• "Lady, we don't stop at River Street"

  • Discussion relating to the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western, the Erie, and the resulting 1960 merger creating the Erie Lackawanna. Visit the Erie Lackawanna Historical Society at http://www.erielackhs.org/.
Discussion relating to the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western, the Erie, and the resulting 1960 merger creating the Erie Lackawanna. Visit the Erie Lackawanna Historical Society at http://www.erielackhs.org/.

Moderator: blockline4180

  by ErieAtlantic7597
This story goes way back in both my life and my memory. It must have occured about 1951 or so. I say that because K 1 Pacifics were still hauling commuter trains on the Erie main through Paterson.

My family did a lot of shopping in New York City. Which meant that we would take an Erie commuter from the River Street station to Jersey city.
We would be in the middle of the going to work rush hour on the train.
But this is about one of the return trips.

Upon the finish of one of these shopping days in NYC, we, my Mother, my grandmother and my younger sister, were later than useual crossing the Hudson River on an Erie ferry of course. We entered the forebodeing Jersey City Terminal and walked through the waiting room toward the stub end tracks. At these track, there were angled boards with light bulbs in them. If the bulb was lit, the train stopped at that station. If not, the train just cruised on by.

As we approached the boarding gates, my Mother noticed that the light was out for River Street. But my Mother asked the conductor if he could stop at River Street. And I can hear this response today like it was yesterday. He stated very clearly, " Look, lady, this train does not stop at River Street". We got on board any way, because it was the last train within reason for us to take to Paterson. We always tried not to stop in downtown Paterson, because we would have to get my father to come and get us. We never wanted to bother my old man.

Well somewhere between Jersey City and downtown Paterson, my Sainted Mother convinced the conductor to stop at River Street sation.
Again, I can hear his words. Before we got to Paterson main station, he said to my mother, " Lady, you have your mother and these kids at the top step on this end of the car. When this thing stops, get off in a hurry".

We left Paterson downtown sort of fast. Probably because the engineer figured he was going all the way to Ridgewood. Which would have been the next regular stop. He would just breeze past River Street and Hawthorne. I think to this day, the engineer was not alerted to this unscheduled stop.

Just about as we approached Straight Street over pass, the conductor signaled a stop. Brakes came on, screaching, shuddering. We stopped abruptly at River Street. We had been standing in the vestibule since the Paterson stop. The conductor was on the bottom step. I can still remember seeing the trackage going by on the elevated ROW. The old Stillwell car brake equipment was not happy about this sudden stop.

The train stopped, we were off in a split scond, standing on the cinder walkway which is all there was at the River Street station in those days.
Then I recall a proceed signal being blown on the cab signal whistle. The engine bit in, barking. then slipped its drivers, then bit in again, and marched off into the dark toward the Passaid River bridge. I still can hear the crossing signal for Fifth Avenue. It was the only grade crossing in the north end of Paterson on the Erie.

This was a long time ago. But I still wish I could have heard the words of wisdom that went back an forth between the engineer and the conductor
when they had a chance to talk face to face. It must have been colorful.

I hope you all enjoy this little story about the River Street station from when I was very young. To me, it seems like just a short time ago. Wow, how time flys.

Take care,

  by ErieAtlantic7597
If anyone would like to see the River Street staion as I remember it, I have posted a picture of it taken in 1961, with an Alco PA on the point of a cummuter train heading east (south) toward downtown Paterson. Final destination, Hoboken.
It can be found at railfan.net. Now this may sound strange. The one post is in the diesel locomotive section. AlcoPA/PB in service. The other, can be found on the third page of the stations listing.
These photos plus others from N. Jersey were given to me by a young live steamer a few years ago for my birthday. Every time I look at them, I appreciate these photos more.

Take care,

Bruce (ErieAtlantic7597)

Great story. I have a question about the Jersey City Terminal.
There were round concrete structures on all the platforms. Were those the stairs that led down to a big ramp which led to the tube trains. The H&M, now PATH passed under the Erie west of the Station according to my track charts? Just curious how that worked?
  by ErieAtlantic7597

Thanks for the compliment on the story. Glad you enjoyed one of my little life events around the Erie Railroad.
You are correct about the entry ways to the tubes in the Jersey City Erie terminal. I remember very clearly seeing them but we always went via the ferry. I have no idea why, now at this late date, that my family always crossed the Hudson on the Erie and later the Lackawanna ferries.

Thanks again,

Take care,


I can't answer why your parents chose the ferries with certainty over the Hudson & Manhattan "the tubes" but I can probably make a good guess.

The ferry transportation was included in a ticket on the Erie and than Erie Lackawanna, it cost extra to ride the tubes. If your destination was lower Manhattan than the ferry was just as good as the tubes.
  by ErieAtlantic7597

As far as frugality went, my parents and grandparents were, to say the least, frugal. So you are probably correct about the ferry ride. I sure did'nt know that the fee for the ferry was included in the train ticket.
Although, much of the business that my mother and grandmother conducted was in lower Manhattan, the old name streets. So this to could have had something to do with the ferry ride across the Hudson too.
I remember the Jersey City Erie terminal was really old when I was a kid in the late fortys. A forebodeing, faded green structure. As I recall.
The River Street station was also old. But it was the second station in that location. The original was at ground level and on the east side of the railroad. The one that I remember as a kid on elevated and on the west side of the railroad. The railroad was elevated through the city of Paterson, NJ in 1927. I have no idea if the station was moved across the tracks and elevated or if the building that I remember was brought from another location and planted on top of the fill there at River Street. It was old when I was young sixty years ago.
It sure would be fun to find out the history behind the obscure River Street station, Paterson, NJ. On the Erie main.

Take care,


  by JimBoylan
For auto motorists about 1959, the Lackawanna ferry was 44 cents, the Holland Tunnel was 50 cents.
  by ErieAtlantic7597

Thanks for the info on the ferry/tunnel feesl . I would have never know of the slight difference between them.

Take care,