Posts Tagged ‘Erie Railroad in New Jersey’

Memorial Day Weekend in an ex-Erie Tower

June 3, 2017

On the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, I spent my day volunteering in the former Erie Railroad WC interlocking tower in Waldwick, New Jersey.

Four trains an hour go through the interlocking on a Sunday. Two start and end in Waldwick Yard while the others continue to/from Suffern, New York, or Port Jervis, New York.

Waldwick Tower was built by the Erie in 1880 and for about 103 years the operator controlled movements on the four-track Erie main as well as movements into and out of the commuter terminal.

Today, the main goes from three tracks to two in the interlocking  and it is controlled by an operator at a computer in a location where they cannot even see the railroad.

While sitting up there, one can only imagine the operator on a dark and stormy night listening to the telegraph spitting out orders from the dispatcher.

A new addition this year is the beautiful Erie logo, made from colored stones courtesy of a local landscaping company. A day watching trains from a 137-year-old interlocking tower is a great way to spend a holiday.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

Looking for Reminders of the Erie in NJ

February 4, 2017

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I recently took a train ride over the former Erie Railroad to Port Jervis, New York. At one time Port Jervis had 12,000 residents, about half of them employed by the Erie.

Today, Port Jervis is a run-down town trying to survive by reinventing itself as a go-to destination. There are plenty of relics of the Erie to be seen there.

At the west end of Campbell Hall Yard, 22 miles east of Port Jervis, sits a typical Erie concrete phone booth.

In Port Jervis itself, restored Erie E8A No. 833 and a short line railroad’s RS-3 bring the Erie back to life.

The 115-foot turntable once handled the Erie’s largest steam locomotives.

The base of a huge water tower remains at the east end of a snow-covered wasteland that was once a 10-track coach yard.

The old Port Jervis station now serves as a commercial office building. Trains of Metro-North Railroad pass by on their way to a replacement Metro-North station about a half mile to the west. In the old engine servicing area, the old sanding towers remain where Berkshires and 2-10-2s once roamed.

The old Erie signals are getting replaced between Suffern, New York, and Port Jervis.

Those at Port Jervis, however, should still be around for a while. An underpass that at one time had 15 tracks passing above it proudly proclaims its former owner.

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Very Old Rails Without a Doubt

January 20, 2017

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You showed new rail. Here is some very old rail. In an old industrial site next to the Erie Railroad Bergen County Line in Fair Lawn, New Jersey lies some 80-pound rail made in 1912. The yard once served a coal company among other things. The tracks are still pretty much intact, complete with switches. The 1960 Erie employee timetable still listed the main line connecting switch as active. The site is being redeveloped. I don’t know the future of these rails, but so far they have survived for 105 years.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

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Some Erie Now and Then From the East End

December 30, 2016

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Centennial Trains

Centennial Trains

Memorabilia from the Erie Railroad's centennial.

Memorabilia from the Erie Railroad’s centennial.

In keeping with the theme then and now, I thought I would pass on this little tidbit from the Erie Railroad’s east end.

On a late December day I am standing at New Jersey Transit’s Ramsey/Route 17 Station in Ramsey, New Jersey, which is less than 10 years old.

Erie milepost JC 28 is about 600 feet behind me. I am on the station platform looking railroad west (compass north).

You can probably tell that this was the Erie main line and four tracks wide in the Erie/Erie Lackawanna days.

Above me, traffic is whizzing by on the Route 17 overpass. Thousands of commuters and tens of thousands of cars go through and over this unremarked spot every day. If they only knew.

Now, we go back 65 years to 1951. The Erie Railroad is celebrating its 100th Anniversary.

A special train is being run with museum cars, the latest in Erie freight and passenger cars and new, shiny roaring diesel locomotives.

There were also some flat cars. On one of these flat cars is carried the Baltimore & Ohio’s 1855- built William Mason and a period passenger car.

They are disguised as an Erie train from 1851 and will be off-loaded at certain display areas to give operating demonstrations to the crowds of visitors.

Which brings us back to the matter of milepost JC 28.

The William Mason and its train were off-loaded here. Erie officials had given orders to an eastbound freight to temporarily stop and pose with the William Mason for the company photographer.

The photographer was on – you guessed it – the Route 17 overpass directly above my head. Although I can show the spot of the photo I could not duplicate the elevation due to bridge changes and the volume of traffic.

If everyone that passes through today only knew what happened at this very spot 65 years ago.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

Keeping Erie, EL Alive on New York Division

May 20, 2016
The restored WB Tower in Waldwick, New Jersey.

The restored WB Tower in Waldwick, New Jersey.

Akron Railroad Club blog reader Jack Norris wrote from his home in New Jersey that because many of us here in Ohio are interested in the history of the Erie and Erie Lackawanna railroads that we might be interested in some news from the old New York Division.

In Waldwick, New Jersey (milepost 23.2) on four-track old Erie Mainline is the home of the famous Waldwick “S” curve (a.k.a. Collin’s Curve) and sits WC Tower.

The Victorian style wooden tower controlled the interlocking as well as the entrance to Waldwick Yard, a layover yard for intermediate distance commuter trains.

The tower was manned until 1986 when New Jersey Transit closed it. The tower then languished for several years and was in danger of being torn down.

The community of Waldwick wanted to save their tower as well as the matching Victorian station.

The restoration process was successful and both structures are now property of the Waldwick Historical Society.

WC Tower has been restored and is open infrequently for guests to visit. The building has displays on both the lower level and the operator’s level.

Although the interlocking machine and model board are not in the building at the present time, both still exist and may, in fact, be reinstalled one day, depending on public interest and funding. The Waldwick Station will open this Sunday (May 22, 2016) as a town history museum.

By the way, if you know where to look you can still find seven EL manhole covers still doing their intended job even though their railroad is long gone.

I am sending along some photographs of WC Tower and the restored station.

About 100 commuter trains a day pass through Waldwick on a weekday as well as a couple local freights. One road freight passes through nocturnally five nights a week. I am also attaching the websites for both structures.

For more information, visit

http://allaboardwaldwick.org/

and https://www.facebook.com/WaldwickCommunityAlliance/

The Erie station in Waldwick before its restoration.

The Erie station in Waldwick before its restoration.

The restored Erie Railroad passenger station in Walkwick, New Jersey, as seen in December 2014.

The restored Erie Railroad passenger station in Waldwick, New Jersey, as seen in December 2014.

An Erie Lackawanna manhole cover.

An Erie Lackawanna manhole cover.

The next three photographs show the various exhibits of Erie and EL artifacts.

The next three photographs show the various exhibits of Erie and EL artifacts.

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New Jersey Transit has an extensive network of commuter rail routes in its namesake state.

New Jersey Transit has an extensive network of commuter rail routes in its namesake state.

The current NJT locomotive livery.

The current NJT locomotive livery.

NJT trains come with a variety of motive power.

NJT trains come with a variety of motive power.

A Metro North commuter train.

A Metro North locomotive pulls a commuter train.

WC Tower before its restoration.

WC Tower before its restoration.

Another view of WC Tower.

Another view of WC Tower.