Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New Jersey
This morning I attended a meeting at the NJ DEP building at 401 East State Street in Trenton. Before I left the house this morning I checked the locale in Google Maps and noticed that there is a rail line right next to the building running along the Trenton Freeway. When I looked it up in historicaerials.com I saw that it was the rail line that ran next the the D&R Canal that was filled in during the 50's to make the Freeway. The tracks look in pretty good shape and appear to be still in use. Does anyone know the history of that line and who uses it now? Was that part of the Bel-Del?
Yes, that is the ex-Bel Del. BTW, the canal was dug out for Rt 1, not filled in. If you go in the federal courthouse, there are some great pics of the state steet crossing before the expressway.
"One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor." George Carlin
To add to what wolfboy wrote, back when the Bordentown secondary was being rebuilt for the river line, and the line was severed do to bridge installation, most of the Bordentown customers were serviced by a local out of Morrisville as Pavonia freighst couldnt come all the way up the line. The local would come out of Morrisville, run up the NEC to the wye just east of the Ham interlocking. The Wye leads to the Conrail Port running track, and onto the River Line that way.
Is this the "light" rail line there was talk of extending up the BelDel not too long ago? I had heard talk about using the old BelDel RofW for a light Rail line. I had heard they wanted to go as far north as Lambertville or possibly Milford, but I havn't heard anything in a while.Trainlawyer wrote:A few minor additions:
The projections I've seen for extending the River Line involve using city streets from the current terminal and heading toward the Capitol.
pipe dream. the ROW is now a state park. The LBR proposal was street running from the current terminus at Trenton Station, making a left on to State St and then continue to the Capitol with a potential further extension to West Trenton Station.had heard they wanted to go as far north as Lambertville or possibly Milford, but I havn't heard anything in a while.
"One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor." George Carlin
Yes, I have been waiting for the day when Delair goes out of service for some emergency, and the only way to service south Jersey is over this stretch -- I wonder if there is a set of actual contingency plans on how this would be done. (Unfortunaltely probably at night because the line is dedicated to light rail River Line in the day.).wolfboy8171981 wrote:I beleive the line has no active customers left. This would be the only way around Delair Bridge to get to Paviona.
Technically, I don't think the tracks you saw this were ever part of Bel-Del -- as was pointed out, coming east through Trenton Station on the NEC, the Bel Del started just east of the Trenton station at Fair interlocking where the Bel Del curved to the left, (between what is now Perrine and Sheridan Ave. , eventually doing almost a 180 degree turn and crossed the canal (later Route 1) at a bridge between Perry and Southard Sts. http://broadway.pennsyrr.com/Rail/Prr/M ... k/fair.gif
Anyway, just before the bridge over Route 1(or the old canal), there track going down to Bordentown diverged from the Bel-Del to the left. http://broadway.pennsyrr.com/Rail/Prr/M ... beldel.gif (labelled "South Trenton Br. to Bordentown"). (ALso note the East Trenton (edit: "Enterprise") branch, which ran up on the north/west side of the canal (I think using the old towpath) going towards Princeton (where Route 1 is now), eventually reaching up around Carnegie Rd in Lawrence)
Note coming off the Bel Del just opposite the this line to Borndentown were quite a few tracks ("Coalport" yard ), including one track which ran northeast along the canal for about a mile and then curved back into Mlllham Junction with the NEC,about a mile north of Trenton Station. The scrap dealer Trainlawyer refers too might be at the northeast end of this section of this part (once called "Millham Branch"?) just before it curves back to the NEC.
http://broadway.pennsyrr.com/Rail/Prr/M ... illham.gif
The Bel Del is gone but this line from Millham Junction and the line to Bordentown are now connected as one line.
A side note on the canal and what is filled in. It is an interesting story (I think). The canal was built to get stuff from Philadephia to the NY Harbor (which is connected to the Raritan Bay) without going in the Altlantic Ocean. Boats can only make it to South Trenton on the Delaware. The main canal started there and went up through Trenton and then through Princeton to New Brunswick. The high point was right where the Bel Del RR bridge crossed the canal. So to get water there to flow downhill to New Brunswick and to SOuth Trenton., a "feeder canal" was built to supply water, coming from up north on th Delaware about 20 miles, north of Stockton. This "feeder" was upgraded eventually to handle traffic, I guess driven a lot by coal from PA to NY). Anyway, when the canal traffic was long finsihed and they were building route 1, the canal in the Princeton area (and maybe others) was being used as a source of drinking water supply (it is Delaware river water). So they could not fill in the feeder canal or the part of the main canal heading towards Princeton/New Brunswick, but there was no reason to save the section in south Trenton (or maybe it was already filled in???) So the canal is really filled in south/west of this Bel Del RR bridge, but north/east of this bridge the canal is still flowing under Route 1 -- it emerges back out a mile north by Mulberry St). So the feeder canal and the main canal section from Trenton to New Brunswick combined is now the poplular Delaware Raritan Canal park and hiking/biking towpath . If it hadn't been for this drinking water use, maybe the whole thing would not longer exist??
And there was a recent announcment that Conrail is either selling or granting an easement to the park for land which I assume is adjacent to the Millham Branch, from the Bel Del bridge up to Mullberry St., so hikers and bikers can get from one end of the canal towpath over this missing section. . The bikers coming from north of Trenton (e.g. Stockton/Lambertville direction) will use the old Bel Del bridge to cross route 1, then use the new easement, and cross back under route 1 at Mulberry st, I think using the existing underpass, to get back on the towpath on the other side. http://www.nj.com/news/local/index.ssf/ ... _link.html. From the article it seems the Milham branch will remain in service adjacent to the new path (so some day we can see those Delair Bridge detours go through!!!!)
Last edited by pumpers on Sat Jan 16, 2010 5:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
Actually, there were 4 trolley track gauges in Trenton, N.J. The city cars (Trenton & Mercer County Traction - Trenton Transit were 5'2"! There were 2 different kinds of dual gauge trolley track. Public Service Rwys. had 4'8.5" standard gauge to North Jersey and the 5'0" "Southern" gauge to South Jersey. Pa.-N.J. Rwys. - Trenton-Princeton Traction Co. had 4'8.5" standard gauge to Princeton and 5'2.5" Penna. Broad Gauge to Bucks County, Pa. Both 4'8.5" lines also handled interchange freight cars, but not to the ends of their tracks in downtown Trenton. The electric box motor for the Public Service freight trains was still being used on the remaining tracks of its original owner when it was finally sent to the National Capital Trolley Museum in 2009!Trainlawyer wrote:A few minor additions:Trenton had three gages of trolley: 4'8.5" for some of the suburban lines, 5'0" Public Service and 5'2.5" coming in from Bucks County over the Calhoun Street bridge. There is triple gage track under the parking lot behind the United Traction Terminal Building on Perry Street)
If you go back far enough, before there was a Bel-Del, and before the current NEC alignment in Trenton, that line along Route 1 (ex-canal) by State St mentioned above was the main line through Trenton.CGRLCDR wrote:This morning I attended a meeting at the NJ DEP building at 401 East State Street in Trenton. Before I left the house this morning I checked the locale in Google Maps and noticed that there is a rail line right next to the building running along the Trenton Freeway. When I looked it up in historicaerials.com I saw that it was the rail line that ran next the the D&R Canal that was filled in during the 50's to make the Freeway. The tracks look in pretty good shape and appear to be still in use. Does anyone know the history of that line and who uses it now? Was that part of the Bel-Del?
Before the current NEC alignment between Trenton and Princeton (built in the late 1860's I think), the tracks betweenTrenton and Princeton ran on the southeast bank of the canal (opposite the side with the towpath). Where the feeder canal joined the main canal, the main canal curved to run south, and so did the tracks, continuing to Bordentwown, exactly the track discussed in the beginning of the thread.
There are some great maps at http://mapmaker.rutgers.edu/TRENTON/OldTrenton.htmL. The 1849 map shows this old main line. Also note the branch to Philadelphia coming off to run parallel to Ferry St -- what is now the NEC main to Philadelphia. I had to rotate the map to get oriented a little -- north is not straight up.
By 1872 the current NEC from Trenton towards Princeton shows up, and the Bel Del have shown up, and in 1874 the old main line along the canal is gone, except for what is now the Millham branch (going back to join the current NEC alignment about a mile north of where the NEC crossed the canal. (That section is not on the 1872 map). (Note also the modern bridge used to cross the Delaware to get to Philadelphia doesn't show up til the 1920 map -- til then the line jogged to cross parallel to Bridge St. ) JS
Wolfboy, there are possibly 2 customers on this freight branch. Right off the wye off the NEC theres a big warehouse of Certified Steel, and then theres Trenton iron and metal which recieves Yellow Hoppers to load scrap, and Im not sure but maybe the Trenton Times(or is it the Trentonian) is located along the line and still gets boxcars.
I was in Trenton yesterday for a meeting and while walking down W. State Street past the DEP offices & federal courthouse, I noticed that the rail had been cut and an orange cone placed at the spot just off of W. State and parallel to the Trenton Freeway.
I, too, have wondered about contingency plans for Pavonia bound traffic if the Delair Bridge Line would have to be shut. That bridge was built in 1896. My father, a metallurgist for the old SKF ball bearing company, used to tell me that the steel used in the late 1800's and early 1900's often had high concentrations of impurities that made them susceptible to stress as they aged. I, myself, have looked at the steel piers holding up that bridge and they don't look that good to me, flaking surfaces and they are not flaking paint. I can envision the day when some inspecter orders the bridge closed. NJT's AC line can just terminate at Cherry Hill, or maybe later at Delair but what will they do with all that freight that goes in and out of Pavonia ? That brigde is heavily trafficked. Is it even possible that the the old freight connection with the NEC could be used given the density of the traffic ? I don't know if there are contingency plans but if there aren't any somebody better get busy on this.