Tom’s Raritan River Railroad Page
Two Wrecks at
Railroad crossing the
The Raritan River Railroad was started in South Amboy and
Then and then again, looking to
Then and then again, looking to
From the NY Times Archive 1895
If you read the above story, it is funny to note, that that Conductor Richard Sullivan was also involved in the wreck of 1899:
From the NY Times Archive 1899
The second wreck at the South River Draw, and more famous,
but mostly forgotten, occurred in December 1968 when Raritan River Caboose No.5
took a long unattended ride from the Sayreville Junction Yard. The
caboose went across
This was going to require more muscle
than the little
Is it a fish?
What a mess!
What a wonderful shot! When was the last time you saw a caboose getting pulled out of a river?
Old No.5 is officially retired.
For most of its life, the little swing bridge was painted black.
During the early 70s, it was painted red to match the engines, and the newly painted red cabooses (which used to be yellow).
Here are some great shots of the Raritan River Railroad on the bridge.
Many years later, after the
For most of the time, the bridge is left in the open position. What is ironic is that the only way to access the bridge to close it is from the western side via a plank walkway from the shoreline. Yet the trains appear from the eastern side (from Browns Yard). There is also the dilemma, that at high tide, or during tidal surges, the walkway planks to access the bridge from the western side can actually be under water!
This design made sense in 1910 because at that time the western side of the river was a booming railroad town.
Note the odd “run around” track. This would disappear in later years.
Note the passenger station in relation to the freight
Note that this picture is different
than the one in Rails up the
This is the only picture I have seen of the South River Freight Station
(Borrowed from Ebay)
This is a great shot, as it shows the long loading platform which connected the station directly to the old handkerchief factory.
Right past the
bridge, South River had a freight station, a passenger station, the South River
yard, as well as the junction for the South River Branch which was built in
1906 and went south along the river about 2 miles.
This operation required many cars of freight to
Raritan River Caboose No.5 in South River Yard in front of Handkerchief factory, 1950s
Remains of the American Enamel Brick
Co. trestle, just south of the
New cars used to be delivered to the South River Freight
Station in the 1940s and 1950s in box cars and they would be unloaded and
driven down the large ramp to their destinations. This was told to me by
John T (Pop-Pop) who used to unload the cars in the late 1940s when he first
started working on the
Photo showing Raritan River Railroad
moving PRR Automobiles box car to
The passenger station closed in 1938 and burned down some time after that. The South River Freight Station was used up by the railroad until the 1950s, being rented out until the late 1960s when it burned in a spectacular fire when the handkerchief factory that was literally attached to it burned to the ground.
Fire at the big handkerchief factory in the back burned down the little Raritan River Railroad South River Freight Station in 1969. All that survived was the loading platform.
This is the last photo of the Raritan River Railroad South River Freight Station. Only this little corner survived.
The loading platform is swept clean. Note the trestle to the old handkerchief factory on the left.
The bridge used to be manned daily, with a railroad employee
waiting in his bridge shanty along the
Today the remains of passenger station can barely be seen, but the concrete foundations of the Freight Station, with its odd sized ramp, can be easy noticed. The remains of the Handkerchief factory are visible, but the Yard has been eliminated.
South River Then and Now, 1969 after the fire
South River Then and Now, Remains of the South River Freight Station platform, 2003
The rails and ties of the South River Branch can been seen, starting near the yard and working its way south for about 2 miles. Surprisingly, Conrail never took up the rails for scrap.
The design of the bridge and its maintenance has always been
a thorn in Conrail’s side. Costs to automate the bridge are too high and
can’t be justified for the 2-3 active customers on the other side. One or
two customers in
For as long as there are customers on the “western end” there will be a Raritan River Railroad South River bridge.
For an interesting story, follow our activities when we walked and explored the South River Branch in 2003.
Raritan River Railroad No.2 crosses a freshly painted
For more pictures of the great fire:
more pictures of South River Stations
For more information on other
Here is an entire forum dedicated to
discussions of the