Morristown and Erie Railway

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Morristown & Erie Railway
ME Diamond.png
Reporting mark ME
Locale northern New Jersey
Dates of operation August 1, 1895 (1895-08-01)–Present
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Headquarters Morristown, New Jersey
Route map
Toys "я" us
Target Industries
NJ Route 10
Wickes Lumber
Kuiken Brothers
NJ Route 10
Holland Manu.
R P Smith Cons.
High Bridge Branch
to Hackettstown
Chester Branch
Dover & Rockaway
Rockaway River
Rockaway River
Interstate 80
84 Lumber
Action Technology
DaVinci Foods
to Montclair
Mount Tabor
Morris Plains
Maint. & Storage
Morristown Lumber
Standard Roofings
South Jefferson
Whippany Railway Museum
Suburban Propane
M I Group
Five-Stat Group
Foremost Groups
Paper Mart
Whippany River
Royal Lubricants
Givaudan Flavors
Anderol Inc.
Passaic River
Eisenhower Parkway
Lumber 1
B&G foods
Essex Fells
Former Erie Caldwell branch

Chartered in 1895 as the Whippany River Railroad, the modern Morristown & Erie Railway (reporting mark ME) is a short-line railroad based in Morristown, New Jersey. It operates freight rail service in Morris County, New Jersey and surrounding areas on the original Whippany Line between Morristown and Roseland, as well as the Morris County-owned Dover & Rockaway Branch, Chester Branch, and High Bridge Branch. The M&E has also operated the Maine Eastern Railroad since November 2003.


The modern Morristown & Erie traces its roots to the original Whippany River Railroad, chartered on August 1, 1895, and hastily constructed to connect Morristown and Whippany. Interchange was established with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad (DL&W) at Morristown. When the railroad defaulted on their bonds, paper mill owner Robert W. McEwan purchased the line from its creditors in 1896. Thanks to the numerous mills and other customers located along the line, the railroad enjoyed success and was looking to expand.

Seeking a connection with the Erie Railroad, McEwan chartered the Whippany & Passaic River Railroad in 1902 to build a line from Whippany to Essex Fells. Having access to two major railroads meant that McEwan's customers could enjoy competitive shipping rates from both connections. On August 28, 1903, the Whippany River Railroad and the Whippany & Passaic River Railroad were merged into the new Morristown & Erie Railroad.

M&E operated a modest passenger service, but automobile competition ended that in 1928. Freight business grew as the mills along the line kept switching crews busy.[1]


The economic downturn associated with the Great Depression affected M&E. Frugal management kept the railroad viable through the worst of the 1930s. M&E would be the only U.S. railroad to rid itself of all debt during the era leading up to World War II. The railroad passed out of the McEwan family by 1943 and continued under new management. In 1952, the line received its first diesel, an S-4 from Alco.

When Andrew J. Cobb III assumed the presidency in 1961, many of the mills that had been steady customers began to shut down and consolidate. In 1960, DL&W and Erie Railroad merged to form Erie Lackawanna Railway, eliminating competition for shipping rates to M&E.

By the 1970s, the Northeastern railroad industry was in decline, and M&E looked to alternative revenue streams. The Morristown shop was leased to a locomotive rebuilder for a period of time, but it was not enough. The last paper mill had closed and carloads were down to a dozen per week. The railroad tried to invest its freight earnings into non-transportation areas, but these experiments failed. By 1978 the railroad filed bankruptcy.[1]


A consortium of businessmen under the leadership of Benjamin J. Friedland purchased M&E in 1982, and immediately set to work on rebuilding the business as the Morristown & Erie Railway. Investments were made in track and repairing locomotives. Aggressive marketing helped bring traffic back to M&E. Friedland became a spokesperson for short line railroading, and was able to use these connections to help grow his business. He also had a strong sense of history, and is also credited with the opening of the Whippany Railway Museum in 1985.

Around this same time, Friedland helped orchestrate the purchase of the Chester Branch, and began operating the line under contract for the new owners on December 21, 1983. He also worked with Morris County officials to help purchase and operate remnants of the former Central Railroad of New Jersey Dover & Rockaway and High Bridge branches in 1986. The M&E also briefly operated the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad between 1989 and 1990.

Morristown & Erie ALCO Century 424 No. 18 sits outside the Morristown shops.

While the M&E enjoyed modest growth throughout the 1980s, the railroad continued to seek out new opportunities for expansion. In 1995, Friedland negotiated a contract with Tosco (formerly ConocoPhillips, now Phillips 66) to be the contract operator for switching operations at Bayway Refinery in Linden, New Jersey. Bayway is one of the largest refineries on the East Coast.

The untimely 1998 death of Friedland shocked the company and short line industry that had come to respect him as a leader. In his 16 years at the helm of the M&E, he ascended from an obscure railroader to an industry icon. The New Jersey Short Line Railroad Association has an award named in his honor "for meritorious service to the short line industry."[2]

The expansion of M&E continued after Friedland's death. In 2001 the M&E was selected to repair and operate the Linden-Cranford, New Jersey segmet of the Staten Island Railway (SIRY) and Cranford-Summit, New Jersey segment of the former Rahway Valley Railroad (RVRR) as the newly created Union County Central Railroad. M&E entered into a 10-year agreement with Union County starting on May 15, 2002, for the rehabilitation and operation of these dormant freight lines. Conrail objected to the filing as M&E would need trackage rights over NJ Transit's Raritan Valley Line to travel between the ex-SIRY and ex-RVRR. Conrail had previously negotiated exclusive trackage rights with NJT back in 1984, but expressed willingness to work out a special arrangement with M&E should service resume.[3] As of May 2012, M&E removed their equipment from the RVRR and SIRY, pursuant to the 10-year agreement with Union County.

The M&E would embark on its second foray into Pennsylvania, operating the SEPTA-owned Octoraro Railroad from July 1, 2003, to November 18, 2004. The line is currently operated by the East Penn Railroad.

On November 1, 2003, M&E took over operation of the Rockland Branch, a former Maine Central Railroad line now owned by the state of Maine.[4] M&E created a subsidiary, the Maine Eastern Railroad, for its Maine operations. Passenger trains are operated between Brunswick and Rockland, Maine.

Between 2001 and 2006, portions of the Rahway Valley Railroad and Staten Island Railroad were acquired for potential reactivation.

In 2009, the M&E took over contract operations of the Stourbridge Railroad (former Lackawaxen & Stourbridge), based in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Passenger excursions continued to be sponsored by Wayne County. As of 2012, all freight and passenger operations have been suspended.

Current operations[edit]

To get between its lines, the M&E has trackage rights on New Jersey Transit's (NJT) Morristown Line and Montclair-Boonton Line west of West End (the junction west of the Palisades Interstate Parkway with NJT's Main Line); it uses the Main Line and the Bergen County Line to interchange with the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway at Passaic Junction (rail yard). M&E locomotives are NJT cab-signal equipped and not considered to be foreign railroad power on NJT lines. Freight is interchanged with Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) at Lake Junction and with Conrail Shared Assets and CSX Transportation at Center Street, Harrison (east of Newark on the NJT M&E main line).

In addition to freight service, M&E operates charter passenger service and rents railcars and conducts contract rebuilds of passenger cars. It also allows film stuiods to rent trains for filming. Recent films including Far from Heaven, Mona Lisa Smile and the The Station Agent, as well as the reality television series The Next Food Network Star. Scenes for Shontelle's music video for the song "Say Hello to Goodbye" were filmed on at M&E's Whippany passenger car storage facility in summer 2011.

Lehigh Limited[edit]

M&E dining car Birken

In May 2013 M&E announced its first public main line excursion in nearly three decades in the form of the Lehigh Limited operated in cooperation with NS and NJT operating from Hoboken Terminal to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The Lehigh Limited ’s two first class observation cars (the Kitchi Gammi Club and Babbling Brook) and the train’s snack car (the Birken) were on display at Grand Central Terminal (GCT) in New York City on May 11 and 12 during the Parade of Trains exhibit for GCT's centennial celebration.[5]


Whippany line[edit]

The Whippany line is M&E's original main line, in use since 1903 and with some portions dating back to 1895. The 9-mile (14.48 km) line runs between Baker Interlocking (connection with NJT's Morristown Line in Morristown, where M&E's main office, yard, and shop are located) northeast to Roseland in Essex County. The line is single track and has many grade crossings. It serves Cedar Knolls and Whippany in Hanover Township, and East Hanover and Roseland. The line currently ends east of Interstate 280 in Roseland. The outer half-mile has been out of service since customer Bobst Group, Inc. closed it doors. Track conditions have since degraded.

NJT has expressed interest in the line. In 2000 the agency the M&Eunder "projects to be defined/studied" for the year 2020.[6]

Station list[edit]

Mile Post Station Notes
30.00 BAKER Interlocking Junction with NJ Transit Morristown Line
0.00 Morristown Company Headquarters, Mechanical Shop
2.00 Cedar Knolls Jefferson Road Transload Facility
3.90 Whippany Whippany Railway Museum, Troy Hills Bulk Transload Facility
6.26 East Hanover
8.21 Roseland
9.00 End of Track


(products/shipments listed in parentheses)

  • Renewable Energy Group, Cedar Knolls (biodiesel fuel)
  • Whippany Railway Museum, Whippany (excursion trains)
  • Anderol Specialty Lubricants, East Hanover (oils, lubricants)
  • Givaudan, East Hanover (food products)
  • B&G Foods, Roseland (food products)

Chester Branch[edit]

The former DL&W Chester Branch was extended in 1869 to Chester, New Jersey, to serve the local mining industry. In 1983 Conrail planned to abandon the branch line, but Holland Manufacturing and another local business that used the line purchased it to continue rail services to their facilities. In fall 2009, Morris County, New Jersey, purchased the line and leased rail operations to M&E. Branching off from Lake Junction, it ends in Succasunna. High Bridge branch service uses this line to access the High Bridge Branch at Ferromonte Junction. The line was rehabilitated in 2010 with the use of federal stimulus funds obtained by the line's new owner, Morris County Department of Transportation.


(products/shipments listed in parentheses)

  • Holland Manufacturing, Succasunna (miscellaneous)
  • Kuiken Brothers Company, Succasunna (lumber, building materials)

High Bridge Branch[edit]

This is one of two branch lines M&E began operating in 1986. The High Bridge branch is owned by Morris County, New Jersey, and is leased to M&E. A former Central Railroad of New Jersey line called the High Bridge Branch, it splits from the Chester Branch at Ferromonte Junction and heads southwest through Succasunna and Flanders. The line ends west of U.S. Route 206 in Flanders. Originally excluded from the Conrail system in 1976, the line remained in service under a subsidy agreement by local authorities until 1981. Morris County purchased the line from the state in 1982, with the line south of Flanders abandoned.


(products/shipments listed in parentheses)

  • Blue Ridge Lumber, Kenvil (Kenvil Team Track) (lumber, building materials)
  • Triumph Plastics, Flanders (plastic)

Dover & Rockaway branch[edit]

Originally the Dover & Rockaway Railroad, the second of two former CNJ lines taken over by M&E in 1986. The line operates from D&R Junction (where it meets the NJ Transit Morristown Line) in Wharton through downtown Dover northeast to Rockaway. The line ends along Green Pond Road in Rockaway Township, north of Interstate 80. This line passes through downtown Dover and Rockaway with many street crossings. All the customers on this branch are located in an industrial park along Green Pond Road, at the north end of the branch.


(products/shipments listed in parentheses)

  • Polyfil, Rockaway (plastics - polyethylene)
  • Endot, Rockaway (plastics - piping)
  • TriPak, Rockaway (plastics - packaging)
  • 84 Lumber, Rockaway (lumber, building materials)

Rahway Valley Railroad operations[edit]

In 2001 the M&E was selected to repair and operate a rail line consisting of the New Jersey portion of the Staten Island Railroad between Linden and Cranford, and the former Rahway Valley Railroad between Cranford and Summit. Both sections are now known as the Rahway Valley Railroad. The New Jersey Department of Transportation owns the lines, and the County of Union administers the contract. As of late 2006, only the southern portion of the Rahway Valley Railroad has been restored, as the restoration of the northern portion from Summit to Cranford is being challenged in court and lacks sufficient county funding. The first M&E train ran on the southern portion of the line on July 13, 2005.

The intention was that Union County would work to revive freight service on the former Rahway Valley Railroad route from Summit to a connection with the former Staten Island Railway and Conrail at Cranford, New Jersey. The M&E would be the operator of any reactivated Rahway Valley line service from Summit to Cranford. Operation of the Rahway Valley line from Summit to Cranford would allow the M&E to access their operations at the Bayway Refinery in Linden via a more direct connection using trackage rights over the Morris and Essex lines and would provide freight service to customers along the Rahway Valley, which was abandoned in 1992. It would also allow interchange with the recently reactivated Staten Island Railway freight connection to New Jersey.

As of 2012, the M&E's contract with Union County to rehab the Rahway Valley between Summit and Cranford has expired and was not renewed.

Morristown & Erie locomotive roster[edit]

# Type Built Builder Acquired Disposition Notes
1 4-4-0 12/1874 Altoona 6/19/1895 Late 1908, scrapped Ex-PRR class D3 #137. Named "Whippany."
1 2-8-0 2/26/1908 Rogers #45087 2/26/1908 12/6/1917, sold Sold to Toledo, St. Louis, & Western #136, became NKP class G4 #836 on 12/28/1922, retired 3/1933 and presumed scrapped
2 2-4-4T 10/1894 Rhode Island #3006 1/6/1908 1/1/1922, sold Ex-Chicago South Side Elevated RR #226, exx-Chicago South Side Elevated #35. Sold to Hanover Brick Co. Scrapped 1936.
3 2-6-0 1870 Dickson #62 3/11/1908 11/1/1927, scrapped Ex-DL&W #364, exx-DL&W #121
4 0-4-6T 1885 Rhode Island #1557 5/5/1911 12/2/1915, sold Ex-New Haven #2114, exx-B&P #777, exxx-B&P #177, exxxx-B&P #24. Sold to General Equipment Corporation as trade-in for #6.
5 0-6-0 1880s Altoona 11/17/1913 12/1913, scrapped Ex-PRR class B3. Boiler found to be full of mineral deposits, scrapped immediately.
6 2-8-0 5/1898 Pittsburgh #1814 12/2/1915 10/1948, scrapped Ex-P&LE #9314, exx-P&LE #135. Last day of operation 12/21/1945.
7 2-4-0 4/1905 Schenectady #30749 1/1/1917 4/9/1952, scrapped Ex-Lake Champlain & Moriah #14. Received tender from #8 in 1936. Stored 1939.
8 2-8-0 1902 Baldwin #21178 5/28/1920 1936, scrapped Ex-Hocking Valley #244. Stored 1933, tender given to #7 in 1936.
9 2-8-0 10/1904 Brooks #30134 10/20/1927 1/1947, Scrapped ex-Rochester and Pittsburgh #328. Stored 9/1/1944.
10 2-8-0 11/1909 Pittsburgh #46770 8/22/1944 10/12/1955, scrapped Ex-Monongahela class H5 #116
11 2-8-0 7/1912 Pittsburgh #51593 8/22/1944 10/12/1955, scrapped Ex-Monongahela class H5 #131
12 2-8-0 7/1912 Pittsburgh #51592 7/13/1946 10/12/1955, scrapped Ex-Monongahela class H5 #130
14 S-4 4/26/1952 ALCO-GE #79786 4/26/1952 3/1986, sold Named "Mauritus Jensen." Renamed "T. G. Peterson" 7/1981. Sold to Linden Chlorine. Scrapped 1994.
15 RS-1 9/1944 ALCO-GE #72817 10/1963 7/1985, sold Ex-USN #65-00078, assigned to Dahlgren Testing Station #6. Named "R.W. McEwan." Sold to Valley Railroad, resold to Central Connecticut Railroad, resold to A. J. Beliveau, parted out and scrapped mid-1990s at Central New England.
16 C-430 12/1967 ALCO #3494-05 8/1982 5/2001, sold Ex-Conrail #2054, exx-Penn Central #2054, exxx-New York Central #2054. Out of service 1990 for cracked truck frame. Sold to WNY&P as #432.
17 C-430 12/1967 ALCO #3494-04 9/1983 5/2001, sold Ex-Conrail #2053, exx-Penn Central #2053, exxx-New York Central #2053. Out of service by end of 1999. Sold to WNY&P as #431.
18 C-424 9/1964 ALCO #3382-01 12/1983 In Service - Morristown Ex-TP&W #800
19 C-424 9/1964 ALCO #3382-02 12/1983 In Service - Morristown Ex-TP&W #801
20 SW-1500 10/1966 EMD #32156 8/1996 In Service - Bayway Refinery Ex-CRL #0100, exx-ACWR #1500, exxx-CSXT #1315, exxxx-RF&P #91
21 RS-1 12/1954 ALCO #80853 1/2001 2004, transferred to Whippany Railway Museum Named "R. W. McEwan." Ex-Pook Valley #21, exx-Ware River #21, exxx-Mass. Central #21, exxxx-MDDE #21, exxxxx-Soo #350
22 GP9 9/1954 EMD/M-K #19875 3/18/2000 OOS Ex-Morrison-Knudsen #5001, exx-UP #278. Rebuilt as TE50-4S with Stelzer engine by M-K, reverted to GP9 with EMD engine by M&E.
23 GP7u 8/1952 EMD/ATSF Cleburne Shops #16385 8/5/2014 OOS Ex-MM&A #23, exx-BAR #23, exxx-ATSF #2175, exxxx-ATSF #2741
24 GP7u 12/1952 EMD/ATSF Cleburne Shops #17706 8/5/2014 OOS Ex-MM&A #21, exx-BAR #21, exxx-ATSF #2023, exxxx-ATSF #2845
25 GP9 6/1954 EMD #19556 8/5/2014 OOS Ex-MM&A #79, exx-BAR #79


  1. ^ a b M&E history
  2. ^ The Benjamin J. Friedland Award
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "Employer Status Determination". Retrieved September 21, 2012. 
  5. ^ press release
  6. ^ New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers, The 2020 Transit Map (New Jersey Transit, October 2000)

External links[edit]