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The Black Diamond (LV)
The Black Diamond was the Lehigh Valley's most famous train. It began service between New York City (actually Exchange Place, Jersey City) and Buffalo on May 18,1896.
The eastern terminus of the Diamond changed several times. In 1913, the Valley had to vacate the Pennsylvania's Exchange Place terminal and Newark Station. Lacking any significant passenger facilities of its own, it started running from the CNJ's Jersey City terminal. This arrangement lasted until 1918 when the United States Railroad Agency routed all Lehigh Valley long distance trains to Penn-Station, NYC. This was part of the USRA's plan to centralize traffic, but it gave the Valley a foothold it would never release.
The western terminus changed only once. In 1955, the Valley built its newest (and last) passenger station at Buffalo. This modern building replaced the large, attractive and obsolete terminal with a small modern terminal that resembles today's Amtrak stations.
In the beginning, the train was hauled by Atlantic 4-4-2s, but switched to Pacific 4-6-2s when they became available. The final power was provided by Alco PAs when the railroad dieselized in 1948. The portion from Penn Station to Newark was handled by Pennsylvania electrics, including the GG1.
The original cars were very classy. Unlike the Cornell Red of the John Wilkes, the Black Diamond began with glossy black coaches. This would include wood trimmed parlor cars, Pullman service and dinner cars. In later years, this train started using the standard light weight and semi-streamlined coaches that the other trains used.
Due to the Valley's losses on passenger service, The Black Diamond made its final run on 05/11/1959. This was part of wide spread cuts across all the Valley's passenger services.
The Black Diamond: 1896-1959