EL 1963 realignment

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EL 1963 realignment

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Sat May 08, 2010 1:30 am

One historical curosity is the realigment in 1963 of several Erie and Lackawanna lines in northern New Jersey. The Erie Main Line was rerouted onto the former DL&W Boonton Line to avoid street running in downtown Passaic. The Boonton Line was diverted onto Erie's Greenwood Lake Line east of Lincoln Park when Interstate 80 construction used the old ROW. Here are two maps I drafted showing the realignments: Pre-1963 and Post-1963.

Some questions:

What date did the realignment officially take effect?
What was the configuration of Paterson Jct. (currently located under the Parkway on the NJT Main Line) prior to 1963?
When was the old Erie Main Line bridge over the Passaic River removed?
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Re: EL 1963 realignment

Postby gravelyfan » Sat May 08, 2010 7:35 am

Here is some info that I collected from a few posts on the "erielack" email list. I've condensed a few replies into one paragraph below.

The "Main Line" was severed in April 1963, with Main Line trains routed onto the former DLW Boonton Branch and the rebuilt Erie Newark branch. However, it's not until October 1963 that the changes are made at Mountain View to permit the consolidation of the "Boonton Line" and "Greenwood Lake" lines. So then, for the 6 months between April and October 1963 the "Main Line" trains and the "Boonton Line" trains shared the "Boonton Line" from Paterson Jct eastward. This included whatever freight would have been moving via Scranton and the occasional Main Line freights, not to mention a short stretch of the Newark Branch. Back then, there were still 3 tracks from Paterson Jct. to the Lyndhurst Bridge. During that time period, from the Passaic Station you could board Train 41 for Scranton at 7:07 am or Train 21 for Binghamton via the Erie side at 8:19 am! Trains 8 and 15 also shared that route. By that time, the Boonton Line was single track west of Paterson Jct., as was the newly graded Newark Branch (soon to be Main Line) west of Paterson Jct.
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Re: EL 1963 realignment

Postby Roadgeek Adam » Sat May 08, 2010 2:25 pm

I can go into more detail here.

The officials in Passaic first approached the Erie Railroad in 1949 with a request to work on getting the trains out of downtown Passaic. Now, although the Erie was questionably funded at that point, the Erie didn't want to let out of Passaic. So in a deal with the city of Passaic in 1952, new stations were built at Clifton and Main Street Passaic. (Passaic Park and Lake View did not receive such reconstruction.)

Nine years and a very large merge later, the city officials returned to now Erie Lackawanna Railway to work on removing the downtown tracks. As a result of discussion, it was decided that the Main Line trains would be redirected to the south along the DL&W's Boonton Branch, which had a station in Passaic as well. Trains would then be reconfigured by a ramp along the Erie's Newark Branch (via XW Tower) back to the original main line in Paterson. This led to the creation of the South Paterson Station that lived to NJ Transit days. This ramp set the connection we know from Clifton (it was only signed as Clifton, known as Athenia everywhere else).

Now not only did Passaic want changes, the NJ State Highway Department wanted changes as well. The NJSHD wanted rights-of-way for 80, 46, and 21 in different portions. The Boonton Branch was to be abandoned from the new ramp to Mountain View (although some was retained for the Totowa Industrial Spur), and this alignment was chosen to use for Interstate 80, removing the Paterson High Bridge, which was mostly dismantled during 1964 (and was a headache). The site of the Passaic Park station was set to be in the right-of-way for NJ 21's extension northward and now for sure no remains exist as the highway and condos sit on top of the old site.

An unspoken reason for the go-ahead for the realignment was BE Drawbridge over the Passaic River, the steam drawbridge you are hinting to, built in the 1800s. The swing bridge was beginning to age with a boiler, especially because bridge tenders needed a Blue Seal, determining their knowledge of boilers along with the operation of railroads. The boilers were needing desperate replacement. However, an interesting situation. I myself found a New York Times article from 1964 detailing the decision of what to do with BE. When the Passaic Plan (as deemed) went into effect on April 2, 1963, BE was swung open over the river and the mayor was interested in giving the bridge for free to anyone who wanted to cut the bridge out from the river and its approaches. However, the question is will the NJ State Highway Department (the DOT's predecessor) agree to it and is it their land, not the city of Passaic's.

Finally, on April 2, 1963, the stations at Lake View, Clifton, Main Street-Passaic and Passaic Park were closed for good. Clifton and Passaic both had track removing ceremonies and a few days later, the tracks were being razed through Passaic. By what I have seen, Lake View's station and the tracks through there remained, but the station building was demolished in 1964 during a freight train accident. Trains continued on what became the Carlton Hill Branch until July 1966, when service was canned on several different branches (the Newark, Caldwell, Wanaque to name a couple).

Later in 1963, the Erie's Greenwood Lake line's junction with the Boonton Branch was reconfigured in Mountain View. The original Mountain View Erie station was torn down (and replaced with a metal Armco box), and the junction made the the two lines between Mountain View and Lincoln Park one station. Trains from Mountain View, Wayne, Pompton Plains, Pompton-Riverdale, Haskell, and Wanaque-Midvale were done on special occasions, and Mountain View Tower was soon demolished. The stretch from Mountain View to Wanaque-Midvale was canned in 1966.

I hope that this helps you much. :)
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Re: EL 1963 realignment

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Mon May 10, 2010 5:06 pm

One curious question: Prior to 1963, would it have been possible for Boonton Line trains operating between Netcong and Hoboken to run via Newark and Nutley on the Erie Newark Branch through the connection at Paterson Jct?
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Re: EL 1963 realignment

Postby Roadgeek Adam » Mon May 10, 2010 8:21 pm

R36 Combine Coach wrote:One curious question: Prior to 1963, would it have been possible for Boonton Line trains operating between Netcong and Hoboken to run via Newark and Nutley on the Erie Newark Branch through the connection at Paterson Jct?


I do not know that much at this time unfortunately. I'd assume yes, because you'd have to do something at South Paterson
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Re: EL 1963 realignment

Postby frank754 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:51 pm

Hi folks, I have a bridge photo that has stumped me, the last photo on this page:
http://viewoftheblue.com/photography/r_fischer.html

Image

The gentleman who sent me the photo called it the "east side" bridge in Paterson (DL&W), but there was no such bridge to my recollection, and any such bridges to the east or south of Paterson are/were a good deal larger. I went on Google satellite view and checked along the area to the west (Wayne, etc), and on some of the Erie lines as well, but nothing comes close. It does look like the date he said (1962), looks like an ex-Erie GP-7 (still in the older black paint) with ex-Lackawanna coaches (rounded, higher tops than the Stilwells), but I can't really place the location.
Can anyone can give a definitive answer?
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Re: EL 1963 realignment

Postby Roadgeek Adam » Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:31 pm

The east side? That can't be right. However, the bridge is the Paterson High Bridge, which used the old DL&W Boonton Branch to cross from W. Paterson to Totowa. The bridge was dismantled in 1963 & 1964, just after the realignment, it crossed McBride Avenue in Paterson around where 80 is now, and as a result, originally left a large abutment I can't find.

There can't be another bridge.
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Re: EL 1963 realignment

Postby dano23 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:17 pm

If you drive down Mc Bride you can see some of the old abutments directly under Rt 80.
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Re: EL 1963 realignment

Postby frank754 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:37 pm

The only thing is that I have a picture of the high bridge on the same page mentioned above, and it looks totally different. The high bridge has spreading side supports and alternating high/low side sections, as well as safety grabs (it seems that's what they are). I don't see the curved-style support on the same bridge, unless it looks very different at the center of the river than the main bridge. Here's the other photo to compare it to (definitely the high bridge as I saw another photo of it elsewhere once).
You can see the center of each span section also has one panel that's wider than the others on each of the long sections.

Image
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Re: EL 1963 realignment

Postby frank754 » Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:59 pm

OK, here's the photo from fallen flags, could it be they are all one and the same bridge, this photo seems to support the hypothesis, but I don't see the angled legs on this one, if I do (in the back) they are definitely not as prominent.
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Re: EL 1963 realignment

Postby Roadgeek Adam » Mon Feb 07, 2011 4:14 pm

frank754 wrote:OK, here's the photo from fallen flags, could it be they are all one and the same bridge, this photo seems to support the hypothesis, but I don't see the angled legs on this one, if I do (in the back) they are definitely not as prominent.
Image


That's the Paterson High Bridge. The one I mentioned above.
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Re: EL 1963 realignment

Postby pdtrains » Tue Feb 08, 2011 3:23 am

R36 Combine Coach wrote:One curious question: Prior to 1963, would it have been possible for Boonton Line trains operating between Netcong and Hoboken to run via Newark and Nutley on the Erie Newark Branch through the connection at Paterson Jct?


Pre-the realignment, the Erie Newark Branch went under the DLW main line to patterson.
AFAIK, there was no track connection between the Erie and DLW there.

Post re-alignment, and ramp was built from the Newark Branch up to the DLW main (NW quadrant), and the track
thru the tunnel under the DLW main was removed. The active ROW continued on the DLW main up to the old Frt car plant, where the track made a right turn back on to the old Newark Br. ROW, up to Patterson, where it joined the old Erie Main at XW.
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Re: EL 1963 realignment

Postby dano23 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 12:43 pm

The removed portion of the Newark Branch is now Kuller Rd., in Clifton. The old bridge under the DLW is still in and is used at times as an access rd to the Jct. The bridge is easily seen on any satelite image on any of the mapping sites.
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Re: EL 1963 realignment

Postby TSTOM » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:28 pm

frank -

Good question and I can see how it's confusing....but rest assured it's the same bridge in both photos.

Key is the exact center of the span. Note the lone, lower mid-river concrete support with the lone ornate steel latice support in both photos.
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Re: EL 1963 realignment

Postby frank754 » Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:45 pm

Thanks, TSTOM. I did see the resemblance at the center, judging from the fallen flags pic, even though from a different angle. I had never actually walked to the side of the river in those days. A bit of personal history, with my parents back in those days, we used to cover a lot of that territory driving around, as I was born in Paterson. We used to drive up McBride Ave a lot (if not Union Blvd) to go to Rt 46 to go to Great Eastern Mills or Two Guys. We actually were in Passaic on a Saturday in April 1963, when the last Erie Passaic run came through, when there was a big celebration, and the train was right on Main Street there. My dad used liked to shop at the Botany 500 Mills store just north of there on occasion. Also my dad dropped me & my mom off a few times in central (Straight St) Paterson for the Susquehanna RDC ride to Susquehanna Transfer with the bus going the rest of the way to Port Authority. I had grandparents in Queens, so my dad would drop us off at a train station when me & my mom wanted to go, but he didn't. The other times he would drive us all the way in to the city, as my mom never had a license. One time, after the 1963 realignment, instead of the Market St. Paterson station, he wanted to drop us off for the train to Hoboken and was confused, so he took us to Marshall St. by mistake. It was actually still open for Boonton Line service, so I got to go inside, the ticket counter was on the left, as I recall, as I went inside. But they didn't have any inbound service at that time so he took us to Athenia. So that must have been between April and October 1963, when I was 9 years old. I remember when driving on McBride Avenue that the RR bridge was really high up, and that impressed me as a kid, there was some sort of black and white "checkered flag" paint on some of the concrete at street level, as well as (if I remember correctly) an arched concrete pedestrian tunnel at one side or the other, I'm thinking the left (south) side, heading west. By the time I was 12, I used to go to Paterson YMCA day camp (1966-) each summer, and we went up Garrett Mtn every day. Coming up New Street, the trestle (RR overpass over the street) was still there, along with the Dowling Coke Company, though I never got to explore the roadbed there at the time. In 1968, when I had a bicycle, the area around Marshall St station was getting very forlorn, and there were some houses and a neighborhood higher up the hill that looked abandoned and condemned. In Totowa, I got within view of the end of the tracks by the river (the bridge was gone), but never went that far. Instead I walked my bike one time all the way to Mountain View along the tracks, and took one green glass insulator from a fallen pole as a souvenir, which I think I still have somewhere today.
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