Millstone and New Brunswick Railroad

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The Millstone Branch as shown on a map created by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1911

The Millstone and New Brunswick Railroad (M&NB) was chartered in the mid-19th century as a seven-mile long branch line from New Brunswick, New Jersey to East Millstone, New Jersey. Construction was completed and the line began operation on December 19, 1854. In 1871, under the order of the company's president Martin Howell, the M&NB signed a 999-year lease with the United Jersey Railroad Company, which would later become part of the Pennsylvania Railroad known as the Millstone Branch.

History[edit]

Intended connection westward[edit]

Share of the Millstone & New-Brunswick Railroad Co. from the 20. February 1883

The M&NB was originally intended to cross the Millstone River and connect to western points in 1874 via the ill-fated Mercer and Somerset Railway, which was a short-lived line of the Pennsylvania Railroad in western New Jersey.

The Mercer and Somerset Railway ran from Somerset Junction on the Belvidere Delaware Rail Road via Pennington and Hopewell to Millstone, with an intended connection to the Millstone and New Brunswick Railroad, via a bridge across the Millstone River, for a through route to New Brunswick.

The Mercer and Somerset Railway was abandoned in 1880 after filing for bankruptcy, and the connection over the Millstone River to the M&NB was never built,[1] except for a stone pillar in the middle of the Millstone River that remains today.

Passenger service[edit]

The Millstone Branch boasted 12 passenger trains a day from East Millstone to New York City. Passenger stations, which were merely small wooden shacks, were located at East Millstone, South Middlebush Road, Clyde Road, Voorhees (now Route 27), and Jersey Avenue. Passenger service permitted Millstone residents easy access to New Brunswick for shopping on weekends and allowed New York City businessmen the opportunity to commute. With the advent of the automobile, all passenger service ended in 1930.[2] After that year the track past Route 27 (Voorhees) was only used sporadically by a local freight train to access the rubber factory in East Millstone; track became weed covered and maintenance deferred. The stations at Clyde and Voorhees were abandoned on June 8, 1932.[3] The last passenger station to survive was Middlebush, which was razed in 1948.[1]

1960s to the 1980s[edit]

The Jersey Avenue Park & Ride station operated by NJ Transit opened October 24, 1963 by the Pennsylvania Railroad and uses part of the old branch. [4][5] In an attempt to cut costs, the Pennsylvania Railroad merged with rival New York Central to form the Penn Central Transportation Corporation in 1968. The Millstone Branch remained intact and active all the way to East Millstone to serve one customer, a small rubber reclaiming facility located at the end of the branch until 1972 when the branch west of Clyde Road was abandoned. Penn Central wanted to abandon the money-losing branch by this time but was required by federal law to serve any customers who wanted rail service regardless of profitability.[6] During the first six months of 1972 Penn Central delivered a mere six carloads to the rubber factory in East Millstone, earning $1,383 in revenue; the cost to the Penn Central for making those deliveries was $3,862.[7] Penn Central filed for bankruptcy in 1970, and sold all its railroad assets to the new government-created Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) in 1976. Penn Central only sold the portion of the Millstone Branch up to South Middlebush Road to Conrail while retaining ownership of the portion from South Middlebush Road to East Millstone.

In 1971 several warehouses were built along Clyde Rd, three of which had rail spurs installed and connected to the Millstone Branch. However, only one of the warehouses (Hermann Warehouse Corp., a total distribution service provider) ever used rail service. One of the rail spurs has since been removed, never having been used.[citation needed]

In the summer of 1980 the track was removed from a point several hundred feet west of the Clyde Road crossing to East Millstone at the Delaware and Raritan Canal. A small section of track can be found between William and Market Streets in East Millstone. Motorists[who?] complained that the poorly maintained grade crossing near Colonial Park was causing damage to their cars. By this time, there were no active customers past the Route 27 crossing; the branch fell into disrepair and became overgrown with vegetation.

Millstone Branch at Clyde Road in April 2011, after track rehabilitation

For the next 30 years the branch west of Route 27 remained active solely to provide service to Hermann Warehouse Corp. Conrail replaced many ties, several switches, and removed all overgrowth and laid new ballast along this corridor.

Present conditions[edit]

Just east of South Middlebush Road the track is removed, but the right-of-way all the way to East Millstone is very discernible. This includes Railroad Avenue (absent the former railroad tracks) that is still a street in the Middlebush section of Franklin Township. In 2001 three large luxury homes on the outskirts of East Millstone were built on top of the right-of-way that borders Colonial Park. In 2006 a new housing development was built just east of South Middlebush Rd; the backyards and driveways of several houses were built on top of the right of way. The bridge pillar in the middle of the Millstone River which was intended to carry the tracks to the Mercer & Somerset railroad still stands. The engine house and wye track in East Millstone are now a grass field.

What remains of the Millstone Branch is currently owned and served by Norfolk Southern Corp. Service is provided by the Metuchen local that usually works the branch late at night (12am-2am) a few times per week. The branch is now referred to as the "Millstone Secondary" in the Amtrak, NJ Transit, and Norfolk Southern timetables. As of 2011, Hermann Warehouse Corp re-located out of the Clyde Road facility and there has not been rail service into that building since then. The Millstone Branch past Route 27 is again out of service. Track conditions have significantly deteriorated with the rails being engulfed with vegetation. The grade crossing signs and tracks at the Clyde Rd crossing have been removed.

Station listing[edit]

Site of former Middlebush station
Millstone Branch stations
Municipality Station Notes
New Brunswick Voorhees Station was located at grade crossing with Route 27. Station abandoned June 8, 1932.[3]
Franklin Township Clyde Located at intersection with Clyde Road in Franklin. Station abandoned June 8, 1932.[3]
Middlebush Located at intersection with South Middlebush Road and Railroad Avenue.
East Millstone Located near the Delaware and Raritan Canal; End of the branch.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Brahms, William (1997). Images of America: Franklin Township. Arcadia. p. 98. ISBN 0-7524-0938-7. 
  2. ^ "Pennsylvania Railroad Company Discontinuance/Last Runs of Passenger Service Railroad – Ferry – Steamboat – Trolley – Rapid Transit By Line Segment LINE SEGMENT Edition of June 30, 2003" (PDF). www.prrths.com. March 2005. Retrieved 2014-01-16. 
  3. ^ a b c Baer, Christopher T. "A General Chronology of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company Its Predecessors and Successors and Its Historical Context: 1932" (PDF). Pennsylvania Railroad Technical Historical Society. Retrieved December 7, 2015. 
  4. ^ Park 'n Ride Rail Service; New Brunswick, Newark [and] New York City: A Final Report on the Mass Transportation Demonstration Project, October 27, 1963-April 24, 1965 (Report). Tri-State Transportation Commission. 1967. 
  5. ^ "Eisenhower Raised Moral Issue In Opposing A-Bombing of Japan;". New York Times. New York, New York. October 25, 1963. 
  6. ^ Loving, Rush (2006), The Men Who Loved Trains: The Story of Men Who Battled Greed to Save an Ailing Industry, Indiana University Press, p. 149 
  7. ^ Loving, Rush (2006). The Men Who Loved Trains. Indiana University Press. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-253-22031-8. 

External links[edit]