Monday, April 2, 2012

The End


Three years ago I decided it was time I did some new things.

The reason I started the blog was to write. I wanted to write different: short forms and new subjects. I kicked off with four stand-alone pieces, and then a multi-part story, from a person who never writes stories. Eventually I slipped into New York transit once in a while, but even those pieces were different: commentary on how I made subway maps, a close study of the Botanical Gardens elevated station, and captions to a great series of elevated railway photographs that came my way thanks to an anonymous donor. It was a good run.

In case you ever wondered which pieces have had the most page views, here they are in order from the top:
Making a Subway Map (May 2010)
Subway Map (February 2010)
Beach Train (May 2009)
Riding the El (November 2010)
Botanical Garden (August 2009)
Amiable Child (April 2009)

Once I felt the blog was new and different. Now it's become old and tedious. It's a job I don't want any more. I have been missing other things in order to steal time to write the blog. That's not right.

What I like about the blog: Comments. This feature was especially strong for the Botanical Gardens and Riding the El pages. I'd like to do more of that.

What I don't like: Organization. With no structure it's too hard to find things. Google has a search strategy mindset but the labels just don't cut it. And showing posts newest-first order wrecks anything written as a series.

So this is it.

I will leave everything here until I can collect the contents into a better web site. If I can find a way to have both good organization and open comments that is what I will do. It will take some time to arrange.

See you around the web.

— Joe Brennan

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Give Me Liberty


This is one of those mixed bag posts. If you see a section you don't like, just move on.

A few weeks ago in Liberty Enlightening the World you might recall that the back of the package said:
Remove buildings from water and it will shrink to original size.
Surprise! Not really! I gave Colored Growing a few weeks to be totally dried out, but she's still about half again original size. And she looks different.

They've got me though. The directions say to remove buildings from water. If I complain they'll ask whether I removed any buildings from water. I did not.

Spring! Click to enlarge!

Out front, the daffodils get your attention first, and then the small purple flowers everywhere of the groundcover, vinca. Some pink hyacinths are scattered around. In the lower left quadrant please notice the clumps of purple and white snow glories, from little bulbs we planted laboriously last fall.

Up the hill out back, we have a nice grouping of hellebores. Behind them are a carpet of vinca and marsh marigolds. The yellow flowers of the marsh marigolds are closed today because it's been overcast. Near the top are cherry blossoms of the last remaining stem of an old tree. We had to cut down its main trunk last year because it was dead. It never produces cherries but the flowers and bark are unmistakable.

People keep asking, "Joe, did you forget about the New Jersey Terminals project?" So I believe. But if they are asking, they don't realize that I can't hear them from here.

Anyway, I have put up the 1915 lines and stations over on the web page. This is a candidate for the peak year. I left off the base map on this one to get a cleaner image.

The colors indicate the different railroad companies, with street railways in purple.

I found the street railways poorly documented but fascinating. In this portion you can see the Hoboken Elevated and several other sections of off-street running, particularly where cars ascended the Palisades.

A surprise to me was continued Pennsylvania Railroad service at Marion for a time after the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad opened. It probably had low platforms till the end. The service is documented in a 1915 Official Guide. H&M Newark trains ran past Marion without stopping on the same tracks as the Pennsylvania trains.

More fun next time.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ball's Bluff

It was nice day today, Sunday, so we went wandering in the woods in South Mountain Reservation in search of two places. There was a place called Ball's or Balls Bluff that I had never been able to find, and not far from it is Hemlock Falls, our own local natural wonder, which we've found many times but not approaching from the south.

According to the local journal Matters Magazine (originally Maplewood Matters, which was a nice pun, but hard to adapt when they decided to cover South Orange too),
On March 18, 1896, Philander Ball, who lived in Maplewood at 172 Parker Avenue, sold three and a half acres of nearby wooded property to the recently created Essex County Parks Commission. This transaction is remarkable because Ball's parcel of land was the first to be acquired for what would become South Mountain Reservation.
He was of the same family as Timothy Ball, whose colonial-era house I've mentioned in posts about stone houses and the Crooked Brook.

Here's a quick awful map of where we walked. Like many local maps the county's park map follows Dutch tradition and has west at the top.

We parked in a small lot with only two cars in it, the one where the red lines touch the solid black automobile road.

We struck off through the woods following vaguely the so-called trail shown by a dashed line on the map, and found the "bridle path" shown as Overlook Trail. The bridle paths are wide, unpaved, and well eroded. No one rides horses on them.

As shown the bridle path divides at "Balls Bluff". The location is a high knob overlooking the valley to the west, through which flows the West Branch of the Rahway River. It was probably a fine overlook 200 years ago when all the trees had been cut down for lumber.

Here's the same area on the 1902 map, when the reservation was new. The so-called bridle paths are shown by solid lines, which the legend calls "Temporary Drives / Old Woods Roads Improved". The double lines are "Proposed Drives" that were never built.

On the 1902 map, Balls Bluff is called Overlook Point, which matches nicely with the name Overlook Trail on the county's park map.

We started down the Lenape Trail, shown by a dotted line on the map, and found the remains of the Balls Bluff shelter. There's probably an old photograph of it somewhere but I can't find it. (By the way it is hard to search the web for Balls Bluff because there was a Civil War battle of the same name.)

Although we failed to bring a camera with us, all is not lost. Last September the blog Gone Hikin' ran photographs of scenes from a pretty long hike in the res including where we walked today. Before I send you there, let me describe the ruins. Pillars of rounded stones cemented together form a circle around sloping ground. The pillars on the uphill side are very short while those on the downhill side (seen in the photograph) are the tallest. After a moment we realized the tops of the pillars, or at least the unbroken ones, are all level. They must be supports for a wooden floor that is now gone.

Now go look. About halfway down is a photograph of the ruins at Balls Bluff, and right below it is also a photograph of Hemlock Falls.

That's about it. We took the Lenape Trail over hill and through dale and reached the falls. It hasn't rained a lot lately so it was less impressive than it could be. There are new benches. We went back up the grade on the bridle path, past Balls Bluff again, and again had to make our own way from there to the parking lot. We saw a pileated woodpecker working a hole in a tree, a warbler, and some chickadees. It was good.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Doff and Don


It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good.
Some character says that in an issue of Superman I read as a kid. The story line did not involve a windy day so I knew it was an old saying, but the meaning escaped me.

I was around ten at the time. Superman did not seem to me to be written for kids. I saw it as a window into an adult world where people said mysterious things and did things I didn't totally grasp.

For example the title character would repeatedly doff his civilian clothes to go do something super and then eventually don them again. These were words I did not know before.

The Oxford English Dictionary says of doff:
Etymology: Coalesced form of do off  [...]  In ordinary colloquial use in north of England (not in Scotl.). Elsewhere, since 16th cent., a literary word with an archaic flavour. Ray noted it as a northern provincialism; Johnson, as ‘in all its senses obsolete, and scarcely used except by rustics’. In 19th cent., from the time of Scott, very frequent in literary use.
And of don:
Etymology: contracted < do on [...] After 1650 retained in popular use only in northern dialect; as a literary archaism it has become very frequent in 19th cent. [...] The opposite of DOFF.
The literary use alluded to appears from the citations to be mostly adventure stories set in olden times. Ripping yarns. This suggests what the writers of Superman grew up on.

Make that one particular writer. I didn't know at the time that most of the stories I was reading were by the creator of Superman, Jerry Siegel. I didn't know because DC didn't run credits back then, and even if they had done, I wouldn't have known who Jerry Siegel was. DC had dropped him in 1947 when he sued for ownership of the character, but somehow he was allowed back in 1959 and worked for several years, right around when I was reading. He revitalized the sagging popularity of the Superman book with tricks like stories running a full issue, "imaginary" stories outside the canonical storyline, and new forms of kryptonite. As someone said (in a book I can't find so I can't quote it directly), he acted as if he owned the character and wasn't afraid to introduce new things.

Jerry's scripts always tended to the verbose. I realize now they also tended to the archaic. I'm not sure Jerry actually read Walter Scott, although why not? People still did in those days. But I bet the archaisms also appeared in the flowery heightened language of the dime novels that preceded comic books.

Then there's presently. This word appeared, followed by dots, in the yellow narrator box at the top of a panel in which the story shifts to a different scene. In case you didn't notice from the artwork, or couldn't just figure it out, you were thrown this obscure clue. It was another word I had never heard before. It was many years before I realized it means "soon" rather than "now". At any rate it seems to be just a case of Jerry Siegel being verbose. It was his style.
It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good.
I think it means that a circumstance bad for one person is usually good for somebody somewhere. I'd have to see the story again to see what Jerry thought it meant.

You should see "Federal Men". One good story from 1936 is on the blog Four Color Shadows, from which I have taken the two panels above. Joe Shuster art of course. The "Federal Men" series pre-dates the first appearance of Superman in print in 1938 although Siegel and Shuster had created him in 1934 for possible newspaper syndication. There are more panels from episodes of "Federal Men" scattered through the related blog Days of Adventure, which covers Adventure Comics from its beginning. Yes, "Federal Men" ran in Adventure Comics, the book later published by DC.

It brings up an interesting point about "Superman". The usual story— such as the Wikipedia page— has Siegel and Shuster trying to break in to the business for years before finally getting it published. Sometimes writers admit the pair did a few other comics in the meantime.

But a review of Adventure Comics from 1935 to 1937 on the Days of Adventure blog (see the earliest entries and work forward) will show plenty of comics by Siegel and Shuster as they tried out different heroes. "Federal Men" is a standout not only in retrospect but in its own time. It was the only series in Adventure Comics to have its own fan club, the Junior Federal Men. It was their finest hour to date.

When the editor wanted to start a second book, Action Comics, it's no wonder he was interested in Siegel and Shuster's Superman character. They weren't newcomers. They were known for quality work that attracted readers. That's why Superman appears on the cover.

Then followed the desperate deadline scramble, as usually told, where the pair cut up Shuster's artboards for the projected newspaper strip, dropping some of the panels and adding dialog or narration as needed, to create comic book pages. The cover of Action Comics number 1 was from an even older Shuster drawing, and has Superman with a different simpler logo on his chest. Days of Adventure reveals that Action Comics was first advertised a month too early in its sister book, as if despite the haste it just wasn't ready when planned.

I'd love to find for you the earliest use of doff and don in the Siegel oeuvre, but I'll have to leave it to someone else. I didn't see it in available panels of "Federal Men". I just can't do it all.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Liberty Enlightening the World


I was handed a little package about two inches high. Patriotic lettering announced it as COLORED GROWING, but it didn't fool me. Why it's Liberty Enlightening the World, America's favorite colossal statue.

Here's a better look at it. If you click only one image, to enlarge, this is the one to click. Check out the texture.

Now take a better look at the card.

COLORED GROWING. DO NOT SWALLOW. EXPAND 600% OF SIZE. Yes, it's dangerous. That is how you get people's attention. If you swallow this miniature statue, it becomes six times its size and explodes your intestines!

There's more on the back.

Again, its name seems to be Colored Growing, and again, we are alerted DO NOT SWALLOW.

The temperature of the water is under 35° C. What water? See step 2. I recognized the work of the Direction Writing Cartel. They almost got me again.

Amazing fun and an educational experience. My daughter has learned her New York attitude well. "What am I gonna learn from this?" she wanted to know.

Actually you should click on that one too, and look at the lower left, to see the symbol of the unhappy toddler who is not allowed to have amazing fun and an educational experience.


I always like a combination of fun and education myself. And I laugh at danger. Taking care not to swallow anything, I looked around for a container that would hold water.

The 600% enlargement concerned me. My first choice was a sink. After an hour or so, I realized that this meant we couldn't wash our hands while using what is after all called a washroom, so I transferred Colored Growing to a large spaghetti pot.

I checked the card again. 72 hours? Seriously? No wonder it looked like not much had happened after just one seventy-second of that time. Do not expect instant results.

The next morning, the replica was undeniably larger than it had been. When I picked it up, some of the paint flaked off and fell into the water. The base was rippled and warped. It looked pretty grotesque. But then, it had not even been a full 24 hours yet. I just needed to have faith.

Then we noticed one of the cats drinking from the pot instead of the nice clean water we provide them three feet away. The pot has a lid. I put it on. The magic would proceed in darkness.

The next images were captured generously more than 72 hours after the start of the experiment. But it says after 72 hours, not at exactly 72 hours, and I maintain that eight days is in fact after 72 hours.

Here is the pot.

I don't know what the white stuff is and ignorance is bliss. I know that the dark stuff at the bottom is paint that flaked off, mostly from the base of the statue.

But of course you don't get the scale from that picture. I was thinking ahead that I would put a ruler in the pictures, but in my excitement I forgot.

That's OK though. I had been provided with two copies of Colored Growing, so all we need to do to appreciate the transformation is place them side by side, before and after.

The educational thing I got out of this experience is that 600% means double the height, when you convert from meters.

I held the larger Colored Growing for her closeup.

She's getting ready to swing that torch at me. So I have nothing to lose by adding the sexy rear view of her and her little sister.

There. I did have amazing fun after all.

I wonder whether that pot will come clean.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Persistence of Horses


I've taken the New Jersey Terminals project all the way back to the beginning of railroading in the area. As early as 1812 Stevens had published his Documents Tending to Prove the Superior Advantages of Railway and Steam Carriages over Canal Navigation. In 1814 he surveyed a route across the state between New Brunswick and Trenton, pretty much what would eventually be the Northeast Corridor, even though Stevens's project itself was never realized. Still determined at age 76, Stevens in 1825 built a demonstration railroad on his property at Hoboken, New Jersey. While it was just a circular route to nowhere it was the first steam-powered railroad in New Jersey.

The consensus of railway historians is that the Stockton and Darlington Railroad, in northeastern England, was the first railroad to operate scheduled passenger and freight services, in 1825, the same year as Stevens's demonstration.

But the first practical railroads in the state were not steam powered. Early on, steam locomotives were small and underpowered, and had a tendency to break down or, worse, a tendency to explode because pressure was poorly regulated. Good locomotives were also hard to obtain. A company had to choose between the expense of importing one from England or the risk of allowing an American inventor to see if he could build one. As a result, conservative investors preferred the time-tested horse as motive power. Given smooth iron wheels running on smooth iron track, a horse could pull a greater load by railway than it could on ordinary streets. That was enough.

The first railroad opened in New Jersey was the Camden and Amboy. Its route will today seem peculiar: from South Amboy to Bordentown. The idea was to form a land route as short as possible between boat passages in New York Bay and on the Delaware River. The railroad opened at the end of 1832 with horses pulling the cars. Horses were changed three times so that each team worked a distance of less than ten miles. The company already had a locomotive on hand but did not trust the track or locomotive enough to use it. It had arrived from England as a kit, with no instructions, and had been fitted together in 1831 by a young mechanic who had never seen a locomotive. John Bull finally pulled a train late in 1833. The rest of the railroad, Bordentown to Camden, opened the next year. It's not clear from what I've read when the last trips were made by horse.

But South Amboy is not even on the New Jersey Terminals map. The familiar plan of running to a Jersey City waterfront terminal followed soon after, with the construction of two railroads.

The Paterson and Hudson River Railroad was the second railroad incorporated in the state and the second to open. Construction was supervised by two West Point engineers, McNeill and Whistler (the uncle and father of the later well known painter). Paterson was an industrial town taking advantage of hydropower from the drop in the Passaic River at Great Falls, but had poor transportation. Local investors pledge more than a million dollars toward the railroad, an incredible sum in 1831.

The first section of the P&H, horse operated, opened in 1832 between Paterson and a river landing at what is now Passaic. The more difficult section across the soft ground in the Hackensack Meadows was completed at the end of 1833, but there the railroad ended, at the location later called Marion. The new section was again powered by horses, and so were the carriages that completed the journey by road to the Hudson ferry.

The obstacle of course was Bergen Hill. The cut through the hill was being built jointly by the P&H and the New Jersey Railroad. Work began in 1832 and took six years to complete. All they had was black powder and hand tools.

The New Jersey Railroad was to run via Newark and Elizabeth to New Brunswick. The first section was finally opened late in 1834, almost a year after the P & H, from Newark to the junction. The companies built a temporary track by a routing I cannot identify over the top of Bergen Hill and then down to the ferry.

Neither company ran a steam locomotive until 1835, when they acquired one each, imported from England. The NJ's engine Newark actually managed to go up and over Bergen Hill pulling one coach.

The opening of the Bergen Hill cut in 1838 was also the occasion of running all-steam trains on the New Jersey Railroad. Up to that time locals to Newark were still horse powered, running in between steam trains to New Brunswick. Of course there were only a few a day on each service.

I don't have to hand the date when the P&H stopped running horse trains. It was probably earlier than 1838.

The really persistent use of horses was on my own familiar Morris and Essex Railroad. The M&E opened in 1836 from the New Jersey Railroad's Centre St station in Newark to Orange, horse powered, and onward to the original terminal at Morristown Green the next year. The M&E's cars were handled by the New Jersey Railroad to and from Jersey City.

The M&E got its first locomotive in time for the Morristown extension. It was built in Newark under the direction of inventor Seth Boyden, the polymath who already had the patent on patent leather and would in his later years develop the Hilton strawberry. Orange was probably the first locomotive built in New Jersey. It managed to go up the steep hill from Broad Street Newark to the Morris Canal crossing, a 2.5% grade, lessened today because the line is now above ground level at Broad Street and below ground level at the City Subway crossing. Reportedly Orange also achieved sixty miles an hour somewhere out in the Oranges. Doubt about that rests more on the crude condition of the track than any slight to Boyden's engine.

Boyden provided a second locomotive, Essex, the next year. But that was all, for quite a while. Local service between Newark and Orange continued to be run with horses, while the steam trains ran nonstop over that section. This is an arrangement you would expect to be very temporary in nature, but it was not.

The horsecar locals to Orange continued until 1851! Amazingly late. People in East Orange were complaining about having to change cars whether they were going east or west. And the service was so infrequent that an omnibus company had been formed to pull horse drawn stages over the parallel public road.

All this comes to mind as I work on the maps for 1835 and 1845. Should I indicate the horse services? I'm inclined not to, because I don't distinguish electric and steam operation later.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hudson Tube Recreation Guide

I don't think of the Hudson Tubes, also known as the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad, now known as the PATH system... every time I see an ad for H & M the clothing store I think of H & M the railroad... because sometimes I live in the past. Not even my own past, since the earliest I can remember riding through the tube was some years after it became PATH in 1962. But that's another story.

I don't think of the Hudson Tubes and recreation together. I guess not enough people did, so the company put out a Recreation Guide. There's no date. What's on the map inside tells me the likely date range is 1946-1956. The map is signed OPPY.

Oppy was the illustrator Amelia Opdyke Jones. She's best known for subway poster art (see here), but here she has strayed onto the H & M.

The compass rose for the map. It's fitting that the Tubes would have a round logo. That's one of the black cars, with the arched windows, which ran until newer equipment started arriving in 1958 and later. Oppy's lettering is always simple and pleasing.

Ball Parks: Ebbets Field, Polo Grounds, Yankee Stadium. For all three ballyards readers are advised, Get free H&M home game schedule. (If there are any other games played with balls, they are not mentioned in this guide.)

Concerts: Goodman Band. That bandshell in Central Park.

Greenwich Village: Quaint streets, shops, outdoor art shows, Washington Sq.

Library: Take IND "D" train to 42 St. Open Mon. through Sat. 9 AM to 10 PM. Sun. 1 to 10. Free.

Museums: Cloisters, Metropolitan, Modern Art, Mus City of N Y, Nat Hist and Planetarium. Admission to the MoMA was 60 cents, and the rest were free, except the Planetarium.

Zoos: Bronx, Central Park, Prospect Park. Free, except for some reason the Bronx Zoo was 12 cents Tuesday to Thursday.

Beaches: Coney Island, Orchard Beach. Beachgoers journeying on the uptown IRT from Fulton Street are advised to change at 125 St.

Buildings: City Hall, Empire State, Grant's Tomb, Radio City, Stock Exchange, United Nations. An interesting selection. Outstanding colonial architecture, antiques, it says of City Hall, at a lost age when visitors could not only walk right up to City Hall but go inside. Don't try it now. The 70th floor observation deck at "Radio City" (were they avoiding mentioning RCA?) at $1.50 a pop cost more to visit than the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building, but the former did include a guided tour.

Churches: Cath of St John, St Patrick's Cath, St Paul's Chapel, Temple Emanu-El, Trinity. I almost thought St Paul's made the list just because it was catty corner across from Hudson Terminal, but, Oldest public edifice in Manhattan, it says here.

Boat Rides: Around Man Island, Central Park Rowboats, Statue of Liberty, Various Other Cruises. I laughed at combining the rowboats into this category, but boats is boats. The Various Other Cruises mostly left from Pier 81 North River, 42nd St, and went to Atlantic Highlands, Bear Mt, Newburg, Poughkeepsie, West Pt, Yonkers (a confusingly disordered list). Others left from Pier 1 North River for Rye Playland, Rockaway Beach, and Moonlight Sail.

The Boat Rides item carefully steps around mentioning any ferries, not even the tourist favorite, the Staten Island Ferry. Touchy subject: the Tubes were built to replace or compete with the railroad ferries across the Hudson. If you wanted to ride a ferry... you could just get on one at Hoboken Terminal or Erie Jersey City and not use the Hudson Tubes. They didn't want anyone doing that!

I was looking around on the web for more on Oppy. I found the abstract of a New Yorker Talk of the Town feature from 1957 about the opening of the New York Aquarium, under the insane title "Aquarium Vernissage". Among those seated at Laurance Rockefeller's table was:--
Mrs. Amelia Opdyke Jones, who does posters for the "Subway Sun", and her son William. Young Mr. Jones runs a student alligator agency at Princeton, where he is about to graduate.

From the Daily Princetonian number for May 2, 1957:
Alligator Agency Formed to Satisfy That 'Hard to Please' Young Lady


"For the girl who has everything ... a live alligator." Two seniors have formed an organization to provide such merchandise for that hard-to-please young lady. "Sure we're serious," William J. Jones Jr. '57, co-founder of the Student Alligator Agency with Raymond S. Willey '57, said yesterday. The agency will send alligators to any place in the United States and Canada for $6.25, which price includes postage. Jones said the alligators, which run from a foot to a foot-and-half long, are guaranteed to arrive alive. The baby 'gators are all originally inhabitants of the Okefenokee Swamp in Florida, which also houses Pogo and his friends. They are shipped out by a Fort Lauderdale mailing firm. The agency suggests sending them as presents to preceptors, houseparties' dates, maiden aunts and brides-to-be. Upon arrival they will grow at a rate of only an inch-per-month. The care of the animals is no problem at all, as they will eat most anything. A rare delicacy for them is rare hamburger. It must be added, however, that sometimes they have to be forcefed at considerable risk to the feeder. Jones explained that he got into the business not only to make money, but because "just being the Student Alligator Agency appealed to us."

Sometimes I just don't know where one of my blog entries will lead me.

Two years earlier Oppy donated a silk dress from 1835 to the Metropolitan Museum. What is this, a commercial illustrator hobnobbing with a Rockefeller and donating fine antique clothing? Did she marry rich? Who was Mr Jones?

The more you know, the more you don't know.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Elizabeth Loop


Research for the New Jersey Terminals map project is starting to enter the 19th century. I realize that some of my fine sources aren't all that solid on dates before 1900. There's going to be some guesswork on my part. But I do what I can.

Once in a while I come across something that's just baffling.


One such thing is the station lineup on the Greenwood Lake line between North Newark and Montclair. The railroad itself opened in 1873 and this portion had passenger service until 2002.

(7.9) North Newark (Newark): 1873.
(8.5) Forest Hill (Newark): possibly 1873. Junction with Orange Branch.
(9.0) Soho (Belleville): 1880s.
(9.4) Soho Park, later called Belwood Park (Belleville): 1890s.
(9.8) Orchard St, later called Rowe St (Bloomfield) : 1900?
(10.2) Bloomfield Walnut St: 1900? Replaced Bloomfield Chestnut St.
(10.4) Bloomfield Chestnut St: 1873? North side of Belleville Ave.
(10.9) Chestnut Hill, later called Glen Ridge Benson St: 1900? Replaced first Chestnut Hill.
(11.3) Chestnut Hill (Montclair): 1880s. At Montclair border.
(11.9) Montclair: 1873. Still open as Montclair Walnut St.

The numbers are mileages from Jersey City. Ten stations in only four miles! But of course, not all were open at the same time. It helped me to work out that Soho Park and Belwood Park are the same place, and so are Orchard St and Rowe St, so it's not twelve stations. But on the other hand, Chestnut Hill was two places.

Notice the big shift that happened sometime around 1900. Chestnut Hill moved four blocks east, Bloomfield moved three blocks east, and Orchard Street appeared.

Left to right: Chestnut St, Walnut St, Orchard St. Walnut St once overlooked the Morris Canal, and then since the 1920s overlooked a ditch where the canal used to be. You can see why the station was closed around 1953— the Garden State Parkway was built right through the site. (By the way, it's not to be confused with Montclair Walnut St, known at that time as Montclair Erie Plaza when it needed to be differentiated from Montclair Lackawanna Plaza.)

The renaming of Orchard St station remains a mystery to me. The story is sometimes told that Rowe St was opened to replace the station closed for parkway construction, but that's not right. It had been there for years. The rename was not simultaneous with closing Walnut St either. I have an Erie timetable of September 24, 1954, that has Walnut St gone but Orchard St still so named.

The station is located between Orchard St, a north-south local connector street, and Rowe St, a minor dead end. Why would you rename a station for the less important street at the other end? To make it harder for drivers to find it? I think passengers even had to go to the Orchard St end to cross the tracks. I just don't get it.

Soho had the distinction of being the smallest station in New Jersey. Back in the day, there were numerous stations up in the hills and down in the pines that were no more than a wooden shelter the size of an outhouse. But Soho beats that. No walls at all.

All right, some country train stops had no shelter whatsoever, so they were infinitely smaller than this, but why ruin a good story?


Anyway that's not what I wanted to tell you about.

One of my book sources is (take a breath) Historic Journeys by Rail / Central Railroad of New Jersey / Stations, Structures & Marine Equipment by Benjamin L Bernhart, Outer Station Project, 2004. It's a good book. The author has tried to provide a photograph of every station building that existed in the 1900-1930 heyday of the railroad and to give the dates of each one, which is just what I wanted for my map project.

Many of the photographs are from the Interstate Commerce Commission valuation project done about 1917. Among them was this one. This is what I meant by baffling.

The caption notes that this was Fourth Street station, Elizabeth, on the Elizabeth Loop Line. To which I said to myself, THE... WHAT?

The same 'NE' who provided us a map of the Penhorn Creek Railroad has also worked his magic for the Elizabeth Loop Line, here. The left tangent is the original Central of New Jersey main line, which ran down a private right of way in the middle of Broadway to the Arthur Kill, where passengers and freight continued to New York by water. The right tangent is a later freight branch.

To my knowledge, up to last week, the old main line had no passenger service after 1864, when the Newark Bay bridge was completed, allowing all trains to run to the railroad's newly opened Jersey City terminal. Besides how could Fourth Street be the only station on the loop line?

I admit, for a few days I wrote this one off as an error by the writer. It just had to be a freight office, not a passenger station. This is called denial. Look at it. Long covered platform, small house. That's a passenger station. It's just in a very wrong place.

And then I saw Map of the City of Elizabeth New Jersey by Grassman & Kreh, published by Ernest L Meyer Inc, 1916. That might be the same year as the photograph! You can see it at Rutgers University's page New Jersey Historical Maps.

But I'll give you the key detail, below. I rotated the map to put north more or less at the top. (By the way it is intriguing how many New Jersey mapmakers in the early 20th century still carried on the Dutch colonial practice of putting west at the top.)

CNJ main line trains from Jersey City came in from the upper right, stopping at the important Elizabethport junction station, and stopping or passing the local Spring Street station at lower left. The other lines at Elizabethport ran north to Newark and south to Perth Amboy and shore points. Passengers would change at Elizabethport if their train did not continue in the direction they wanted.

I now think that around this date, the CNJ ran some local trains as follows. Coming from Jersey City, take a left at Elizabethport, stopping at the curved platform, like a shore train. But then, eight blocks south, take a right into the old main, and stop at Fourth Street. Continue straight back onto the main line in time to make the Spring Street stop too. How's that?

The routing I just described adds one stop to the run while skipping none. It also meets the usual railroad definition of a loop, which is not an oval, but rather a branch line that diverges from the main and then rejoins further on, forming an alternate route.

The Loop route could not have been operated much later than 1917. Within a few years the Perth Amboy line was raised above street level on an earth embankment, to eliminate the street crossings at grade, and that work also eliminated the connecting curve to old main line in Broadway.

I'm tentatively putting the Elizabeth Loop onto the 1915 and 1905 maps, but not earlier. Princeton's online Sanborn map collection has a map of Elizabeth from 1889 that shows neither the station nor the connecting curve. The map from 1903 at the same site shows the curve without the station, but because the station was a wooden structure in the middle of the street, I'm willing to imagine that it was left off. The 1889 map coverage also shows that much of the city was not yet built up in this area. I think the Loop station was used for factory shifts, and therefore would have had only a few trains per day at the right times. In that case it was not a holdover from 1864 but a new service put back on part of the old main when there was enough passenger traffic to warrant it. I don't think that happened yet in 1895.

There was a similar stop east of Elizabethport, Singer's, which Mr Bernhart documents as being in use from about 1908 to about 1926. It was for employees of the Singer Sewing Machine factory next to the line at that location, and it was doomed by another reconstruction project, the grade change for a new Newark Bay bridge. For that matter the CNJ's Kearny station was primarily for the Western Electric plant, and the entire Sound Shore Branch in Linden and Carteret (known in its later years as the Chemical Coast line!) was for factory workers.

I have never seen any mention of the Elizabeth Loop service in any book or web site, and I have the feeling I am one of just a handful of living humans who know about it. Now you are too.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Stereoview GIFs


This was the week we all heard about New York Public Library's Stereogranimator that makes animated GIF files out of their stereoview collection.

I have quite a few stereoviews myself, so I wanted to do it. It's this week's crazy thing. I want to be a happening person.

You can see five images here. They might make you feel dizzy, but they're still cool.

I thought I'd write here about how I did them.

You use the software you have. I see there's something for freakin' Windows that helps you align the images, but I'm not quite ready to go over to the Dark Side. I have Graphic Converter and I have Illustrator, and if you're on a Mac you can do it with those.

The main thing you need to do is to align the two images properly. The rest is just implementation. For example take this view:

The anchor point should be on something near the middle in depth. For this image, I chose the tree in between the women and children and the train. The tree was good: I moved the second image around until the branches of the tree lined up.

1. Graphic Converter. I scanned the stereoview and converted to greyscale.

I did a test run with color, but the conversion to GIF seemed to create artifacts, so I let it go. For each of these the images are albumen prints in shades of brown, mounted on cards with wild colors like yellow, orange, or lime green.

2. Graphic Converter. Open the image, select each half, copy.

3. Illustrator. Create a three-layer image. Two layers are the two halves of the view. Make the upper layer 50% transparent, and move it around until the anchor point, like the tree up above, is aligned. The third layer, at the bottom, is a rectangle surrounding both the other layers.

4. Illustrator. Select one image and the rectangle, and export. Then select the other and the rectangle, and export.

Illustrator will export only the content, not empty space around it. The purpose of the rectangle is to make the two exported images the same size with the anchor point at the same location in both. The two images themselves may be slightly different widths, and in a stereoview each image always has a little bit on the right or left that is not in the other image, so the exported files will not align without the rectangle around them.

5. Graphic Converter. Using Convert & Modify, select the two images exported from Illustrator and tell it to create an animated GIF from them. I used a delay of 0.2 seconds.


Except it was not done in one case, which happened to be the first one I tried. It's the last of the five images on that page. It just didn't work, and I didn't see why. I finally realized that the views were not mounted exactly right on the card. They were on two separate prints. When I rotated one of them 1 degree, suddenly it all worked. I anchored it on the boy on the platform.

PS: New Jersey Terminals is coming along. I was going to put the maps up one or two a week, but what happened is that I keep finding corrections that had to go back a few steps up the line. Just yesterday I found out something at 1915 that had to copy up to 1925, 1935, and 1945. So I'm holding on to them rather than keep uploading updates. It's going to be good.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Penhorn Creek Railroad


The Penhorn Creek Railroad.

The name conjures up thoughts of a doomed short line railway to nowhere projected during one of the railway booms the country experienced one hundred or more years ago. Or maybe it was a logging company's railroad that brought cut trees from the woods down to the sawmill next to a Class I railroad line.

But in fact it ran from Jersey City to Secaucus, and it was built about 1905 to 1910.

And the Penhorn Creek has a web page created by "NE", that shows you where it was and gives some information from the Valuation Reports done for the ICC ninety years ago:

Why, after dabbling in New York area rail services for these many years, have I just recently discovered the Penhorn Creek Railroad?

It shows how one or two people can make a difference.

For the Morris and Essex lines, which were the local part of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, we benefit from the work of Thomas Taber senior and junior, who produced the The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad in the Nineteenth Century and The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad in the Twentieth Century in a total of three volumes. Thanks to them we can trace railroad openings, station buildings, the laying of additional tracks, route realignments and grade separations, subsidiary companies, and train services.

For the Pennsylvania Railroad, we have the Triumph series by Charles Roberts and David Messer. Their typically thorough volume on the history of the New York Division— from just outside Philadelphia to New York— tells you almost all you need to know about the Northeast Corridor's development.

But the Erie Railroad in New Jersey, in that kind of detail? No one has done it.

So, I find out only now about the Penhorn Creek Railroad.

What was it? As the Board of Public Utility Commissioners (New Jersey) wrote in their 1913 annual report,

the formation of the Penhorn Creek Railroad Company was an expedient adopted by the Erie Railroad Company to enable it to accomplish certain results, highly desirable in themselves, which by direct action it could not accomplish.  [...]

From the beginning the main line and branches of the Penhorn Creek Railroad Company have been employed by the Erie Railroad Company as a part of its main line, and the only trains which have been operated thereover have been trains of the Erie Railroad Company "which operate over some one or more lines of railroad operated by the Erie Railroad Company or some parts thereof."

They got a little lost in that second sentence where they seem to be quoting something a company official testified.

In short— the Penhorn Creek Railroad was a new passenger main line that bypassed the freight yards in Secaucus and crossed through Bergen Hill in a new four-track open cut, the cut that became known as Bergen Arches. The old main, including the two-track tunnel opened in 1860, became  the freight main. The Arches and the tunnel are parallel, the tunnel along the north side of the Arches and at a lower elevation.

Here's a clip of the 1955 map from my forthcoming New Jersey Terminals project, with a black line added to show the freight main line. The Erie is shown in lime green.

In this area, three Erie lines converged. The Erie-owned New York and Greenwood Lake Railway included trains of its Orange and Caldwell Branches and of the Erie's Newark Branch ; the Erie's Main Line included trains of the Erie-owned New Jersey and New York Railroad (now called the Pascack Valley Line) and the Erie's Bergen County line (mainly for freight) ; and the third line was the combined Northern Branch of the Erie and New York, Susquehanna and Western Railroad.

The Penhorn Creek Railroad had a grade-separated junction between the busy Greenwood Lake and Main lines, with the outbound Greenwood Lake crossing under the Main. The Penhorn Creek ran four tracks wide starting at the junction. The less busy Northern-Susquehanna route, however, as far as I can tell, had an at-grade junction with the four-track Penhorn Creek main line. I imagine inbound trains from those lines just had to wait to join the main. There was no way to build a better junction in the very tight space available.

On the left there's a railroad in my base map with no colored line over it, with the lettering N AND NEWARK R R. Believe it or not it's part of what got me started on the project.

That route, from about the W east, was the Morris and Essex main line from 1863 to 1877. See how it lines up with the dark green Morris and Essex to the left. During this period the M&E ran through the Erie tunnel and then, east of the tunnel, curved north and east to Hoboken. And also during this period, in 1872, the Erie opened its Newark and Hudson Railroad, which completed a branch line from Paterson to Newark to Jersey City. The odd result was the Erie running on the M&E for a short distance. Once the M&E opened its own tunnel in 1877, it followed the routing shown above in dark green, and the Erie acquired the segment used for its own trains.

The Erie had significant investment in the New York and Greenwood Lake Railway from the early 1880s but did not actually acquire control until 1898. Some time around 1890, the Erie had a company called the Arlington Railroad construct a connection in the meadows from the Greenwood Lake south to meet the Newark Branch at a point just off the map above. This consolidated traffic over the lower bridge seen in the base map.

I know that the Greenwood Lake originally ran to the Pennsylvania terminal at Exchange Place. I think the re-routing via the Arlington Railroad marks the date that it started running to the Erie terminal instead. The upper bridge seems to have remained in use— at least maps continued to show it— and possibly it was used to bring freight over the old route to the Pennsylvania Railroad at Marion Junction.

Around 1909, another connection was built across the meadows, running from the Newark Branch northeast to the upper bridge. This seems to have been coordinated with the construction of the Penhorn Creek Railroad, and in fact some part of the line, I would say east of the bridge, is credited to the Penhorn Creek. The point was to get both the busy Greenwood Lake route and the lesser Newark Branch over the upper bridge to that grade-separated junction. A freight connection was also supplied curving north to the Croxton Yard around the old Erie main line. Once this was all in place, about 1911, the lower bridge was removed.

Well, that was a long way to go. I just wanted to point out that the Penhorn Creek Railroad used a little bit of the old M&E curve as it came out of the Arches.

And where is the waterway called Penhorn Creek? You can see it on the base map. It forms the boundary between City of Jersey City and Town of Secaucus.

And how has the Penhorn Creek Railroad fared?

The Erie and the Lackawanna (owner of the M&E) began to consolidate operations into the M&E's Hoboken Terminal in 1956. A connection was built where the Penhorn Creek came alongside the Lackawanna's Boonton Line, north of the Greenwood Lake junction, and the Greenwood Lake itself was also connected to the Boonton Line. This part of the Penhorn Creek remained in use until 2003, when New Jersey Transit opened a new connection near the Hackensack River from the former Erie Main Line to the former Lackawanna Boonton Line, as part of the Secaucus Junction station project. Most of this section of the Penhorn Creek Railroad is now part of a New Jersey Turnpike ramp for Exit 15X.

South of the Turnpike ramp, the former Penhorn Creek Railroad is abandoned, including the Bergen Arches. The Arches closed when the Erie's Jersey City terminal closed in 1958. The parallel tunnel, which was about 50 years older than the Arches, continued in use for freight for decades longer. I am not sure whether it is still in use.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mystery Train, Solved


A month ago I wrote about a mysterious train on the New York and New England Railroad in 1893, a daily limited-stop express between Boston and ... Hopewell Junction, Dutchess County, New York. It seemed to make no sense at all. I observed that its arrival and departure at Hopewell Junction appeared to be coordinated with the Boston and Philadelphia express trains at Poughkeepsie Bridge. A connection would merely require running the 13 miles between Hopewell Junction and Poughkeepsie in a half hour&mash; a leisurely 30 miles per hour would do it. The catch is that the little Dutchess County Railroad showed no such trains in its timetable. Additionally the Dutchess County showed an astoundingly slow time of 65 minutes for its fastest train on the 13 mile route.

I speculated that the New York and New England express could be a mail train, and that the Dutchess County Railroad segment could have been only for mail cars and thus not shown in the public timetable.

And now, while researching for the New Jersey Terminals project, I came across the solution. It was not a mail train, but a train for express, which was the term for shipments of packages, the kind of service provided today by companies like United Parcel or Federal Express. The name of the latter still works if you think "express" means "fast".

One of the most unbelievable trains imaginable operated over the Morris and Essex during the period about 1892-1896. This was the "Boston Flyer", which, with the unusual Train Number 7½ left Hoboken about 8:30 p m and via the Boonton Branch arrived at Waterloo at 10:00 p m, where the engine was turned on the turntable, put on the other end of the train, and proceeded up the Sussex Road to Franklin Junction. There the train was turned over to the Lehigh and Hudson River Railroad for the trip to Maybrook, New York. Here the train was delivered to the Philadelphia, Reading and New England for the run over the Poughkeepsie Bridge to Hopewell Junction. At that point the New York and New England operated the train through Danbury, Waterbury, Hartford, and Willimantic, Conn, and on via Blackstone to Boston, where as Train No 32 it was scheduled to arrive at 8:20 a m.

— Thomas Townsend Taber, The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad in the Nineteenth Century, Steamtown Volunteer Association, 1977.

Taber includes a sample timetable he dates as 1892, showing the train.

I was going to include here timetable images from Mystery Train and add the Lackawanna table, but I see Blogger has changed the way it shows images in a way that makes them too small to read. Instead of wrestling with that, I'll type it out here. Unknown timings are shown with a question mark.


BOSTON                    1800   0820
Franklin                  1842   0733
Putnam                    1940   0639
Willimantic               2025   0555
Hartford                  2120   0500

Hartford                  2130   0450
New Britain               2145   0435
Plainville                2155   0422
Bristol                   2207   0415
Waterbury                 2245   0345
Danbury                   2340   0235
Hopewell Junction         0030   0130


Hopewell Junction         ?      ?   
Poughkeepsie              ?      ?   


Poughkeepsie              0101   0054
Maybrook                  0150   0003


Maybrook                  0200   2353
Greycourt                 0218   2337
Warwick                   0240   2315
Franklin Junction         0310   2240


Franklin Junction         0445   ?   
Newton                    ?      ?   
Waterloo                  0515   ?   

Waterloo                  ?      2200
Dover                     ?      2136
Boonton                   ?      2120
Paterson                  ?      2055
Lyndhurst                 ?      2044
HOBOKEN                   0656   2030


The above is from the June 1893 Official Guide and from the 1892 eastbound Lackawanna table in Taber's book. There are small differences, but the 0820 arrival in Boston matches Taber's text, and the Poughkeepsie to Franklin times match a February 1893 table in Carlton Mabee's Bridging the Hudson (Purple Mountain Press, 2001). The greatest difference is the southbound timing at Franklin Junction, but Taber has the whole southbound run about an hour later, as follows.

The return trip left Boston at 7:00 p m as Train No 91, reaching Franklin, New Jersey at 4:45 a m, and Waterloo 5:15. After turning the engine, and putting it on the other end, the train proceeded to Hoboken as No 8½, due there at 6:56 a m.

In June 1893, the Lackawanna segment was probably as much as 90 minutes earlier than shown above, but I have entered the times from Taber anyway.

Railfan Dave Rutan, who has researched the Sussex Branch for years, has confirmed that the train ran until 1896, and he explained why the train did not exchange between the Lackawanna and the Lehigh and Hudson River at Andover.

The Boston Flyer was discontinued in 1896. The connection at Andover Junction was not created until 1905. The Boston Flyer ran up the Sussex Branch through Newton to Franklin where it got on the L&HR. The train even made station stops in Newton.

Based on this I added Newton as a stop in the table above. See Rutan's page Remember the Sussex Branch for more, including maps that may clarify point about Andover and Franklin Junction. He also has a plan showing that a cutoff was finally opened in 1901 allowing direct running into the Sussex Branch without the reverse at Waterloo, where the junction faced west. The reason for both the Waterloo and Andover improvements was to facilitate freight trains running to the Poughkeepsie Bridge route. So the "unbelievable" passenger trains were just a short-term addition to a more permanent freight routing connecting the Lackawanna and New Haven systems without carfloat at New York.

Neither of the half-number trains is shown in the June 1893 Official Guide. However, for many years the Lackawanna was cheap about buying pages in the Guide. In the condensed schedules they could cram into two pages, smaller stations are omitted, and some trains shown only as 'additional trains' in footnotes squeezed into margins. Other railroads would have taken at least four pages for the number of trains the Lackawanna operated. It's not clear that all trains were shown even as notes, and perhaps especially not two trains run mainly for express packages.

The peculiar train numbers seem to have been unique on the Lackawanna judging by Taber's comment in his thorough three-volume company history, namely "Why this train was numbered with a ½ has never been explained". Trains 7 and 8 without the ½ were "solid vestibule trains", overnight services with good accommodations between Hoboken and Buffalo. 7½ left 45 minutes after train 7, and 8½ arrived 90 minutes before train 8 (or 3 hours before— see above).

The elder Thomas Taber actually spoke with a Lackawanna engineer who ran the train.

This rather implausible operation was not intended for through passenger service, but was primarily to transport shipments of the United States Express Company (which operated on the D L & W) between New York and Boston, as a rival express company had the franchise on the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. For several years, Morris and Essex locomotive No 87, named "John J Phelps", was assigned to handle the trains between Hoboken and Franklin. The redoubtable John Draney, later to achieve great renown as a teller of tall tales, and star of a radio show "Life Begins at 80", was the engineer, and he told the author that when running at night through the dairy farming area of Sussex County, the greatest hazard was cows on the track. Said John, "I killed eight one night in Drake's Cut, and when I told Superintendent Reasoner about it when I got to Hoboken, he asked if there were any more cows around. I said there was one more, and he said 'Well why didn't you get that one too?'"

An elderly Miss Emma Warbasse told a writer for the Susquehanna Reflector in April 1956 (also from Dave Rutan's site):

Back in the early nineties, the Lackawanna's famous Boston Flyer would roll through Sussex County each evening, its beautiful chime whistle reverberating through the pastoral valleys and wooded hills, its many brightly-lit windows giving forth an enticing glow and the lure of distant horizons.

The word "famous" certainly overstates the case— or maybe not, for longterm Sussex County residents.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Jersey Terminals 3

Nobody noticed that I had the north-south PATH line in Jersey City out of place. I include myself in that statement. Before and after:

I had to fix it in all the maps I've started so far.

I decided also to make the widest line 6 points, not 8, which you can see at Hoboken Terminal. At 8 it was getting in the way of clarity.

The idea of showing light rail lines has snowballed into a Thing, because there are so many of them once I go back past 1945, and I have not already researched them at ten-year increments as I have done the mainline railroads. But I still like the idea and I am plodding along with it. It's taking a lot of time.

This is what part of 1935 looks like with all the street railways in:

Removing the background has its advantages:

That's also 1935. I think I'll leave the background, because it lets you match the lines to streets and landmarks, but the map without it has its minimalist beauty, doesn't it?

I already realize that I will not get the street railways exactly right, because of incomplete source material, but I'm going to get as close as I can.

I had a dream. I went down to the basement for something. Maybe I was doing the wash. When I got there, I found a bear in the basement. It wasn't a full grown bear, but it was pretty big. It didn't look exactly right and I realized it was a CGI bear. I still didn't like being down there with it, so I went back upstairs. I wasn't sure what to do. How did it get down there? I remembered there was a small window with a bad latch. That must be it. He pushed it and got in. I went outside and I found two men in uniform, who were looking around as if they'd lost something. One had a gun with a large barrel. I knew it was a dart gun. "Are you looking for a bear?" I asked them. Yes, they were. I told them it was in my basement. We started up the driveway so I could show them the window, but the bear was already coming out. It was squeezing itself through the little window, and when it got the last of its body out, it made a pop sound like a cartoon bear would do. It saw us and ran up the hill in the back yard, and the two men chased after it.

That was it. I woke up. What does it mean, doctor?


Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Jersey Terminals 2


I've spent a lot of time on the maps. The only ones I'd call done at this point are 2012, 1975, and 1965. They are now up at a work in progress site, The page needs some written commentary that I will do later.

Here's a preview of 1955:

For the first time (going back) we have the terminals of the Erie Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad.

It's hard to see here, but for the Erie I show the 4-track Bergen Archways open cut line and the older 2-track tunnel just to the north. I think passenger trains used the archways, but if they used the tunnel at all, I wanted to show it.

The Pennsylvania and the Hudson and Manhattan presented an interesting graphic problem. From the portal to west of Journal Square, the H&M used the center pair of tracks and the Pennsylvania passenger trains used the outer tracks. They merged west of Journal Square and used the same Pennsylvania Railroad tracks almost to Harrison station. To show this I have used two thin red lines around the H&M blue line. You could argue that it's all Pennsylvania trackage, but I used blue where the H&M had exclusive use. Journal Square station was H&M only.

Last minute change: I now use the same graphic in 1965, 1975, 2012 to show the stretch near Harrison where PATH is the outer track around the mainlines.

East of the portal the Pennsylvania ran directly over the H&M. I decided to offset the two just enough for you to see the H&M continuing east in tunnel. As the Pennsylvania grows wider nearer the terminal, it covers the H&M. It works for me.

And here is 1945:

Since I showed light rail on the 2012 map, I felt I should be consistent and show it on the older maps too. So there is the Hoboken Elevated. And in very thin purple lines, there are the street railways that ran through from the elevated. There wasn't enough room to name all the elevated stations, but the stops shown are at the correct positions (the pair of one-side stations in Hoboken at Washington St and Bloomfield St are shown as one circle).

The other addition (that you can see here) is the short-lived Lehigh Valley commuter service to the LV's own Jersey City terminal. The terminal, as far as I can tell, consisted of one track alongside Johnston Avenue across the street from the CNJ terminal. Passengers used the CNJ ferry. The 1945 timetable shows one train each way via this route, so I used a thin line.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Jersey Terminals


I've started a new project I'm calling New Jersey Terminals.

I was inspired by getting the latest volume of Richard Carpenter's A Railroad Atlas of the United States in 1946, which is volume 4 covering Illinois, Wisconsin, and upper Michigan. If you are interested in American railroad history you should definitely get these books.

I stumbled across volume 1 in a large bookstore in Toronto a few years ago. I had not heard about it before. I later ordered volumes 2 and 3 from Johns Hopkins University Press, and now I just got volume 4 for Christmas courtesy of my brother in law Rick, who has met the author because of his work with HART in Danbury.

Volume 4 includes the trackage outside both Chicago and St Louis. Both are more fiendishly complicated than the tangle on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, but still, I thought I might be able to provide some clarifications for railfans if I mapped out the passenger services here over time.

This is different from the Atlas. I'm showing only the passenger network, and showing it over time instead of in one year.

I researched the subject some years ago, but I never put it out on the web (or anywhere else), so this is all new stuff. It's mostly just a matter of drawing the maps from the material I have, so I think I can knock it out over some number of weeks starting now.

First I tiled together a base map from four 15-minute series topographics like I did for the Danbury map a few weeks ago. They are from 1898 and 1900. Maybe I should have used the more recently updated 7.5-minute series like I did for the South Orange boundary maps in October, but I didn't. The old maps show some small rail lines that are gone now, and I thought using them would help me draw those lines in the right positions when I did the older years. But it's six of one ; using the old maps I ended up having to work out the location of the high line to Penn Station, which was not there yet in 1900.

Then I drew the present day: the Hoboken lines, the Penn Station lines, the light rail, and PATH. As I worked I decided to vary line width and station circle size, and to show tunnels with dashed lines.

Next I jumped back to 1975. At first I was thinking of just mapping each 25 years, but then I decided it would be more fun to be more granular than that, so the next one I did was 1965. My plan now is to go each ten years on the fives, 1955, 1945, and so on. Maybe I will go back and do 2005, 1995, 1985, but the fact is they didn't change as much as the older dates.

Here is today. I used the New Jersey Transit orange and purple colors for the main lines and the light rail. I'm not sure I like those colors, but they are what they are.

Now, back to 1975. No light rail, and for the Hoboken main lines I'm using the dark green color the Erie Lackawanna used on coaches. We didn't know it then, but this year was pretty much the low point in the modern passenger railroad network. The for-profit railroad companies had abandoned all but the busiest routes, and the state had just started developing rail transportation.

And now, 1965. The Central of New Jersey terminal appears. Its color is royal blue, because the CNJ used a dark blue and yellow scheme, and because the Baltimore and Ohio used the the CNJ as part of its alternative "northeast corridor" between New York and Washington, known as the Royal Blue Line.

I think the map just above poses the question, "why did the PATH tubes run to Hoboken but not CNJ Jersey City?", and the next one, which will show two more terminals at Pavonia and Exchange Place, will ask more loudly, "why just three out of four?". Railroad politics, I think, together with the tubes not generating the income that would attract more capital investment. Not everything can be mapped.

These are just very small sections of the maps in preparation. The full coverage goes out about 15 miles, to show how the various main lines and branches approached the city.

For colors I wanted to follow Richard Carpenter's concept, as he wrote,
Every effort has been made to choose a color for each railroad company that has a historic association with that railroad. ... However, in order to preserve a graphic color contrast between adjacent railroads, the choice of an unrelated color has sometimes been necessary.
I have not used all the same colors he did. But I like the idea. Pennsylvania is dark red, Lehigh Valley is orange, Susquehanna is yellow, New York Central (West Shore) is grey, Erie is light green.

More next week.