James Archbald was born on March 3, 1793 in Ayrshire, Scotland, to a family of shepherds. The family emigrated to the U. S. in 1805 when James was 12 and settled on a farm in New York’s Mohawk Valley. In 1824 he went into the canal and railroad industry, in 1829 replacing John B.
Early settlers along the Delaware often crossed the river in the course of their daily lives. For them, the river was not a state boundary but just one more obstacle to overcome to get where they wanted to go.
Although opened in 1829 for the transportation of anthracite from the coalfields in Lackawanna County to the terminus of the Delaware & Hudson Canal in Honesdale, PA, the D&H Gravity Railroad later came to include passenger cars.