Edgewater Branch

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Cut though Fairview Cemetery

The Edgewater Branch ran about 3.174 miles (5.108 km) through eastern Bergen County, New Jersey in the United States. Starting from the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway's (NYS&W) Undercliff rail junction at the Little Ferry Yard (in Ridgefield),[1] it went east through the Edgewater Tunnel to Undercliff (as Edgewater was once known) to the Hudson Waterfront.


The New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway handled passenger and freight traffic from the coal mining region in the Lackawanna Valley in and around Scranton, Pennsylvania through northern New Jersey. While it had a line running along the foot of the western slope of Hudson Palisades that terminated in Jersey City north of Marion Junction it owned no right of way through Bergen Hill.[2][3][page needed] The railroad paid substantial fees to both the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) (for passenger trains) and the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western (DL&W) (for freight service) to use their lines to terminals on the North River.[4]

The Hudson River Railroad and Terminal Company was incorporated as a New York Susquehanna and Western Railway subsidiary in 1892.[5] The NYSW developed a terminal on what had once been a coal yard for oceangoing ships along the Hudson River shore.[6][7] At the time the Erie Railroad held a controlling interest in the line. In 1907, Erie Terminals Railroad took control of the Edgewater and Fort Lee Railroad[1] which ran to the Hudson County line and connected with the New Jersey Shore Line Railroad,[8] eventually becoming part of a Belt Line along the shore.[9][10]

Extensive railyards and car float operations supported the development of industries which dominated the shoreline for much of the 20th century.[11][page needed][12] Among them were Alcoa Aluminum, Ford Motors, Lever Brothers, Valvoline Oil Company, and Archer-Daniels-Midland.[13][12] Eventually the factories closed as industry globalized, facilities became obsolete, and shipping in the port shifted to trucking and containerization.[12] The closure of Ford’s Edgewater Assembly Plant in 1955 saw the loss of one of the line's biggest clients.[14][15]

Edgewater Tunnel[edit]

The Edgewater Tunnel is a former railroad tunnel through Bergen Hill, the Hudson Palisades. Originally opened in 1894, it was built to gain access to the Hudson River waterfront.[16] About 200 ft (61 m) underground and about 1 mile (1.6 km) long, its western cut and portal is located in the Fairview Cemetery in Fairview and the eastern portal is located in Edgewater. The right of way was taken out of use in 1985 and the track was removed seven years later.

A pipeline now runs through the tunnel[17] between Hess facilities in Bogota and Edgewater. A power cable, part of the Hudson Project, runs from a Bergen Generating Station substation through the tunnel and under the Hudson to Midtown Manhattan was completed in 2013.[18][19]


The branch line remains in partial use between Undercliff Junction in Ridgefield[20] and the bridge at US Route 1/9 in Fairview east of Route 1/9, but trackage through the cut and tunnel was removed in October 1992. The right-of-way itself has not been abandoned.[21]

During the 1980s and early 1990s, planners and government officials realized that alternative transportation systems needed to be put in place to relieve increasing congestion[22] along the Hudson Waterfront[23] It was decided that the most efficient and cost-effective system to meet the growing demands of the area would be a light rail system.[24][25] When a new transportation network was proposed, it was suggested that the tunnel be used for what became the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, but that idea was ultimately rejected in favor of the Weehawken Tunnel.[26][17] The Hudson Waterfront/River Road corridor has seen extensive residential and commercial development and subsequent congestion since that time, and further studies of a more comprehensive transportation strategy have been conducted.[27][28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Erie Railroad" (PDF). Inventory June 1918. June 30, 1918. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  2. ^ "North Bergen, New Jersey". NYSW. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  3. ^ Kaminski 2010
  4. ^ "The Palisades Tunnel" (PDF). New York Times. March 17, 1893. Retrieved October 5, 2013.
  5. ^ Interstate Commerce Commission Reports: Decisions of the Interstate Commerce Commission of the United States. Valuation reports, Volume 33 Interstate Commerce Commission, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1931 Wikipedia:WikiProject Trains/ICC valuations/New York, Susquehanna and Western Railroad
  6. ^ Kaminski 2010, p. 119
  7. ^ Hall 2005, p. 28
  8. ^ Mohowski 2003, p. 57
  9. ^ "Port Board Cuts Railway Tangle – Short Stretch of New Jersey Waterfront Had Been Interchanging Freight by Round-about Routes Circling Far Inland". New York Times. July 11, 1926. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
  10. ^ "Removes Last Bar to Belt Line Road – Jersey City's Consent to Track Laying Permits Port Plan to Proceed – System to Link Terminals – Port Authority to Rush Work on $500,000 Improvement to Freight Facilities". New York Times. July 2, 1925. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
  11. ^ Adams 1996
  12. ^ a b c Baptista, Robert J. (December 16, 2012). "The Chemical Industry of Shadyside (Edgewater), New Jersey". Colorant.org. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  13. ^ Hall 2005, p. 26
  14. ^ Mohowski 2003, p. 172
  15. ^ "Independence Harbor". www.independenceharbor.com. 2010. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  16. ^ Cheslow, Jerry (July 30, 1995). "If You're Thinking of Living In: Edgewater; Factory Town Is Now Bedroom Community". The New York Times. Retrieved May 18, 2012.
  17. ^ a b Chen, David (October 15, 1995). "Road and Rail: Champions Seek Use for Old Tunnel". New York Times. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  18. ^ "Technical Info". Hudson Project. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  19. ^ McGeehan, Patrick (December 27, 2012). "Crew lays power cable the Hudson". New York Times. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  20. ^ Google (March 8, 2015). "Undercliff Junction, Ridgefield, Bergen County, New Jersey 07657" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  21. ^ "New Jerey's Rail Network" (PDF). NJDOT. November 15, 2012. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  22. ^ Demasters, Karen (April 16, 2000). "Road and Rail North Jerseyans hit the road often survey finds". New York Times.
  23. ^ Kerr, Peter (June 27, 1989). "Kean Proposes Transit Plan For Waterfront". New York Times. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  24. ^ Hanley, Robert (October 29, 1986). "Transitway to Follow the Hudson". New York Times. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  25. ^ "Hudson-Bergen Light Rail System, USA". Railway Technology.com. Retrieved May 15, 2011.
  26. ^ Chen, David (November 5, 2011). "Road and Rail; One County's Transit Decongestant". New York Times. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  27. ^ "River Road/Hudson Waterfront Circulation Study – Hudson and Bergen Counties". North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority. June 2009. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  28. ^ "River Road/Hudson Waterfront Corridor Strategy: A Phase Two Study". North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority. June 2013. Retrieved October 4, 2013.


External links[edit]