|Locale||Pike / Wayne counties, Pennsylvania, USA|
|Dates of operation||1976–2012|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)|
The Stourbridge Railroad (reporting mark SBRR) is a shortline railroad that operated a 24 miles (39 km) former Erie Railroad, Wyoming Division between Honesdale (in Wayne County, Pennsylvania) and the village of Lackawaxen in Lackawaxen Township (in Pike County, Pennsylvania). At Lackawaxen, there is a connection to the Norfolk Southern Southern Tier Line, now leased by Susquehanna and operated as the Central New York Railroad. The branch was owned for many years by the Lackawaxen-Honesdale Shippers Association and operated under contract by Robey Railroads. The operation was contracted to Morristown & Erie Railway January 1, 2009. All operations were suspended December 11, 2011.
Early Railroad History in Honesdale
The railroad can trace its beginnings to the Delaware and Hudson Canal transporting barges of coal up from Pennsylvania and destined for the Hudson River and eventually the ports of New York City. A gravity railroad was built to carry coal over the mountains from Carbondale to Honesdale in 1829. Coal would be transferred from train to canal boat at Honesdale.
Seeking to haul greater amounts, the idea of steam-powered locomotion was proposed. The leaders in steam technology at the time were in Great Britain, and so three engines were ordered and delivered to America. According to the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, this is the site of "the first commercial locomotive on rails in the western hemisphere" took place on August 8, 1829. The locomotive was the famous Stourbridge Lion. A replica of the Stourbridge Lion steam engine is on display in Honesday to this day. Both the gravity railroad and the canal were shut down by 1898, and the D&H left to pursue other transportation activities.
The Erie Railroad Era
In 1860, the Pennsylvania Coal Company began the construction of a 16-mile long railroad from Hawley, Pennsylvania, to a connection with the Erie Railroad at Lackawaxen. This new line was quickly leased to the Erie Railroad, and it was operated as their Hawley Branch. In 1868 the charter of the Jefferson Railroad was reactivated and construction progressed from Hawley towards Honesdale, hoping to reach Carbondale. This extension would never be built, even after the Erie Railroad took over in 1870. It would continue operation as the Honesdale Branch, and coal was the primary traffic.
Into the 1920s and 1930s, the coal traffic dropped off considerably, but new business in the form of local industry and milk traffic took its place. It was enough to warrant five-day-a-week operation by the Erie. In 1960 the Erie merged with the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad to form the Erie Lackawanna Railroad. Traffic on the branch remained steady at about 3,000 cars per year.
In 1972, the northeastern United States was devastated by the effects of Hurricane Agnes. Many of the railroads in the region were experiencing financial difficulty, and the flood damage was a fatal blow for many. At first the Erie Lackawanna had sought its own independent reorganization, but when those attempts failed by 1974, they requested to be included in the new Conrail plan. Due to the low density of traffic, the Honesdale Branch would not be included in Conrail. Under the leadership of Wayne County Planner Tom Sheptone, the local shippers looked for a solution to save their railroad.
Formation of the Lackawaxen & Stourbridge
Armed with facts and figured, Shepstone and the shippers were able to prove that the Honesdale Branch was indeed viable. Proposals for short line operation were solicited from the Delaware Otsego Corporation, Rail Service Associates (operators of the Bath and Hammondsport Railroad), and TransAction Associates. Rail Service Associates formed the Delaware, Lackawaxen & Western Railroad to take over the branch, and immediately began its feasibility study. Early negotiations for subsidy came with the requirement that former union employees be made an offer for work at their current salary and benefit levels. Discussions with Conrail over rate divisions did not end favorably for the new short line. In March 1976, with less than a month to go before the start up of Conrail, RSA pulled out of their proposal.
An inquiry was made with Delaware Otsego to see if they were still interested in operating the Honesdale Branch. Building off their recent success with the launch of the Central New York Railroad and the revival of the Fonda, Johnstown and Gloversville Railroad, the DO was confident the Honesdale Branch would be a profitable addition to their portfolio. With only two weeks until the deadline, DO formed the Lackawaxen & Stourbridge Railroad (LASB) to operate the branch. A spare locomotive from the FJ&G was shipped down to Lackawaxen in anticipation of the start-up. The ownership of the tracks was still in question, so an emergency order was handed down by the ICC directing LASB to operate the branch after March 30, 1976.
The first LASB train departed from Lackawaxen on April 1, 1976. The only employees of the railroad were Bob Bennett and Steve Van Woert, with accounting and other support provided by the DO home office in Cooperstown, New York. The railroad's first blow was the loss of the local Agway mill in Honesdale. The railroad was purchased from the estate of Erie Lackawanna by the Lackawaxen-Honesdale Shippers Association (LHSA) in 1977, with operation contracted to DO. In 1979, the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce launched seasonal passenger excursions on the LASB.
New Operators, Old Problems
In June 1989 Delaware Otsego lost the operating contract with LHSA and new operator Stourbridge Railroad (SBRR) took over, through contract to Robey Railroads, operators of the North Shore Railroad. Seasonal passenger excursions continued to run, sponsored by Wayne County Chamber of Commerce. The ownership of the railroad was conveyed from PennDOT to the LHSA on January 31, 2003. 
The rail line was severed in 2005 by the loss of a bridge spanning the Wallenpaupack Creek, when Pennsylvania Power & Light made emergency water releases from the Lake Wallenpaupack Dam following heavy rains in April 2005 and then further damaged by heavy rainfalls in June 2006. Unable to interchange freight cars with the outside world, freight service was suspended. In July 2006, the LHSA acquired control of the Stourbridge Railroad from Robey.
A grant of $800,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, along with a grant of $703,278 from FEMA allowed work to proceed to repair the washed out bridge spanning Wallenpaupack Creek. The replacement spans were in place in October 2008. In May 2008, the line was purchased from the LHSA by Paul Brancato, a principal in Ideal Steel Supply Corp. who planned to build a steel fabrication plant along the line at White Mills.
Operation of the railroad was first contracted to Central Penn Railroad Corp. The SBRR "Yard" between the Norfolk Southern (former Conrail and EL) line and Route 590 in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania was repaired and re-ballasted in anticipation of resuming freight rail service. Central Penn Railroad Corp had stored equipment in Honesdale, including a GP-7 (Former AFRX 22) and two retired LIRR passenger coaches.
It was suddenly announced in September 2008 that operation of the railroad would transfer from Central Penn Railroad Corp. to Morristown & Erie Railway starting on or about January 1, 2009. The Wayne County Chamber of Commerce successfully resumed service to Lackawaxen with the October 4, 2008 Bavarian fest excursion to the Lackawaxen Volunteer Firemans field using their EMD BL2 #54 (ex Bangor and Aroostook Railroad #54).
In January 2009 the Morristown & Erie Railway assumed all operations of the former Stourbridge Railroad, renamed Stourbridge Railway (STRY). A business office was established on Fourth Street in Honesdale. Passenger excursions to Hawley and Lackawaxen were operated on behalf of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce. A single freight movement took place in 2010 since 2005.
A news story dated September 11, 2012 stated the railway's excursions were no longer in operation. The article read, in part, "A lack of money is keeping the Stourbridge Line Railroad excursions in Wayne County idle for the first time in more than 30 years... [T]he train needs repairs, and so do the tracks. One reason those repairs are not being made is because the land the tracks run through is up for sale... With the tracks used by the Stourbridge line being up for sale, and all the repairs that need to be made, no one is sure when, or even if, this train will be back up and running."
- Lewis, Edward A. The DO Lines. The Baggage Car, 1978, p. 43.
- Lewis, Edward A. The DO Lines. The Baggage Car, 1978, p. 44.
- Lewis, Edward A. The DO Lines. The Baggage Car, 1978, p. 45.
- Lewis, Edward A. The DO Lines. The Baggage Car, 1978, p. 46.
- Lewis, Edward A. The DO Lines. The Baggage Car, 1978, p. 47.
- Lewis, Edward A. The DO Lines. The Baggage Car, 1978, p. 53.