In our hearts and prayers - the victims of September 11th....
John Wilkes (LV)
The John Wilkes was, in my opinion, the most attractive streamliner ever to operate on American rails. The Engines (Pacific K-5B 4-6-2s) numbered 2101 and 2102 were painted black, with Cornell Red trim. They were streamlined and ran with a mix of Pullman coaches over the years.
Click on image for a larger picture of the John Wilkes (180k)
The John Wilkes began service pretty late in the game. The first train ran from New York to Pittstown, PA on 06/04/1939. Unlike most of its competition, the Valley was able to operate directly from Penn-Station, NYC. This gave them a huge advantage over the DL&W and CNJ. The entire trip took 5 hours which isn't all that bad considering with the modern highways, it takes about 3 hours to drive that.
The trip began with the train being pulled under the wire by Pennsylvania power. This train was then taken to Penn-Station, Newark where the Lehigh Valley power would take the train.
In 1948, the John Wilkes Pacifics was replaced by a set of Alco PAs. These engines were also painted in the Cornell Red with Black Stripes.
The only other major change to the service came in 1959. Due to decreasing ridership, the John Wilkes would no longer run to Pittstown and instead would terminate at Lehighton, PA.
Due to the Valley's losses on passenger service, The John Wilkes made its final run on 02/03/1961. This date marked the end of the Lehigh Valley's passenger service when this train, along with the Maple Leaf, made their last runs.
There are absolutely stunning color pictures of the John Wilkes in the book "Lehigh Valley - 3, In Color". Published by Morning Sun Books.
The John Wilkes: 1939-1961