Erie Railroad Orange Branch
Click the links below to visit different pages on the Orange Branch.
TRACK, SIDINGS, FACILITIES, & CUSTOMERS
Please send corrections and additions to Bill McKelvey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on LHRy website on 21 March 2018
DRAFT - 90% COMPLETE - NEED TO ADD MILEPOSTS, CROSSINGS, ETC.
ERIE ORANGE BRANCH;
“A FOUR MILE CRADLE OF INDUSTRY”
“MILLION DOLLAR A MILE RAILROAD”
“AN INDUSTRIAL / COMMERCIAL POWERHOUSE”
“A MELTING POT OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY”
“THE BUSIEST STRETCH OF SINGLE TRACK IN THE US”
ORANGE BRANCH CUSTOMERS/SIDINGS/TRACK & FACILITIES
(S) = on south side of the primarily E-W branch
(N) = ʺ north ʺ ʺ ʺ ʺ ʺ ʺ ʺ
Tiffany & Co. Factory (N) Opposite side of Orange Branch / Greenwood Lake line from Forest Hill station. Although not on the Orange Branch, this landmark facility was visible to all Orange Branch passengers and crew members.
Historic Note: In 1896 Tiffany & Co. opened their distinctive new Gothic style plant at Forest Hill which made sterling silver jewelry and did silver plating. The operation closed in 1984 and the large castle-like building has been adaptively reused for condominiums and town houses called Tiffany Manor.
FOREST HILL STATION, (Newark - 9.5 Ms) (N) (“OJ”) - Jct. of Orange Branch with the Greenwood Lake Line. Many Orange Branch trains shuttled between this station and the West Orange Terminal. In the early years there were turntables at both Forest Hill and West Orange.
Historic Note: Forest Hill is an unincorporated community and neighborhood within the city of Newark in Essex County. It is a pre-WW II section of the North Ward. It is roughly bounded by Verona Ave., Mt. Prospect Ave., 2nd Ave. and Branch Brook Park, Newark. From the 1870s to the 1920s, generations of wealthy Newarkers built hundreds of stately homes in the area in various styles, including Beaux-Arts, Victorian, Colonial, Gothic, and Spanish Revival. The northern part of the neighborhood is part of the Forest Hills Historic District
Historic Note: The #27 MOUNT PROSPECT trolley line of Public Service began on private right-of-way in front of the Forest Hill station, left onto Lake St., (Highland Ave. returning), left onto Verona Ave., right onto Mt. Prospect Ave., left onto Bloomfield Ave., right onto Broadway, right onto Broad St., right onto Clinton Ave., left onto Elizabeth Ave., to end at Lyons Farm “wye”, Hillside. The trolley line became a Yellow Coach All-Service Vehicle (trolleybus) route in 1937.
FOREST HILL TURNTABLE, W of station, 60', armstrong type, gone by 1930s
Fluid Chemical Co. (S) E. (end of Heller Brothers Steel Co. siding)
Heller Brothers Co. (S) (off E end of S Canal siding)
Historical Note: This file business was begun on Hamilton St. in Newark by a German immigrant, Elias Heller. The factory grew under the leadership of three Heller sons and became one of the first file manufacturers to use machines to make files. Heller was one of the first American brands recognized to be as good as the European imports. The company was renamed Heller & Bros., and in 1874 moved to a new facility on Mt. Prospect Ave., Newark, close to Forest Hill Station. Elias Heller is credited as the first developer of Forest Hill. In 1880 they opened a steel mill west of the factory, producing crucible steel. The business was incorporated as Heller Brothers Co. in 1899. After 1917 Heller acquired the site of a file and saw factory in Newcomerstown, OH which had been destroyed by fire. The rebuilt it and began moving parts of their Newark business west, finally closing the Forest Hill plant in 1953. Site later occupied by Fluid Chemicals and buildings survive.
Historical Note: Heller owned large tracts of land in the Woodside section of Newark. This included land west of Forest Hill station between the Orange Branch and the Greenwood Lake main line. Heller created a flying field here - it was called Heller Field - the first airport in Newark. (Tom McConkey)
MANCHESTER PLACE CROSSING
North Canal Siding, (N) (W. of Forest Hill - gondola storage for Chevrolet plant)
Historic Note: The famous, mountain-climbing, Morris Canal was in place when the Watchung Railway (Erie Orange Branch) was built and therefore the railroad was carried over the canal very near the present reinforced concrete structure which carries the railroad over Franklin Ave. In addition, the original route of the Newark - Bloomfield - Montclair trolley (horsecar)line crossed both the Watchung Railway and the Morris Canal just a bit north / east of the as-built original Newark City Subway, which ended at the Orange Branch. The predecessor car line avoided Bloomfield Ave., which was a toll road at the time. The horse cars of the Newark, Bloomfield, & Montclair Horse Car Railroad went out Mount Prospect Ave., Newark and via the “Old Road to Bloomfield” - Newark Ave., Franklin St., Broad St., and Belleville Ave., to a stable next to the cemetery. This route began running in 1867 and ended in 1876 - probably about the same time that the Orange Branch trains began operating. Per Ed Francis, the “Old Road” has long since disappeared.
Historic Note: The Morris Canal was opened between Newark and Mountain View in 1829 and its entire length to Phillipsburg was completed in 1831. The Lehigh Valley RR leased the Morris Canal in 1871. The Morris Canal went out of business in 1923.
Historic Note: The Orange Branch crosses the northern portion of Branch Brook Park between Franklin Ave., and Branch Brook Place, Newark. The RR crosses over the park roadway on a three-track reinforced concrete bridge. When the 360 acre park was under construction, railroad type steam shovels were used to dig the lakes. These shovels were probably brought into the park on temporary track from the Orange Branch ca. 1895+. (Photos might be in the Newark Public Library.) In 1900 Frederick Law Olmsted (designer of NYC’s Central and Brooklyn’s Prospect Parks) was hired to redesign the park. The Morris Canal ran along the western edge of the park and when it was abandoned the Newark City Subway was built in it’s former curving alignment and ended at the Orange Branch. During WW II the park’s grounds served a tent city for recruits, as well as a landing strip for the US Postal Service.
Sunshine Biscuit Co. (N) (off North Canal Siding)
Historical Note: The biscuit/cracker industry was originally made of small independent local bakeries which were consolidated into large conglomerates. In 1898 competing groups combined 114 factories and formed National Biscuit Co. (Nabisco). In 1902 a director of Nabisco and two others formed the Loose-Wiles Biscuit Co. which adopted the name SUNSHINE for their products and expanded, opening new plants on the east coast. Around 1965 they closed NY area plants and moved production to Sayreville. Sunshine was purchased by Keebler in 1996 and by Kellog in 2000. Sunshine products remaining in production include: Cheez-it snack crackers, Krispy saltine crackers, Krispy Soup & Oyster crackers, and Hi-Ho Crackers. Do buildings survive??????
South Canal Siding, (S) (W. of Forest Hill - was the runaround for passenger trains which turned at Forest Hill and returned to West Orange)
H.B. Salmon Coal Co. (S) (E. of Franklin Avenue) This yard probably originally received their coal from the Morris Canal.
Forest Hill Coal Co. (S) (W. of Franklin Avenue - purchased by J. W. Pierson)
BRIDGE OVER FRANKLIN AVE. (Reinforced concrete construction) The former Newark City Subway dead ended at this bridge. The Morris Canal went under the Orange Branch just east of this bridge. The Watchung Railway was built on a wood trestle in this area, approximately between Branch Brook Place, Newark and Watchung Ave., Belleville - later filled and became an embankment.
Franklin Siding, (N) (Franklin Avenue to Franklin Street - gondola storage for Chevrolet plant)
FRANKLIN ST. CROSSING - Tower?
SILVER LAKE STATION (Belleville - 10.3 Ms) (N) - The exact location is now the Silver Lake station on the Newark Light Rail.
Historic Note: The name Belleville is derived from the French, Belle Ville, meaning beautiful town and was originally so named in 1797. Locals have given themselves the nickname “Cherry Blossom Capital of America” with the annual display in Branch Brook Park which is larger than the famed Tidal Basin in Washington, DC, site of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
BELMONT AVE. CROSSING TOWER on NE corner, manual gates
Steffanelli Coal Co. (N) (W. of Belmont Ave. - off E. end of New Switch Siding) Ca. the 1970s this sidetrack was extended into a large paved area fronting on Franklin Street, Belleville. Auto rack cars were delivered new GM cars to this area which was a new car preparation area. Cars were run through shallow water and a spray bath to detect water leaks and other tests to detect rattles, etc. Location is currently Uncle Bob’s Self Storage.
New Switch Siding (N) (100' W. of Belmont Ave. to Grove St.
Historic Note: Several carloads of new 78' stick rail were delivered to the Newark Light Rail project by NS (some W of Belmont Ave. and some E of Franklin Ave.) via the Bloomfield Industrial Track before the freight track was taken out of service and rebuilt. During construction of the Newark Light Rail project, freight deliveries to Hartz Mtn., the only customer to be served were suspended. Rebuilding required six new switches to be constructed to reach Bloomfield from the connection with the Greenwood Lake Line. For about 1,000 feet, time separated freight trains traveled over the light rail tracks to reach their runaround track in the former Silver Lake yard. Freight service to Hartz Mtn. ended in 2009. NS filed for abandonment of the Bloomfield Industrial track in Nov. 2014.
Passing Siding (S) (50' W of Belmont Ave. to Grove St.)
Edison Storage Battery Co. became McGraw - Edison, Primary Battery Division, Belmont Ave., Belleville. (S) (3 tracks on "Loop Track" E. of Bloomfield Freight yard). Storage batteries for railway cars were an important volume of their products. During some early years, battery raw materials were shipped from this plant to the main plant in West Orange. Some of the last products manufactured at the site were storage batteries for maritime navigation lights. The plant has been totally demolished.
Historic Note: Silver Lake had been created in the eighteenth century by the building of a dam across a stream near the corner of Franklin and Sixth Streets, Belleville. The lake was about 300 feet in width and extended one half mile southwest to the corner of Belmont and Bloomfield Avenues. It provided opportunities to picnic, fish, rent rowboats, canoes and sail boats and was enjoyed by Essex County residents for years. The Newark Ice Co. was located on Franklin St. at the north east corner of the lake. The dam that retained Silver Lake washed out into Second River two years after Edison arrived in the area. The area is now drained by underground storm sewers which drain north to Second River.
Historic Note: Edison began to purchase property on which to build factories at Silver Lake in 1888, and he owned forty-seven acres of land there by 1889. This was more than he ever owned in West Orange. His properties were within the area bordered by Belmont Ave., Bloomfield Ave., Grove St., Watsessing Ave., and Franklin St.
Historic Note: In 1916, only 13 months after the great fire at Edison’s plant in West Orange a fire consumed a 17,000 square-foot building at his Silver Lake chemical works. Significant land, air and water pollution has been documented at this location over the years.
Historic Note: As per 1928: The Silver Lake plant made Edison Primary Batteries, chemicals for the Edison Storage Battery, Edison Radio and phonograph cabinets, wax masters for phonograph records and wax cylinders for the Ediphone.
Historic Note: Organization of Thomas A. Edison Industries, Inc. In 1930 showed the following divisions were located at Silver Lake;
- Edison Storage Battery Company’s Chemical Works Division
- The Manufacturing component of the Edison Primary Battery Div.
- The Wax Division of the Ediphone Div.
- The Radio Manufacturing component of the Edison Radio Div.
- General Manufacturing Div., fabrication components
- Primary Battery Div., production facilities
- Offices of the Primary Battery Div.
- E-K Medical Gas Division (making: nitrous oxide, oxygen, ethylene, carbon dioxide, and cyclopropane)
By 1937 the Edison plant had grown to cover about 7 acres, stretching into Bloomfield, and 400 people were employed.
Historic Note: Alva and Edison Streets southwest of the former Edison battery plant on Belmont Ave., on the Bloomfield / Belleville Ave. line were obviously named for Thomas.
Federal Storage Battery Car Co. - Although this was not an Edison company, it originally performed work at Edison’s West Orange plant. Later it occupied land originally acquired by Edison at Silver Lake. Ralph H. Beach, an advocate of storage battery rail cars, was Edison’s friend. There was obviously cooperation between Edison and Beach as FSBCC helped promote the use and sales of Edison storage batteries. Beach was president of FSBCC in 1910 and a large building at Silver Lake had a FSBCC sign on it. The firm was reorganized / incorporated as Railway Storage Battery Co. in 1912 to manufacture storage battery cars and had a contract authorizing the use of the Edison Storage Battery for its cars. Both Edison and Beach were intimately involved with the company in terms of technical matters, management and promotion, both before and after its name change to Railway Storage Battery Car Co. The last battery cars were completed by Railway Storage Battery Car Co. in the late 1920s.
Historic Note: FSBCC and RSBCC completed cars which were used on tracks of or sold to the following operators: Public Service Railway (Orange and Passaic Valley Ry); Erie Railroad; Twenty Eighth & Twenty Ninth Street Railway (Third Avenue Railway System - NYC); Unidos Habana (Cuba); Nashville, Chatanooga & St. Louis; Pennsylvania Railroad; Long Island Railroad; Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad; Lewisburg, Milton and Watsontown Passenger Railway; Canadian National Railroad; and Central Railroad of Vermont.
Bloomfield Freight Station & Yard (S) (9 tracks; tracks 1 & 2 served the two story brick freight house, on W. side; tracks 3 & 4 were served by a gantry crane; tracks 5, 6, and 7 were team tracks). In addition to loading new trucks, built at the nearby American LaFrance factory, onto flat cars for shipment, there were many interesting deliveries to the yard: all the structural steel for the former Jergens building (demolished, but bridge over Mill St. for coal deliveries from the Greenwood Lake line remains) at Franklin Ave., and Mill St., Belleville; new automobiles arrived in special box cars with double wide doors; bananas came in refrigerator cars for the Galioto family distribution business; grapes arrived seasonally in refrigerator cars for local Italian families who made wine; the Lotus Club, a private Pullman rail car acquired by Peter Tilp was delivered here and then trucked to the property of Adams Industries, his family business in Union. The car is now on display in the RR museum of PA. Fronting on Bloomfield Ave., at the north end of Ampere Parkway, the yard was chosen as a display stop of the General Motors Train of Tomorrow and the Erie’s own 100th anniversary train.
Historic Note: Lifschultz Fast Freight was the agent based at this station. The firm was founded in 1899 as a surface transportation company which grew to 2,000 employees. Lifschultz created the first integrated surface-air transportation system. The firm has morphed into a large conglomerate with diverse interests including petroleum, refining technologies, and alternative energy.
Historic Note: At the south / opposite end of Ampere parkway was the large Crocker-Wheeler plant, built in 1893, adjacent to the former DL&W RR Ampere station in East Orange. C-W specialized in dynamos and electric motors and the station (as well as the parkway and that section of East Orange) was appropriately named in honor of Andre-Marie Ampere, a pioneer in electrodynamics.
Charms Candy Co. (1927-73) (S) - received tank and freight cars
Historic Note: Charms Candy Co. was founded in 1912 by Walter Reid, Jr. and they moved into the building at the corner of Bloomfield Ave., and Grove St., Bloomfield after WW I. Their square shaped fruit flavored candies were among the first to be individually wrapped in cellophane. Charms products were included in US Army combat rations during WW II - a tradition that continues to the present with their candies included in military Meals Ready to Eat (MREs). In 1973 Charms relocated from Bloomfield to Freehold and in 1988, on recommendation of consultant Mitt Romney, merged with the Tootsie Roll Co.
Historic Note: The several factory buildings on the east side of Grove St., between Bloomfield Ave. and Watsessing Ave., later occupied by Charms and GM / Chevrolet were built by / for the International Arms & Fuse Co. for the manufacture of war materials during WW I. The complex was one of the largest munitions plants in NJ.
Chevrolet Export Plant 3 (1925 to ca. 1960s) (S) (track #6 - off Passing Siding - 16 car capacity - (an LCL express car was picked up here daily). Buildings originally built for the International Arms & Fuse Co. Note: This building became the GM parts warehouse in April 1934 and is currently Simply Self Storage. It is the last surviving IA&FC structure.
Bamberger’s Warehouse (N) built after WWII @ corner of Franklin Street and Watsessing Ave. (off New Switch Siding) (last use of this siding was to deliver new GM autos on tri-level auto racks to a prep facility in a large parking lot where the new cars were run thru a shower and water pond to check for water leaks as well as a course to check for rattles, suspension and steering). The warehouse was demolished and replaced by a shopping center anchored by a Super Stop & Shop supermarket.
Chevrolet Export Plants 1 & 2 (1925-68) (N) (7 tracks). Entire facility was demolished and is now the location of the Bloomfield Vehicle Base Facility for the NJ Transit Newark Light Rail system. Buildings were originally built for the International Arms & Fuse Co.
Bakelite Corporation Research and Development Division (N) (siding from W. end of New Switch Siding across Grove St. to plant for coal deliveries - used 1915-50's). Some original buildings remain - several demolished and site is now the Town of Bloomfield DPW facility.
Historic Note: “Bakelite” was the first synthetic plastic, patented in 1909 by Dr. Leo Bakeland. Bakelite, with headquarters in Perth Amboy, inaugurated the modern plastics industry. Bakelite expanded rapidly with several branches in Europe and eventually merged into Union Carbide in 1939. Initially used as an electrical insulator, Bakelite expanded greatly during WW II. The plant at 230 Grove St, Bloomfield manufactured plastic products, including phenolformaldehyde, which was used by Thomas Edison (who owned several factory buildings nearby on the Orange Branch). Today, products made of Bakelite, especially jewelry and radios, are highly valued collectible items. The Grove St. building is eligible for the National Register under Criterion A for their association with Bakelite which contributed to the expansion of the use of plastics.
GROVE ST. CROSSING - SHANTY - On NW corner, no gates (Bill McKelvey spent a lot of time here talking with worker Pete Stevenson from the late 1940s to the early 1950s.)
BLOOMFIELD STATION (Bloomfield - 10.8 Ms) (S) Between Grove St. & Bloomfield Ave. - stopping Erie passenger trains frequently blocked both crossings) The current Grove St. station/terminus of the Newark Light Rail is a few hundred feet east of the former Erie station.
Historic Note: The Township of Bloomfield separated from Newark in 1812 taking its name from the Presbyterian parish named for General Joseph Bloomfield. In the 1800s Belleville, Montclair, Woodside (which later became a part of Newark), and Glen Ridge separated from Bloomfield and formed their own towns.
Historic Note: A Bloomfield engineer, Ephraim Morris, designed the inclined planes which made the Morris Canal feasible and a success.
BLOOMFIELD AVE. (Formerly the 1806 Newark and Pompton Turnpike) CROSSING, (“OF”) TOWER - on NE corner, manual gates; SHANTY for assisting ground crossing flagman. After passenger service ended the crossing was equipped with automatic electric gates.
Historic Note: The improved transportation brought by the Turnpike as well as the Morris Canal made Bloomfield a commercial center with taverns, wheelwrights, wagon makers, and by the 1830s, six grist mills, two cotton factories, five sawmills, four copper mills, three paper mills, one paint mill, two calico print works, three woolen mills, several show factories, and several merchants.
Double diamond crossing of the Public Service Bloomfield Avenue trolley line. Crossing semaphores for the RR were operated from “OF”, as were the semaphores for the trolley on the sidewalk and derails for trolley cars.
Historic Note: The “Old Road” horse car route which avoided Bloomfield Ave. was abandoned in 1876 and track was laid from Mt. Prospect Ave., Newark straight up Bloomfield Ave., to Liberty St., (a few hundred feet past Bloomfield Center). In the same year (1876) the Orange Branch began operating. The BLOOMFIELD car line was extended to Caldwell and electrified in the early 1890s. In 1935 BLOOMFIELD cars began operating into Newark via the new City Subway and the line was abandoned in 1952 and replaced by buses.
Historic Note: The BLOOMFIELD trolley carried the hordes of workers to and from the plants which were on or near Bloomfield Ave., and served by the Erie: Edison Battery plant; Erie Freight Station; International Arms & Fuse Co.; Charms Candy; Chevrolet; Bakelite; American LaFrance; GM Delco-Remy (battery) Division; GM Eastern Aircraft Division; Tung-Sol Electric; Lehn & Fink; Westinghouse and others.
American LaFrance (S) plant fronts on LaFrance Ave, Bloomfield - manufactured Corp. 2 tracks - known as GE (GP?) #2 siding? - Ca. 1960? one track was restored to allo trucks and fire engines which were driven to and loaded up a ramp at Bloomfield freight yard onto flats, also received coal; later became Eastern Aircraft Division of GM, during WW II; lastly General Plastics w unloading of furniture into a north portion of GPC used by Bamberger’s for warehousing.
Historic Note: This plant was built by American LaFrance but it went out of business after the stock market crash of 1929. By 1936 the plant was owned by General Motors and as their Delco-Remy Division was producing 4,000 auto batteries daily. In 1942 it was absorbed into the new GM Eastern Aircraft Division for the express purpose of building parts for both of the US Navy’s carrier based planes - the Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers and FM-2 Wildcats to assist the war effort. The Bloomfield plant made tubing for hydraulic & electrical assemblies; rudder & brake pedals; pilot seat assemblies; electrical assemblies; radio shelves; ammunition boxes; pilot’s panels; ejection chutes; cowl flap assemblies; and bomb hook & release tubes. After WW II one of the fighter planes was brought to the plant and displayed in the parking lot across LaFrance Ave. from Carteret Grade School. The young students, including young Bill McKelvey, were invited to come over and see the famous plane. Since 1960 this plant has been owned / operated by General Plastics and related firms.
M-G-M Record Manufacturing Division, Arlington Ave., Bloomfield (S&W) (off American LaFrance side track). Facility was established in 1947; began night shifts in 1953 to fill orders for “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, “The Band Wagon”, and other 78, 45, & 33 rpm records; plant closed in May of 1972. This plant is now vacant and available, but sorry, rail service is no longer available.
Bloomfield Ave. Siding (S) (long siding/runaround W. of Bloomfield Ave.)
General Electric (S) (coal stockpile siding during & after WW II - adjacent to/N. of M-G-M Records - off W. end of Bloomfield Ave. siding)
American Book Co. (1928-1940) (N) (Star Electric Motor Co. (1941-6); Tung Sol/Wagner Electric - Electron Tube Division -(1946 to 1971); (2 tracks)
Lehn & Fink Products Co. (1925-63) (N) factory & laboratory; manufacturer of “Lysol” disinfectant, Pebco Tooth paste and many cosmetics; (Hartz Mountain Pet Foods, 1965 - 2009 - best known for its bird food - last active and final freight customer on the Orange Branch - received covered hopper loads of bird seed - 2 tracks)
Westinghouse Lamp Plant (1920 to mid 1970's) (NE & NW) (2 tracks with diamond crossing) shipped incandescent light bulbs and had express cars attached to last eastbound passenger train every day.
Historic Note: This Bloomfield plant had a major involvement in supplying uranium metal for the world’s first self-sustaining chain reaction in Chicago (Chicago Pile 1 - nuclear reactor)in the early phase of the Manhattan Project to create the first atomic bomb. By 1941 the Westinghouse Lamp Plant Research Department had the only practical process for producing pure uranium metal. The work was carried out in secrecy, but by 1942 the requested ramping up for war production required use of the basement and the roof of the building on the east side of Arlington Ave. During the contract, which ended in October, 1942, the plant produced a total of nearly 70 tons of uranium metal. During this time the streets at the plant were renamed MacArthur Avenue and MacArthur Plaza to promote patroitism. In 1964 Westinghouse was issued a permit from the US Atomic Energy Commission to conduct research using thorium and uranium to produce thorium-tungsten wire which continued until 1984. Plant buildings were demolished between 1993 and 2004 and the town plans a transit-oriented development for the site due to its close proximity to the NJT Watsessing station. However, the site remains vacant at this time.
ARLINGTON AVE. IS CARRIED OVER RR ON A BRIDGE; RR is in a brownstone cut
BRIDGE OVER DL&W RR Montclair Branch was originally an at grade diamond crossing (Watsessing Jct. a one time passenger stop) before the DL&W was depressed through Watsessing, but there was no known interchange of traffic between the two RRs. Bridge was removed when the Montclair Line was changed from DC to AC catenary power and additional clearance was needed under the three-track-wide bridge.
Historic Note: The name Watsessing comes from the language of the Lenni Lenape Indians, who inhabited the area before European Colonization.
General Electric - (S) Predecessor Edison General Electric Co. was incorporated in NYC in 1889 and in the same year they acquired the Sprague Electric Railway and Motor Co. (one of their early products was MU equipment for rapid transit and light rail equipment). In 1892 the firm became General Electric and this plant was built in 1915. GE was at this plant until 1958 with their final products being air conditioning units. Plant was later occupied by Mattel Toys, they had express cars; known as GE #3 siding (Interestingly, this plant was also served from the south by the DL&W RR for dumping scrap metal into open gondola cars and via an industrial track which ramped up from the depressed Montclair Branch) plant was located on Lawrence St., on the Bloomfield and East Orange line. This 1 million square foot plant has now been converted into 160 townhouses and 361 loft-style apartments and is known as Parkway Lofts.
Erie RR team track (N) (E. of Lawrence St. ca. 1906)
H.B. Wiggins Sons Co. (ca. 1906) (N) (E. of Lawrence St. - off Erie RR team track)
Historic Note: This firm was established in 1894 and produced woven fabric wall coverings. Ca. 1907 they were producing their patented FAB-RI-KO-NA wall coverings. The facility is long gone.
LAWRENCE ST. / WATSESSING JCT. (“WG”) (Bloomfield) Passenger trains stopped at both of these locations in certain years. Watsessing Jct. was the diamond crossing of the Erie Orange Branch and the DL&W Montclair Branch. Lawrence St. was a few hundred feet west - a stop at the General Electric plant and for Watsessing Business center.
LAWRENCE ST. CROSSING - TOWER? This was a passenger stop in later years - no station.
Watsessing Passing Siding (N) (Lawrence St. to Meadow Ave. - 15 cars - (later known as "WG" Siding)
Raemisch Coal Co. (N) - this local coal dealer who used gasoline conveyors to load his trucks. (W. of Lawrence St. off E. end of Watsessing Passing siding - Raemisch was later purchased by Pierson)siding (S) (W. of Lawrence St. on 1911 map)
N. WALNUT STREET CROSSING
GARDEN STATE PARKWAY BRIDGE OVER RR
CLINTON ST. CROSSING before construction of the Garden State Parkway?
MEADOW ST. CROSSING SHANTY on NE corner, manual gates
KENSINGTON PL. CROSSING
PROSPECT ST. CROSSING - SHANTY?
EAST ORANGE STATION (“SG”) (East Orange - 11.6 Ms) (S) building gone by the 1940s, originally had freight offices on second floor prior to building of Bloomfield Freight Station; on (N) (stub siding ca. 1911)
Jas. T. Pierson & Co. Prospect Coal Yard (1911) (N) (later J. W. Pierson Co. - (coal, cement & lime - has remained in business as fuel oil dealer long after RR was torn up and to the present day)
Historic Note: J.W. Pierson was founded in 1888 by James Topping Pierson, a green grocer from Westfield. JT purchased land at 89 Dodd St., East Orange for one of his sons to operate a concrete business. Other building supplies and coal were added to the concrete business. J.T.’s other son, also J.T., phased out the building supply business and started selling heating and motor fuels and created a service and and installation department. He acquired numerous smaller companies who sold coal, fuels and service. Their territory now covers Essex, Union, Middlesex, Passaic, and Bergen markets.
Pierson Concrete Products Co., (S) later NJ Stone & Cement Co., finally Multiplex Concrete Block Co. Glenwood Coal Co. (S) (W. end of Multiplex siding with silos for storage of coal - later purchased by Pierson). Former Multiplex property is currently a County Concrete Corp. ready mix plant.
GLENWOOD AVE. CROSSING - TOWER on SW corner with manual gates
Fred Jagels Coal Yard (S) W. of Glenwood Avenue(later Feigenspan Coal Co., finally purchased by Mitchell Supreme) This former coal yard is now roofed over and adaptively reused as a DPW facility by/for the city of East Orange. Note: the former reinforced concrete coal trestle was removed when the facility was roofed.
CONCRETE CULVERT WITH FILL OVER WIGWAM BROOK or SECOND RIVER or WATSESSING RIVER @ 10.86(painted on concrete abutment)??? or 11.86 ??? Ms
Historic Note: From West Orange, the Second River passes generally easterly through the towns of Orange, and East Orange, where it is joined by Wigwam, Parrow, and Nishuane Brooks, then turns northeasterly to Bloomfield, where, in Watsessing Park it is joined by Toney’s Brook. Next it enters the town of Belleville, where it forms the border between Belleville and Newark before joining the Passaic River.
Paragon Oil Siding (S) (runaround track used to store freight cars)
Paragon Oil Co. (later Home Fuel Oil Co. & now owned by Pierson) (S) (off Paragon Oil Siding, W of Midland Ave. - received lube oil in tank cars ca. 1930s)
MIDLAND AVE. CROSSING TOWER on SW corner with manual gates.
East Orange Water Works (S) W side of Midland Ave. - not served by RR - site now also occupied by East Orange DPW.
BRIGHTON AVE. CROSSING
BRIGHTON AVE. STATION (East Orange - 12.2 Ms) (N) Gone by the 1940s
Betz Stone Co. (N) cross street?
LAKE STREET CROSSING
Brick Church Appliance (N) cross street?
N. PARK STREET CROSSING
KEARNY STREET CROSSING
Orange Freight Station & Yard (N) 6 tracks Cross street?
Black Diamond Coal Co. (N) (in Orange freight yard, middle track - later purchased by Pierson)
Wraps Inc. (S) (off E. end of Orange Passing Siding - @ Thomas Blvd.)
THOMAS BLVD. CROSSING - NJ Transit Orange Bus Complex is now located on W. Side of Blvd.
Spottiswoode - Cusack Coal & Lumber yard (N) (later Olson Lumber? - 2 tracks E. of Washington St.)
Orange Passing Siding (S) (5 cars) Cross street?
Canada Dry (N) received refrigerator carloads of fruit used to flavor their soda. The plant is now owned by NJ Transit and is their in-house printing plant.
Historic Note: In 1890 Canadian pharmacist and chemist John L. McLaughlin opened a carbonated water plant in Toronto. When McLaughlin began shipping his product to NY in 1919, it became so popular that he opened a plant in Manhattan shortly thereafter. The business was acquired by Sam P.D. Saylor in 1923 and formed Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Inc, a public company. In the 1930s Canada Dry expanded worldwide and in the 1950s onward the company introduced a larger number of products. In 1945 the Art-Deco Orange bottling plant was built. Norton Simon, Inc. acquired the firm in 1964 and Dr. Pepper bought Canada Dry in 1982. In 1984 Canada Dry was sold to R. J. Reynolds Del Monte Foods unit and in 1986 they sold it to Cadbury Schweppes. Finally, Canada Dry was acquired by Dr. Pepper Snapple Group in 2008.
Historic Note: This building was occupied by the NJ Transit printing plant for many years, and is now occupied by NJ Transit Police Department.
WASHINGTON STREET CROSSING
Diamond crossing of Orange & Passaic Valley trolley (later Orange Crosstown line of Public Service) at Washington St., Orange. Their carbarn was a few hundred feet to the north, on Washington St. and survives.
Historic Note: The Orange & Passaic Valley Ry was chartered in 1898, and took over operations of the bankrupt Suburban Traction Co. O&PV built a new 8-bay carhouse at 350 Washington St., Orange in 1901. In 1903 O&PV was leased to No. Jersey Street Ry., which was controlled by Public Service, and became part of their Essex Division in 1907. The portion of their CROSSTOWN Line which crossed the Orange Branch, between Orange and Bloomfield, was converted to bus operation in 1929. Building was occupied by R.A. McDonough Tire Co. for many years, but is currently vacant and available for lease, not sale.
Historic Note: The single track (with passing sidings) Bloomfield line closely paralleled the Orange Branch on Dodd Street, between the carhouse in Orange and Prospect Street in E. Orange.
ORANGE STATION (“RG”) (Orange - 12.6 Ms) (N or S?) Which side of Washington St.???????
Historic Note: Orange was originally a part of the city of Newark, but it was originally known as “Newark Mountains”. On 7 June 1780 the townspeople voted to adopt the name Orange and in 1806 seceded from Newark. In 1860 Orange was incorporated as a city and soon thereafter South Orange, West Orange, and East Orange broke away. The Morris and Essex Railroad arrived in Orange with cars drawn by horses and a steam locomotive a year later.
ALDEN STREET CROSSING
CLEVELAND ST. CROSSING
United Electric of NJ (S) (between Cleveland & High St. on 1911 map)
Shuffle Board Siding (S) (E. of High Street)
Alden Coal Co. (N) (@ High St. - later Alden Fuel Co., purchased by Pierson, later Orange - Alden Fuel)
R. McDonough (S) (tires) Cross street?
HIGH STREET CROSSING
U.S. Radium Corp. - (Known as the High & Alden Sts. properties on the north side of the Wigwam Brook)
Historic Note: The company was founded in 1914 in NYC, by Drs. Sabin Arnold von Sochocky and George S. Willis, as the Radium Luminous Material Corp. The company produced uranium from carnotite ore and eventually moved into the business of producing radioluminescent paint, and then to the application of that paint. U.S. Radium Corp.(so named in 1921 when von Schocky departed)was most notorious for its operations between 1917 and 1926 in Orange that led to stronger worker protection laws. After initial success in developing a glow-in-the-dark radioactive paint, the company was subject to several lawsuits in the late 1920s in the wake of severe illnesses and deaths of workers (the Radium Girls) who had ingested radioactive material. The workers had been told that the paint was harmless. During WW I and WW II, the company produced luminous watches and gauges for the US Army for use by soldiers. The Orange plant processed a half a ton of ore per day, which was dumped on the site. The radon and radiation resulting from the 1,600 tons of material on the factory site resulted in the site’s designation as a Superfund site by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1983. Residual contamination was caused to the Orange Branch right-of-way on the south side of Wigwam Brook between Cleveland and Lakeside Aves. From 1997 through 2005, the EPA remediated the site in a process that involved the excavation and off-site disposal of radium-contaminated material at the former plant site, and at 250 nearby residential and commercial properties.
WATCHUNG AVENUE CROSSING
Orange Coal & Lumber Co. (N) (adjacent to, E. of Edison)
LAKESIDE AVE. CROSSING - Was a passenger stop for Edison employees during the World Wars, no station building (However, most of Edison’s employees commuted to and from work via the Public Service No. 21 ORANGE trolleys, which operated on Main St., on the west side of the plant.)
Edison Phonograph Works (N) (became Thomas A. Edison Industries, then McGraw-Edison, 2 tracks, crossed each other on a diamond, had a four car coal trestle on E.; furniture track on W. branched into building on two tracks)
Historic Note: The Thomas Edison National Historical Park preserves Thomas Edison’s laboratory and residence, Glenmont, in Llewellyn Park, West Orange. The Park is on the US National Register of Historic Places; is a US Historic District; is a US National Historic Site; and is a US National Historical Park. For more than 40 years, the laboratory had a major impact on the lives of people worldwide. Out of the West Orange laboratories came the motion picture camera, improved phonographs, sound recordings, silent and sound movies, the universal stock ticker, and the nickel-iron alkaline electric storage battery. The newer West Orange facility had replaced the initial site at Menlo Park, where Edison invented the phonograph in 1877 and the incandescent light bulb and electric system in 1878. Edison, the prolific inventor with 1093 patents, including improvements to the telephone and telegraph, was nicknamed the Wizard of Menlo Park. His West Orange Laboratory has been called the “Cradle of American Industry”. It was the first center employing the modern method of research, the process of invention and discovery which Charles F. Kettering has called “Organized Research.”
Historic Note: The West Orange Plant experienced a tremendous physical growth between 1899 and 1914, expanding from 7.5 acres to 26.26 acres - more than ten times larger than at its beginning.
Historic Note: On 9 Dec. 1914 a spectacular fire destroyed over half of the buildings at the West Orange factory complex. It took over 6 hours to contain the blaze, but Edison vowed to start all over again the following day. Cleanup work began when all 5,500 (or 7,000?) employees reported for duty. Tracks for several railroad type steam cranes (delivered by the Erie) were laid into the area to be rebuilt.
Historic Note: As of 1928: The main plants of Thomas A. Edison, Inc., the parent company, and one of its subsidiaries, the Edison Battery Company, are located at West Orange, N.J. These plants include 104 buildings, large and small, many of them six stories in height, of which 85% are of reinforced concrete, the largest being 1,000 feet long. The most important products made in West Orange plants are;
- The Edison Nickel Steel-Akaline Storage Battery
- Edison Radio Receivers & Radio Phonograph Combinations
- The Ediphone (Mr. Edison’s dictating machine
- The Edicraft Siphonator, which makes coffee by a new process
- The Edicraft Toaster
- Ediplate Seamless Electroplated Floats for steam traps, etc.
Historic Note: Edison had their own very small battery shunting locomotive to switch cars in and out of their plant. This locomotive was replaced by a 1924 Walker battery electric truck with hard rubber tires and a high torque DC electric motor. It survives and is displayed in the Boyertown, PA Museum of Historic Vehicles.
Historic Note: In 1939 Thomas Alva Edison, Inc. Began efforts to turn the Laboratories into a museum. In 1955 TAE, Inc. donated the site to the National Park Service.
Historic Note: The eastern edge of the Edison National Historic Site on Lakeside Ave., is only a few feet away from the demonstrated danger area of the US Radium Corp. Superfund site. It is now clear that the environment of earth and water along Alden St., the Wigwam Brook, and the former right-of-way of the Erie’s Orange Branch railroad on both sides of the border of Orange and West Orange had been seriously contaminated by the US Radium Corp. This site is only a few hundred yards from the Edison National Historic Site to the west. In 2009 the US EPA wrapped up their long-running Superfund cleanup effort.
Historic Note: The frames with axles and wheels of Edison’s 1882 passenger and freight electric locomotives from his second experimental Menlo Park railway are preserved and displayed on the Main Street side of his West Orange laboratory.
Edison Phonograph Works (S)
John O'Rourke Co., (S)lumber, building material, coal & coke ca. 1890-1934; E. L. Congdon & Sons Lumber Co. E. of Park Ave. (last customer W. of Hartz Mountain - service ended ca. 80-1???)
Schaedel Co. (S) (E. end, same siding as Congdon)
Bailey - Whalen (S) (middle, same siding as Congdon) was a small common carrier trucker, 20 Standish Avenue., West Orange
John O'Rourke Co., (S)lumber, building material, coal & coke ca. 1890-1934; E. L. Congdon & Sons Lumber Co. E. of Park Ave. (last customer W. of Hartz Mountain - service ended ca. 80-1???)
LLEWELLYN STATION (West Orange - 13.3 Ms) (N) (Originally was the West Orange terminus before the branch was extended to Main St., West Orange - remained to the end of passenger service)
Historic Note: This station was named Llewellyn due to its close proximity to Llewellyn Park, a high class residential development built by Llewellyn S. Haskell, who supported construction of the Watchung Ry. Thomas Edison’s home, “Glenmont”, now an historic site, is in Llewellyn Park.
PARK AVE. CROSSING
Brick Church Appliance warehouse - (S) W of Park Ave., door for sidetrack in building, but RR would not install siding as they were contemplating abandonment of branch
Neglio Bros. Coal Co. (S) (White St. )
Standard Oil Co. (S) (on 1911 map)
WHITE ST. TURNTABLE - 60', armstrong type, gone by the 1930s
WHITE ST. CROSSING
OG Siding or Runaround Track (S) (from White St. to West Orange Station - in later years a scrap metal company loaded scrap over fence, into gondolas on OG siding)
West Orange Freight Yard (N) (5 tracks) no building in later years, only team tracks. Was east of the present West Orange city hall. Site is currently occupied by an office building at #59 Main Street and American Imaging Center at #59 Main Street.
Watchung Coal Co. (N) (used 6th or team track on W. side of WO Freight Yard)
Jefferson Coal Co. (N) (on former milk track, adjacent to WO station)
WEST ORANGE STATION (“OG”) (West Orange - 13.6 Ms) (N) Fronted on Main St., demolished after passenger service ended and site currently occupied by a parking lot for autos and trucks for Karl’s Appliance.
MAIN ST., West Orange
South Orange & Maplewood Traction Co. (W) (interchange of coal, ballast, etc. across & W - compass south of Main St. between 1900 & ca. 1915) Erie RR had a freight station about a mile W. of Main St. on SO&MT line, cars were moved there and back to Main St. by SO&MT
Historic Note: The South Orange & Maplewood Street Ry was chartered in 1894 and built a trolley line between the Erie RR West Orange station on Main St. to South Orange Ave., South Orange, where it joined the Consolidated Traction Co. tracks. The line was consolidated with the South Orange and Maplewood Traction Co. in 1901 which in turn was leased by the North Jersey Street Ry in 1903 and merged into the Public Service Ry in 1907. Public Service named the line MONTROSE (known locally as the “Swamp Line”) and continued operation until 1927.
Historic Note: Per Official Railway Equipment Register, Vol. XXVII, No. 11, April 1913, Pg. 307, Erie RR, Freight Connections & Junction Points: South Orange & Maplewood Traction Co., West Orange, NJ, 13.6 miles from Jersey City. Track connection crossed the Public Service 21 Orange trolley line on double diamonds.
Historic Note: The original Orange and Newark Horse Car Railroad line began in 1860 and terminated at Lincoln St., Orange - later extended to the Orange - West Orange city line which was opposite the Erie RR West Orange station on Main St. This was referred to as “Montrose Jct.” because this was where the MONTROSE line later terminated. The location became known as “Erie Loop” as there was a ) PS trolley car storage yard and loop there. In 1892 the ORANGE line began operating with electric cars. Public Service diverted the ORANGE cars into the Newark City Subway in 1935 and trolley operation on Main St., through the Oranges was replaced by buses in 1951. The current NJ Transit Orange - Erie Loop Bus Terminal is located about 200 feet east of the original Erie (trolley) Loop location.
TELEGRAPH CALL LETTERS FOR ORANGE BRANCH
WR - West Arlington (tower) - controlled Forest Hill after that tower was closed
OJ - Forest Hill (tower)(Orange Jct.)
JN - Forest Hill (station - agent)
SL - Silver Lake
OF - Bloomfield Avenue (signal/gate tower)
WJ - Watsessing Junction (with DL & W RR)
SG - East Orange (Prospect St.)
WS - Orange (White Street)
OG - West Orange
Need help with the following items:
1. Need more details on the Erie Freight house on the "Swamp Line" south of the West Orange station, including photos
2. Would like to get more information on the operations of Railway Post Office cars on Main Street between the Orange Post Office and the Erie Orange Branch West Orange terminus, including dates of operation
3. Would like to verify if there ever were symbol freights on the Orange Branch - information indicates that OL-1 and OL-2 were operated between Silver Lake and Weehawken, bypassing Croxton, perhaps during WW II, or the early Conrail days??
4. Need photos of the GM Train of Tomorrow during its stop at the Bloomfield freight station/yard in 1949 - Dick Young collection? (Len Gordy/Bob Chamberlin)
5. Need photos of the Erie Centennial train during its stop at the Bloomfield freight station/yard in 1951 - Dick Young collection? (Len Gordy/Bob Chamberlin)
6. Need photos of the trolley/train collision at Bloomfield Ave. crossing after WW II (missing from Newark Evening News photo collection)
7. Looking for photos of crew members and any employees
8. Trying to locate photos of early, especially steam, operations
9. Would love to locate photos of other unusual events and incidents along the Orange Branch
10. Names of various unions representing workers in addition to the following;
- American Train Dispatchers Association
- Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen
- Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers
- Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees
- Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen of America
- Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen & Enginemen
- Brotherhood of Railway Clerks???
- Brotherhood of Railway Carmen of America
- Brotherhood of Railway & Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express & Station Employees
- Brotherhood Railway Carmen of the United States & Canada
- Switchman's Union of North America
- Order of Railway Conductors & Brakemen
- Order of Railroad Telegraphers
- Railroad Yardmasters of America
- United Transportation Union
11. Name of Engineer, and # of steam locomotive on which "Victory Garden" tomatoes were grown during WW II in a window box
12. Three 4-6-2's assigned to Orange Branch passenger service had steam lines on front end because engines weren't turned at West Orange. Two were 2709 & 2555, the third engine was 2554, & possibly 2528 also
13. Where are the photographs/negatives (used in Erie RR Magazine) of John Long, Erie RR Photographer based at Cleveland?
14. Photos taken by John Harrington Riley, especially of doodlebugs from Belmont Ave. tower.
15. Jim Kostibos photos - three B&W views are desirable - Crane pulling up rails at WO station
16. John Sobotka photos
17. Need photos of O&PV trolley cars & carbarn on Washington St., Orange
18. Need photos of SO & M T Co. / Swamp / Montrose Line / PSCT at Erie Loop, especially views to the north showing the Erie station
19. Need photo(s) from Edison NHP of: PS #21 Orange trolleys loading Edison workers on Main St., W. Orange; Edison & other posing in front of DL&W “Edison” cars hanging in his office; Menlo Park RR; Two elec. Loco frames & wheels on display; RR cranes helping with rebuilding after WO fire in 1914;