The Buffalo Valley Rail Trail follows the route of a railroad right of way that once ran from Montandon to Tyrone in Centre County, crossing through Union County on an east-west alignment. The Lewisburg, Centre & Spruce Creek Railroad was incorporated in 1853, but the line immediately met with difficulties. First, the Civil War diverted men and material away from the project. And then, the St. Patrick's Day flood of 1865 swept away the bridge over the Susquehanna River. Without the bridge, the branch line would be unable to connect to the Philadelphia & Erie main line, which lay on the eastern side of the river. The branch line through Union County overcame these obstacles, and locomotives were carrying freight and passengers along the branch line by 1869.
The branch was renamed the Lewisburg & Tyrone Railroad Co. in 1879, remaining a key part of the valley's transportation network for another 100 years. The rise of the interstate highway system led to a reduction in rail traffic, and in 1982 the line ceased operations west of Mifflinburg. The following year, the tracks from Mifflinburg east were acquired by the West Shore Railroad Co., which was headed by Richard Sanders and a group of local investors, including the larger rail freight customers such as the Mifflinburg Farmers Exchange and Pennsylvania House Furniture. In addition to freight operations, the West Shore operated an excursion train on the line until 1997, at which point all traffic on the line came to a halt.
By the late 1990s the rails-to-trails movement was already gathering steam in other parts of the country. After the Federal Surface Transportation Board granted the West Shore's request for the line to be rail-banked in 2008, the way was clear for the Lewisburg Area Recreation Authority to acquire the 60-foot-wide right-of-way and to begin the process of converting the rail line to a trail.