Closter northern branch observations...

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Closter northern branch observations...

Postby airman00 » Sat Mar 13, 2010 7:39 pm

I happened to take a walk around the northern branch in closter and demerast today, Nice station in demerast, by the way. Anyway, In walking the row, I noticed about 3-5+ old abandoned sidings, some just a few feet left of them. Anybody know more about the closter area of northern branch? Seems like there was alot of sidings there. Also where could I get more info on how these tracks looked when they were all still active? Also saw an old freight building in closter, what was that for?
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Sat Mar 13, 2010 10:53 pm

That is the Erie freight house, one left on the Northern Division.
Since my friend continues to chain smoke nonstop, she is probably an Alco.
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby RichM » Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:20 am

There were a lot of "fractured" discussions in many of the earlier threads about this.

First, check the Erie fallen flag website that has the trackmaps and better identifies the locations and the customer names. Here's the link...

http://raildata.railfan.net/erie/homeerr.html

JJ Demarest (the lumber yard) and Weyerhauser (corrigated boxes) generated most of the traffic after about 1970. Weyerhauser just closed recently (past 5-6 years?) There was also a siding for Reuten Windows opposite JJ Demarest north about 100 yards from Closter Dock Road, and a team track immediately north of the grade crossing that got a lot of use. It had a fabulous "wheel stop" that looked like an iron worker spent about six months fabricating. Directly across from the Closter passenger station there was a really tight radius pocket spur that someone here identified as a place where granite blocks were unloaded. The previously mentioned trackmaps show another siding north of here around Blanch Avenue but I don't believe that was in use after 1960.

I'm not sure how well documented any of this is. Like many others, I grew up in the area and never bothered to photograph anything, assuming it would be there forever. But I think a start might be at the Closter Library. Also, both of the weekly newspapers typically run an old area photograph or two weekly, I'm not sure what the sources are but they seem to be unending.
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby pdtrains » Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:35 pm

I could draw you the track diagram for tenafly thru sparkill from 1965. I'm more than familiar with the
Northern in this area.

As for closter......

There was a half mile long double track thru town, with a spring switch at each end. The Northern was
all APB semaphore signaling, with absolute (2 blade) semaphores protecting the single track to the east
and west.

As for sidings....from east to west.....starting on the westbound track of the double track...
1. just west of demarest ave...Pascack Valley stone. siding could hold 2 cars. Received cars
of finished stone.
2. just west of Closter Dock road...Team Track. Could hold about 7 cars. used for unloading
box cars of peat and feed for closter feed, tank cars of trichloroethane for a local company,
and occasional load outs of cotton battaing. Also stored excess cars for Weyerhauser.
3.Fred Reuten Millwork. Siding held 2 cars. received box cars of finished lumber.
4. John J Demarest lumber...Trailing point switch off the eastbound main, with switchback into
their lumber yard. Siding could hold 5-6 cars, but never more then 3 cars there at a time.
5.Weyerhauser Paperboard...east facing switch just over the summit of the grade, on the single track, west of end of double track...Made cardboard boxes. Received A LOT of 50' box cars
of paperboard in large rolls. Plant had 4 doors for unloading, plus about 6 more cars could be
stored on the lead.
6. Stevens Millwork...this is the siding that comes off the single track main, just east of Blanch Ave.
Originally was Hercules chemical co. Long siding that could hold 10+ cars. Stevens millwork unloaded
box cars of finished lumber on the lead. They rarely got more than 1 car at a time. The rest of the track
was used to store inbound loads for Weyerhaeuser.

The freight house across from the station was out of use in the 1960's. After the double track arrangement
was discontinued in 1967 (signals were decommissioned, and double track became single track with passing siding)
a truck forwarding company leased the freight house, and used to unload box cars into the freight house, and
reload into trucks for delivery.

Any questions?

Come to the ELHS meeting in Parsippany this sunday. I'll be showing slides of the Northern from the 1960's at 11am.
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby airman00 » Wed Mar 17, 2010 8:47 pm

Wow, hey thanks...I always wondered about that area. Alot of sidings. Too bad most are gone. :(
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby airman00 » Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:02 pm

I happened to pass along the northern branch today, in northvale, during my travels while at work. Anyhow, looked down the rails as we passed over a crossing, and saw one boxcar on a siding. (the ace hardware siding?) If not ace hardware then some other business. And a thought occured to me, that thank goodness for that one last customer up north here, or say from englewood up to the new york border the northern branch line would be "dead". I've seen a string of tanker cars around englewood, and I know there is an oil company that get's service.

Anyhow just a thought. especially thinking about the fact that the northern branch light rail idea seems to be stuck in neutral, right now the north end of line's whole fate rests on one customer who incidentally only gets like one boxcar every 2-3 weeks.

Anybody else with any thoughts on this?
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby RichM » Thu Apr 15, 2010 9:58 am

Well, if home construction bounces back, maybe JJ Demarest might get a car of lumber again now and then...
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby wildwood junction » Thu Apr 15, 2010 12:32 pm

Cove Distribution in Northvale receives inbound cars of large paper spools (for making into corrugated boxes and the like) for brokering/resale which goes out by truck. Cove gets boxcars on an irregular basis. The Northern Branch local will go up to Northvale on a Tuesday for Cove if needed for delivery or pick-up of cars. JJ Demarest in Closter has not received cars of lumber for about a year. The major shipper is the edible oils place in Englewood which receives tank cars Monday-Friday. I would say that the status of the Northern Branch is precarious since there are so few shippers. Yet many of the crossing signal equipment relay boxes were replaced in the past few years. The light rail project seems to be dead in the water. The web site for the project has not been updated in almost a year. And now where would the $$ come from?
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby airman00 » Sat Apr 24, 2010 7:24 pm

Took a walk on the northern branch in Northvale today, and walked almost to end of line. (I've seen end of line and the once great line actually comes to a sad abrupt end just basically cut off and that's it, not even a bumper)

Anyhow, rather interesting, I saw two intact sidings that looked in good shape, attached to the main with hand thrown switches, one was for ace hardware. and the other was for some building several feet up and on the other side of track. Anyone know what that siding was? Also up just a bit more, was the remains of another siding, now just some ties and the switch, but no track. What was this?

So I also saw something interesting, was on the main track, the rails had the date 1925 on them, (from bethlahem steel), and one of the sidings had the date 1917, and "bethlahem open hearth" on them. Some of the plates that RR spikes were driven into had 1930 and 1931 dates on them, very fascinating! :-) Incidentally I also saw the word "lackawanna" on the main line "1925" rails.

Although I did see a small stretch of track that had 1979 on it? Don't get it? When was new york end of line done with service and ripped up? It seems like this was maybe a stretch of track that needed replacement, but why fix-up the tail end of a dying line? I assume it was for the last few customers left in northvale, so the trains could still service them.
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby airman00 » Sat Apr 24, 2010 7:36 pm

By the way, where is the cove siding? Didn't see any boxcar anywhere. I guess Cove got serviced this week by taking empty car away.
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Sat Apr 24, 2010 11:26 pm

airman00 wrote:Although I did see a small stretch of track that had 1979 on it? Don't get it? When was new york end of line done with service and ripped up? It seems like this was maybe a stretch of track that needed replacement, but why fix-up the tail end of a dying line? I assume it was for the last few customers left in northvale, so the trains could still service them.
The 1979 rail would be surpising, considering Conrail neglecting many second-class branch lines and practiced a policy of deferred maintenance.
Since my friend continues to chain smoke nonstop, she is probably an Alco.
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby granton junction » Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:06 pm

Ace Hardware does not have a siding. Cove Distribution is in the same building, and the siding is for Cove, not Ace Hardware. :-D
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby airman00 » Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:00 pm

granton junction wrote:Ace Hardware does not have a siding. Cove Distribution is in the same building, and the siding is for Cove, not Ace Hardware. :-D



Well that explains alot. I thought I saw a box car on that siding. Although only the front of that siding is used. It looks like maybe 6 bays where cars could get serviced, but the last 4 bays the garage type doors are pretty much shot and can't be opened. Anybody with any information on the other sidings there?
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby Steve F45 » Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:19 pm

would be nice to know when they go up that far north. Would love to get a shot passing the completely restored Demarest Station.
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby airman00 » Fri May 28, 2010 5:26 pm

I happened to be near the northern branch in northvale NJ, again today in my work travels, and took a quick look by the tracks since I happen to be near where that company Cove distributers receives boxcars. To my surprise I saw 6 boxcars on that siding. (I've only seen 1 car at a time)
Maybe business is picking up for cove? The siding was basically full. Although the bay doors by the end of the siding look like they haven't been opened in years, so I imagine some issues getting the supplies out of the cars.

I imagine that end of the line hasn't seen that many cars in years? Might be a small good sign for northern branch? At least it keeps the one remaining customer up there still active. Anyway did they use a genset locomotive to run up there? (as opposed to a geep) Since I've heard CSX has been using a genset on northern branch.
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