Cape May Point Branch

Discussion relating to the PRSL

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Cape May Point Branch

Postby mdamico23 » Tue Aug 02, 2005 6:31 pm

Hi Folks,

Does anyone know when the PRSL branch to Cape May Point was last used? Are the tracks still there, buried in the weeds? I remember going on vacation to that area as a kid in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and would see the Route 606? crossing of this line still marked by crossbucks and overgrown with what seemed to be like a jungle over the tracks near the Cape May lighthouse. Was the dolomite plant located on this line? Speaking of which, what exactly is dolomite? Did this line intersect the main stem of the PRSL north of the canal? Was there a wye at this junction or was the switch facing north to Tuckahoe or south to Cape May?Finally, does the Cape May Seashore Lines have any plans to restore this line to operation? I've always thought a sunset train ride to the lighthouse would be nice.

Thanks...
-Mike
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Postby SteelWheels21 » Tue Aug 02, 2005 6:42 pm

If you download "Google Earth" you can clearly see the ROW of the Cape May Point Branch. It diverged from the Cape May line south of the canal, with a wye track on the opposite side (east) of the line. Mike DiMunno can more easily answer the wheres and whys of this branch, but I believe the plant that the line served closed in 82 or 83. I know that the CMSL schedule used to have Cape May Point on its system map and that there may have been plans to rehab this branch, but they are probably on the back burner with the freight startup.
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Postby PARailWiz » Tue Aug 02, 2005 8:17 pm

Dolomite is a mineral, kinda similar to limestone but not at all the same thing.
The picture to the right is a photo of Silverliner I 246 located at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, PA.
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Postby glennk419 » Fri Aug 05, 2005 11:19 am

Pictures of what's left of the branch can be found here: http://www.prsl-rr.com/gallery/view_album.php?set_albumName=Cape-May-Point-Branch.
Although the pictures are a couple years old, it's doubtful that much has changed. BTW, there are some awesome pictures of what once was contained in that album.
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Postby hutton_switch » Sat Aug 06, 2005 2:36 pm

glennk419 wrote:Pictures of what's left of the branch can be found here: http://www.prsl-rr.com/gallery/view_album.php?set_albumName=Cape-May-Point-Branch.
Although the pictures are a couple years old, it's doubtful that much has changed. BTW, there are some awesome pictures of what once was contained in that album.

It's been 5-10 years since I spent a beach week at the Point with the family, and it looks like not much has changed. Aside from tie replacement as needed, it appears that all we need do is to rip up the asphalt covering the rails on Bayshore Rd., then hire CSX to run a MOW brush cutter down the line, and we'd be ready to run evening excursions from the station in Cape May out to the Point. That would certainly cut down on the traffic out to the Point.

BTW, how far from the small businesses out at the Point does the ROW end? Maybe a small extension could be put in, along with a small platform to allow access/egress of passengers from the trains.
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Postby glennk419 » Sat Aug 06, 2005 4:46 pm

Wade, I believe restoration of the branch remains in CMSL's strategic plans but they have bigger fish to fry right now with the efforts to re-inaugurate freight service and restore the Cape May branch to Tuckahoe (with possible service beyond). It sure would make sense to restore the Point branch at some time though and capture some of the foot traffic to and from the ferry.
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Postby EDM5970 » Sun Aug 07, 2005 8:20 am

Neat idea, but there would be a small problem in running passenger trains to the ferry. The Cape May Point branch is on the south side of the canal, while the ferry terminal is on the north side. A ferry to the ferry?
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Postby glennk419 » Sun Aug 07, 2005 9:29 am

Oooops, my mistake. I thought the branch went out to the ferry terminal area. Thanks for the correction.
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Re: Cape May Point Branch

Postby JJMDiMunno » Mon Aug 08, 2005 3:35 am

mdamico23 wrote:Hi Folks,

Does anyone know when the PRSL branch to Cape May Point was last used? Are the tracks still there, buried in the weeds? I remember going on vacation to that area as a kid in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and would see the Route 606? crossing of this line still marked by crossbucks and overgrown with what seemed to be like a jungle over the tracks near the Cape May lighthouse. Was the dolomite plant located on this line? Speaking of which, what exactly is dolomite? Did this line intersect the main stem of the PRSL north of the canal? Was there a wye at this junction or was the switch facing north to Tuckahoe or south to Cape May?Finally, does the Cape May Seashore Lines have any plans to restore this line to operation? I've always thought a sunset train ride to the lighthouse would be nice.

Thanks...
-Mike


Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you guys...been too busy lately, running all over the place...in any case, here's some answers:

This line last saw trains on July 31, 1983 when the Northwest Magnesite Plant closed. Until 1962, when the Beesley's Point Generating Plant was constructed, the NW Magnesite plant was the largest single customer south of Winslow on the Seashore Lines.

The intersection of the Cape May Point Branch and the Cape May Branch (main) is just north of the bridge over Cape Island Creek. It is also in the area of the wye which was used to turn steam locomotives back in the 50's and before. This is south of the Canal Bridge. There is no wye at the exact location of the junction. The switch faces south to Cape May City. The entire branch is intact...although covered up almost entirely in brush. In fact, unless you go and look at that in December or January, you're not going to get to see much of anything. This is why I chose that time of year to go document that line...the weeds sure did grow up in a healthy form along that thing...that beats the remaining portion of the Ocean City Branch hands down.

Restoration of train service along the point branch is in the future plans of the CMSL...however, not the immediate future. This will happen only after through service between Cape May and TUckahoe becomes a reality...which is after the freight service starts going...

I've taken the liberty of putting together a map for you pulled from the Delorme 2003 software...check it out below. The point branch diverges to the left, while the main is the north-south running trackage:

http://www.sjrail.com/DailyPhotos/CapeMayPoint.jpg

Take care.

Mike DiMunno
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Postby David » Mon Aug 08, 2005 6:58 pm

Hey Mike, assuming that is the Reading line coming into Cape May on your map. Where did the PRR come in to Cape May in relation to the Reading and the streets on that map?--Thanks
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Postby CarterB » Tue Aug 09, 2005 8:55 am

Perhaps a stupid question..........but.........what would prevent extending the line along the North side of the canal to the Ferry landing?
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Postby JimBoylan » Tue Aug 09, 2005 10:46 am

CarterB wrote:what would prevent extending the line along the North side of the canal to the Ferry landing?
Either a new canal bridge West of the present one, or a whole new branch North of the canal.
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Postby JJMDiMunno » Tue Aug 09, 2005 2:48 pm

David wrote:Hey Mike, assuming that is the Reading line coming into Cape May on your map. Where did the PRR come in to Cape May in relation to the Reading and the streets on that map?--Thanks


The PRR should have come in very close to the RDG just to the west of the current line. There was a crossing between the Cape May Point Branch (RDG, existing) and the PRR's Cape May Branch, called "FX" tower, if I remember correctly...

The ROW for the PRR / WJS Cape May Branch is still clearly visable down that way...and the ROW might actually be on that road which parallels the tracks, up by Farmstead, Mayflower, and Cold Spring Avenues on that map...actually, I'm not sure that road actually exists, because I don't remember that being there...but that would be the approx. location of the ROW...

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Postby JimBoylan » Tue Aug 09, 2005 3:16 pm

The Pennsylvania - West Jersey & Seashore was only a few feet West of the Reading - Atlantic City RR in the South end of New Jersey. (I think you can still see the concrete foundations for the interlocking plant where the PRR crossed the RDG's Cape May Point Branch, built before P-RSL. The canal was built after the 1934 consolidation, so the PRR never had to cross it.) The PRR must have crossed Leaming Ave. to a station near Broad & Perry Sts. along Cape Island Creek. I think some of the PRR freight sidings in the station area survived the consolidation and a connection was established with the Reading, possiobly using the electric company's siding, which may have already been connected to both lines. In earlier years, both lines had stations closer to the ocean.
Check the Cape May maps at http://historical.maptech.com/, but they may be older than the RDG line!
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Cape May Point Branch

Postby georgehyland » Sat Aug 26, 2006 10:23 pm

Hello all - this is my first post to this forum. I was out at the point this past weekend, and I saw where the tracks end at the beach. I took some video. What I notice is the track extends about 100 feet past the gate to the old magnesite branch, but it looks like they have been removed from the premises inside the fence. My sons and I actually found another gate that was open and walked around the former plant grounds. No sign of tracks in there. My question is this - was the line ever used for passenger service, or did it always just exist for the magnesite plant? Does anyone have pictures of this line in operation?
Thanks,
George
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