch||At Meadville near Meadville||Oil City||33.3 miles (53.6 km)|
|Suspension Bridge and Erie Junction Railroad||Buffalo||Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge in Niagara Falls||23.2 miles (37.3 km)||1871-||Chartered by Erie in 1868 to restore access to the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge|
|Erie International Railway||International Junction in Buffalo||International Bridge||4.86 miles (7.82 km)||Erie-chartered in 1872|
|Lockport and Buffalo Railway||Tonawanda||Lockport||13.1 miles (21.1 km)||1879||Erie-chartered in 1871|
|Jefferson Railroad||Main Line||Lanesboro||Carbondale||37.5 miles (60.4 km)||1870-1960||As far back as 1840, there had been a number of attempts to build a railroad from the Erie mainline to the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania. The Jefferson was incorporated in 1851 by the Pennsylvania legislature, which squashed local attempts to build a line on that route.|
|Edgerton Branch||Mayfield||Coal mines of Hosie and Park||1.5 miles (2.4 km)||1884-1910||Abandoned 1910|
|Honesdale Branch||Erie and Wyoming Valley at Hawley||Honesdale||9.03 miles (14.53 km)||1869-1960||Built to create a more direct connection from the Jefferson's southern terminus at Carbondale to points east via the E&WV and the Delaware and Hudson Gravity Railroad (though the two companies' rails were not explicitly linked)|
|Erie and Wyoming Valley Railroad||Main Line||Lackawaxen||Plains Junction in Wilkes-Barre||63.8 miles (102.7 km)||1863-1960|||
|Jefferson Railroad Connection||E&WV Mainline||Jessup||7.72 miles (12.42 km)|
|DL&W and WB&E Connection||Plains Junction in Wilkes-Barre||Ashley||11.3 miles (18.2 km)|
|Scranton Branch||E&WV main line||Scranton||2.4 miles (3.9 km)|
|Jones Lake Railroad||Manning Junction||Lake Ariel||2.142 miles (3.447 km)||1888-|
|Susquehanna Connecting Railroad||Suscon Junction||Old Forge||7.72 miles (12.42 km)||June, 1938 -||Consolidated from existing railroads|
|Delaware and Hudson Railroad||Carbondale||Moosic||24.1 miles (38.8 km)||1900(?)-||Connected the Erie and Wyoming Valley and the Jefferson|
|Moosic Mountain and Carbondale Railroad||Throop||Jessup||3.43 miles (5.52 km)||1888-|||
|Buffalo and Jamestown Railroad||Jamestown||Buffalo||57.3 miles (92.2 km)||1881-||Chartered in 1872 to connect the A&GW with the Erie mainline. Soon after the line was completed in 1873, the company was reorganized as the Buffalo and Southwest Railroad.|
|Chicago and Erie Railroad||Main Line||Marion||Illinois Line at Hammond||249 miles (401 km)||1895-||Founded in 1871 as the Chicago and Atlantic Railway and went into bankruptcy in 1890.|
|Chicago and Western Indiana Railroad||Indiana Line at Calumet City||Chicago||19 miles (31 km)||Already owned by C&E in joint ownership with 4 other companies|
|New York, Susquehanna, and Western Railway||Main Line||Jersey City||Stroudsburg||100.7 miles (162.1 km)||1898-1940||American financier J.P. Morgan began to take notice of the railroad, which by the 1890s had become a rapidly expanding coal-hauler; he quietly bought up its stock on behalf of the Erie. The railroad was leased, and soon after took over complete operation of the line. The depression caused the bankruptcy of the NYSW, which was spun off as a private company in 1940, working closely with the NYO&W.|
|Erie Terminals Railroad||Ridgefield||Edgewater||3.74 miles (6.02 km)|
|Middletown Branch||Ogdensburg||Middletown||33.8 miles (54.4 km)|
|Wilkes-Barre and Eastern Railroad||Stroudsburg||Plains||64.4 miles (103.6 km)||1898-1939||Since the Erie chose to send all of its traffic along the Erie and Wyoming Valley, the line was doomed to failure, and was abandoned in 1939.|
|Lodi Branch Railroad||Teterboro||Lodi||0.996 miles (1.603 km)||1883- 1898|
|Hackensack and Lodi Railroad||Hackensack||Lodi||1.403 miles (2.258 km)||1898-1940|
|Macopin Railroad||Macopin Lake Junction in Charlottesburg||Macopin Pond (Echo Lake) in West Milford||1.533 miles (2.467 km)||1887-1940|
|Bath and Hammondsport Railroad||Bath||Hammondsport||8.2 miles (13.2 km)||1903-1935||After a flood in 1935, the line was purchased by locals who renamed it the B&H Railroad.|
|Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad||Main Line||Cleveland||Youngstown||68.4 miles (110.1 km)||1941-|
|Hubbard Branch||Youngstown||Pennsylvania Line in Masury||12.1 miles (19.5 km)|
|Niles and New Lisbon Railroad||Niles||Lisbon||33.1 miles (53.3 km)|
|Sharon Railway||Main Line||West Middlesex||Pymatuning Township||13.6 miles (21.9 km)||C&MV owned||During construction absorbed Sharpsville, Wheatland, Sharon and Greenfield Railroad in 1881|
|Westerman Coal and Iron Railroad||Ohio Line in Sharon||Wheatland||1.5 miles (2.4 km)|
|New Castle and Shenango Valley Railroad||West Middlesex||New Castle||16.1 miles (25.9 km)||1900-|
|Tioga Railroad||Northern Extension||Pennsylvania Line in Lindley||Corning||11.392 miles (18.334 km)||1876-|
|Corning and Blossburg Railroad||New York Line in Lawrenceville||Blossburg||27.00 miles (43.45 km)||1882-||Chartered under the Tioga Navigation Company|
|Southern Extension||Blossburg||Morris Run||3.592 miles (5.781 km)||1853-|
|Goshen and Deckertown Railway||Goshen||Pine Island||11.3 miles (18.2 km)||1872-||Operated independently 1869-1872|
|Wallkill Valley Railroad||Montgomery||Kingston||33.0 miles (53.1 km)||1866-1876|
|New York and Greenwood Lake Railroad||Main Line||Jersey City||Sterling Forest||41.2 miles (66.3 km)||1878-||Company formed under Erie as reorganization of the Montclair and Greenwood Lake Railway. Parts were realigned due to the creation of the Wanaque Reservoir|
|Ringwood Branch||Main Line||Ringwood||3.8 miles (6.1 km)|
|Arlington Railroad||Main Line||Newark and Hudson near Hackensack River||1.128 miles (1.815 km)||1890-||Built to offer a more direct connection with Jersey City|
|Orange Branch||Newark||Orange||4.04 miles (6.50 km)||1895-||Founded as Watchung Railway|
|Caldwell Branch||Little Falls||Caldwell||5.51 miles (8.87 km)||1897-||Founded as Caldwell Railway and the Roseland Railway|
|Paterson and Newark Railroad||Jersey City||Paterson||16.5 miles (26.6 km)||1869-||Founded 1864 as Erie subsidiary|
|New Jersey and New York Railroad||Rutherford||Nanuet||20.7 miles (33.3 km)||1896-||Founded as Hackensack and New York Railroad in 1856|
|Northern Railroad of New Jersey||Sparkill||Jersey City||26.8 miles (43.1 km)||1859-||Founded 1854 as Erie subsidiary|
|Nyack and Southern Railroad||Nyack||Piermont||4.343 miles (6.989 km)||1870-|
|Middletown and Crawford Railroad||Middletown||Pine Bush||11.3 miles (18.2 km)||1882-||Chartered 1868. Completed in 1872 under lease of the New York and Oswego Midland Railroad; spun off as a private company 1875.|
|Montgomery and Erie Railroad||Goshen||Montgomery||10.1 miles (16.3 km)||1872-||Built to connect to the Wallkill Valley Railroad|
|Arnot and Pine Creek Railroad||Arnot||Hoytville||11.4 miles (18.3 km)||1883-|||
|Bergen County Railroad||Main Line||Glen Rock||East Rutherford||9.8 miles (15.8 km)||1883-|
|Bergen and Dundee Railroad||Garfield||Passaic||1.1 miles (1.8 km)||1885-|
|Columbus and Ohio Railroad||Columbus||Niobe||13.1 miles (21.1 km)||1908-|
|Conesus Lake Railroad||Avon||Lakeville||1.4 miles (2.3 km)||1882-|
|Docks Connecting Railroad||Bergen Tunnel in Jersey City||New Jersey Junction Railroad in Jersey City||0.916 miles (1.474 km)||1886-|
|Long Dock Company||Penhorn Creek in Jersey City||Docks at Jersey City||2.882 miles (4.638 km)||1861-|
|Section of New Jersey Junction Railroad||Docks Connecting Railroad in Jersey City||New York, Lake Erie and Western Docks and Improvement Company in Weehawken||2.06 miles (3.32 km)||1886(?)-||Presumably leased, as it is the only railroad between the Docks Connecting Railroad and the New York, Lake Erie and Western Docks and Improvement Company.|
|New York, Lake Erie and Western Docks and Improvement Company||New Jersey Junction Railroad in Weehawken||Hudson River||26.895 miles (43.283 km)||1881-||Track composed entirely of siding; maximum distance from junction with NJJ is just over half a mile|
|Elmira State Line Railroad||Elmira||Pennsylvania Line in Pine City||6.503 miles (10.466 km)||1876-|
|Erie and Black Rock Railroad||Black Rock Junction in Black Rock||Docks at Black Rock||1.455 miles (2.342 km)||1883-|
|Penhorn Creek Railroad||Jersey Avenue in Jersey City||Seacaucus||5.422 miles (8.726 km)||1910-|
|West Clarion Railroad||Brockway||West Clarion||2.646 miles (4.258 km)||1898-1925|
|Youngstown and Austintown Railroad||Main Line||Youngstown||Austintown||3.777 miles (6.078 km)||1882-||Parts constructed by the Youngstown Railroad Company and the Wicks and Wells Railroad|
|Manning Branch||Main Line in Austintown||Tippecanoe Shaft in Austintown||6.088 miles (9.798 km)|
A map from 1960 shows that the Erie had some control over the former Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis Railway and the New York Central from Lawrenceville to Newberry Junction, near Williamsport, PA.
The Erie Railroad operated a number of named passenger trains, although none were as well-known or successful as others like the Pennsylvania Railroad's Broadway Limited or New York Central Railroad's 20th Century Limited. Some of the Erie's most well known trains included the Erie Limited, Lake Cities, Pacific Express, Atlantic Express, Midlander, Southern Tier Express and Mountain Express. All of these had their western termini in Chicago, except the Mountain Express which terminated in Hornell, in the Southern Tier of New York.: 52–53
The Erie operated an extensive network of commuter routes in northern New Jersey and the lower Hudson Valley of New York. Most of these routes became part of Conrail along with the rest of Erie Lackawanna's rail operations in 1976. The New Jersey routes are now part of NJ Transit's Hoboken Division, originating and terminating at Hoboken Terminal. The Hudson Valley routes are now part of Metro-North Railroad.
In addition to its steam and diesel services the Erie also operated an electric commuter rail line to its terminal station in Rochester, New York. The station was one of the Erie's few electrified railroad stations, and the railroad became one of the first to provide electric commuter services in 1907.
As part of the 30th anniversary of Norfolk Southern Railway being formed, NS decided to paint 20 new locomotives into the paint scheme of predecessor railroads. NS #1068, an EMD SD70ACe, was painted into Erie Railroad's green passenger scheme. It was released on May 25, 2012.