Rahway Valley Railroad

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Rahway Valley Railroad
RV RR Logo.jpg
Reporting mark RV
Locale Northern New Jersey
Dates of operation 1897–1992
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Headquarters Kenilworth, New Jersey
Rahway Valley Railroad
M&E/DL&W Mainline/NJT Morris & Essex Lines
7.1 Summit
East Summit
5.0 Baltusrol
4.4 Springfield
3.1 Katemiller (Arion)
2.9 Newark Heights
0.9 Unionbury
Unionbury Branch at Union Junction
2.6 Doty's (Union)
Warren Street
Monsanto Branch
1.7 Central (Kenilworth)
Lehigh Valley Railroad/NJT Raritan Valley Line
Central Railroad of NJ/NJT Raritan Valley Line

The Rahway Valley Railroad (RVRR) was a short-line railroad in the Northeastern United States which connected the Lehigh Valley Railroad in Roselle Park and the Central Railroad of New Jersey in Cranford with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western in Summit. Operating over a span of 95 years (1897–1992) in Union County, New Jersey, in its prime it was one of the most successful shortline railroads in US history, even turning a profit during the Great Depression. During its lifetime, the RVRR was instrumental in the development of Kenilworth (site of its headquarters) as well as Union Township, Springfield and other towns along its route. But later years would see rail traffic decline and by the mid-1980s the line could no longer afford to purchase liability insurance. The RVRR was foreclosed on and sold to the Delaware Otsego Corporation which did little to revitalize the nearly 90-year-old line. Traffic continued to decline until service was finally ended in 1992, with only one customer left on the once flourishing line.

History[edit]

New York and New Orange Railroad 1897–1901[edit]

The predecessor railroad to the RV started in 1897 as the New York and New Orange Railroad. The initial four miles of track ran from Kenilworth, New Jersey, to Aldene, where it connected with the Central Railroad of New Jersey. The railroad was originally created as part of an industrial development project in New Orange (now Kenilworth). The railroad was chartered in June, 1897 by members of the New Orange Industrial Association to serve their factories in New Orange (Now Kenilworth.) In the charter for the railroad the line was given permission to build to Summit, but limited funds prevented this. For the year 1899 the factories in New Orange were shut down, due to an economic recession. The NY&NO only operated passenger trains for this year. The 4-mile NY&NO quickly became unprofitable and soon stopped paying taxes and was sold under foreclosure in 1901 to the hastily organized New Orange Four Junction Railroad.

New Orange Four Junction Railroad 1901–1905[edit]

This short-lived railroad was organized by William W. Cole and several partners, who held interests in the New Orange Industrial Association, to take over the foreclosed upon New York and New Orange Railroad. During its entire four years of operation it was mostly a break-even deal for this railroad. In 1903 the NOFJ was contracted by the Pennsylvania Railroad to remove the soil from Tin Kettle Hill for the PRR's approach to its New York City tunnel. The PRR became very interested in this line and helped it to acquire right-of-way to build a line to Summit. The PRR also had plans to extend the railroad south to its line. Surveys for the line to Summit were made in 1902. Due to financial problems in the company the NOFJ never extended to Summit. In July 1904 the Rahway Valley Railroad was chartered to build from Kenilworth to Summit. Mr. Cole, president of the NOFJ became associated with the new line and was soon appointed its president. The NOFJ and Rahway Valley Railroad were consolidated on March 1, 1905.

Rahway Valley Railroad 1904–1986[edit]

Louis Keller, a founder of Baltusrol Golf Club, was dissatisfied with the transportation to his golf club over the rough dirt roads that existed in Union County, New Jersey in the early 1900s. He was further frustrated with efforts of the New Orange Industrial Association, and their two railroads the NY&NO and NOFJ, to build a rail line from Kenilworth to Summit. Keller became involved with a project called the "Cross County Railroad" in 1903 in which he invested, but the project went bust. He decided to take matters into his own hands and form the Rahway Valley Railroad on July 18, 1904. Not being experienced in managing and building railroads, Keller became associated with NOFJ President William W. Cole and brought him on as RVRR president, the NOFJ and RVRR were consolidated on March 1, 1905.

Through the efforts of Keller and Cole the line was eventually extended to Summit in 1906, but they were denied access to connect to the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad in Summit. Over the next twenty-five years court battles would ensue over this connection before one was finally made in 1931.

In 1909, to lower costs, Keller created a lessee company, the Rahway Valley Company, to lease the entire railroad to, in-order to lower costs. The lessee company was controlled by the Keller family for its entire existence. The Rahway Valley Railroad Company owned all of the track, stations, and other structures, from Roselle Park to Summit, and the Monsanto Branch, but its operations were carried out by the lessee.

In 1914 when World War I started the Rahway Valley Railroad experienced a boom in activity. A gunpowder plant was built by the American Can Co. in 1914 on the Unionbury Branch. A plant only known as the “Fireworks Factory” was also opened on the Unionbury branch by Czarist Russia, and shipped via the RV. A disaster on the Unionbury Branch almost destroyed the Fireworks Factory, and rumors of German spies caused the line to hire armed guards to protect the rails from foreign infiltrators. The American Can Co. provided a string of eight coaches that came from Staten Island via the Staten Island Railway every morning loaded with workers and then transferred to the RV. The Lehigh Valley ran its trains up to Kenilworth for a time to bring in workers, and the CNJ shipped as many as 5,000 arsenal workers a day for three shifts. At its peak the RV carried thousands of workers to the factories around the clock.

In 1918 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles World War I quickly came to an end, and with it freight traffic severely declined and almost all passenger traffic disappeared. With a lack of traffic the railroad was put into a greatly compromised position. The railroading experience of William W. Cole disappeared with his unexpected death in 1915, his replacement Charles Wittenberg died in 1919. Louis Keller, with nowhere to turn, and with no ability to operate the railroad himself, brought Roger A. Clark and his son George into the company in 1919. Through Roger Clark's ability to attract business on the line the line's financial situation began to turn around.

In 1921, Louis Keller passed away. The executors of his estate appointed Roger Clark president. His first move was to discontinue passenger service. Since 1918 there were two passenger trains a day that consisted of one passenger coach and locomotive No. 5 which primarily were to cater to Keller's golfing pals, which the Clarks called the "blue chip fellows." Next Clark upgraded the increasingly deteriorating Rahway Valley Railroad locomotive fleet. Nos. 9 & 10 were put out to pasture as unneeded and were eventually scrapped. In 1927 No. 12 was purchased, but deemed to large and retired in 1929. It wasn't until 1929 that Nos. 13 & 14 were purchased that the RVRR completely phased out the older locomotives.

Roger Clark died in 1932 and the Keller estate put his son George A. Clark in the helm of president. Under George Clark the Rahway Valley Railroad made its actual first net profit in many years in 1934. Clark also continued to attract new businesses to locate on the line. An increase in larger industry along the railroad also occurred. But by the early 1950s with the increase of improved highways, trucks began chipping away at the Rahway Valley's business market.

Clark forced himself to dieselize the railroad in 1951 with the purchase of 70-ton locomotive No. 16 from General Electric. For a few years the Rahway Valley interchangeably used steam (#13 & 15) and diesel (#16) power until a second diesel locomotive (#17) was purchased in 1954. No.13 was scrapped and No.15 was put into storage in Kenilworth until it was sold to Steamtown in 1959.

George A. Clark died in his office in the old Kenilworth Station in 1969. His son Robert G. Clark was created president. By the time George Clark died a significant decrease in the traffic on the Rahway Valley Railroad could be seen. With smaller profits came deferred track maintenance and weeds could be seen growing along the line. In the early 1970s came the closing of the line in Maplewood. Bob Clark attempted to attract new business to the line, and was temporarily successful, but his base was still being taken out from under him. He unexpectedly died in 1975.

The Keller estate, still owners of the railroad, appointed experienced railroader Benard Cahill to the presidency. Cahill was able to bring new life to the railroad. He secured grants from the state to update trackage and secured new office space in a former Lehigh Valley passenger coach that he purchased and parked on a siding in Kenilworth, the previous offices in the old Kenilworth Station burned in 1974.

In 1980 passenger trains were again run over the Rahway Valley Railroad, albeit for a week, for the occasion of the U.S. Open being held at the Baltusrol Golf Club. Trains were run between Kenilworth and Baltustol in a push-pull formation by Nos. 16 & 17. The train, sponsored by the Union County Trust Company, used passenger coaches rented from the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad in New York.

Despite improvements and revitalization, the formation of Conrail in 1976 put the Rahway Valley Railroad in an awkward situation. Previously having three independent railroads connecting to it, the RVRR now had one railroad connecting to it in three separate places. With Conrail the last train ran to Summit in 1976. No longer using the Summit connection, the RVRR increasingly used the former Lehigh Valley connection and less and less used the former CNJ connection at Aldene. But despite these new predicaments the RVRR under Cahill kept trudging along, increasingly relying on its largest customer, Monsanto Corp. in Kenilworth, as slowly more smaller customers switched to trucks.

The Delaware Otsego Corporation 1986–1992[edit]

In 1986, the Rahway Valley Railroad was unable to purchase liability insurance. The line was in turn sold to the Delaware Otsego Corporation (DO), which operates the New York, Sushquehanna, and Western. Nos. 16 & 17 were removed from the line in 1989, and put into service in Binghamton, NY. The replacement No. 120 of the NYS&W, an EMD SW9 built by EMD.

The DO did little to revitalize the line. The DO deferred track maintenance and customers became disenchanted with the lines new management and turned to trucks. The DO, also operators of the former Staten Island Rapid Transit Line from Cranford to Linden, began using the Aldene connection which had received much less maintenance in years past, so derailments were frequent. In 1988, the now unused former Lehigh Valley connection was torn up. But the bottom fell out when Monsanto Corp. closed and Jaeger Lumber discontinued service in 1991. With virtually no business left to serve the Delaware Otsego Corp. closed the Rahway Valley Railroad along with the Staten Island Rapid Transit line in April 1992, the RVRR having only one customer left.

Current status[edit]

Rahway Valley Railroad tracks along North Michigan Avenue in Kenilworth

The Morristown and Erie Railway (M&E) was contracted by the State of New Jersey in 2001 to refurbish and operate the southern portion of the former Rahway Valley Railroad. M&E operations on the southern portion of the former Rahway Valley Railroad commenced in July 2005 and connect to the newly restored Staten Island Railway on Staten Island, New York, and the national rail network via an interchange with Conrail Shared Assets in Cranford.

As of 2010, the funding for the Rahway Valley rebuild by NJDOT are not enough to keep rebuilding. Now most of the line from Roselle Park-Union/Springfield border is cleared of trees and thick brush. New track has been inserted from the Union/Springfield border to the Union Wye (behind Rahway Ave). On a side note, all the sidings to the railways potential future customers were left unconnected to the main line. Also track has been inserted in some parts of Kenilworth. As for the sections past the Union/Springfield border nothing has been done yet through the towns of Springfield or Summit.

As of 5/15/12, the M&E removed all its assets from the railbeds since they did not exercise their option to extent the operating agreement with Union County. (Letter from the County Manager 4/25/12 to the Roselle Mayor)

Stations[edit]

Station Built Dismantled MP Size Notes
Central Station, Kenilworth 1898 1979 1.7 16' x 40' Burned 1974, torn down. Also known as Kenilworth Station. N. 31st Street.
Warren Street Station, Kenilworth 1899 (?) 1922 N/A 16' x 25' On Monsanto Branch, dismantled after end of regular passenger service. Was located near 26th Street and Sheridan Ave.
Doty's Station, Union 1905 1924 2.6 8' x 12' Location now Rt. 22, dismantled two years after end of regular passenger service
Arion Station, Union 1905 1924 3.1 10' x 12' Next to Liberty Ave. Also known as Katemiller Station, vacant until 1924.
Springfield Station, Springfield 1905 N/A 4.4 18' x 40' On Mountain Ave., Still Survives, used as a business. After end of passenger service used as a freight office, and later housed lawn-sprinkler and print-shop businesses. Now home of Hecht Family Chiropractic Care, the office of Dr. Gary Hecht.
Baltusrol Station, Springfield 1906 1972 5.0 20' x 30' Was located near Baltusrol Way under I-78. Rented out until 1972 when I-78 was built. Served the Baltusrol Golf Club.
East Summit Station, Summit 1906 1910s Unk. Was on Russell Place. Elevated above the road.
Summit Station, Summit 1906 1975 7.1 18' x 25' Was at 270 Broad Street. Torn down to make way for apartments, vacant from 1920s until dismantling.
Unionbury Station, Union 1916/7 1919 0.9 Unk. Was located on what is now Francyne Way in a new development. Was on the Unionbury Branch. Possibly was only a freight station
Newark Heights, Maplewood N/A N/A 2.9 N/A Was planned but never constructed, was planned to be located at Newark Way and Tuscan Road.

There was also a Flag stop at Michigan Avenue in Kenilworth.

Chart, R.J. King 2008

Road crossings[edit]

Town Road Name Built Last Use Dismantled Notes
Main Line
Summit Broad Street 1906 1976 1990s Overpass. Location of Summit Station.
Morris Avenue 1905 1976 1990s Overpass
Ashwood Avenue 1906 1976 Overpass, Originally built 1905, torn down, rebuilt 1906.
Russell Place 1906 1976 Overpass, Originally built 1905, torn down, rebuilt 1906.
Morris Court 1990s ? N/A Built after closure of line to Summit.
Springfield Shunpike Road Early 1960s 1976 1990s Overpass, 1963 shows two overpasses.
Baltusrol Way 1905 1980 Level Crossing. Location of Baltusrol Station.
Mountain Avenue 1905 1980  ? Level Crossing. Location of Springfield Station.
Miesel Avenue 1905 1980 Level Crossing.
Union Springfield Road 1905 Late 1980s Level Crossing. Later known as Liberty Avenue. Location of Arion Station.
Chester Road 1904 1926 1926 Level Crossing. Location of Doty's Station
NJ 29 west 1926 1991 Level crossing. Later U.S. Route 22; Had signals.
NJ 29 east 1926 1991 Level crossing. Later U.S. Route 22; Had signals.
Kenilworth Boulevard 1897 1992 Level crossing. Also known as Kenilworth Boulevard.
Passaic Avenue 1990s 1992 Level crossing. Entrance to A&P Supermarket.
Market Street 1897 1992 Level crossing.
Fairfield Avenue 1992 Level crossing.
Michigan Avenue 1897 1992 Level crossing.
Faitoute Avenue 1897 1992 Level crossing.
Roselle Park Colfax Avenue 1897 1992 Level crossing.
Amsterdam Avenue 1897 1920s 1920s Level crossing. Road cut back in the 1920s.
Woodside Road 1920s 1992 Level crossing.
Pinewood Avenue 1920s ? 1992 Level crossing.
Westfield Avenue 1897 1992 Level crossing.
Lehigh Valley Branch
Roselle Park Fairfield Avenue 1899 1988 1992 Level crossing.
Colfax Avenue 1899 1988 1992 Level crossing.
Webster Avenue 1919 1988 1992 Level crossing.
Rahway Valley Line
Union Morris Avenue 1915 1991 2007 Overpass
Vauxhall Road 1915 1980s 1980s Overpass
Stanley Terrace 1915 1972 1980s Overpass
Maplewood Rutgers Street 1911 1972 1970s Level crossing.
Rahway River Branch
Kenilworth Michigan Avenue 1897 1990 1990s Level crossing.
N. 22nd Street 1897 1990 1990s Level crossing.
N. 21st Street 1897 1990 1990s Level crossing.
N. 20th Street 1897 1990 1990s Level crossing.
N. 19th Street 1897 1990 1990s Level crossing.
N. 18th Street 1897 1990 1990s Level crossing.
N. 17th Street 1897 1990 1990s Level crossing.
N. 16th Street 1897 1990 1990s Level crossing.
N. 14th Street 1897 1990 1990s Level crossing.
Monroe Avenue 1897 1990 1990s Level crossing.
N. 12th Street 1897 1990 1990s Level crossing.
N. 10th Street 1897 1990 1990s Level crossing.
N. 8th Street 1897 1990 1990s Level crossing.

Rahway Valley Locomotive Roster[edit]

Number Name Builder Built Builder # Purchased Sold Former Railroad Type Notes
1 New Orange Juniata Locomotive Shops 1869 322 1898 1903 Pennsylvania 4-4-0 Operated by New York and New Orange Railroad.
2 Juniata Locomotive Shops 1870s 1898 1903 Pennsylvania 4-4-0 Only one locomotive mentioned in 1904.
3 Juniata Locomotive Shops 1870s 1898 1906 Pennsylvania 4-4-0 Wrecked in 1906
4 Dickson Manufacturing Company 1870 1904 1918 DL&W 2-6-0 Mentioned 1909 & 1911. Scrapped after WWI.
5 Dinkey Baldwin Locomotive Works 8/1882 6305 1905 1922 CNJ, 23 (710) 0-6-0T Passenger locomotive. Rarely used after 1919. Sold to a contractor
6 Baldwin Locomotive Works 1905 1917 SIRT 2-4-4 Information needed, ended up in Europe.
7 Baldwin Locomotive Works 1908 32817 New 1917 New 2-4-4 Shipped to Spain in 1920s. Worked until the 1940s in Brazil, may still exist.
8 Pittsburgh Locomotive and Car Works 1900 2070 1916 1929 P&LE, 1772 2-8-0 Scrapped after being replaced by Nos. 13 and 14 in 1929.
9 Juniata Locomotive Shops 11/1893 1917 1920s PRR 0-6-0 PRR Class B-3
10 Juniata Locomotive Shops 11/1893 1917 1920s PRR 0-6-0 PRR Class B-3
11 Baldwin Locomotive Works 3/1904 1920 1937 G&U, 5 2-6-0 Originally Montpelier and Wells River Railroad. Standby service, 1929–1937, Replaced by No.15, Scrapped.
12 Pittsburgh Locomotive and Car Works 1903 1927 1943 B&LE, 96 2-8-0 Retired in 1929, too big for regular use.
13 Baldwin Locomotive Works 1905 26355 1929 1952 L&NE, 19 2-8-0 Twin to No.14
14 Baldwin Locomotive Works 1905 26356 1929 1951 L&NE, 20 2-8-0 Twin to No.13, replaced by No.16
15 Faithful Fifteen Baldwin Locomotive Works 1916 43539 1937 1959 O&W, 20 2-8-0 Sold to Steamtown.(separate wiki>)Rahway Valley 15
16 GE Transportation Systems 1951 30838 New 1989 New 70T Sold to Delaware Otsego Corp. in 1986, removed from RV in 1989. Currently (2010) sits at Whippany Railway Museum.
17 GE Transportation Systems 1954 32130 New 1989 New 70T Sold to Delaware Otsego Corp. in 1986, removed from RV in 1989. Currently (2010) sits at Whippany Railway Museum.
  • B&LE-Bessemer & Lake Erie
  • L&NE-Lehigh & New England
  • O&W-Oneida & Western
  • G&U-Grafton & Upton
  • P&LE-Pittsburgh & Lake Erie
  • PRR-Pennsylvania
  • LV- Lehigh Valley

Chart, R.J. King 2008

Rahway Valley Rolling Stock[edit]

Number Built Acquired Sold/Scrapped Notes
101 1880s 1905  ???? Flat car with eight wheels.
102 1914 1934 Late 1960s Referred as the Rahway Valley's one and only caboose. Painted red with yellow cupola. Might have been sold to a railroad in Illinois.

Chart, R.J. King 2008

Rahway Valley Presidents[edit]

President Start Year End Year Company Notes
Robert Grimes 1897 1898 NY&NO
William W. Cole 1898 1899 NY&NO Later served as president of the NOFJ.
William White 1899 1900 NY&NO
Robert Grimes 1900 1901 NY&NO
William W. Cole 1901 1905 NOFJ Formerly served as president of the NY&NO.
Louis Keller 1904 1905 RV
William W. Cole 1905 1907 RV Formerly worked with the NY&NO and NOFJ.
Louis Keller 1907 1922 RV Organized the Rahway Valley Lessee in 1909 to take over operations.
Charles J. Wittenberg 1909 1919 RVL Died in office. Was also a director.
R.H. England 1919 1920 RVL Worked with unsuccessful companies. Quit in 1920.
Roger Arthur Clark 1920 1932 RVL Keller brought Clark east in 1920 to work on RV's books as an auditor. When England quit Clark assumed presidency.
George Arthur Clark 1932 1969 RVL Made Rahway Valley profitable, Died in Kenilworth Station.
Robert George Clark 1969 1975 RVL Known as Bob. Died in office.
Bernard J. Cahill 1975 1986 RVL Had 30 years of prior experience on railroads.
Walter Rich 1986 1992 DO President of entire Delaware Otsego operations.

NY&NO- New York and New Orange NOFJ- New Orange Four Junction RV- Rahway Valley Railroad RVL- Rahway Valley Lessee DO- Delaware Otsego Corp. (New York, Susquehanna, & Western)

Chart, R.J. King 2008

Accidents on the NY&NO and the RV[edit]

  • September 1, 1899 – At 1:10 pm a Mr. Theo Harrison of Newark, New Jersey, was driving his horse-drawn wagon on Westfield Avenue when he tried to outrun the oncoming NY&NO locomotive No.1. Mr. Harrison was thrown from the wagon and sustained a minor flesh wound from a broken crosstie on the right leg. He was later reported to be partially paralyzed.
  • March 11, 1904 – William H. Harding, a conductor on the New Orange Junction Four Railroad (NY&NO), was fatally injured while coupling cars and died May 13. The accident was a result of carelessness on the part of Mr. Harding.
  • 1905 – James Gray, an engineer on the Rahway Valley Railroad, was thrown from the cab of locomotive No.3 while running at full speed. His leg was crushed so badly that it was amputated.

Both from the annual reports of the NY&NO and the RV, can be found on Google.

In 1906 No.3 was wrecked after traveling at a high rate of speed near the Rahway River trestle.

Also in 1906 an accident resulted when a passenger train got loose from the locomotive going up the grade to Summit and plowed into a locomotive in Springfield.

External links[edit]

References[edit]