Sunday, July 11, 2010


It turned out to be a busy non-railroad weekend, although, I was able to squeeze in a quick south Jersey railroad exploration/industrial archeology tour in during some rainy weather, saturday afternoon.    My last minute plan was to follow the Central Railroad of New Jersey's Southern Division to the sea, literally.    Most of you are probably familiar with the CNJ's main line, and for that matter, main reason for existence - to move coal from Northeast, PAs Anthracite Coal region to tidewater in New York Harbor.    The railroad also pushed south from New York through to the north Jersey shore with two fold intentions - the larger summertime shore passenger traffic, and to serve the heart of central New Jersey's chemical and heavy industrial area.    From the northern shore area they also built a line almost directly down the center of the state, the Southern Division, bisecting the mostly unpopulated Pine Barrens and agricultural areas south of the barrens, eventually ending at Bayside on the Delaware Bay.   This line was most notably the route of their famous Blue Comet passenger train to Atlantic City (CNJ did not go near AC, but rather used trackage rights over PRSL from Winslow Junction to AC).   At Bayside, and also at Bivalve, via a branch from Bridgeton, the CNJ literally ended on piers on the Delaware Bay.  Fresh oysters were loaded there and shipped directly to the New York market - talk about market fresh.   The Southern Division was also a source of seasonal, but high-value, agricultural traffic, and sand.  
Taking to the highways to cover some quick miles, we took an exit near Elmer, NJ.  In Elmer we picked up the route of an abandoned PRSL branch, following it to Bridgeton, but first photo-documenting a future modeling project - the old feed elevator in Elmer.   From Bridgeton we shot over to Millville, to take some photos of the old Wheaton Glass factory (also another future modeling project), and to keep the driver happy, Wheaton Arts Village for some shopping.   From Millville, we headed south, along the western side of the Maurice River,  picking up the CNJ Bivalve branch at Dividing Creek.    Took some pictures of the sand plant/loading facility at Dividing Creek, again, another future modeling project. - see pic.  The facility's siding is being used to store tank cars and covered hoppers - they look to be loading a little sand on another siding being the main loading facility.   Also, just west of the sand plant is a whole gaggle of abandoned Alco locomotives - some FAs and Bs, one in LIRR livery, and two Alco RS-32s from Erie Mining.  (You may remember an abandoned Erie Mining C-420 I found elsewhere in the woods of South Jersey about a year ago) .   We generally followed this branch back into Bridgeton, where it split from the Southern Division, and there picked up the line down to Bayside.  Nothing is really left from Bridgeton South, other than a faintly detectable road bed.   At Bayside we spent a few moments taking in the desolation of the area - we hadn't passed another car in almost a half an hour - and imagining the sound of trains and oysters being loaded.   Today the fiddler crabs are the only occupants of Bayside.     

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