Leonore F. Loree: Rail Giant
Leonore F. Loree was best known for a long career with the Delaware & Hudson as president. But, before that he received a civil engineering degree from Rutgers, and in 1877 joined the Pennsylvania Railroad as a rodman in engineering department. He spent 2 years in the Army Corps of Engineers then went to the Mexican National Railways in 1881. Rejoining the Pennsylvania. he made a critical evaluation of a yard plan which got him recognized. He became assistant engineer in the Chicago division in 1883. In 1886, Loree rebuilt 26 bridges, 3 culverts, 2 trestles and 7 miles of track in 6 days after an Ohio flood. In 1889 after the Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood, he led the task of cleanup and was able to resume traffic in two weeks using 1,500 men. By 1896, he had become the general manager of the Pennsylvania Railroad. He went on to become a vice president in 1901 at the age of 38. He left the Pennsylvania in 1901 to be the president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. In 1904, he became president of the Rock Island Railroad.
L.F. Loree came to the Delaware & Hudson in 1907 at the urging of E.H. Harriman ( Union Pacific. He was the president from 1907-1938. One of his most significant contributions was the D&H Building in Albany. This building was designed by architect Marcus T. Reynolds in 1913 and is a 12-story flemish gothic castle-like structure. From that building, the D&H controlled railroads, coal mines, rapid transit systems, hotels and resorts, steamship companies, real estate and so much more. Amazing how things have changed both for the D&H and the world since it was built! In 1923, the D&H had its 100th anniversary and Loree had his 65th birthday.
Loree was very involved in the railroad ” merger-mania” of the 1920’s. Four major consolidations had been proposed and, in 1925, Loree proposed a fifth trunk line. As well as the D&H, it included:
Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh
Wheeling and Lake Erie
A new line thru Pennsylvania
This route would be 50 miles shorter to Chicago and eliminate many ” Alphabet Routes”.
Unfortunately, the Interstate Commerce Commission vetoed his proposal. In the process, he had acquired a great deal of stocks which he sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad for $63 million. His profit of $22 million was invested in 595,000 shares of the New York Central Railroad This gave the D&H a 10 percent ownership!
In 1929, Loree proposed the “North Atlantic Terminal System”, but it was killed by the Great Depression. Headed by the D&H, it included 17 railroads which included:
New Haven RR
Delaware, Lackawanna & Western
Boston & Maine
He expected a lot out of his employees. He is known for his practice of not using mechanical stokers on steam locomotives. Instead, he felt he was giving the firemen the best tool: Red Edge shovels.
By the time Loree took over the D&H in 1907, over 200 2-8-0’s had largely replaced all the Moguls in main-line service. Long an advocate of big power, Loree continued buying even larger 2-8-0’s, which fell into an E-5 classification. The first 18 of the new 1000s were double-cabbed, but, with the arrival of #1025 in 1907, the throttle on the D&H engines returned to the backhead once again. These E-5’s had 222,000 pounds on the drivers, 210-pound boiler pressure, piston valves, Walschaert valve gear for the first time on the D&H, and 57-inch drivers, giving them an impressive 49,650-pound tractive effort. The 48 new E-5’s could easily handle 1230 tons up Belden Hill out of Binghamton, where a hogger on an E-3 had his hands full with only 985 tons. Another technological advancement under Loree that originated on the D&H that gained wide acceptance was the application of roller bearings to locomotive driving wheels and side-rods.
The following is from “DELAWARE & HUDSON“, by Jim Shaughnessy: “……. to assert that the steam locomotives of the D&H were daring in design and austere in appearance is to say they were cast after the character of the man who ruled the line for 31 tumultous years.” Thus does a respected railroad journalist characterize the man and his locomotives. “Like his engines, Loree was a stark model of efficiency-a great and proud figure of a man who believed in flat profiles and super locomotives, a day’s work for a day’s pay, discipline of organazation and freedom of management……….Because of Loree the company achieved a rank out of all proportion of its modest mileage. “The locomotives purchased or rebuilt throughout Loree’s administration mirrored its trials and triumphs. Often experimental in concept, always disciplined in design, they ran the gamut from high-pressure 2-8-0’s to Pacifics with rotary cam poppet valve gear and recessed headlights. They seldom agreed with contemporary U.S. engineering and yet they included the first driving-axle and and side-rod roller bearing assemblies, tender booster and welded boiler. The industry learned to look when the D&H unwrapped a new engine because Leonor Loree was a man well-versed in locomotives.”
Not surprisingly, Loree was always an advocate of bigger and better motive power and began to upgrade the D&H’s roster as soon as he arrived in 1907. Larger and heavier engines sparked a long series of alterations and improvements on the D&H. The new locomotives were capable of improving the speed and tonnage of trains and, to operate to their best advantage, required stronger bridges, longer roundhouses, longer turntables, better roadbed, easier grades, larger capacity cars, more water and better service facilities at terminals and shops. Each improvement was followed closely by another, for larger locomotives brought longer trains which demanded longer passing tracks, larger and more efficient yards, and, eventually, the cycle returned to even bigger locomotives again. In 1908, the yard at Binghamton was enlarged, and, in the following year, new yards were buit at Bluff Point, near Plattsburg, and Jermyn, near Carbondale. It’s pretty obvious that Mr. Loree was anything BUT an idle fellow!! The state of the D&H proved that!!
Consolidation # 1111 was the first of the dozen homemade D&H engines, the E-5a class, that were about as powerful and efficient as a 2-8-0 could be made. The last of the series was built in 1932, after which the depression ended the need for new motive power. the #1114 had a different appearance from the others, because of the semi-streamlined enclosure on the top; it also carried more boiler pressure and much more superheating surface. Of course, Mr. Loree was always very proud of his locomotives, and he was more than happy to show of his best for a visit by the presidents of the NYC and LV in 1927.
This article was originally published in 1933 for The NEW YORKER MAGAZINE and again rewritten in 1961.
“Leonore F. Loree is perhaps the one man in Wall Street who would not be eclipsed by the office suite occupied by the president of the Delaware & Hudson railroad. It is a gaudy affair in the florid manner on the ninteenth century. The ceiling is a profusion of nymph’s heads, festoons of fruit, and fat dimpled cherubs. There are sunburst crystal chandeliers, a mantlepiece with carved lions heads, wall niches full of cockle shells, and windows with stained glass borders. There are elegant ormolue radiators, screens, two shiny brass cuspidors and a gas log.
Shaggy and elephantine, with quick, amused eyes and lumbering, soft footed walk of a bear, Loree easily dominates the cherubs and the nymphs. A friend has observed that Loree’s real place is in the museum of Natural History. He is a survivor from Wall Street’s Pleistocene Age, a reminder that there was a time when Jay Gould and Jubilee Jim Fisk ran the Erie from the Manthattan Opera house and John W. Gates drank the Steel Corporation into existence. Loree, too, has a late Victorian flair for the grand gesture. For example, he tried to buy the Diana from the old Madison Square Garden for his favorite institution, the New Jersey College for Women. Unsuccesful, he presented the stone lions from the old Waldorf instead. Visitors to Albany often mistake the D&H building for the state capital. Loree built it in the most elaborate Flemish style. The clasic Loree Gesture came at the outbreak of the war. Like thousands of other Americans, he found himself stranded in France. At once he chartered by cable the steamer Antilles and sailed back, bringing 252 fellow countrymen as paying guests.
On April 23, 1925, Loree celebrated his 67th birthday. Shortly afterwards he announced that he had embarked on a campaign to weld a dozen independent railroads into a system that would extend from New York to Kansas City and from Canada to Mexico. There is some doubt of his motives. His friends see nothing more that straighforward ambition. Observers more realisitcly minded have a subtler theory. They point out that some months before his announcement, the heads of the four Eastern Trunk Lines, the Pennsylvania, New York Central, the B&O, and the Van Swerigen roads-had met, without a word to Loree, and with pencil and paper, had divided among themselves the smaller lines of the East, including the D&H. If not inviting Loree to the conference is to be classed as a social error, it was one whose consequences were appaling. Loree immediately became belligerent.
He moved to counterattack. Once he gave three rules for success. The first two were commonplace. The third was simply “Be Audacious”. So Loree, the head of a railroad capitalized at $118,600,00, went out to do battle with four systems, the smallest of which was eight times as large. It was a campaign of endless marches and countermarches, the rape of the road, the battle for control of that, of appeals to the Interstate Commerce Commision, sitting enthroned above the conflict. For 2 years, Loree fought. In 1927 he admitted he was licked on the broad field of consolidating a new system. He narrowed down the fight to getting control of two roads which were essential to the projects of his opponents. These were the Lehigh Valley and Wabash. Throughout the summer and fall of 1927 he steadily bought into these roads.
When the next series of merger conferences took place, Loree, you may be sure, was invited to attend. The meeting were held in General Atterbury’s offices in Pennsylvania station. The veteran railroader didn’t seem at all interested in selling his Lehigh and Wabash holdings. The meetings dragged on, with everyone except Loree getting more and more worried. Along toward the spring the tension became unbearable, General Atterbury of the Pennsylvania called on Otto Kahn, Loeb & Co., bankers for both the D&H and Pennsylvania , and implored him to persuade Loree to sell out. During the next week the shaggy, ursine head of Loree and the sleek, well barbered head of Kahn bobbed in protracted conference. The upshot was that on April 27, 1928, Loree sold out to the Pennsylvania. The D&H received $63,000,000 for stocks which had cost $40,000,000.
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