Great Notch station
The Great Notch Station on December 19, 2009, a month prior to closing.
|Owned by||New Jersey Transit|
|Platforms||1 side platform|
|Tracks||1 track, 1 siding|
|Connections||NJT Bus: 191, 195, and 705|
|Station code||1747 (Erie Railroad)|
|Closed||January 17, 2010|
|Electrified||September 30, 2002|
|Previous names||Caldwell Junction|
|Passengers (2009)||2286 87%|
The Great Notch train station, formerly known as Caldwell Junction, was a small New Jersey Transit facility in the Great Notch section of Little Falls, New Jersey. The station was served seven times a day, three inbound morning trains to Hoboken Terminal and four outbound evening trains from Hoboken by the Montclair-Boonton Line from Monday to Friday. Located at the intersection of Notch Road and Long Hill Road, it was the second of three stations in Little Falls, the other two being Montclair State University and Little Falls, and was the first on the line to be strictly served by diesel trains. However, most trains bypassed this station and continued on to Little Falls (westbound) and Montclair State University (eastbound). The station was served by a single track with an unused side track. The last trains stopped at the station on January 15, 2010, at 7:41pm.
Train service at Great Notch originated in 1891, when the Caldwell Railway opened, serving Great Notch, Overbrook Hospital, Verona, and Caldwell. The station at Great Notch was first constructed in 1905 as a double station building for the Erie Railroad. The station was a green and red building serving the New York and Greenwood Lake Railway, along with the Caldwell Branch. The station also used an old boxcar as a tool shed for maintenance. By the early 1970s, the station had fallen into disrepair, and by 1974, was repainted Erie Railroad-style red with the tool shed box car removed. The station was abandoned when the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad went out of business and was later picked up by New Jersey Transit. After making deals with the mayor of Little Falls, New Jersey Transit gave the station a one-year "trial" to attract ridership. Ridership went down, however, and so the trial was canceled on December 18, 2009. The town of Little Falls was contacted by New Jersey Transit at that time, reporting that the Great Notch Station would be closed on January 17, 2010 due to the "anemic" ridership at the station.
Train service at Great Notch originated with the introduction of the Caldwell Railway, a service that went from the community of Caldwell, New Jersey to the New York & Greenwood Lake Railway. Twelve trains a day served Caldwell, Verona and Overbrook Hospital. The station at Great Notch was deemed Caldwell Junction, inferring the junction between the two railways. The Great Notch station depot was built in 1905 for the New York & Greenwood Lake Railway, a subsidiary of the Erie Railroad. The station was built as a green-red "type five" frame structure. While the main building was 12' × 28' × 18' in size, the station also included an old boxcar used as a tool house. The box car was only 12' × 45' and served the station for several decades. The station was just east of the "GA" signal tower, which was built in 1900 to serve the junction of the Greenwood Lake Railway and its Caldwell Branch, heading eastward for the communities of Cedar Grove, Verona, Caldwell and Essex Fells. The station also served a local yard for train storage for the branch line via a wye. At Essex Fells, connections could be made for train service to Morristown via the Morristown and Erie Railroad. The Caldwell Railroad diverged from the current New Jersey Transit line about 1/4 mile west of the New Jersey Transit Great Notch station and followed its own route to Caldwell. The station at Great Notch was more than just a building for people at the railroad. The station had a large water tower next to GA Signal and a potbelly stove. The station was tended by a husband and wife combination, serving the locals their daily newspapers and their mail. Great Notch did not receive mail delivery until the mid-1950s.
By the early 1970s, the Great Notch station, which was falling into disrepair, received a new paint job, changed from the red-green colors for the Erie Lackawanna to a new all red Erie Railroad paint scheme. The abandoned tool shed made out of the old wooden boxcar was also removed. Due to the removal of the tool boxcar, the propane tanks that heated the station building were also made visible. After the ending of the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad in 1976, the Great Notch station lay abandoned. In June 1979, the State of New Jersey began to remove the tracks for the Caldwell Branch, which also lay abandoned at Great Notch. Currently, what was the track leading to the Caldwell Branch is a siding. On January 20, 1988, the newly rehabilitated station building was destroyed by fire. During the construction of the Montclair Connection in 2001, the adjacent Great Notch Yard received a major upgrade, becoming a new state-of-the-art yard with new trains storage facilities.
When Montclair State University station opened in 2004  and the Wayne Route 23 Transit Center's train platform opened in 2008, this made Great Notch one of three stations in Little Falls, and it did not nearly have the ridership either of the other two stations had. The opening of Montclair State University Station helped to pull away commuters from Great Notch due to its location very near it. The small parking lot facing the station had very little room for cars and a parking lot on the opposite side of the single tracked station was isolated from it by fencing. Further exacerbating the problem was that the small lot abutting Notch Road was not marked specifically for train passengers only. Great Notch had (and still has) a bus stop on the corner of Notch and Long Hill Roads that serves buses headed for Port Authority Bus Terminal, and commuters using the bus would park in the train station's parking lot (and still do, as it was never blocked off) and catch the bus up the street.
In January 2008, without knowledge of the township council, New Jersey Transit announced further and drastic service cuts at Great Notch. The only train to serve outbound customers was a train leaving for Hoboken Terminal in the morning, and two trains from Hoboken would serve the station at night.
The future of the 103-year-old station was placed into further jeopardy on August 12, 2008, when New Jersey Transit announced to the community of Little Falls that they would possibly close the station as early as October 2008. A few days after the announcement, rebuttal by the community began to appear, with a public hearing was announced for September 3 to work on plans for Great Notch. The service with only one inbound train (to Hoboken) and two outbound trains (from Hoboken) was canceled on April 1, 2009. On that day, New Jersey Transit announced it would add two more trains in each direction on April 16 as a "one-year trial" for station ridership. The town hoped to get the then 67-person a day average to 100 people using the station by April 1, 2010, when the trial was set to expire. The mayor of Little Falls, Michael DeFrancisci, urged people to use the station more. However, by December 2009, ridership had declined to 9 per day.
On December 18, 2009, New Jersey Transit contacted Little Falls and said that the station would close in January 2010, three months before the year-long trial period to build ridership was set to end. The transit authority cited continued low ridership, as on average nine passengers a day boarded the train at Great Notch. On December 21, 2009, New Jersey Transit announced the closure stating that the "anemic" ridership had remained at Great Notch, with only an average of 9 boardings a day, compared to 203 at the local Little Falls station and 597 at the Montclair State University Station. The last train to depart Great Notch was the 6:51pm train from Hoboken Terminal on January 15 leaving Great Notch at 7:41pm, as weekend trains do not run on this portion of the Montclair-Boonton Line.
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- "Introducing The Midtown Direct Montclair" (PDF). Trenton, New Jersey: New Jersey Transit. September 2002. Retrieved October 11, 2009.
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- "New Wayne/Route 23 Transit Center Opens January 12, 2008". New Jersey Transit. January 2008. Retrieved October 10, 2009.
- "Letter To The Editor". The Record. January 20, 2008.
- "Save Great Notch". Little Falls, New Jersey: Little Falls Transportation Committee. August 25, 2008. Retrieved October 10, 2009.
- "Public Hearing Notice - Proposed Closing of Great Notch Rail Station". New Jersey Transit. August 25, 2008. Retrieved October 10, 2009.
- Cunningham, Jennifer H. (April 1, 2009). "Great Notch Riders Get Wish: More Trains". The Herald News. Retrieved October 10, 2009.
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