The West Shore reached Buffalo around 1884. This event precipitated a shipping
rate war with the New York Central.
The New York Central had been forced to aquire the Nickel Plate as its parallel
line along the Central's Lake Shore route threatened to be too competitive for
the wily Vanderbilts. When the West Shore did the same thing on the remainder
of the Central's New York to Chicago route the Central had no choice, but to
batter them into submission financially.
The West Shore soon went bankrupt and the NYC's deep pockets were barely
The West Shore was ripe for the pickings and the word on the street was that
the Pennsylvania Railroad was quietly buying up as many West Shore bonds as
they could lay their hands on in preparation for the obviously unavoidable
foreclosure. By linking the PPR's trackage in Jersey City to Weehawken they
would have a simple link to their own extensive rail network. No doubt
William H. Vanderbilt, then president of the Central, lay awake many nights
pondering the spectre of the monolithic Pennsy in his own backyard.
It seemed the only thing the Central could do was to build its own line in
Pennsylvania. That's when the fireworks started.
The financial impact of the animosity between the Central and the Pennsy was
so great that legendary financier J.P. Morgan was moved to intervene and work
out a compromise between the New York Central and the Pennsylvania RR.
The upshot of the agreement was that NYC would lease the West Shore, and
the PRR would receive the incomplete South Penn RR. Much of the unfinished
South Penn would become the right of way for the Pennsylvania Turnpike "All
Weather Highway" begun in 1935 and the granddaddy of all state thruways.
In 1885 the West Shore was reorganized as the West Shore Railroad, a wholly
owned subsidiary of the New York Central lines. It operated in this capacity
until 1952 when the West Shore was formally merged into the New York Central.
Quite a bit of the old West Shore still exists today and is used by CSX, the successor to Conrail, Penn Central and the New York Central. It is CSX' primary freight route north from New York City on the west shore of the Hudson river. Pieces in central New York including most of the line between Utica, through Syracuse to Rochester exist as bypasses or connections and the old West Shore East Buffalo Yard is now a part of CSX' Frontier Yard.