History of Beesley's Point Secondary

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History of Beesley's Point Secondary

Postby geofftech » Mon May 22, 2017 12:51 am

Hi I live in Somerdale along the secondary and follow it up Atlantic Ave almost daily to Barrington or Haddon Heights. It looks like in some sections especially at Magnolia that the right of way was 2 or 3 tracks wide. Does anybody know if this was the case? I'm not a native of the area(transplant from Philly) but I'm still intrigued.

Thanks
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Re: History of Beesley's Point Secondary

Postby pumpers » Mon May 22, 2017 10:17 am

Well, it probably was once 3 tracks in places at least. It goes back to the late 1870s, as the Philadelphia and Atlantic RR, built from Camden to Atlantic City. It was quickly acquired by the Reading RR to compete with the successful Camden and Atlantic RR which dates to the 1850's between the same two endpoints and wasacquired in the 1870's-1880's(?) by the Pennsylvania RR, becoming part of their West Jersey RR subsidiary. By the 1880's the Reading built a branch to Cape May leaving the Philadelphia and Atlantic main near Winslow, and a branch off of that leaving from Tuckahoe to Ocean City (from which the the Beesley point line splits off), and a few more branches off of the line to Cape May to shore points like Wildwood.

When things got tough and cars popular, around 1931 the PRR and Reading combined their lines in South Jersey as the Pennsylvania Reading Seashore Lines (PRSL). The Reading and PRR had nearly parallel lines from Winslow Junction to Atlantic City, so the Reading main east of Winslow to Atlantic City was abandoned then in favor of the PRR line. Conversely, the Reading line to Cape May survived and the PRR line to Cape May was abandoned. Passenger service to Cape May and Ocean City hung on til around 1980 I believe. The line south of Tuckahoe to Cape May has been mostly inactive since then. So since that time the original Reading tracks through Haddon Heights, Barrington, Somerdale etc "end" at Beesley's Point. The tracks from Camden to Beesley's have been part of Conrail since 1976 when it began.

I don't know when the Beesley point branch itself was built, probably in the 1950's or so to serve the then new coal fired power plant.

Jim S

EDIT: a link with a 1952 photo of 2 main tracks + an overgrown siding in Stratford. http://michaelfroio.com/blog/2015/7/17/ ... -boardwalk
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Re: History of Beesley's Point Secondary

Postby chuchubob » Mon May 22, 2017 1:04 pm

The line into Ocean City opened in 1897, branching off at Ocean City Junction four miles south of Tuckahoe. When service to Sea Isle City ended in 1925, the junction was moved to Tuckahoe.
The spur from the Ocean City branch at Palermo to the B.L. England generating plant was built in 1962.

This info and much more is in "The Reading Seashore Lines" by Will Coxey and Jim Kranefeld, available from the West Jersey Chapter-NRHS.
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Re: History of Beesley's Point Secondary

Postby bluedash2 » Mon May 22, 2017 6:51 pm

The line was once two tracks with Reading adding a third express track from just south of the Green St pedestrian overpass in Haddon Hts to just past Evesham Rd in Magnolia which lasted from 1922 til just after WWII. PRSL single tracked the line on Nov 30, 1953. That's when the signals went up at crossings replacing the watch towers and watchmen. When they single tracked the line, they made the curves more train friendly. As an example- the track thru Haddon Hts is the old SB track and after the curve going into Barrington (before going under the 295 overpass), it's the old NB track. The Magnolia siding is the former SB track that was used to service the long gone Owens Corning Fiberglass that stopped getting service in 1990. There's a second siding that's severed in the middle that used to be used as a spot to store MW equipment on the north end years ago.
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Re: History of Beesley's Point Secondary

Postby bluedash2 » Mon May 22, 2017 6:58 pm

Passenger service continued to Ocean City and Wildwood/Cape May until late 1981. Conrail still went down to the long gone Magnesite Plant in Cape May until 1983 when the plant shut down. Conrail gave up on the old Cape May Branch after that. There was a lumber company in Cape May Court House that got an occasional car until the early 90's IIRC. CR would send the car down on a Beesley's Pt train and set it off at Tuckahoe for Short Fast Line and then SRNJ (who eventually took them over) to deliver.
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Re: History of Beesley's Point Secondary

Postby bluedash2 » Mon May 22, 2017 8:51 pm

geofftech wrote:Hi I live in Somerdale along the secondary and follow it up Atlantic Ave almost daily to Barrington or Haddon Heights. It looks like in some sections especially at Magnolia that the right of way was 2 or 3 tracks wide. Does anybody know if this was the case? I'm not a native of the area(transplant from Philly) but I'm still intrigued.

Thanks


I was told the siding in Stratford was for a lumber company, thanks for sharing the image.
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Re: History of Beesley's Point Secondary

Postby geofftech » Mon May 22, 2017 9:39 pm

This is great stuff. The crossing at Lincoln Ave just south of the siding in Magnolia is still wide enough for 2 tracks. I haven't seen anything in that siding for a few months.
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Re: History of Beesley's Point Secondary

Postby bluedash2 » Tue May 23, 2017 9:00 am

geofftech wrote:This is great stuff. The crossing at Lincoln Ave just south of the siding in Magnolia is still wide enough for 2 tracks. I haven't seen anything in that siding for a few months.


Yep- 3 tracks went thru there at one time. That siding is rarely used anymore. Business on the line has declined in the last decade too, sadly.
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Re: History of Beesley's Point Secondary

Postby pumpers » Tue May 23, 2017 6:45 pm

pumpers wrote:... a link with a 1952 photo of 2 main tracks + an overgrown siding in Stratford. http://michaelfroio.com/blog/2015/7/17/ ... -boardwalk

In the last picture at this link (the one from Stratford at Vasser Ave), what is that contraption next to the siding? I looks like it might be some kind of bucket brigade type of thing to unload (or load) sand or something similar. Does anyone know?
Jim S
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Re: History of Beesley's Point Secondary

Postby glennk419 » Thu May 25, 2017 12:08 pm

The Beesley's Point Secondary was actually two tracks all the way from Winslow to Tuckahoe at one time. The second track ( SB main ) was lifted in the spring of 1957 along with the second span ( the abutments and supports for which can still be seen ) over the Tuckahoe River just north of the junction. There was also a long passing siding on the Ocean City branch from just south of Palermo junction to near the Route 9 crossing. This was later used primarily for excess car storage for the power plant.
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