Closter northern branch observations...

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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby granton junction » Tue Apr 12, 2011 12:27 pm

I just drove past Cove Distribution in Northvale. There were no boxcars there, and I don't think that Cove has rec'd any cars at all this year 2011, not a good sign. I don't know whether Cove is even still in business. There were advertising signs for warehouse space on the building. So the only activity north of Englewood this year was when Dykes in Closter rec'd a loaded car early last month March. The boxcar sat at Dykes for a few weeks before it was picked up, but I don't know which day tho. If anybody has any further info, please let us know!
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby airman00 » Tue Apr 12, 2011 9:26 pm

granton junction wrote:I just drove past Cove Distribution in Northvale. There were no boxcars there, and I don't think that Cove has rec'd any cars at all this year 2011, not a good sign. I don't know whether Cove is even still in business. There were advertising signs for warehouse space on the building. So the only activity north of Englewood this year was when Dykes in Closter rec'd a loaded car early last month March. The boxcar sat at Dykes for a few weeks before it was picked up, but I don't know which day tho. If anybody has any further info, please let us know!


I had a feeling Cove hadn't seen any cars in quite some time. Another customer gone on the northern branch, that's not a good sign at all. Hopefully Dykes will stay on-line. It's sad very little activity on the northern end of line.
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby airman00 » Thu May 05, 2011 8:24 pm

I noticed some kind of work going on right next to the northern branch line and wondered if anyone knew what's up? If you go
to closter and specifically right next to the old erie freight house, there is an empty lot. In that empty lot is the remains of an old siding. The tracks are intact but are not connected to the main line. (Incidentally this siding would've connected to the team track which itself is not connected to the main line)

That siding is short and it ends right next to the freight house. Someone said back in the day that siding got cars with slate stone in them and could hold 2 slate cars at a time. Now coming up in between those old siding tracks are two pipes, like gas or water pipes. Some drilling was going on there, like drilling for a small well or something like that.

I notice too at the old wyerhauser siding up a ways that trackage also has the same type of pipe coming up from between the tracks. That wyerhauser siding went far beyond the end of the building and it appears it could hold 12+ cars in it's heyday. There are gates right after the building ends and the pipe comes up right after the gates which means that when they got service a few years back the cars could only go up to the gates even though the tracks went further.

Any idea what this was or what those pipes are? I do know someone told me there used to be a quarry in closter years ago, that may or may not have gotten rail service, so maybe the pipes are for whatever might be underground?
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby airman00 » Thu Jul 07, 2011 8:33 pm

Today, 7/07/11 happened to be in closter in the evening, and saw 2 crossings malfunctioning. one, by A&P, and the other by the old erie freight house. Since no crossing gates in closter, just lights and bells going off. Funny how people don't know what to do. They will sit for like 10 minutes+ waiting for a train that isn't coming. Although I was hoping for a suprise train or something. But at 5:45 on a thursday night on the northern branch in closter? Better chance of getting struck by lightning twice in the same place at the same time, than seeing a train at that time on the northern branch. Wonder what caused it?

On a better note though, dykes lumber had a boxcar on there siding. The boxcar also had a different colored door than the car's color. Blue car, red door. (obviously a replacement door) There was also an empty dykes flatbed truck parked next to boxcar, so it appeared what ever was inside that car was getting loaded onto a truck.
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby Steve F45 » Fri Jul 08, 2011 5:09 pm

Ever since dispatching for the whole interboro system up there we've been calls for the northern branch activations non stop. Every weekend they go off and its not just one crossings, its almost all crossings that are powered from Demarest north. Wish I was the maintainer working July 4th. Dispatcher in Jacksonville said he was coming from outside his area. So you know he was taking his time on overtime. LOL
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby Steve F45 » Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:58 am

Train just went north thru Demarest,NJ!!!!!!
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby airman00 » Tue Jul 19, 2011 2:46 pm

Steve F45 wrote:Train just went north thru Demarest,NJ!!!!!!



Well, Dykes lumber did have a boxcar on their siding, so they probably got a pick up. :)
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby DaveS » Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:04 pm

In response to someone finding a track date nail from 1979 on the New York end of the Northern Branch. It was correct. I lived in Sparkill NY from 1978 to 1983 before moving to Tappan along the busy Riverline. I lived on Edward Street and the Northern was in my back yard. The Northern at that time was quite busy and was served sometimes six days a week. There were several customers on the NY end. Clevepak and Federal Paper were both located in Piermont NY. They received boxcars from southern railroads (Southern, Seaboard Coast Line, Family Lines, Richmond Fredricksburg and Potomac, etc.) Glenshaw Glass and Minigrip Plastics were located in Orangeburg NY. Glenshaw received covered hoppers of glass sand (Conrail and Winchester and Western etc.) while Minigrip received ACF centerflow covered hoppers of plastic granules (ACFX, MOBX, PTLX, etc.). In regards to the track nail dated from 1979 there was trackwork performed during that year. I remember seeing tie gangs and work trains at work in the area. Major track work was also performed during the summer of 1982. This also included tie and surface work. I remember this very well. Conrail was upgrading the track so the 1st Northern local (WJCR91) would not have to keep outlawing. I remember the local laying over in Sparkill during many nights. Clevepak and Federal shut down shortly after (1982) and Glenshaw Glass shut down around 1983. The bridge over the Riverline to Glenshaw in Orangeburg remained in place until 1985 when a Trail Van train derailed on the Riverline and struck the bridge. Conrail removed the bridge and the lead into Glenshaw from the Northern shortly thereafter. Glensahaw appeared to be served from both the Riverline and the Northern. The Riverline connection is still in place and was revived in early 1987 when Aluf Plastics took over part of that complex. Aluf is still served today by CSX. The last customer on the NY end of the Northern was Minigrip which was served until about 1990. I remember walking that section to Orangeburg during the summer of 1990 and the rails were rusted. Up until that time local WJNB51 served the line. The train would come into Sparkill in the afternoon, run around it's train on the wye, place excess cars from other customers on the stub ended yard track, place it's cabin car on the rear and back up the line towards Orangeburg with several covered hoppers for Minigrip. Switching took about 40 minutes and the train would soon return to Sparkill. The excess cars would be retrieved from the yard track and the crew would grab lunch at the local deli before heading back south towards North Bergen. I made friends with the conductor and continued visiting the Northern after moving to nearby Tappan. One time I was treated to a ride on the cabin car Conrail N8A 23625) from Orangeburg back to Sparkill. The tracks were intact for several years after the last customer stopped receiving cars. A private contractor lifted the rails from Orangeburg, Sparkill, Piermont and Tappan to a point just north of the New York/New Jersey border in late 1994 and early 1995. The last movement I remember seeing on the short stub into NY was a high and wide load on a depressed center flat car that sat on the stub end for several weeks in 1997. The load was offloaded and removed by truck. I have many more memories of the Northern in NY and would like the railfan community to know that it did last well into the 1980s and was pretty busy for a time. An article about the Northern in Railpace magazine stated that the north end was abandoned in the 1970s when Continental Can in Piermont closed. This was not true as I just explained. There are several good sources of info the can confirm the Northern's heavy customer base in the early 1980s which can be found in old back issues of Block Line. There is also another good article in the Diamond (ELHS) that talks about a boy growing up on the Northern in Closter in the 1960s. He was treated to a ride on and Erie Lackawanna Drill up to Piermont NY. I believe that was the same conductor (his name was Don) who treated me to a ride during the Conrail era!
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby pdtrains » Fri Jun 22, 2012 4:23 pm

Thx for the info about the northern in the 1980's. I lived along it into the early 1970's.

Can help but feel that NY states high taxes on "improved property" hastened the pulling of rails in NY state. The fact that the rail ends right at the state line is pretty telling. Probably some dirty politics, too, as that whole area was probably hot stuff for developers trying to make a quick buck putting up condos and McMansions near the tappan zee bridge. That small "junction" at Sparkill was pretty cool. Too bad it's all gone. I'll never forget sitting on the 1st northern's caboose
on the eastbound track in Sparkill, waiting for the 3 WB passenger trains (aka "the passenger rush") to pass. The conductor on the last passenger train had to throw the 2 hand throw "crossover" switches at the west end of the double track, so it would be lined for the eastbound rush in the morning.
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby airman00 » Fri Jun 22, 2012 9:10 pm

Fascinating information! Thank you very much! It's interesting that the rails lasted into the mid-late 90's. I do remember as a kid seeing the rails going into continental can and that was in the early to mid eighties. Incidentally I have seen the current "end" of the line and it is curious that the rails are quite literally just cut off. Almost as if they just chopped it right at that spot and left. Don't know why at least they didn't put a bumper at the end or something like that. Makes it look like they planned on removing more. (or that they removed more than they should have and realized there mistake and stopped there and left)

I like the northern branch and it's quite a shame that the NY end is all gone. :(

Although I thought I read somewhere on this site that the "rail-trail" part of the line is/was Railbanked for possible future use.
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby DaveS » Sun Jun 24, 2012 6:46 pm

When Conrail had the tracks removed in the mid 1990s they left a short segment into NY intact. I believe this was to serve as a team track. Shortly before the high and wide movement at the end of track I remember seeing a Conrail Geep (GP38 # 7600) sitting at the end of track near Oak Tree Road in Tappan NY. I assume that Conrail sent this unit up to the end of track to check on conditions in anticipation of the delivery. At that time (1997) Cove was the last customer on the north end however in the mid 80s (1986) I walked down the line and that siding did not appear active. Just north of the Cove siding there were two more sidings. They were both had trailing point switches like Cove and one was active at that time. As per the Conrail New Jersey Division ZTS maps from 1987 they were listed as A.B. Massa Paper and Johnson Wax. I remember observing several Chicago and Northwestern Boxcars on the Johnson Wax siding. The 1987 ZTS map also shows a different consignee where Cove would be and was listed as Allyn and Bacon. When the tracks were abandoned in NY I could not figure out how the Cove siding was switched without a lengthy backup move south to Closter upon completion. When the tracks to Sparkill were still in use the local would utilize the wye to put it's power on the south end of the train for the return trip south to North Bergen. This was done even if there were no cars for Minigrip in Orangeburg. I got my answer in early 1999 when I observed WPNB51 northbound pulling into Northvale NJ. Conrail GP38 7604 and 7890 led the consist and switched Cove for about 30 minutes. When they were done they performed a switch on the fly where they uncoupled from the train and backed into the siding as the consist rolled north towards the end of track. They power pulled back out and coupled to the south end of the consist. Units now faced south for the run to North Bergen. Wislew Productions produced a DVD that shows the switch on the fly during the CSX era. They stopped switching on the fly after a derailment.
Last edited by DaveS on Mon Jun 25, 2012 5:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby airman00 » Sun Jun 24, 2012 7:23 pm

When was that short segment left in NY finally cut back to where it ends now?
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby pdtrains » Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:11 pm

Test test. I just posted a long thing about Northern BR operations, and it's not missing, or hiding somewhere. If I accidently clicked on save instead pf post, how would I retrieve the post? It was long, and I really don;t want to try to type it all again.
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby pdtrains » Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:14 pm

That move on the northern was called a drop. I just wrote 5 paragraphs about movements on the northern, and doing the drop, and this dump ass web site lost it, or so it seems, cause it didn't post, even though it said it did.
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Re: Closter northern branch observations...

Postby DaveS » Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:28 pm

I am not sure if they cut back the end any further south since I walked it around 1999. I did notice that the last few feet of track was missing it's joint bars. I know that Conrail would often remove pieces of rail and components from an unused track to make repairs at nearby derailments. I remember a derailment in Sparkill around 1987. The rerailing crew removed unused pieces of rail from a nearby yard track and used them to replac the twisted rails under the derailed Geep.
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