• Belle Mead General Depot

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New Jersey
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New Jersey

Moderator: David

  by transit383
While tracing the Lehigh Line through the Flemington/Three Bridges area, I came across a spot that was clearly a former wye. See this link.

While following that south, it shows the tracks came into the "Belle Mead General Depot", and the satellite view shows a maze of tracks in there. See this link.

The tracks then continue across Route US-206 (grade crossing still in place) and link up to the CSX Trenton Line.

What exactly was the Belle Mead General Depot and when was it abandoned?

Could be a nice spot for an NJT yard if West Trenton service is ever re-activated!

  by CarterB
During WWII, Belle Meade General Depot was an Army Services Forces (ASF) depot (opened in October of 1942) for ammunition, and general war supplies, among other things. It became Belle Meade GSA depot.

Gillette on Hillsborough http://cnhillsborough.blogspot.com/search?q=belle+meade
(opened in October of 1942)
"At that time, the depot property consisted of about 1000 acres of former farmland. Where twenty-six farms once stood there was now $1.2 billion of supplies warehoused in what the New York Times called "the world's richest department store".

Fourteen warehouses and five million square feet of outdoor storage space sat alongside 45 miles of railroad track. Five locomotives belonging to the depot worked to string together railroad cars for shipment. The depot was an intermediate stop for the 45,000 tons of shipping that passed through every day during the war - and supplies were constantly being unloaded, sorted, and reloaded by the 1700 civilian employees."

Gillette goes on to mention that both Italian and German POWs were held there as well.

I believe there was some hazardous chromium environmental remediation/relocation done there.

  by David Hutchinson
Was Read Valley this location?
  by Chessie GM50
I believe there was some hazardous chromium environmental remediation/relocation done there.
That is Hillsborough getting rid of it's mercury. I think that they want to put some cheap housing there. Also, did you keep walking through one of the legs? If you did, it ends up as a neat little trail that goes over a few roads. My question to you is do you know when those tracks were torn up? Because the ones that lead out (on the other side of Hillsborough) are still in place (by the Hillsborough Star Diner. They were owned by two seperate Railroads that fed the GSA depot.)
  by greg90
The Belle mead GSA Depot closed in 1991. It had connections to both the Reading (West Trenton/CSX) and Lehigh Valley (Norfolk Southern). Hillsborough Township and Somerset County have recently purchased the remaining 438 acres of the depot to be used primarily for open space/rercreational purposes - with a small portion zoned for research and development.

The mercury is stored at ANOTHER WWII era depot - the former Somerville Army Quartermaster Depot, also known as the VA Depot. This depot is located in the northern part of Hillsborough, south of the Duke Estate. It has connection to the Lehigh Valley - and also had connection to the Central Railroad of New Jersey Flemington Branch.

Greg Gillette
  by Chessie GM50
and also had connection to the Central Railroad of New Jersey Flemington Branch.
You mean the Black River & Western R.R?
  by greg90
The Jersey Central line that ran from Somerville to Flemington was called the Flemington Branch, I believe. The line is still intact from Three Bridges to Flemington, and the BR&W does operate on this section.

  by carajul
45,000 tons of freight per day, 45 miles of track, and 1700 employees! wow you'd never know that today. it's strange, like open grass lands and a few huge warehouses behind a fense. there are 1940s-era street light inside. i could never get close enough to take a look; still a guard gate. I have an old NJ map from 1975 and it shows what basically looks like a huge RR yard with warehouses inbetween each track.

Using google satellite maps you can see most track still in place. The large grass squares with tracks around them must have had warehouses on them decades ago but tracks remained.

The spur from the Reading/CSX still in place (its actually a wye). Crossing over Rt 206 has signs that say "crossing out of service". There are 3 prong telegraph poles along the spur.

I'd love to explore the place. But jumping a 10' fence with federal gov't no tresspassing signs always scared me away.

Anyone know when the last train passed over Rt 206 xing? I'm assuming during 'Nam in the 1960s-early 70s.

I'm using Google Satellite maps now zoomed in close. Wow the network of rusty tracks is incredible! The spur from the LVRR must have gone first, as it's just a trail now. The spur from the RDG must have been retained for 'as needed service'.

  by Ken W2KB
It is impressive. I use it as a prominent landmark when approaching from the west going to Central Jersey Regional Airport which is about 5 or 6 miles north alongside the Reading track.

  by doctordirt

The last remaining switching engine on the VA Depot was donated to the Military Transport Association in 2003. It had served from WWII to 1998. It was a veteran of four major wars.

It was restored and now serves daily as a yard switcher for the Morristown and Erie under a cooperative agreement between the MTA and the M&E.

BTW - although it had not run in more than 5 years, when new batteries were installed and a little ether applied - the engine started up and ran under its own power when it reached the M&E. It can be seen on Railroad Days in Whippany several times each year.

  by CarterB
Couldn't you just imagine a "Steamtown South" on that site? Great layout for a RR museum and could even possibly redo the wyes at both ends for a running track. Or even extend onto the old CNJ at flagtown down to Flemington??

  by transit383
Found this link with some pics inside the abandoned facility:

Belle Mead General Depot

I'd love to get in there and look around.

  by Chessie GM50
CarterB wrote:Couldn't you just imagine a "Steamtown South" on that site? Great layout for a RR museum and could even possibly redo the wyes at both ends for a running track. Or even extend onto the old CNJ at flagtown down to Flemington??
The first one would only work without the political monopoly in that area (the do-nothing party) was eliminated. The latter may actually work, but on my top 50 most NIMBY'd list, da'burrow ranks as 7th.

Good ideas, too bad it will never happen. :(

  by CarterB
Yup, Chessie, sadly I'd have to agree with you. But being so close to major metro area to draw tourists/railfans from, a huge unused facility in place with parallel tracks and "platforms" and a possibility of running track/s on unused/underused ROW's, it could have been a 'natural' and a 'boon' to the local economy. To have the twp use it as recreational facilities means someone has to 'tote up' a lot of taxpayer $$ to get rid of everything first, rather that using it mainly "as is", and bring in money rather than spending it.
  by xairplanedriverx
Hello Everyone! I'm new here :) I'm not really into the topic of trains and railroads although they do fascinate me, especially the old ones. My hobby is checking out abandoned places like Belle Mead General Depot. I saw the discussion you had here a while back and decided to add a couple words from myself. So, as of today there is a way to enter the depot. There is a gate on the far side of the park which is a couple hundred yards off Amwell Road in Hillsborough. The park is on the North side of the depot. The gate is open, large enough for cars to get through it. It has been like that ever since I visited the place first time in the year of 2003. There is no signs posted at this gate saying it is US Govt property (*hint* your excuse if you get caught by whoever). The place is not under any supervision of any agency. I've been there at least 10 times in the past 4 months now and never even seen anyone who would be willing to stop me, other than fellow trespassers. There IS a fence going through the middle of the depot, yet it is NOT a problem. When you enter make a left on the first road and follow it to the end. It's gonna lead you to the right. There is a huge whole in the fence letting you to the other side of the depot. Behind a fence make a right as the road straight leads to the bushes at the very end. Now you will be officially on the other side of the depot. In the middle of it there is a place to get through too, but you will have to crawl under a fence. Watch out for wildlife around the depot, there is a LOT, including snakes which I have seen there my past visit a couple weeks ago. Railroad tracks... Well they're missing. There are some still left but nothing usable. Warehouses aren't there either anymore. There have been reports of some chemicals in the ground but I don't know anything more about that. Overall the depot is a nice place to do some low flying (been there done that- beautiful), and organize parties hehe. Make some use of it while it lasts! And don't worry, it's quite far from any houses and it's fenced off very well. As far as I know there is only one entrance that is open (very wierd).

P.S. I got some pictures of the place, from the ground and from the air. I'll try posting them, so ENJOY and VISIT IT! :) There is a lot to be seen for "Abandoned Places Rats" like me :)

http://s157.photobucket.com/albums/t47/ ... d%20Depot/