Harbor Branch Junction in Cape May

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Harbor Branch Junction in Cape May

Postby pumpers » Tue Jul 21, 2009 5:50 pm

In serveral places on the web (sites below) I see reference to a "Harbor Branch" or a "Harbor Branch junction" on the West Jersey and Seashore (part of the PRR), presumably in Cape May. I don't think this is the junction to the Stone Harbor Branch they are referring to.

Where exactly was the junction and what was the Harbor Branch?? Is it the same as the "Real Estate Branch" also known as "Schellenger's Branch"? I doubt it since Hagley's PRR chronology refers to that separately, at least in some sites, but I really don' know.

From the web sites below, I infer that when PRSL was formed, I think the WJS line north of Harbor Br. Junction (in Cape May) was abandoned -- so presumably what was left south of there was tied in the surviving Reading line.

THanks, JS

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennsylvania%E2%80%93Reading_Seashore_Lines
http://www.prrths.com/Hagley/PRR%20PASS%20Jun%2005.pdf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_New_Jersey_railroad_junctions
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Re: Harbor Branch Junction in Cape May

Postby delvyrails » Sun Jul 26, 2009 2:00 pm

In PRSL terms, Harbor Branch Junction was located on the ex-RDG (Atlantic City Railroad) Cape May line about 0.3 mile south of the Intracoastal Waterway moveable bridge ("Canal"). Topographic maps show the Cape May Harbor Track grade as running southeastward and parallel to the waterway for at least 0.8 mile to the community on Ocean Drive where it crosses the mouth of Schellenger's Creek at Cape May Harbor. The village was known as Schellenger's Landing, and it's just north of the city boundary of Cape May.

The July 9, 1933 combined pre-PRSL timetable shows a (fishermens') express train from Camden at 5:08 or 6:08 am via the shorter RDG (Tuckahoe) route, then at some point south of Cape May Court House PRR station switched on to the PRR route and followed the branch PRR line to Schellenger's Landing. It returned from there at 3:45 pm.

This implies that the branch crossed the Reading Cape May line at the junction to connect with the adjacent PRR main track, and was later connected to the surviving ex-RDG main line.

The ex-PRR West Jersey and Seashore Cape May line, abandoned with the merger, lay just west of the ACRR line through this area. It entered Cape May on what became Park Boulevard.
John Pawson
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Re: Harbor Branch Junction in Cape May

Postby pumpers » Mon Jul 27, 2009 9:37 am

Delvyrails, thanks.

It seems the "Harbor Branch,", "Real Estate branch", and "Schellenger's Landing branch" are all the same thing, contrary to what my initial thinking was.

I also found a site about a model Cape May RR which has a Harbor Branch from Harbor Branch Jc. just south of the canal running to Schellenger's Landing.
http://www.trainweb.org/smrc/cmsl_layout.html

PRR Chronology lists the branch line as having opened in in 1905 and closed in 1950 -- they also refer to it as running from Harbor Branch Jct to Schellenger's landing, noting it is also knows as the "Cape may real estate" branch.
http://www.prrths.com/Hagley/PRR1950%20Dec%2004.pdf
http://www.prrths.com/Hagley/PRR1905%20Mar%2005.pdf

One detail -- about the pre-PRSL trains running through Winslow/Tuckahoe. the PRR 1905 Chronology site lists the Harbor Branch as being built by ACRR (Reading), not the WJS (PRR). So could the trains you mentioned just stayed on ACRR tracks through Woodbine, Cape May Courthouse, etc, , all the way to the Harbor Branch and not have switched to the WJS? So then an extension of the branch across the ACRR tracks to the WJS would not have been needed.
Thanks again, JS

PS. Are the topos you mention showing this branch on-line somewhere? The more modern topos I have don't show it -- you can only see the embankment in the elevation lines on the map.
Last edited by pumpers on Mon Jul 27, 2009 5:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Harbor Branch Junction in Cape May

Postby delvyrails » Mon Jul 27, 2009 12:50 pm

Despite the hot PRR-RDG competition, the RDG early agreed to permit running PRR expresses on its route via Tuckahoe instead of the longer, more congested PRR route via Woodbury and Millville. The 1933 timetable showed the use of the PRR, rather than the RDG, station in Cape May Court House.

My topo map is dated 1954 and shows no track for the branch, just the closely parallelling two brown contour lines of the long fill from the junction to the village at Schellenger's Landing.
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Re: Harbor Branch Junction in Cape May

Postby JimBoylan » Mon Jul 27, 2009 3:11 pm

delvyrails wrote:The July 9, 1933 combined pre-PRSL timetable shows a (fishermens') express train from Camden at 5:08 or 6:08 am via the shorter RDG (Tuckahoe) route, then at some point south of Cape May Court House PRR station switched on to the PRR route and followed the branch PRR line to Schellenger's Landing.
I think it switched onto the PRR at the existing connection from 1905 or earlier at Woodbine Jct. and ran express beyond there, making it hard to tell which route it really used. That 1933 schedule does seem to hint that for a short time, all Wildwood service ran via the PRR.
As part of the consolidation, a new connection was just built North of Cape May Court House where the Reading bridged over the PRR, so that the PRR sidings in Cape May Court House could be served while most of the rest of the PRR was abandoned. This may not have been ready in 1933.
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