• Earle NWS NJ

  • A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads
A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by Ken W2KB
Anyone know how active this NJ railroad facility has been lately?
  by RailVet
This base's railway system is still very active.

  by Ken W2KB
Thanks, that's good to hear. When I helped with the rail excursions about 4 years ago, only one of the two mainline tracks had appeared to be used recently, and only for waste water removal from the ships, according to employees. There was a proposal to shut down the rail operation to go exclusively truck on the private road that parallels the railroad.

  by Jtgshu
They actually just replaced a few of hte grade crossing wiht new rail and pavement (thank god, some of them were getting REAL bad). Both tracks were replaced, even though one is in use. I almost daily hear trains out on the pier or running down the line to Colts Neck

  by Ken W2KB
Any idea if the renewed activity is handling interchange cars from outside of Earle? or is it mostly internal moves to and from the bunkers and the waste treatment plant?
  by RailVet
There is indeed some interchange with the commercial carrier linking with the base. It's not a tremendous amount, but it's there.

  by sixty-six
who does earle link up with, and what kind of equip do they use? i know theres trackage in and around lakehurst NAES im dying to get more info on.

  by CJPat
I believe Earle does their interchange with the southern Secondary. I don't know if the SA31 makes the drop or if there is a dedicated train to make their deliveries. The Navy uses their own equipment on a dedicated ROW to run the "cargo" between Earle NWS in Wall, NJ and out to the docks in Leonardo, NJ.

Lakehurst's original trackage had been abandoned and torn up for a number of decades. The previous trackage had run all over the base and had even gone all the way out to Hangar #1 (site of the Hindenburg Crash/Fire). That only left an old spur that was a couple of hundred feet long that terminated at an old loading dock across the street from the Navy Base.

About five years ago, my company was involved in removal of platonium contaminated soil from the old BOMARC missle base that suffered a missle fire in 1962(?) in the area between Lakehurst NAS, McGuire AFB, and Ft. Dix on County Route 539. The resulting firefighting activity resulted in "losing" about 11 grams of plutonium (highly soluble in water). The Air Force consequently had capped the entire site off in concrete and the area was marked Extremely Off Limits.

In/about 1999, my company was awarded the contract to go in and excavate the suspected areas and remove the soil for disposal. The original plan called for trucking the soil over the local highways to the boro of Lakehurst and load it out in gondolas.

Manchester and Lakehurst weren't too enamoured with that idea. They then looked at reactivating the Southern Secondary rail line down to Heritage Minerals (a couple of miles south of Lakehurst). That way, they would only have to truck the soil about half the distance and do the loading in an out of the way area. Well, Manchester still didn't care for the soil moving over the local highways to that point.

The Government settled on rebuilding the rail siding back onto Lakehurst Naval Base property through the Contractor's Gate area (grade crossing over County Route 549) and then construct a road that travelled purely on Government property out to the old missle base/remediation site. My company removed the soil and trucked it to the new siding and shipped it out in sealed containers on gondolas. I believe the whole project was wrapped up in 2003 and the Navy chose to leave the siding sitting there. I don't think they use it for anything else anymore.

  by sixty-six
CJPat, i believe you mean the grade crossing on 547. the one before the entrances to NAES Lakehurst (if youre heading north). yet theres also a grade crossing in northern jackson on 547, by the concrete places.

I find lots of trackage, namely crossing over County Routes 571, 526, 527 (whitesville rd), 528, and routes 88 and 9 in lakewood, and 37 in toms river, which seems to be abandoned trackage. any thoughts as to the origin on those tracks. i know the steet parallel to the 37 grade crossing (marked exempt) is "germania station road" if that helps. not sure if this is all military trackage

  by CJPat

Thanks for catching my mistake. You are quite right in that I was referring to CR 547 in front of Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station (NAES).

To get a much better and thorough history of the area and see some excellent pictures of the trackage in use, I highly recommend the web site http://octrainguy.com. OCTrainguy is also a member of the RR.Net and I will quickly deferr to his knowledge of the area.

The grade crossings over St Hwy 88, CR527, CR528, CR571, and under St Hwy 70 all belong to the Southern Secondary (connecting to the NJCL at Red Bank). You can find several threads discussing the action (drilled by SA31) on RR.net. The main legacy of course was that this was part of the famous route of the CRRNJ Blue Comet on its run down to Atlantic City. The Southern Secondary fed Lakehurst NAES and Earle Naval Weapon Station (NWS).

Ft. Dix was fed by the Pemberton and Hightstown RR (I believe this was later PRR) which connected to the Camden & Amboy (later PRR) south of downtown Hightstown and continuing further south through Mt Holly. I have never noted any direct rail access or abandoned ROW leading over to McGuire AFB which I find odd. Perhaps all the aircraft maintenance materials as well as the airman moved through the FT. Dix Facilities and was trucked next door to the airbase? I have seen threads here that mentioned this rail line lasted into the early '70s before it was abandoned.

As far as the grade crossing over St Hwy 37, that would be the siding off of the Barnegat Branch that passed through Toms River on its way down south and connected at Lakehurst. The siding was primarily to drill the Toms River Cincinnati Chemical Corp, later bought by Ciba Geigy and then shut down in the early '90's. It too is a large Environmental Remediation site. The Barnegat branch no longer runs any further than the siding since the mid '70's (?) and later all trackage south was ripped up. The trackage is now known as the Toms River Industrial Track. Every now and then, you will see threads discussing this trackage under the Southern Secondary. I have not heard of any action down there in quite a while, 6-12 mos?. The last customer I was aware of was Suburban Propane at the Rt 37 crossing. They had closed their store but I thought they were using it as a distribution ctr.

  by sixty-six
Interesting stuff on that site. its ashame to see all those dilapidated signals and tracks. question though, is the line that runs through downtown lakewood on rt 88 active? there are cars on the line, and i swear they change each time i go by (i only go by say once a month).

and where can i find the info on the southern secondary?


  by sixty-six
Im not sure if anyone knows this, but did the barnegat branch run perpendicular to the parkway, cause i see abandoned RoW running under the parkway before exit 80 southbound.

And question: the line running across Rt. 571, the Blue Comet's line, recently recieved new signals and crossbucks as part of a widening project. If the tracks arent active, why would the crossing get this treatment? It's not even marked 'Exempt'

  by CJPat

These are great questions although they are drifting from the Military Railroad topic so the Moderator may choose to relocate them soon but I will try to answer them quickly.

I have learned a great deal about the Southern Secondary by reading the RR.net "New Jersey Railfan" section and following the thread "CR on the Southern Secondary" at http://railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.ph ... c82d15ba66. Another excellent area to go to is the "Fallen Flags" area of RR.net to the "Central of New Jersey" section at http://railroad.net/forums/viewforum.php?f=79.

The ROW that you saw perpendicular to the Garden State Parkway between exit 80 and 81 is indeed the Barnegat branch as it enters Toms River and then turns south and parallels US Rt 9. You can see bits and pieces of this ROW from roadside. You can even see a small wooden trestle bridge in front of the Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant in Forked River.

Also for side knowledge, be aware that there was another rail line that crossed the GSP just a little further south that was torn up probably 50 years ago. The PRR ran a line from Mt Holly, through Pemberton that eventually went all the way to Beachwood and Pine Beach (they even have a Pennsylvania Avenue to mark the area the railroad passed). The tracks then went out over the Toms River and bay area over to Seaside Park then turned north and ran up the penninsula until it joined the, what is now the New Jersey Coast Line, at Bay Head (Junction).

  by CJPat
Be assured that the Southern Secondary is definitely an active freight line with the SA-31 making 2 to 3 runs a week with what I hear to be 10 -17 freight cars. They mostly run in the evening hours sometimes running out of time and having to park their engine down around Lakehurst before the return trip can be made. I have been in this area for 15 years and I have only seen the train maybe 3 times.

  by caboose9
CJPat wrote, "These are great questions although they are drifting from the Military Railroad topic so the Moderator may choose to relocate them."


Allow me to drift back to Earle NWS.

There are 2 steel, cupola, cabooses at Earle - USN 63-00239 & -00240. I suspect these were not built new for the USN, but are 2nd hand cabooses. Is that true? If so, what is their heritage?

Thanks, Roger