One of the earliest railroad projects planned west of the Allegheny River was proposed by the people of Warren, Pennsylvania to build a road north of that town following the valley of the Conewango. A charter was granted by the state of Pennsylvania in 1832 or 1833, but the project never left the planning stage. In 1853 the project was revised by the people of Warren and 1,700 shares of stock were subscribed to build the Warren Pine Grove Railroad.
The first effective move toward building this road was a meeting held in the summer of 1866 when the citizens of Sinclairville, led by the Hon. C. J. Allen, met to plan a railroad. Further meeting were held in Sinclairville, Dunkirk, and Fredonia and in early 1867 the Dunkirk, Warren & Pittsburgh Railroad Company was organized. Officers for the enterprise were Timothy D. Copp, President; the Hon. George Barker, vice-president; S. M. Newton, engineer; T. R. Coleman, treasurer; and James Van Buren, secretary. Directors for the company included S. M. Newton, Wm. Bookstaver, Walter Finkle, and Lee L. Hyde of Dunkirk, George Barker and Thomas Higgins of Fredonia, Ebenezer Moon of Stockton, T. D. Copp and Alonzo Langworthy of Sinclairville, B. F. Dennison of Gerry, Patrick Falconer of Ellicott and Edwin Eaton and Wm. H. H. Fenton of Carrol. An act of the New York State Legislature on April 23, 1867 authorized the company to issue stock and the towns along the route provided $238,000 in capital for the endeavor. On June 17, 1867 work began on the road at the route from Cassadaga Lake to Dunkirk was surveyed by Obed Edson. Grading for the road commenced on October 3, 1867 at Ross' Mills. The road was graded in 1867, 1868, and 1869. Track was laid south from Dunkirk to Laona in 1870. By June 1, 1871 it had reached Sinclairville, and by June 17, 1871 to Falconer. The first passenger train ran over the line on June 22, 1871.
In 1870, the name of the company was changed to the Dunkirk, Warren & Pittsburgh Railway company, and, on December 31, 1872, the line combined with the Warren and Venango Railroad Company to form the Dunkirk, Allegheny Valley & Pittsburgh Railroad Company.
This company was leased to the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad Company
on January 3, 1873.