Lambertville Transportation Chronology

Please send corrections and additions to Bill McKelvey at
Posted on LHRy website on 26 March 2018


This work was begun early in 1996 when it became apparent to Friends of the New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center and the United Railroad Historical Society that Phillipsburg was an excellent location for the state transportation museum under consideration at the time by the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Museum Commission.  The research was performed by the editor to demonstrate the wonderful transportation history of the area - generally within a 15 mile radius.  The primary sources have been Warren and Catherine Lee’s A Chronology of the Belvidere Delaware Railroad and the Communities Through Which it Operated; as well as their earlier Down Along the Old Bel Del ; J. Roscoe Howell’s Ashbel Welch, Civil Engineer; and the editor’s books and research data base covering the Delaware & Raritan Canal. The first installment of the editor’s Phillipsburg Area Transport Chronology was published in Vol. 5, No. 5, December, 1996 of New Jersey Transport Heritage, the bulletin/newsletter of the Friends organization.  It became a regularly appearing serial in Transport Heritage until Vol. 14, No. 6, December 2005, when it became apparent that the Heritage Center was not going to happen in the Phillipsburg area.  Excerpts from the above sources have been incorporated in this work which includes much new and supplemental material.


The editor has attempted to keep the items under each year in chronological order, but this has not been possible in all cases.  Also, we have attempted to resolve conflicting dates of some events, but it is possible that errors may be present.


1616 A Dutch sea captain, Cornelis Hendricksen, explored the Delaware in his yacht Restless and reported his discovery to Holland merchants. ♦ The Dutch began establishing forts and trading posts on the Delaware River.  The early Indian trails and paths began to be used by those arriving from Europe in the Colonial Period and were gradually widened to roads. ♦


1673 The General Assembly of the Province of East Jersey passed their Public Roads Act, the first movement toward formalizing roads. ♦


1685 Thomas Budd wrote: "From the Falls of the Delaware (Trenton) the Indians go in Cannows up the said River, to an Indian Town called Minisincks, which is accounted from the Falls about eighty miles; but this they perform by great Labour in setting up against the Stream; but they can come down with ease and speed...  There are also in the Spring great quantities of a sort of Fish-like Herrings; with plenty of the Fish called Shads." ♦


1692 FLOOD: “an uncommon overflow... that resulted in the destruction of houses and the loss of two lives, such that the settlers rebuilt their houses on higher ground as the Indian population had earlier advised”  Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦


1710 Hunterdon County was formed. ♦


1711 Originally a single-file Indian trail, not passable for vehicular traffic, a path evolved into the famous wagon road was first laid out in this year.  It became most commonly known as the York Road.  Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  The road began at Elizabethport and went through Scotch Plains, Raritan, Three Bridges, and Ringoes to what is now Lambertville.  ♦


1714 Hunterdon County was founded. ♦


1722 Samuel Coates operated an unlicensed ferry from the present Lambertville, NJ across the Delaware River in conjunction with John Wells on the New Hope, PA side.  This earliest ferry operation was primitive with poor capacity and landing facilities and the earliest ferry boat was a canoe.  The traveler, with his saddle bags, was conveyed across the stream while his horse swam behind. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦


1723 The York Road was also called The Kings Road and by 1763 The Kings Highway.  ♦


1727 Commercial navigation on the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers began. ♦


1732 Emanuel Coryell arrived at the current Lambertville, bought the ferry from the previous owner and promptly petitioned the colonial governor of New Jersey for an exclusive charter to operate it.  He was granted a patent to operate on Jan. 7th of the next year by the representative of King George II of England.  The ferry became known as Coryell's and the towns on either side of the river were also named Coryell's Ferry. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦


1734 A major record flood occurred throughout the Delaware River Valley on June 4th.  ♦


1749 Emanuel Coryell died, but the ferry he established continued in operation under a succession of owners / operators for 65 years. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦


1764 Daniel "Admiral" Skinner was the first to navigate a timber raft down the Delaware River to Philadelphia.  The hazardous trip of almost 200 miles was from Cohecton Falls, N.Y., about 40 miles above Port Jervis to the markets in Philadelphia. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦ Old York Road was built from west to east to connect Philadelphia with New York.  The whole road across New Jersey from Coryell’s Ferry (Lambertville, where it crossed what was to become the D&R Feeder Canal) to Elizabethtown Point was not open for vehicle traffic until 1764.  The Swift-Sure Stage Line operated outstanding stagecoaches on the road which was “noted for its shortness and convenience over the River Delaware,” but took two full days.  The route was via Ringoes, Three Bridges, Raritan, Bound Brook, Scotch Plains and Westfield and might be considered a predecessor fo the D&R Canal because it served to link the two main cities served by the D&R.  Parts of the route are followed by the current US Route 202 and NJ Route 27. ♦


1769 A survey of the Delaware River from the "Great Falls" (at Trenton) to the forks, near Easton was made to identify obstructions and plan to improve navigation.  Following this, men were employed to execute the work.  The primary work was in making the Falls safe for rafts, coal arks and for Durham boats which transported flour and whiskey from the upper part of the river. ♦ Actual construction of an improved York of Kings Road was begun, by which time it was definitely known as the Old York Road.  Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦ On 25 September the following notice appeared in the New York Gazette: “To the Public: A New Stage Is Erected to go from New York to Philadelphia by Way of Powles-Hook to Bound Brook and the North Branch of the Raritan, to Coryell’s Ferry, the only Ferry between Newark and Philadelphia, noted for its Shortness and Conveniency over the River Delaware.  This Road is known by the Name of the Old York Road through the finest, most pleasant and most inhabited Part of New Jersey.  It is proposed to set off from Powles-Hook every Tuesday Morning by Sun-rise.  The Waggon from Philadelphia sets out also on every Tuesday Morning from Josiah F. Davenport’s at the Sign of the Bunch of Grapes in Third Street and proceeds over Coryell’s Ferry to the South Branch of Raritan where they meet the Newark Waggon.  The Price for each Passenger from Powles-Hook to Philadelphia will be Twenty Shillings Proc, or Ten Shillings to each Waggon, Ferriage to the Passengers free.  All possible care shall be taken that Justice be done the Public that shall please to employ   Their very humble Servants, Joseph Crane, Josiah F. Davenport.  Pg. 21,  Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen   ♦


1771 The provinces of New Jersey and Pennsylvania declared the Delaware River a "common highway."   The compact provided that it would be freely navigated and used by both states and their citizens.  It remains the law of both states today. ♦


1776 In December British forces occupied the east bank of the Delaware, including Trenton.  General George Washington’s forces were encamped in relative safety on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware from Bristol to Coryell’s Ferry.  On 9 December an exchange of fire between scouting parties occurred two miles south of Coryell’s Ferry.  Washington shrewdly had his quartermaster and other organize the collection of all of the boats, floating craft, and other materials capable of crossing the river and secure them on the west bank or destroy them.  Only the fact that all the boats, from the tidewater level of the river north to Easton, had been rounded up prevented the British from pursuing the rebels further.  Captain Daniel Bray was assigned to clear the upper reaches of the Delaware River and bring all the craft to Coryell’s Ferry.  There they were hidden behind the densely wooded Malta Island (it no longer exists) just below New Hope so that when Lord Cornwallis arrived at Coryell’s ferry he could not find a single boat.  The British retreated southeast.  On 16 December Gen. Washington and Gen. Nathaniel Greene rode up to the Pennsylvania side of Coryell’s Ferry and began making active preparations to attack the enemy’s well-trained and armed mercenary force of 1,000 Hessians who were comfortably quartered in Trenton.  On 25 December the Revolutionary force of 2,400 was readied to cross the Delaware.  A fleet of 35 craft, including sixteen Durham boats and four scows, was floated down from Malta Island to Knowles Cove, just above McKonkey’s Ferry and ferried the Washington’s forces across the ice choked river to New Jersey for their victorious Christmas eve march on Trenton and defeat of the Hessians which changed the course of the war.  Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦


1777 During July Gen. Washington was encamped at Coryell’s Ferry for a time.  Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦


1778 While no serious combat ever occurred at Coryell’s Ferry, its key location placed it in constant danger of hostile activity throughout the War for Independence.  At several periods of the Revolution the whole section around Coryell’s Ferry was bristling with arms and the tramp and tread of armed men... a large portion of the Continental Army were there and in close proximity... Coryell’s Ferry became a military camp. ♦ A 19 February letter to Washington from the Marquis de Lafayette records his stay in Coryell’s Ferry. ♦ On 28 February a party of His Majesty’s light horses captured Capt. Samuel Dunham and his two sons with 27 cattle at (Coryell’s) Ferry.  ♦ On 1 March a letter to John Coryell from George Washington at his Valley Forge Headquarters communicated in great detail that he was anxious to have all the Continental Flat Boats below Trenton carried up the River, as far as Easton or near it that they may be entirely out of the enemy’s reach.  ♦ On 4 April a skirmish between rebels and a party of King’s troops was reported in the immediate neighborhood of Coryell’s Ferry in which the rebels were “severely handled.”  ♦ Gen. Greene’s memoirs note that others who accompanied Washington during his “halt” were Lord Stirling and Lafayette and Lt. Col. Alexander Hamilton.  He himself was occupied “making out the route and order of march and places of encampment... On 21 June crossed the Delaware, happy omen, at Coryell’s Ferry.” ♦ Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen   ♦ Between 20 and 22 June, during the Revolutionary War, the Continental Army under the command of General George Washington crossed the Delaware River from Pennsylvania and camped at Coryell’s Ferry (as Lambertville was called at the time).  They were enroute to the battle at Monmouth, NJ.  Memorial sign @ Lambertville Public Library


1786 FLOOD: 13.9 feet on 6 October.  ♦ The pumpkin freshet of 6 October was 16 feet above the low-water mark in Lambertville. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦


1791 Anthracite coal was discovered in the upper Lehigh Valley, nine miles west of Mauch Chunk by Philip Ginter, a miller. ♦ A passage through Wells Falls at New Hope was cleared, cutting travel time by Durham boat to Philadelphia in half. ♦


1792 Anthracite coal was first moved down the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers.  It was moved on rafts which were used only during spring floods. ♦


1801 FLOOD: The “Jefferson freshet” was some 14 feet above the low-water mark. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦


1806 The first recorded run of a coal ark on the Delaware was from Mauch Chunk (now known as Jim Thorpe) to Philadelphia.  Typically, these wooden arks were 14 feet wide, 65 feet long, and carried 24 tons of hard or Anthracite coal. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦


1814 The first bridge across the Delaware was built at Lambertville in this year.  The covered bridge structure, designed by Lewis Wernwag, consisted of six 13-foot high wooden arch spans, each 175 feet long and lasted until 1841.


1816 The Georgetown (Lambertville) and Franklin Turnpike (New Brunswick) was incorporated.  It became a public road 25 years later. ♦


1820 The first trial run of the Lehigh River "Bear Trap Locks" was completed and the first coal arks negotiated the Lehigh and Delaware rivers and arrived in Philadelphia. ♦ A total of 365 tons of anthracite coal was sent to market from the Lehigh region in the first year. ♦


1822  "Reflections upon the perils & difficulties of the winter navigation of the Delaware & means by which these may be meliorated," by William Jones was published by the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. ♦ During this year 2,240 tons of coal were shipped from the Lehigh Valley to Philadelphia. ♦


1827 The Swift-Sure stage line began operating three trips per week along the Old York Road.  ♦


1828  Hazards Register of PA reported that 1,000 rafts containing 50,000,000 feet of lumber descended the Delaware River during the rafting season. ♦


1829  The Lehigh (River) Navigation Canal was completed from Mauch Chunk to Easton by the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co. and opened. ♦ One of the first vessels to navigate the new Lehigh canal was the packet boat Swan which had been brought up the Delaware River from Philadelphia to carry passengers to and from Mauch Chunk. ♦ An iron boat built by the LC&N Co. made a voyage from Mauch Chunk to Trenton and back up to Easton in the Delaware River. ♦


1830  The Trenton-Belvidere Stage Line began operating on an 11 hour schedule thrice weekly between the two points at a fare of $2.75. ♦


1831 Construction of the Delaware & Raritan Feeder Canal began under the direction of brilliant civil engineer, Ashbel Welch.  Stone for locks came from the Prallsville quarries.  ♦


1832 Asbel Welch, born in New York state in 1809 and trained as a Civil Engineer, directed the construction of the Feeder Canal and moved to Lambertville by this year.  He later directed the construction of the Bel Del RR and located their shop complex in Lambertville as well.  His career as a canal and railroad engineer / builder, corporate leader, inventor, industrial innovator and marine architect made him one of Lambertville’s finest. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦ John Lequear built a lime kiln on the banks of the Delaware.  He ferried bushels of his lime down the river in Durham boats.  He sold the lime for 15¢ a bushel. ♦  A disastrous epidemic of cholera broke out among Irish canal workers living in the shanty town south of Lambertville.  The disease carried off hundreds of people in the area before it ran its course. ♦ The Asiatic cholera epidemic decimated the ranks of the mostly Irish canal laborers.  The then unfinished stone house opposite Dr. Lilly’s on Ferry St. Became a makeshift hospital.  Some of the victims are buried in unmarked graves right where they collapsed.  Other are buried at Bulls Island, some near Griggstown, and the majority in today’s Holcombe-Riverview Cemetery at the northern end of town, which got its start as a “Potter’s Field” for the many hundreds who died.  Led by Ashbel Welch, several of the village’s residents responded heroically to assist the afflicted; eventually the disease ran its course.  Thereafter many of those Irish laborers who had survived the epidemic and general hardship moved on and assisted in the construction of other canals and railroads essential to the nation’s westward expansion.  Some settled in Lambertville. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦


1834  The Delaware Division Canal (PA) was finally opened for through navigation after shoddy initial construction was repaired. ♦ “Those who are partial to this (canal) mode of traveling cannot fail to be pleased with this route.  The scenery from Lambertville to Trenton is striking and beautiful with a fine view of the Delaware River, and passing through a fertile and well-improved region of the country.  The appearance of the whole country through which the Feeder runs is truly imposing, and a great part of it romantic and beautiful.  The whole of this magnificent work will soon be completed; its enterprising and liberal advocates will be remembered with pride by Jerseymen, especially those who were mainly instrumental in its accomplishments will stand conspicuous, and will be ever regarded as benefactors in their country.”  Hunterdon Democrat, April, 1834. ♦ Delaware & Raritan Canal Grand Opening Celebration: “On Wednesday the directors of our canal and railroad companies, and some thirty or more of the principal stockholders, together with the governor (Peter Vroom), and sundry others of our great people, came up the ‘feeder’ as far as Lambertville in a Chesapeake and Delaware canal barge.  After dining there all hands got aboard the barge - myself among the number - and started for Trenton about nine o’clock at night...  By good luck more than good management, we got to Trenton without wrecking the boat, and after a short nap started off yesterday morning for New Brunswick.  The canal banks for the whole distance were lined with people, - that is to say, there were large collections of them at the landings bridges, etc.  A more jolly party than ours was in the afternoon you seldom meet.  John C. Stevens, James S. Green, and Thomas Biddle acted as fun-makers, and they acquitted themselves admirably...  When we arrived at New Brunswick we were greeted with a salute of twenty-four guns, were received by the military with presented arms, stood something less than a half an hour with our hats off while the mayor made a speech and was answered, hurrahed in return to their civilities until we were all hoarse, were marched up and down the streets, and a little after dark sat down to a sumptuous dinner, provided at the expense of the canal company.  The military, for their arduous services (to wit, waiting under arms four or five hours and being nearly broiled), received their pay partly in champagne, partly in glory.”  The Hon. Ashbel Welch, in a letter to Solomon W. Roberts, Esq., dated Trenton, June 27, 1834. ♦


1836  The Belvidere Delaware Rail Road Co. (Bel-Del) was incorporated on Mar. 2nd to build a line up the east bank of the Delaware River from Trenton through Lambertville and Phillipsburg to Belvidere, a distance of 64 miles.  From Trenton to Stockton the new line was built on the original towpath of the D& R Feeder Canal and the towpath was displaced to the east side of the canal, but was never improved from a crude path. ♦ An auspicious appointment occurred when Lambertville resident, Ashbel Welch was made Chief Engineer of the Joint Companies (The Delaware and Raritan Canal Company & Camden & Amboy Railroad & Transportation Company), a position the 26-year-old held for the next 36 years.  He was deeply involved in Lambertville affairs as well and founded and participated in several local factories and businesses, besides serving in numerous important civic and church positions. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦


1837 The charter of the Bel-Del was amended to extend the road’s completion time for an additional 5 years.  The depression of this year had an adverse effect on the sale of Bel-Del stock and the project remained dormant until 1848.  ♦


1838 The Camden & Amboy Railroad was authorized by the New Jersey State Legislature to subscribe to the shares of stock of the Bel-Del. ♦


1840 Woodland owned by the D&R Canal company in 1840 included 100 acres of lands on and below Goat Hill, near Lambertville, containing timber useful for the purposes of the company in repairs and constructions. ♦ Rafting was at its height between this year and 1845, when as many as 3,000 rafts descended down the Delaware annually. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦


1841  ♦ FLOOD: 17.9 feet on 8 January. ♦ The great flood was so destructive that all subsequent floods have been described in comparison with it.  The flood registered 20 feet above the low water mark at Lambertville.  Property of every description, houses, barns, household furniture and water craft came rushing down in the impetuous torrent.  It took out Centre Bridge with George Fell who was on it.  A rescue attempt for Mr. Fell failed in the Lambertville area and he clung to a piece of wreckage as he passed over Well’s Falls and he floated sixteen miles all the way down to Trenton.  He returned home to be saluted by a cannon and a welcoming committee. Three spans of the 1814 covered wood bridge across the Delaware were carried away.  The President and Managers of the New Hope Delaware Bridge Company, although struggling financially, replaced the structure with another covered wood bridge atop the original piers. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦ As many as 40 boats from the Morris Canal used the Delaware & Raritan (D&R) Canal in the fall of 1841.  Because the Morris Canal was closed for enlargement work their boats navigated to the Lehigh Canal via the D&R (crossing the Delaware River from Bordentown to Morrisville) and Delaware Canals to get coal to alleviate the shortage at NYC. ♦


1842 The first 125 ton experimental boat was built on the Delaware & Hudson Canal at Honesdale, PA, but that canal enlargement had not progressed enough to move it by canal.  The boat was therefore floated down the Lackawaxen and Delaware Rivers to Bulls Island where it entered the D&R Canal and was delivered to NY. ♦


1845 The York Road stage line ended.  ♦


1846 FLOOD: 15.5 feet on 15 March. ♦


1847 Mr. Charles Angel, a foreman engaged in constructing an outlet lock on the feeder of the Delaware and Raritan Canal near Lambertville was severely injured last week by a premature explosion of a blast.  A canister containing five or six pounds of powder also exploded, setting his clothes on fire and burning him badly.  Two other persons standing nearby were slightly injured.  Newark Daily Advertiser, June 29, 1847.  ♦


1848 A connection by means of locks into the bed of the river, has at last been effected between the Delaware Division and the navigable feeder of the Delaware and Raritan canal; but the tolls levied by the State upon the former, and by the Delaware and Raritan upon the latter, are such as very nearly neutralize the whole advantage from this connection.  Lehigh Coal and Navigation Co. report dated May 2, 1848. ♦ Cobble stones which were used for paving streets were brought down the feeder canal.  These stones were procured from the bed of the Delaware River, and for many years their collecting, known as stone hacking, was a profitable enterprise.  Durham boats were used for this purpose and they were locked into the D & R feeder at either Bulls Island or Lambertville. ♦ Cooper, Hewitt & Co. (Cooper's Furnace) produced pig iron in Phillipsburg.  It was moved to their Trenton Iron Works rolling mills by canalboat, for a few years, until 1854, when the Belvidere-Delaware RR was extended to Phillipsburg.  The furnace output traveled a very short distance on the Morris Canal, the boats then crossed the Delaware River on a cable ferry, and entered the Delaware Division Canal.  They were then hauled down to the outlet lock at New Hope, PA where they recrossed the Delaware on another cable ferry to enter the D&R Feeder Canal, and completed the trip to Trenton on the latter waterway.  The Trenton Iron Works was one of the earliest US producers of RR rails and one of their buildings survives in Trenton. ♦ A new campaign was started to complete the Bel Del RR to Phillipsburg.  It was backed in large part by the Trenton Iron Works, which had blast furnaces in the neighborhood of Phillipsburg.  The Camden & Amboy RR was given legislative permission to subscribe to $500,000 of Bel Del stock, and work was begun on the line.  The Camden & Amboy finally wound up as owner of practically all the stock.  The Bel Del also issued over $2,000,000 in bonds, which were guaranteed by the Camden & Amboy. ♦


1849 Ashbel Welsh released his Report of the Location of the Belvidere Delaware Railroad, with the Estimate. ♦ A large number of Lehigh coal boats, the Trenton Gazette says, are constantly passing to New York by way of the Feeder and the D&R Canal, it having been found that the passing across the Delaware at Lambertville can be made with ease and safety.  June 29, 1849. ♦ Lambertville, alongside the Delaware River and on the D&R Feeder Canal, originally incorporated as a town on March 1, was reincorporated as a city on March 26, 1872.  During the 1700s the City was named after the various operators of ferries across the river to New Hope, PA.  It became known as Coryell’s Ferry, after Emanuel Coryell who owned the ferry.  Coryell’s Ferry was the western terminus of the New Jersey portion of the York Road (which has now become US Highway 202) connecting New York City and Philadelphia.  The city was named Lambertville in 1814 when the post office was established, in honor of John Lambert, a local resident, who served as US Senator and Acting Governor of NJ.  The river, canal and railroad were instrumental in the prosperity of Lambertville.  The city lagged for a long time, but in the 1970's it attracted artists and other creative types.  The city has become a tourist destination, with many shops, galleries, restaurants, and B&Bs.  The canal path offers cyclists a place to ride and is good for hikers as well.    The early Camden & Amboy locomotive, John Bull worked for a period of years on the Flemington Railroad which means that it operated on the Bel Del, through Lambertville and along the D&R Feeder Canal, in order to travel to and from the C & A main line.  Lambertville was the home of Ashbel Welch and was probably why the extensive shops of the Bel Del Railroad were built there.  Between 1866 and 1872, 17 locomotives were built and one rebuilt in those shops for the Bel Del.  ♦


1850 FLOOD: Residents near Swan Creek in Lambertville were surrounded by water of the Great Storm so quickly they had difficulty getting out of their houses.  The aqueduct of the Canal Feeder across Alexauken Creek was broken through and 100 feet of canal was destroyed.  Tons of water rushed into the Feeder, washing away portions of the canal bank.  It also carried away a new railroad bridge over Swan Creek in the center of town.  Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦ Construction of the Bel-Del RR was begun under the direction of Ashbel Welch, a civil engineer of considerable ability.  Welch had been in charge of the construction of the D&R Feeder Canal and became the superintendent and chief engineer of the Bel-Del.  He went on to become the chief engineer of the D&R Canal and the Camden & Amboy RR. ♦ In 1838, President Martin Van Buren signed a bill making all railroads carriers of the mail.  Route 242 was the designation of the Bel Del Railway Post Office route and mail was carried on it from 1850 to 1953.  The canal towns of Trenton, Titusville, Lambertville, and Bull’s Island all had route markings over the years.  Catalog of New Jersey Railway Postal Markings, by Frederick D. MacDonald and John L. Kay  ♦


1851  The stage line which formerly ran between Easton and Trenton now ran between Easton and Lambertville, connecting with the Bel-Del train for Trenton. ♦ Construction of the Bel Del RR had reached Lambertville but it was uncertain how quickly and how far it would extend north.  Steamboat ventures were attempted to bridge the gap north to the railroads at Phillipsburg and Easton.  In July the Major William C. Barnet, a sternwheel steamer, left the Vine Street Wharf in Philadelphia for Lambertville.  Due to numerous calamities it did not arrive until 24 November, amid the shouts of the people and firing of cannon. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦


1852 The Barnet took 150 passengers on an exploratory round-trip excursion to Black’s Eddy, and in March iniatiated regular eleven-hour trips all the way to Easton.   Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦ On April 28, the small steamboat REINDEER operated from Lambertville, up the feeder to Bulls Island where it locked out into the Delaware River and continued up to Easton, PA - however, she ran for only a short time. ♦ These steamboat runs did not last for more than a brief trial period.  The Delaware’s rock-strewn course, and often unpredictable water levels, never offered a hospitable basis for regular, scheduled steamboat travel. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦


1853 Rail for the Bel-Del extension from Milford to Phillipsburg was manufactured at Phoenixville, PA, delivered to Trenton via canalboat and picked up there by the Bel-Del Railroad. ♦NOTICE!  Owners of BOATS crossing the ferry at Well’s Falls are requested to have the CLEATS on the forward deck secured to the Deck Timbers by screw bolts instead of spikes; and if the cleats are not known to be perfectly sound to renew them.  Delaware Valley Democrat, June 3, 1853.  ♦ Circus Trains frequently traveled along the D&R Feeder Canal as the Bel-Del Railroad was a favorite route and many such memorable trains used this route to visit local towns and cities as well as to bypass New York City.  On 18 June, not long after the Bel-Del reached Milford, two sections of the Herr Diesbach & Co. Menagerie and the Rivers, Derious & Co. Circus group visited Milford while another section of that aggregation visited Lambertville.  During the decade of the 1850s the following circus groups included Welch’s Grand National Circus, Spaulding & Rogers Railroad Circus, Dan Rice’s Circus, Levi J. North’s Circus, Meyers & Madegans Circus, and Joe Pentland’s Circus. ♦


1854 The Bel-Del RR was completed from Trenton to Phillipsburg.  Access to Easton for the Bel-Del was provided on the lower level of the Lehigh Valley's double deck bridge.  This connection required a tunnel under Mt. Ida. ♦ The first train over the Bel-Del, a 15 car special from Philadelphia and Trenton, arrived in Phillipsburg. ♦ Freight service between Phillipsburg and Philadelphia was established on the Bel-Del. ♦ The State of NJ prohibited transportation of freight on Sunday, by road, railroad, or canal. ♦ Rail postal service was begun on the Bel Del Railroad. ♦ The first accident of two Bel-Del freight trains, a head-on collision, occurred south of Lambertville, opposite the Mount Hope Mills.  The engineer of the locomotive that was badly damaged escaped injury by jumping into the Feeder Canal.  Daily State Gazette, April 3, 1854.  ♦


1855 Lehigh anthracite coal traffic began moving from the mines to Phillipsburg and via the Bel-Del to Trenton and South Amboy.  The Bel-Del was used by the LV RR because the Stevens family/Camden & Amboy RR loaned the LV RR $100,000 to complete their line to Easton.  The Bel Del advertised two trains each way, daily, between Phillipsburg and Philadelphia.  A through car was on the rear of the train.  Travel time was 4.5 hours and the fare was $1.50. ♦ Ashbel Welch was especially concerned with safety.  He insisted that railroad equipment be well maintained and carefully operated.  To this end, strict and detailed regulations governing every aspect of the business were frequently issued and energetically enforced.  The company also provided accurate watches for their conductors and engineers.  Intending that their employees be “teatotalers” in this year he issued Rule No. 2, which read: “all persons employed on the trains, or at switches or drawbridges, are required to abstain absolutely from intoxicating drinks...”  Welch likewise insisted that the railroad not be operated on Sundays, “not only because he wanted no accidents or mishaps to occur on the Lord’s Day,” but also because a day of rest would result in “more efficient and alert employees.”  With no Sunday trains scheduled for its first 46 years of operation the Bel Del was dubbed locally as the “Sabbatarian Railroad.” Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦


1856 “The first train of cars direct from Mauch Chunk to Trenton arrived in Trenton on Thursday with a cargo of Sugar Loaf coal from Judge Packer’s mines consigned to Col. J. Cook.  The trains, loaded at the mines, can come direct to Trenton in six hours, about 120 miles.  The Amboy Company are building a vast basin in Trenton (to be named Coalport) for the receiving and shipping of coal.  Workmen have been engaged upon it for the whole year and it is expected to be completed in the spring.”  Daily True American, January, 1856. ♦ Derailment South of Lambertville: A freight train which left Trenton early yesterday morning, in consequence of a snow bank and ice was thrown off the track two miles south of Lambertville and the locomotive and tender were carried into the Feeder of the Canal.  The engineer and fireman saved themselves by jumping.  In falling, the engine and tender became disconnected from the cars.  Daily True American, January 15, 1856.  ♦


1858 Extension of D&R Canal to Phillipsburg: In our advertising columns is given that application will be made to the next legislature, for authority to construct a canal or slack-water navigation, from the head of the navigable feeder of the D&R Canal to Phillipsburg, opposite Easton.  If this canal should be built, boats loaded with coal can pass from the Lehigh Canal directly into the canal on the Jersey side, and thence by the most direct route, into the D&R Canal at Trenton, a great saving of time over the route by Bristol (PA) and Bordentown, and avoiding the Delaware Division of the Pennsylvania canal altogether.  There is now an outlet lock in the Pennsylvania canal opposite Lambertville, by which boats can pass into the Feeder, but by the regulations of the Pennsylvanians it costs more to bring a boat to Trenton by that route than it does by way of Bristol and Bordentown.  Daily State Gazette, September 2, 1858. ♦


1859 Bel-Del equipment included 13 locomotives, 15 passenger cars, 3 baggage and mail cars and 526 coal and freight cars. ♦ “The water in the Feeder of the D&R Canal was so low last week that the grist mills at Lambertville, which derive their power from it, were stopped.”  State Gazette & Republican, August 9, 1859. ♦


1860 A large and handsome locomotive, the Delaware, built for the Bel-Del was delivered by Danforth Cooke & Co. of Paterson, NJ. ♦ Just after navigation was resumed, at Lambertville the water broke out of the canal at the same place again leaving the same amount of work to be performed.  One canalboat was carried through the break and lies in an uncomfortable position on the river bank.  Mr, James Gregg, foreman on the canal, was considerably injured while endeavoring to stop the boat from passing out.  He was tieing (tying) or “snubbing” the boat when the line broke and recoiled, knocked him over the mouth of the culvert, breaking one arm and three ribs.  Daily True American, November 7, 1860.


1861 Captain William Park of Easton and seven other helpers navigated the heaviest raft ever floated down the Delaware up to this time, from Narrowsburg, NY to Philadelphia.  The 190' x 60' raft, formed principally of wharf timber, was laden with 3,500 oak RR ties, weighed 255 tons and drew 3.5' of water. ♦


1862 Lambertville, a principal stop at a central point on the Bel Del line resulted in the siting of many of the railroad facilities there.  These included repair and construction facilities for freight and passenger cars as well as locomotives.  In this year Richard McDowell was employed as the Bel Del’s master mechanic and supervisor of the Lambertville shops.  Between 1864 and 1872 he designed and supervised the construction of seventeen new locomotives in Lambertville.  This was the major share of 31 locomotives received by the Pennsylvania Railroad upon assumption of the management of the Bel Del at the end of that period.  Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦ Congress authorized President Lincoln to take possession of any or all RR lines in the US to aid the Civil War effort. ♦ Col. George E. Mapes rode down the Delaware on a raft.  His story of that experience appeared in the Easton Express on 3.29.40. ♦ The heavy rains of April brought the river level to within two inches of its heights in 1841 and destroyed the canal in several places. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦


1863 A Mr. Lugar took a load of ship's knees to the Brooklyn Navy Yard in a Durham boat and sold them to the government.  He cut them in the Blue Mountains and along the Delaware River as far North as Columbia.  Lugar's boat floated down the river and at Lambertville he entered the Delaware & Raritan Canal Feeder and was towed by mules to Trenton and New Brunswick.  From there he was towed down the Raritan River, through Arthur Kill & Kill Van Kull, across NY Harbor and up the East River to the Navy Yard by steam tug.  Lambertville Beacon, February 13, 1941; Navigation of the Upper Delaware. ♦ Durham Boats: were last used in the Lambertville area.  They were taken into the Delaware River and used to collect boulders from the shallow river bottom for use in paving city streets.  These were true “cobblestones.”  The last Lambertville boat also served in carrying various kinds of produce, and especially clams from New Brunswick to towns along the canal.  They were not randomly sold, but had to be pre-ordered.  Navigation of the Upper Delaware.   ♦ Construction of a telegraph line along the Bel-Del was begun. ♦


1864 Overboard - Hoops Useful: One evening week before last as the up train on the Belvidere-Delaware Railroad stopped before Lambertville station to take water, a lady on board, supposing that the station had been reached, stepped out of the door on one of the cars into the canal which at that point is very near the track of the railroad.  Fortunately her hoops acted as an air receiver as she fell, and kept her from sinking until assistance could reach her.  Daily True American, December 7, 1864. ♦

1865 FLOOD: In March it was agreed by all that it was the most destructive one ever known.  Floating down the rain-swollen Delaware were dead horses, pigs, chickens, hog pens, chicken coops, fencing and trees.  Damage to railway lines was almost irreparable. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦ The following notice appeared in the June 17th issue of the Easton Express: "The Bel Del Railroad Company organized a route to the Falls of Niagara from Philadelphia through the Delaware Valley and the Delaware Water Gap, Scranton, Great Bend, Central New York, Great Lakes and Canals." ♦ The nation's railroads were released from military control. ♦


1866 During this year 503,112 tons of coal entered the D&R Canal feeder via the Lambertville ferry. ♦


1867  The Bel-Del which had been using the nickname "Delaware Valley Line" now advertised their scenic route as "The Favorite Summer Route."  Passengers were advised that they could transfer at Phillipsburg for a trip to the Switchback RR at Mauch Chunk. ♦ The former Bel-Del/Pennsylvania Railroad station, was once a hub of local activity with rail service at times to Trenton, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.; Phillipsburg, the Delaware Water Gap and the Poconos; New England and Boston; and even to the Jersey Shore.  The imposing two-and-a-half story stone station was designed by Thomas Ustick Walter, the renowned architect who designed the dome of the US Capitol in Washington, D.C.  Completed in 1867, the station initially was the headquarters of the Belvidere Delaware Railroad which served passengers traveling on the local lines from Belvidere to Trenton.  In the 1970's the Canal Society of New Jersey considered the abandoned building as a possible site for their museum and headquarters.  In 1982 the current owners purchased the building and renovated and refurbished it, painstakingly preserving what could be saved.  The Lambertville Station Restaurant added a caboose and box car at the rear and the following year opened to the public serving American cuisine - open daily for lunch and dinner.  Their Canalside Bar is on the unused Bel Del (Black River & Western) Railroad platform facing the D&R Feeder Canal.  The lower level bar displays a nice collection of local historic canal and railroad views.  ♦


1868 The Bel-Del started replacing old and worn out iron rail with steel. ♦ From old records it is found that in the year 1868 there were 4,470 boats passed over the ferry at Lambertville to cross the Delaware River between the D&R Feeder Canal and the Delaware Canal.  During the month of June alone in 1868, there were 936 boats to use this ferry, or an average of 31 per day.  Lambertville Beacon, October 25, 1923. ♦ In 1868, passage through the outlet lock at New Hope was suspended for nine days because high water in the Delaware River prevented “ferriage.”  An additional eight days were lost as a result of a breach in the D&R Canal. ♦


1869  Lyle's Official Railroad Manual for 1869-70 reported that the Bel-Del RR operated 21 locomotives, 20 passenger cars, 238 freight cars, and 533 coal cars.  There were 10 engine houses and shops and 11 wooden bridges on the line. ♦


1870 Richard McDowell, master mechanic of the Bel Del, toured the railroad.  He is credited with many improvements in the machinery and rolling stock of the road. ♦ A fine new passenger engine was built at the Lambertville shops of the Bel Del RR.  It was built under the immediate supervision of J.W. McDowell, son of the master mechanic and foreman of the shop. ♦ During the past 1870 season, for forty-three days the water in the Delaware River at New Hope crossing had been “at the lowest stage of the river ever known,” too shallow to permit passage across the river by fully loaded boats, which necessitated either lightening up at New Hope, or loading a Mauch Chunk “from six to ten tons less than we should have done.”  The other option was to send the loaded boats to Bristol, PA, and into the D&R at Bordentown but there, because of limited towing capacity, the maximum that could be handled was about twenty-five loaded boats per day, plus there would be “a loss to the Boatmen of about three days to each trip.”  Albright G. Zimmerman, Pennsylvania’s Delaware Division Canal. ♦


1871  The Bel-Del began changing the gauge of their locomotives and track from 4'10" to 4'9 1/2" and the LV RR widened theirs to conform. ♦ Due to the coal strike 1,527 empty LV RR coal cars were idled on Bel-Del RR tracks.  ♦ The Bel-Del RR commenced daily excursion service to Long Branch for the summer season. ♦ Both General W.T. Sherman, the Civil War Hero, and Samuel F.B. Morse, the telegraph inventor, traveled on the Bel-Del. ♦ The Bel Del publicized their Delaware Valley Line as "the favorite summer route."  A fast day-return excursion was offered from Philadelphia via the Bel-Del to the Water Gap for $4.50.  Other suggested destinations included Niagara Falls; the Finger Lakes of New York; Canada, via lake steamer; and Schooley's Mountain, near Hackettstown. ♦ The properties of the United Companies Railroads, except those of the Bel-Del, were transferred to the control of the Pennsylvania RR (PRR) for 999 years.  Ashbel Welsh, who negotiated the lease, continued to serve as president of the United Companies for a brief period. ♦ During this year 1,085 trains averaging 104 loaded coal cars each passed over the Bel-Del between Phillipsburg and Coalport, Trenton. ♦


1872  Ashbel Welch resigned as president of the United Companies to accept a position as superintendent of the Bel-Del under PRR management.  He continued in the capacity of chief engineer of the corporation to which he had been appointed by the PRR. ♦ The Bel-Del RR, Flemington RR and the Mercer & Somerset RR (under construction) became known as the Belvidere Division of the United RRs of NJ Division of the PRR.  The United Companies were merged into the NJ RR and Canal Co. ♦ The Bel-Del began replacing older English rail with new American iron rail. ♦ Coal in great volumes began to be transported south to Coalport at Trenton where it was loaded into canalboats and schooners for shipment to New York & beyond and Philadelphia. “A northbound train, headed by the (locomotive) Pennsylvania with M.T. Eyck in the cab, passed through Lambertville with 225 empty cars.  This was the largest train up to that date to have passed over the road.”  Lambertville Beacon, October 11, 1872.  ♦ A head-on collision took place on October 29th one and ½ miles south of Lambertville between loaded and empty coal trains badly damaging the engines.  A large number of loaded and empty cars were thrown into both the canal and the river.  The southbound engineer failed to stop at the passing siding switch.  Hunterdon Republican, October 29, 1872.  ♦ The Bel-Del carried 965,553 tons of coal in 1660 trains containing a total of 163,648 loaded cars in this year.  This was a 53% increase between Phillipsburg and Coalport over the prior year. Hunterdon Republican, January 23, 1873  ♦ Lambertville was chartered as a city and Richard McDowell, master mechanic and supervisor of the Bel Del’s Lambertville shops was elected its first mayor.  Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦


1873 Due to snow conditions on the Bel-Del in February, 3,500 cars loaded with coal were blocked between Phillipsburg and South Amboy. ♦ Several new, more powerful locomotives were placed in service on the Bel-Del, and a second telegraph wire was strung between Phillipsburg and Trenton. ♦ On this Saturday night, a canalboat struck a rock and sank in the Feeder Canal near the Belmont curve at the Goat Hill quarries.  The next day the pumping boat, RELIEF, came up from Trenton, pumped out the water, and raised the boat.  Lambertville Beacon, May 31, 1873. ♦ Iron Tug Boat: “The new iron tug boat, built at the Lambertville Iron Works for the D&R Canal Co. will be launched in the (Feeder) canal today.”  The boat, was 50 feet in length, 10 feet in width, and was fitted with a screw propeller 4 feet in diameter.  Lambertville Beacon, July 18, 1873.  ♦  The workday was reduced to 8 hours on the Bel-Del.  The PRR next discharged a number of employees on the Bel-Del.  Due to the Panic they finally discharged all single men to make more work available to married men with families. ♦


1874  Wildcat strikes of Bel-Del trainmen took place when the company required them to run through from Phillipsburg to Amboy instead of terminating at Coalport.  Crews were paid 33% more but the round trip required 30 hours and crews felt overworked.  The strike collapsed in about a week when replacements were brought in from Jersey City. ♦ Yielding to public outcry to replace the Lambertville depot (called the meanest looking depot of any place along the line) was replaced by a handsome, well-constructed and functional, reddish brown sandstone structure in March. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦ A special excursion train to Long Branch for conductors of the Bel-Del had a record 26 crowded coaches. ♦ Prallsville Bridge of the Bel Del Railroad spanned the Wickecheoke Creek alongside the D&R Feeder Canal on the north side of Stockton.  On Saturday, 21 August 1874, minutes after the afternoon mail train passed through the covered wood railroad bridge, it was found to be engulfed in flames.  Despite the fact that the Aquetong fire-fighting unit with their steam pumper and members of the Fleet Wing Hook and Ladder Company were rushed north four miles on a special train from Lambertville to the blaze, they could not prevent the destruction of the bridge and the nearby flour mill of I.O. Keesler.  This disrupted service on the Bel Del until the bridge was replaced by a huge gang of workmen over a weekend.  Down Along the Old Bel Del, Warren F. Lee  ♦


1875 Hunterdon County State Representative: Godown came up from Trenton to Lambertville on the evening train.  Instead of walking northward towards the canal bridge, he turned his steps Trenton-ward, where doubtless his thoughts were centered, and as a result walked into the canal below the depot.  He was rescued by Mr. Howard Barber who happened to be nearby.  Mr. Godown is not in favor of damming the Delaware, but about the time he was pulled out, it was thought he had no objection to trying such an experiment on the canal.  The canal water, however, shouldn’t be blamed for the accident.  Hunterdon Republican, January 2, 1875. Note: The headline could/should have read “Godown in Canal” - Ed. ♦ Over thirty mechanics were discharged from the shops of the Pennsylvania Railroad at Lambertville, on the 23rd of January.  Most, if not all of them, are men with families.  Hunterdon Republican, February 11, 1875. ♦ The Bel-Del had the honor of having the fastest scheduled train in the state of New Jersey.  The Water Gap Express was faster than the PRR Limited Express that took seven minutes longer to cover the same mileage within the state.  Engineer Felty of Lambertville covered the distance from Manunka Chunk to Trenton, including three station stops, in one hour and fifty minutes.  Felty of Lambertville is a careful and reliable engineer, who runs her on scientific principles, and the passengers ride with the same ease that they would on a train going at the rate of 20 miles per hour.  Warren Journal, August 20, 1875; Hunterdon Republican, August 26, 1875. ♦ A new through car arrangement between the Bel Del and the Mercer and Somerset has come into effect.  The rear car of the train leaving New Brunswick at 4:10 pm over the M&S Railway is detached at Somerset Junction and then attached at the same station to a connecting northbound train in order to go directly through to Lambertville and Flemington, reaching Lambertville at 5:56 pm and Flemington at 6:30 pm.  Hunterdon Republican, 25 November 1875  ♦


1876  The Bel-Del was connected to the DL&W at Manunka Chunk allowing passenger trains of the latter to be routed directly to the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. ♦ In the first half of the year 1,400 rafts containing 70 million feet of lumber were floated down the Delaware River. ♦ A special train of 28 cars traveled the length of the Bel-Del en-route to the Centennial Exhibition. ♦


1877 A railroad cable ferry service was inaugurated from the Bel-Del across the Delaware River south of Riegelsville, two miles to Durham Blast Furnace on the PA side.  The iron was transported directly from the furnace, on a two mile long RR, then across the Delaware and loaded into RR cars. ♦ A raft, 80' x 200' with 160,000' of square timber and top loaded with 165,000' of hardwood passed down the Delaware River.  It was the largest seen to date. ♦ Bel-Del Engineer, George Niece, hand carved a celebrated wood locomotive model with many moving parts. ♦ The PA Editorial Assn. traveled on the Bel-Del to the Delaware Water Gap on their 21st annual excursion. ♦ The Great National RR Strike grew into the largest mass labor action in American history.  "The Great Upheaval" was also the worst in the history of the state of NJ.  ♦


1878 An early telephone was system installed on the Bel-Del RR. ♦ Charles Sitgreaves, president of the Bel-Del, long-time member of the Board of Directors of the line, former mayor and prominent citizen of NJ died at his home in Phillipsburg. ♦ The Bel-Del started running a parlor car from Stroudsburg to West Philadelphia on the AM down train and the PM up train. ♦ The Bel-Del planned to introduce bells having only two tones, one for freight and the other for passenger engines. ♦ A number of hands who were recently discharged from the Pennsylvania Railroad shops in Lambertville, have again been given employment by the company.  A great amount of repairing is now on hand to be done.  Hunterdon Republican, August 1, 1878.  ♦


1879 A prison car began operating between Warren County Court House in Belvidere and the state prison in Trenton.  Friends and relatives of the convicted men were allowed to ride along with the prisoners in the same car by purchasing a ticket. ♦ In a single day 100 rafts containing 25 million feet of lumber passed down the Delaware River. ♦ A small steamboat named the Kittatinny was taken up the D&R Canal Feeder to Bulls Island, where it was locked into the Delaware River.  It passed up the river to the Delaware Water Gap where the owners planned to run trips to Port Jervis.  In attempting to ascend the Delaware she struck a rock at Milford, PA and was badly damaged.  After repair and return to the Gap another trip was attempted, but Kittatinny steamed out into the river, struck a rock and sank on May 15th. ♦


1880 President Rutherford B. Hayes traveled over the Bel-Del in a special train from Trenton to Phillipsburg (Easton) to participate in the dedication of the rebuilt Pardee Hall at Lafayette College. ♦ Tub Race: The Lambertville Tub Race with eight contestants took place in the canal along the Bel Del from Delaware to Coryell Streets.  Michael Coombes won the contest; he received $100 worth of cigars.  Another tub race, also with eight contestants, was held in the canal several days later on June 9th.  In the second race William Hammer, the winner, received 100 cigars.  Lambertville Beacon, June 5, 1880,  Looking Backward, June 17, 1909. ♦


1881 The Delaware River was one unbroken sheet of ice from the Water Gap to a point near Philadelphia. ♦ Four Summer and Fall tours were operated from Philadelphia and Trenton over the Bel Del through the Lehigh Gap to the Switchback. ♦ "Brief Summer Rambles" a series of letters written by Joel Cook very nicely described a journey up the Bel-Del from Trenton through Phillipsburg to the Delaware Water Gap in Chapter XXXV. ♦


1882 Ashbel Welch, Jr., (1809 - 1882) of 21 York Street, Lambertville passed away at his home.  He was a canal and railroad builder, corporate manager, industrial designer, inventor, marine architect and he had an incredible career as a most proficient and innovative engineer.  In his youth, from 1827 to 1830, he served first as a rodman and later as a surveyor for the company of Canvass White, who was the designer/builder of the Lehigh and Delaware Division Canals of Pennsylvania (as well as a number of other canals).  In the fall of 1830, Welch was appointed as an engineer by White and was given the assignment to build the 22.5-mile Feeder Canal of the D & R Canal from Trenton to Bulls Island.  In 1835, after the completion of the Feeder Canal, Welch was appointed to the position of chief engineer of the recently formed Joint Companies, which consisted of the D&R Canal and the C&A Railroad.  He held this position for the next 36 years.  In 1836 he was appointed chief engineer of the Philadelphia and Trenton Railroad.  Welch also became the Chief Engineer of the chartered Belvidere Delaware Railroad Company and released his Report of the Location of the Belvidere Delaware Railroad, with the Estimate, in January, 1849.  This report, printed in Trenton by Phillips & Boswell, outlined the importance of the railroad to the region; the location and elevations of the projected right-of-way; the cost of construction; and the cost of motive power, rolling stock and buildings.  The Bel Del was constructed mainly on the original towpath of the Feeder Canal under Welch.  While Welch was building the Bel-Del, in 1852-3 he was also involved in the lengthening of D&R locks on the main canal from 110 to 220 feet which was accomplished in 111 days.  During the following winter he was in charge of the same work done for the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal.  During 1863 Welch designed and placed into operation on the Camden and Amboy the earliest railroad safety block system in the United States.  In 1868 he designed and supervised the installation of steam powered winches and steam activated valves and gates for all locks on the main D&R Canal to greatly speed the passage of vessels through the locks, and designed and built the efficient freight terminal at Harsimus Cove in Jersey City.  Welch negotiated the 999-year lease of the properties of the United NJ Railroad and Canal Companies to the Pennsylvania Railroad in July 1871.  He had been elected President of the American Society of Civil Engineers and was a Lambertville resident and leader for 50m years.  Down Along the Old Bel-Del, by Warren F. Lee  ♦ The RR ran special funeral trains from both Phillipsburg and Trenton to Lambertville where more than 4,000 attended the Presbyterian Church service for Ashbel Welch.  He was laid to rest above the town of Lambertville in the Mount Hope Cemetery.  (His gravestone is one of the most prominent in the old section of the cemetery.) ♦ The first train of ice was received by the Bel-Del from the L&HR for movement to Philadelphia. ♦


1883 Circus trains of all varieties were welcomed on the Bel Del on any day except Sunday, until after 11 May 1890 when the Sabbath rules were relaxed.  In fact, on a Sabbath during 1883 the Bel-Del officials refused to permit the Barnum Circus train to travel over their line. ♦

1884 Protection Lodge, Brotherhood of Railroad Brakemen was organized on 3.23 at Phillipsburg. ♦ An up coal train (from Coalport to Phillipsburg), headed by engine No. 1072 with James Martin in the cab and Patrick Carmody as conductor, was comprised of 252 empty cars.  Later that same day another up coal train, headed by engine No. 1071 with Peter Skillman in the cab and Joseph Lythgoe as conductor, was comprised of 250 empty cars.  Lambertville Beacon, June 9, 1884. ♦ Bel-Del engine #718 pulled a train of 300 empties that was 0.95 mile long. ♦ The Bible Society stopped placing bibles in Bel-Del passenger cars because too many of them were mutilated and stolen. ♦ A record 21 loaded coal trains passed down the Bel-Del in one day. ♦


1885 Two interesting combination rail-stage coach tickets from this year were found in a desk at the PRR Philadelphia headquarters in 1930: One was a $2 ticket from Philadelphia via the Bel-Del to Milford and thence by stage to Bethlehem and Allentown.  The other was a $1.75 ticket from Philadelphia via the Bel-Del to Milford and thence by stage to Hellertown, PA. ♦ A presidential special train carrying Grover Cleveland in the palatial car Minerva made a round trip via the Bel-Del to Phillipsburg and the LV RR to his home in Buffalo. ♦


1887 The presidential special of Grover Cleveland passed up the Bel-Del en-route from Washington, D.C. to Buffalo, N.Y., stopping briefly at Lambertville to address crowds which had gathered.  He spoke from a luxurious parlor car that had been built for President Poche of the Lehigh Valley Railroad.  Hunterdon County Democrat, November 10, 1887.  ♦


1889 FLOOD: Rain fell for six straight days. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦ The PRR planned to erect new telegraph poles along the Bel-Del from Lambertville to Manunka Chunk, NJ. ♦


1890 The PRR decided that only walnut and oak ties were to be purchased (at $1 each) for the Bel-Del as chestnut split too easily. The old ties along the Bel-Del didn't sell well at 5¢ each, so the piles were either given away or burned. ♦ Sunday passenger service was begun on the Bel-Del and the Buffalo Express trains commenced service on the line. ♦ The largest timber raft ever assembled, with 500,000' of switch timber and 5,000 ties was sent down the Delaware River. ♦ The anthracite coal shipments over the Bel Del road during the 1889 fiscal year were 1,748,180 gross tons, an increase of 78,567 over the year before. ♦


1891 William H. Rau, a popular and well-known society and landscape photographer from Philadelphia was commissioned by the PRR for comprehensive photographic documentation of the scenery, facilities and industries along their routes for advertising purposes.  The PRR provided Rau with car #1382, "Photographic Car, Pennsylvania Railroad," equipped with a roof mounted elevated platform, darkroom, living, sleeping and cooking facilities.  He was also provided locomotives and train crews as needed.  At least two trips up the Bel Del line were made to capture the scenic Delaware River valley on film. ♦ For two months 52 car loads of ice per day moved over the Bel-Del from Belvidere to Philadelphia. ♦ A train of 82 cars of ice, 60 from the DL&W and 22 from the L&HR came down the Bel-Del. ♦ The Bel-Del (Railroad) was in the process of raising the level of the bridge and tracks across the Feeder Canal at Flemington Junction (north side of Lambertville) so that boats on the waterway could pass under the bridge, which in the future would no longer need to be turned.  (This also applied to Princeton, but that bridge would still have had to be opened for steam canalboats, tugboats, schooners, etc.)  Hunterdon Republican, December 23, 1891.  ♦


1892 The PP&B RR was leased to the Philadelphia & Reading RR. ♦ A train of 9 cars of flour from Buffalo, NY passed down the Bel-Del with a banner stating that it was to be sent by citizens of Philadelphia for starving Russia. ♦ A fast freight train from Jersey City via Trenton and the Bel-Del to Phillipsburg was added to the schedule. ♦ William S. Skirm, and his guests and crew made a trip on his steam yacht THE HELEN S. June 15 and 16, 1892, up the D&R Feeder to Lambertville; across the Delaware River via the cable ferry; and then up the Delaware Canal to Easton.  An overnight stop was made at Stover’s Riverside Farm near Erwinna, PA and the same route was retraced back to Trenton.  Trenton in Bygone Days, column by Harry J. Podmore in the Sunday Times Advertiser (date not available)  ♦An arrangement was made between the PRR and the CNJ for the Bel-Del to deliver a passenger car from one of their northbound trains to the CNJ at Phillipsburg for movement to Scranton and for the CNJ to deliver a passenger car from one of their eastbound trains for movement to Philadelphia. ♦ Coal trains were run on the Bel Del for the first time on Sunday and the RR workers objected. ♦ President Cleveland went over the Bel-Del and LV RR via Phillipsburg to go home to Buffalo to vote. ♦ PRR Bel-Del passenger service was equipped with heavier engines of the latest type.  Passenger cars began to be heated by steam carried through pipes from the engine and stoves were discontinued. ♦


1894 An early Sunday morning newspaper train began running north via the Bel-Del and the DL&W from Philadelphia to Wilkes Barre. ♦ The northbound Boston Flyer, and the southbound Colonial Express, (between Boston and Washington, DC through Phillipsburg via L&HR - Bel-Del) passenger trains were placed in service. ♦


1895 Crater & Sons cut 5" ice at the Lehigh Canal basin and stored it in their ice house at South 5th St., Easton. ♦ Seventy cars of ice per day were handled by the Bel-Del for Trenton and Philadelphia.  It required 600 cars to deliver 7,000 tons of ice to the Elijah R. Case Ice Corporation building north of Frenchtown on the Bel-Del. ♦ William Jennings Bryan's presidential campaign train traveled over the entire length of the Bel-Del, making stops at Trenton, Lambertville, Phillipsburg and Belvidere.  ♦

1896 FLOOD: Rain raised the river until it looked as if the town would be flooded. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦


1897  The Bel Del construction train from Phillipsburg was sent to open the Flemington Branch, eastward from Lambertville, which was blocked with snow. ♦ Local members of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen traveled to Philadelphia via the Bel Del for a Sunday meeting. ♦ Pennsylvania RR stations were draped in black out of respect to their late President Roberts. ♦  The PRR offered a round trip excursion fare on the Bel Del from Phillipsburg to Atlantic City for $2.25, departing at 7 AM. ♦


1899 The PRR shipped 15 cars of 12" ice from Lake Hopatcong to Philadelphia daily via the Lackawanna RR and the Bel-Del.  The company built a large ice house at the lake and had a big force of men at work day and night. ♦ The 9:20 AM Bel-Del train from Philadelphia, with two engines and a snow plow, arrived in Phillipsburg 4 hours late on 2.18. ♦ A vestibuled train began running between Philadelphia and Scranton via the Bel Del.  The train stopped only at Germantown, Trenton, Lambertville, Phillipsburg and Belvidere. ♦


1900 A well patronized, midsummer, one-day excursion train operated from the Bel-Del to Asbury Park, Long Branch and Ocean Grove. (Aug. 16) ♦  The Railroad Employee publication noted that Bel-Del train No. 567 "came forth with a new record."  On one run from Manunka Chunk to Trenton, it was reported that the 68-mile route, including seven stops, was covered in 85 minutes. ♦


1901 A heavy ice train of eighty-two, 42-ton cars, headed by two locomotives, ran down the Bel Del from Belvidere to Philadelphia. (July 8) ♦ The Bel-Del operated a special excursion to Long Branch and Ocean Grove. (Aug. 1) ♦ Ex-president Grover Cleveland passed through Lambertville at 7pm, on southbound train No. 577.  Quite a number of people gathered at the station to see the “distinguished personality.”  He had spent several days fishing in the Delaware near Frenchtown.  Lambertville Beacon, October 4, 1901. ♦ Morris Brink, a Bel-Del car inspector, rode in a trolley car that was being transported on a railroad flat car.  Brink stated: "The ride was a little cold and uncomfortable but the fare was cheap as no one passed through the car to take up the fare." ♦


1902 FLOOD: The rivermen said it was the highest year since 1841. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦ Stations along the Bel-Del were visited by a flower car which left plants to fill out the grounds in fine style. ♦ The PRR replaced 75-pound rails on the Bel-Del with eighty-pound rails. ♦ Great quantities of celery and onions were shipped over the L&HR and the Bel-Del from Great Meadows, NJ to Philadelphia in September. ♦


1903  FLOOD: 17.8 feet on 2 March.  ♦ This flood, reaching 21 feet above normal at Lambertville, carried away the second covered wood bridge over the Delaware and seriously damaged the masonry substructure.  It took a year to replace and repair it. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦ Early in October, 1903, navigation was closed for several weeks on account of damage done to the feeder above Lambertville, by the freshet in the Delaware River. ♦ Large quantities of Pocono ice were moved via the DL&W RR and the Bel-Del to Trenton, Camden, Philadelphia, and other cities. ♦ Milk train service was initiated on the Bel-Del. ♦ Richard McDowell, master mechanic and supervisor of the Bel Del Lambertville shops died.  Within a few years most of the personnel working in those shops were transferred to new engine shops in Trenton and Morrisville, PA.  The carpenter crews working at the foot of Coryell Street followed the shopmen to other PRR locations.  These and related working facilities were successively torn down. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦


1904 ♦ The current steel downtown bridge across the Delaware was completed by The New Hope Delaware Bridge Co.  It has six spans of 171 feet in length and contains 962 tons of steel. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦ Forty carloads of strawberries passed over the Bel-Del / L&HR en- route to Boston. ♦ President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, on a two-car special train came up the Bel-Del en-route to Groten, MA on Monday around 10:30pm.  On the return trip the presidential special went south (again along the Feeder Canal) on Wednesday morning.  Belvidere Apollo, May 27, 1904. ♦ The Lackawanna RR was transferring 20 carloads of Pocono ice to the Bel Del daily for shipment south to Philadelphia. ♦ Two special trains filled with members of the Masonic Order from MI and upper NY state, passed over the Bel-Del en-route to the Shriners convention in Atlantic City. ♦


1905 The superintendents of the Pennsylvania Railroad Bel-Del and New York Divisions and a party of 50 officials took an inspection tour over the Bel-Del. ♦ Regular hourly service on the Trenton, New Hope & Lambertville Street Railway began on 16 June on track extended from Afton Avenue long Main Street, Yardley, PA, on a private right-of-way to New Hope, along Main Street, New Hope and across the present steel Delaware River bridge to Lambertville.  The trackage in New Jersey consisted of about 400 feet from the bridge, along Bridge Street to the end at the Bel Del station, just before the Bel Del Railroad and the D & R Feeder Canal.  For several years 30 minute service was provided on weekends.  For most of the life of this line through cars were operated from Lambertville to Morrisville and back across the Calhoun Street bridge over the Delaware into downtown Trenton.  Streetcars of New Jersey by Joseph F. Eid, Jr. and Barker Gummere ♦ The Delaware Valley Navigation Co. was organized to run a line of canalboats from Mauch Chunk, PA to New York City.  The route would have used the Lehigh, Delaware and Delaware & Raritan Canals.  They planned to build self-propelled boats 85' long with 14' beam, but apparently overlooked the fact that most of the Delaware Canal locks were only 11 feet wide.  The plan was never implemented. ♦


1906 The Bel-Del discontinued buffet service in its parlor cars to conform to the NJ state liquor law. ♦


1907 The PRR installed new rail on the Bel-Del. ♦ New steel passenger coaches were tested on the Bel-Del. ♦


1908 As late as this year or 1909, one account notes that he saw two log rafts passing Lambertville. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦  Pennsylvania Railroad Company has a large force of men at work putting in a new aqueduct (probably for Alexauken Creek) above Lambertville.  Lambertville Beacon, January 7, 1908. ♦ A considerable portion of the record Pocono ice harvest, cut during the winter, was shipped south over the Bel Del. ♦ A special train carrying President McCrea of the PRR and party traveled up the Bel-Del. ♦ William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic nominee for the office of the president of the US, delivered speeches from the observation car of his special train at stations along the Bel-Del.  Stops were made at Warren Street, Trenton, Lambertville and other towns adjacent to the D&R Feeder Canal.  Easton Daily Express, October 23, 1908. ♦ Extensive improvements were being made to the Bel Del.  A block signal system had been installed between Belvidere and Lambertville. ♦


1909 A special train carried PRR President McCrea and General Manager Myers over the Bel-Del to participate in an inspection of the L&HR RR with President Melen of the NYNH&H RR. ♦ A special train of two new steel coaches carried officials over the Bel-Del to ascertain if conditions were favorable for operation of such cars. ♦


1910 The Edison Film Corporation favored Raven Rock or Bulls Island, seven miles above Lambertville, for shooting films.  During May of this year the classic, early motion picture, A Western Romance, was filmed at this location  near the terminus of the Feeder Canal.  Lambertville Beacon, May 5, 1910. ♦ An excursion train operated from Bel-Del stations to Atlantic City on Aug. 7th.  A similar 13 car train was operated on 17 Aug., followed 11 days later by a similar 17 car excursion. ♦ Special rates were offered from Bel-Del stations for patrons traveling to the Trenton Interstate Fair, which featured Wilbur and Orville Wright with their new airplane. ♦ Bethlehem Steel Corporation president, Charles M. Schwab and Prince Tsai Hsun, an uncle of the last Chinese emperor, traveled down the Bel-Del from Phillipsburg in a special train.  The Chinese dignitary was said to have been seeking an agreement from the steel company for the construction of warships.  Lambertville Beacon, September 25, 1910.  ♦


1912 New steel coaches began to be used on the Bel-Del. ♦ The Pennsylvania Railroad Company is tearing down the old roundhouse below the railroad station.  Lambertville Beacon, 12 May  ♦ President William Howard Taft went north on the Bel-Del in a special campaign train.  He made enthusiastic speeches from the rear car at Lambertville along the D&R Feeder and at other towns.  Easton Daily Express, May 24, 1912. ♦ The special campaign train of Teddy Roosevelt traveled south along the D&R Feeder Canal making several stops including Lambertville and Trenton, where he spoke to large crowds.  Easton Daily Express, May 27, 1912. ♦ All freight trains were annulled on the Bel-Del for Independence Day. ♦ A Bel-Del excursion to Atlantic City had 15 crowded coaches. ♦ The famed PRR Federal Express traveled from Washington to Boston via the Bel Del thru Lambertville, Phillipsburg, Maybrook, NY and the Poughkeepsie Bridge from 1912 to 1917. ♦ A young George Cawley was extra fireman on a freight run from Trenton to Phillipsburg and return on the Bel Del.  His story of that experience appeared in the Fall, 1976 issue of the Railroadians Train Sheet as A Day on the "Harlem River."


1913 In 1913 a 210' x 50' raft of timber was floated down the Delaware from Callicoon, NY for Bordentown, NJ (the entrance to the Delaware & Raritan Canal, but it would have to have been reduced in width to less than 24 feet to get towed through the D&R).  This was one of the last revenue timber rafts seen on the river.  Unfortunately, the raft, comprised of heavy toggle timber, struck the dam at Wells Falls near the Union Mill and broke up.  Lambertville Beacon, April 17, 1913. ♦ Patrol boxes were placed along the Bel-Del and trackmen carried a clock to register the time they pass these points. ♦  As a result of the burning of the PRR Greenville Bridge, most of the heavy New England freight traffic was temporarily diverted from the NY Division to the Bel-Del. ♦ The Veteran Employees Association of the PRR held their annual excursion to Atlantic City. ♦ A special train containing a company of NJ National Guard, en route from Camden to Tobyhanna passed over the Bel-Del. ♦ The Labor Day rush to the Delaware Water Gap via the Bel-Del and the DL&W was the "greatest in years." ♦ A Sunday excursion to Washington, DC operated over the Bel-Del was so popular that it required 34 cars in three sections to carry the 2,000 passengers. ♦ Telephones were to be installed to replace the telegraph between all stations on the Bel-Del. ♦ During August, Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan traveled over the Bel-Del between Trenton and Lambertville to deliver an address on Christian morality, entitled “The Making of a Man,” before a large Chautauqua gathering at New Hope.  Lambertville Beacon, July 30, 1925. ♦ Navigation of the Upper Delaware, by J. A. Anderson, of Lambertville, was published. ♦


1914 A DL&W train experimenting with train-station wireless communications between East Stroudsburg, PA and Washington, DC ran down and back on the Bel-Del. (Mar. 8&9)  The wireless telegraph system demonstrated its effectiveness in bad weather. ♦ An Agricultural Exhibition train co-sponsored by the PRR and the state of NJ came up the Bel Del and visited Phillipsburg. ♦ A special one-day $3 round trip excursion train was operated from the Bel-Del line to Washington, DC for high school seniors. ♦ 100 pound main line rail on the Bel-Del was replaced with 120 pound rail. ♦ The PRR 4-4-2 E-2 "Atlantic" locomotive was introduced on the Bel-Del to haul passenger trains. ♦ In the fall of 1914, part of the Pathe movie production, The Perils of Pauline, starring Pearl White, was filmed on the railroad at Lambertville.  Down Along the Old Bel-Del, by Warren F. Lee. ♦


1915 The Pennsylvania Railroad has agreed to the abandonment of navigation in the (D&R) Canal feeder.  Trenton Times, February 16, 1915. ♦ A special train carrying 150 US Marines from Philadelphia to Boston traveled north on the Bel Del. ♦ Circus trains frequently operated over the Bel-Del.  The Barnum & Bailey - "Greatest Show on Earth" required 85 double length rail cars to transport their 1280 people, 700 horses, 40 elephants, and a menagerie of 110 cages. ♦ The Liberty Bell traveled down the Bel-Del en-route back to Philadelphia from the Pan American Exposition at San Francisco. ♦ A special excursion train was operated to Atlantic City for Bel-Del retirees. ♦ A special test train with wireless radio equipment aboard passed over the Bel-Del on a round trip between the DL&W at Manunka Chunk and Washington, D.C. (Oct.) ♦ The Liberty Bell Special returning from San Francisco passed down the Bel-Del. ♦ A Mummers parade special operated over the Bel-Del to Philadelphia and return. ♦


1916  A strike was called by Bel-Del trackmen to gain parity in their wages with the trackmen of the NY Division.  The Bel-Del men earned $1.66 a day while their more fortunate colleagues earned $2.00 per day. ♦ The PRR temporarily rerouted the Federal Express on its original route via Phillipsburg in lieu of the new route through NYC to help prevent the spread of infantile paralysis which was epidemic in NYC at the time.  At the same time the train was reduced to one trip per week. ♦ President Woodrow Wilson traveled over the Bel-Del en-route to his vacation home in New England. ♦ Governors Feider of NJ and Brumbaugh of PA traveled north to Phillipsburg on the Bel-Del.  They were en-route to Easton where they participated in the dedication ceremonies opening the new concrete William Penn Highway between Easton & Allentown. ♦

1917 The PRR placed guards on or near all bridges on the Bel Del to protect them from "German sympathizers" as the US was on the verge of a declaration of war with the German Empire. ♦ The first of the Phillipsburg inductees for World War I departed the Bel-Del depot for Fort Dix. ♦ During WW I, a single raft appeared on the Delaware River en-route to Bordentown with logs to be used for pilings. ♦ The entire U.S. Army 42nd (Rainbow) Division, including the 168th Iowa Regiment that gave a concert on Bridge Street in Lambertville while waiting for their train to move on, was transported over the full length of the Bel-Del.  The 10,000 men that comprised the division were carried in seven sections of 20 cars each.  They were en-route to a staging area on Long Island where they trained briefly before embarking for the battlefields of France.  Lambertville Beacon, September 5, 1917.  ♦ Most of the Bel-Del telegraph operators joined the division-wide strike, but two remained on duty at Phillipsburg.  The PRR issued an ultimatum to the operators to return to work or lose their places with the company.  Most were back on the job the next day. ♦ The first inductee special operated over the Bel-Del to Fort Dix with 84 boarding at Phillipsburg and 104 from a DL&W connection boarded at Lehigh Junction Station. ♦


1918 Numerous conscription trains operated on the Bel-Del to carry inductees to Fort Dix, NJ. ♦


1920 Two Bel Del workmen, Guiseppi Di Arginin, 30, and Henry Mincarini, 50, engaged in constructing a bridge over the Feeder north of Elm Street, Lambertville, fell from a plank, where they had attempted to wash their hands, into the waterway and perished.  Evidently a passing freight train had drowned out their cries for help.  Lambertville Beacon, October 7, 1920.  ♦ 


1921 Work began to replace 85 lb. rail on non-main line portions of the Bel-Del with 100 lb. rail. ♦ Bus service between Trenton and Lambertville was begun by John Wilkens. ♦ Derailment at Goat Hill: The Pennsylvania Railroad escaped an appalling wreck just south of Lambertville.  A broken flange on a coach wheel derailed a crowded excursion train, which had originated on the Lackawanna (Railroad).  Serious tragedy was averted when the wheels of the derailed coaches remained on the ties until the train was brought to a complete stop.  At this point the track was very close to the Feeder (canal) and, in fact, the last car “swung over to a perilous position but the couplings held it..”  Lambertville Beacon, August 6, 1921.


1922 The Trenton to Lambertville bus service was extended to New Hope and Stockton. ♦ Perseverence Paper Mill on the east side of the D & R Feeder Canal, by the Lambertville Station burned on 22 October.  At least three steam fire pumpers drafted water from the canal to fight the fire. ♦


1923 A Sunday $4 day-return excursion to Washington, DC was operated from the Bel-Del line. ♦ The Trenton & Lambertville Bus Line was incorporated. ♦ A Bel Del excursion train to Atlantic City, carrying Standard Silk Mill employees from Phillipsburg, struck an open switch at Wilburtha and ran out onto a coal trestle.  The engine demolished an empty hopper car on the structure and plopped off the end of the elevated structure.  The coaches were not damaged or derailed and there were no injuries.  After an hour delay the train proceeded to the seaside resort with a replacement locomotive. ♦ The Lambertville - New Hope bridge deck was renovated.  Trolley tracks were removed and a new wooden roadway was installed. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen   ♦ The Walter L. Main 3 Big Ring Circus train came through Phillipsburg en-route from Stroudsburg to Lambertville. ♦ The last boat to cross the Delaware River at Lambertville was the W.E. BERNARD, captained by William Allshouse.  It was loaded with bituminous coal and crossed at noon on November 12, 1923.  It returned empty at 9:30am on November 14th.  Microfilmed papers of Harry Warford, Sr. At the National Canal Museum archives. ♦


1924 Trolley service into Lambertville was discontinued on 21 September by the Pennsylvania - New Jersey Railway.  (The Trenton, New Hope & Lambertville Street Railway had been merged, along with other properties, into the Bucks County Interurban Railway on 13 May 1913 although the New Jersey & Pennsylvania Traction Co. continued to operate all trackage in New Jersey.  On 15 May 1917 the Bucks County Interurban Railway became the Pennsylvania - New Jersey Railway.)  Streetcars of New Jersey by Joseph F. Eid, Jr. and Barker Gummere  ♦


1926 The rapid and proficient handling of the two sections of the Gentry Brothers circus trains in August provides an excellent insight into this activity.  The first section arrived in Lambertville just before dawn.  It carried “the stake and chain wagons, the canvas wagons, the side pole wagons, the water tank wagons, wagons containing the commissary and the dining departments, light plant wagons, all dressing room paraphernalia except the trunks, 200 draft horses, the elephants and camels and cars in which the workmen slept.”  About the time the lead section was unloaded, the second section arrived, carrying “ring and baggage horses, cages of wild animals, the seats and all appliances for the performers and their baggage, tabloid wagons and floats for the parade, and the sleeping cars conveying the performers.”  The first tent was erected to provide breakfast for the 600 circus folk.  The railroad transported their 600 people, 500 animals, including two herds of elephants, 5 acres of tents, 5,000 seats, 5 bands, including two calliopes, and 300 performers. ♦


1927 The NJ Public Utility Commission allowed the PRR to remove several Bel Del trains between Trenton, Phillipsburg and Stroudsburg. ♦


1928 NJ Power & Light Co. began construction, between Lambertville & Phillipsburg, of the first high pressure electric generating station (a/k/a Gilbert) in the U.S.  Until 1972 the plant received 10 to 20 carloads of coal daily from the Bel-Del. Later, oil was delivered by tank car. ♦


1930 Many Bel-Del telegraph offices were closed but Phillipsburg was retained. ♦ Porters on first class  trains on the Bel-Del were eliminated. ♦


1933 On 27 February the Pennsylvania Railroad advised the New Jersey Board of Public Utility Commissioners that “corporate action... has been taken providing for the abandonment of the canal and our plan is not to reopen it on March 1st of this year but to abandon its operation from and after that date.”  ♦ Abandonment of the D&R Canal was made official by a certificate under the corporate seal of the Pennsylvania Railroad Co. dated 29 April 1933.  This action was preceded by a preamble and resolutions adopted by a majority of the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company on 22 June 1932; authorized and directed by the United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company (successor to the D&R Canal Co.) on 6 December 1932 and the stockholders of that company on 10 January 1933.   P.R.R. President W.W. Atterbury offered to relinquish to the state of New Jersey all of the property rights that the company had in the Feeder Canal.  Nevertheless, he reserved the prerogative for the railroad to cross the waterway and to run on any part of the canal property not required for canal purposesLambertville Beacon, 13 July 1933.  On 3 May 1934, with 936 years left on the Pennsylvania Railroad lease, the state took possession of the D&R Canal property and began to study ways to reuse the waterway.  Two major uses emerged: a water source for industry and recreation.  Princeton History, No. 17, 2002. ♦ The Trenton & Lambertville Bus Line was briefly extended to Barbertown, Baptistown, Frenchtown, Milford and Easton. ♦


1935 In preparation for the Army's first maneuvers since World War I, 5,023 officers and men were transported over the Bel-Del in 19 special trains to camps in PA and NY. ♦


1936 FLOOD: 17.89 feet by the Spring freshet of 19 March.  It nearly reached the high water mark of the 1903 flood - the worst ever.  (A level of 21 feet which covered the railroad tracks at Goat Hill and Raven Rock is stated by Edward Cohen in his Lambertville’s Legacy ) ♦ On 20 Sept. the first of a series of "Off the Beaten Track" excursions was operated through NJ by the Pennsylvania Railroad.  It was routed from Philadelphia via Trenton, the Bel Del (through Lambertville and Phillipsburg), the Delaware Water Gap, Scranton, Nanticoke, Glen Lyon, Tamenend, Norristown and return to Philadelphia.  The "350 miles of spectacular scenery through mountains and mines and along three river valleys" cost only $3.50. ♦ (Oct. 11) A PRR "Off the Beaten Track" excursion was operated from NY via South Amboy Jct., Jamesburg, Bordentown, Trenton, the Bel Del to Stroudsburg and return to NY via Trenton.  On the same day another PRR "OBT" excursion departed Philadelphia via Pottsville and Wilkes Barre to Scranton and returning via the DL&W to Stroudsburg, the Bel-Del to Trenton and back to Philadelphia.  The locomotive on the first train turned at Stroudsburg to bring the second train back to Trenton. ♦


1937 (June 27) The first of the three famed PRR "Off the Beaten Track" Poughkeepsie Bridge trips was run.  It departed Philadelphia at 7:22 AM via Trenton and was scheduled to arrive in Phillipsburg at 9:28.  It was routed via Maybrook, Poughkeepsie, Danbury, South Norwalk, Hell Gate Bridge, NYC and back to Philadelphia for a scheduled 7:30 PM return.  The trip was sold out and the lengthy train required double headed K-4 locomotives.  A special $1 dinner was available in the diner en-route. ♦ (Aug. 1) The PRR re-ran the Poughkeepsie/ Hell Gate Bridges trip in two sections with a total of 2,000 excursionists.  At Trenton the two sections diverged; one went clockwise and the other counter clockwise.  They didn't have to deadhead the power back, just swap with the other section. ♦


1938  (Aug. 14) The PRR sponsored a two train "Off the Beaten Track" trip from their Broad St., Philadelphia station, over the Pocono Mountains to Avoca/Scranton and return.  The first train traveled to Trenton; up the Bel Del through Phillipsburg and Manunka Chunk; the DL&W through the Delaware Water Gap and their route to Scranton/Avoca; return was via the Wilkes-Barre & Eastern and Susquehanna to Jersey City and then via the PRR for the return to Philadelphia.  The second train took the reverse journey from Trenton, going to Jersey City first.  The two trains met and passed at Ash Gap, west of Pocono Summit.  The fare for the 400 mile figure 8 trips, which departed Philadelphia at about 6:30 AM, was $4. ♦


1939  A PRR "Off the Beaten Track" excursion was operated on 10.15 from Philadelphia to Trenton - Phillipsburg - Wilkes-Barre and return via the Schuylkill Branch.  From Phillipsburg to Wilkes-Barre the 12 car special was hauled by a LV RR T-3 4-8-4 "Wyoming" locomotive. ♦


1941 Experimental installation of the Union Train Communication System was authorized by the PRR on their Belvidere branch. ♦


1942 FLOOD: 14.23 feet on 24 May.  ♦  One round trip passenger train on the Bel-Del was eliminated because the equipment was needed for wartime troop movements.  However, after they were removed a locomotive and a single mail car kept the same schedule. ♦ Many troop trains were required to move the Texas Division of the National Guard north on the Bel Del to Camp Edwards in Massachusetts.  They later went into action in WW II in Italy. ♦  PRR experimented with a radio telephone system on the Bel-Del which proved a success and was later adopted by them and other railroads. ♦


1943 Following a dramatic wreck, officials of the Atlantic Coast RR Co. visited the Bel Del to observe the PRR train-telephone system in use between Phillipsburg and Trenton.  ACL was impressed enough to buy the system from Union Switch & Signal and installation was begun a year later. ♦ Sixty-seven inductees, including Warren F. Lee, renowned Bel-Del author, boarded PRR train #375 and departed Phillipsburg for Fort Dix and a wartime career in the Army. ♦


1944 An article on the innovative PRR Bel Del Train Telephone Communication system appeared in the 12 Feb. issue of Railway Age.  The first such installation of this Union Switch & Signal system was on the Bel Del between Phillipsburg and Trenton. ♦ The Bel-Del became the first line in the US to use a radio-telephone communication system.  The system was then installed on the PRR main line between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. ♦ President Franklin D. Roosevelt departed Washington for a Labor Day weekend at Hyde Park, NY via an unusual PRR- Bel Del-L&HR RR route which he never repeated.  The train made a long stop at Allamuchy, NJ while FDR went away and secretly met with a lover, Lucy Mercer Rutherford, who lived in the area. ♦ The Trenton & Lambertville Bus Line timetable showed 21 weekday buses in each direction. ♦


1945 A reporter did an article on the radio-telephone system which had been installed on the Bel Del.  The article appeared in the NY Sunday Mirror on 7.27.  The PRR engineer at the time was G. Douglas Moore, a big man who drove a Volkswagen "Beetle" to and from work.  Moore was featured in a PRR magazine ad touting the new system. ♦


1947 Bel-Del passenger service was reduced to one daily round trip between Trenton and Phillipsburg and a Sunday round trip from Trenton to East Stroudsburg. ♦


1948 The last circus trains on the Bel Del, the two sections of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey train, traveled up the Delaware River route from Washington, D.C. to Boston. Down Along the Old Bel-Del, by Warren F. Lee.  ♦ President Truman's silver campaign train traveled from Baltimore, Philadelphia and Trenton, then up the Bel Del through Phillipsburg on the night of 10.22 to the DL&W connection and on to Scranton. ♦ The Steelton plant of Bethlehem Steel rolled 155 lb. rail for the Bel Del. ♦


1949 The PRR filed a petition to withdraw all passenger trains from the Bel-Del. ♦ The Trenton & Lambertville Bus Line was bought by the owners of Blue Bus Lines, but kept as a separate service until it was merged into Blue in October 1954. ♦


1950 In mid May the first four units of a fleet of new diesel-electric locomotives was received on the Bel-Del.  Steam power was entirely replaced by 20 diesel-electric locomotives. ♦


1951 The NJ Board of Public Utility Commissioners refused to allow the PRR to eliminate passenger service on the Bel-Del. ♦ The PRR replaced steam power on the Bel Del with diesel rail car No. 4388 for the operation of Phillipsburg and Trenton Railway Post Office trains Nos. 2359 and 2372. ♦ On Sept. 2nd, the Sunday-only Trenton-Stroudsburg Bel Del passenger train with two coaches was powered by PRR Alco diesel switcher #8900.  ♦  On Aug. 31 the last locomotive (#5683) was completed by the Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corp. at their Lima, OH plant.  It was one of 22 class LS25, 2,500 hp center cab transfer units, each containing two 8-cylinder diesel engines.  They were built for the PRR and were frequently used on the Bel Del through Lambertville. ♦


1952 The Sunday only passenger trains on the Bel-Del to East Stroudsburg were discontinued on 4.20, ending service north of Phillipsburg. ♦ FLOOD: 13.08 feet on 12 December.  ♦


1953 Railway Post Office service ended on Route 242, the Bel-Del. ♦


1954 The clearance car, which had the appearance of a mechanical porcupine, visited the Bel-Del to verify height and width of clearances along the line. ♦


1955 FLOOD: 24.16 feet on 20 August; FLOOD: 12.04 feet on 16 October. ♦ The August flood caused considerable damage to span #2 of the Lambertville - New Hope bridge from trees, houses and other debris crashing down the river.  Required extensive repairs closed the bridge to all but emergency vehicles for five weeks before being opened to general traffic on 22 September. ♦ The owners of Starr Transit bought the Trenton & Lambertville Bus Line and merged it into Starr later.  At this time their timetable showed 11 westbound and 10 eastbound runs on weekdays. ♦


1956 A Metropolitan Philadelphia Railway Assn. excursion on 30 September departed Philadelphia powered by four-year-old Baldwin RS12 #8110.  They traveled east on the main line to Trenton and then to Phillipsburg on the Bel Del.  Here they had a lunch break, but most of the rail fans headed for the PRR roundhouse.  In the afternoon they went back down the Bel Del and via the Trenton Cutoff to Parkesburg, PA then back to Philadelphia. ♦ The PRR petitioned to end the one train a day on the Bel Del.  As justification they claimed that an average of only 17 passengers a day were riding the train and only one was making the 1.5 hour/50 mile trip between Phillipsburg and Trenton. ♦


1957 The Lehigh Valley Chapter, NRHS sponsored a group trip on the Bel Del from Phillipsburg to Trenton and return using diesel-electric car #4653, which they chartered. ♦ The Pennsylvania & NY Central Railroads began exploratory merger discussions.  On 11.1 they made a public announcement of merger talks. ♦ The Bel-Del ceased to exist as a separate entity as it was merged into the United NJ RR & Canal Co. which was leased to the PRR. ♦


1959 The NY Central RR broke off merger negotiations with the PRR due to concern that the PRR would dominate the merged company. ♦ On 28 May, as an 84-car ore train, bound for Bethlehem Steel, was approaching Lambertville, an axle on the 54th car suddenly gave way.  The nine cars which left the track ripped up many sections of rail and dumped a considerable portion of the heavy cargo all over the right-of-way.  While no one was hurt, the cars were scattered from the canal to the river and the line was blocked throughout the day.  Down Along the Old Bel Del, Warren F. Lee  ♦ The NJ PUC rejected the PRR bid to remove Bel Del passenger trains. ♦  A tugboat strike in NY Harbor caused a lengthy rerouting of Pennsylvania RR cars at Jersey City destined for Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.  They were sent to Trenton, then via the Bel Del to Maybrook, NY, the Poughkeepsie Bridge, Danbury & Norwalk, CT, and over the Hell Gate Bridge to Bay Ridge. ♦


1960 The last Bel-Del passenger train, a single self-powered diesel car, No. 4658 (Train No. 2372), due at Phillipsburg at 6:58 pm, operated northbound from Trenton along the D&R Canal.  It arrived at Union Square around 8pm, ending 109 years of passenger service (to Lambertville) and 106 years to Phillipsburg.  Easton Daily Express, October 26, 1960. ♦


1963 Public Service Coordinated Transport initiated Route 160 with extremely limited bus service between the Port Authority Bus Terminal (NYC) and Lambertville - New Hope. ♦


1964  The daily fast freight trains (Jet-1 & Jet-2) between Boston and Chicago via the Bel-Del and L&HR were removed after the derailment at Holland, NJ. ♦ On 1 September, a group of steam railroad enthusiasts leased the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Flemington Branch from Ringoes to Flemington to operate steam powered train excursions.  They later incorporated as the Black River & Western Railroad.  ♦


1965  On 8.19 Two Bel Del freight trains collided head-on in the Narrows, north of Riegelsville.  Two diesel locomotives were pulling a 55 car train north and one unit was at the head of a short southbound train.  All three locomotives and 15 cars were derailed.  Four PRR employees were injured.  Wreck crews were dispatched from Trenton and Allentown.  It took about 27 hours to clear the line.  The incident was attributed to the error of a towerman in Trenton. ♦ A huge, oversized 100,000 lb. boiler, built by the Foster-Wheeler Co. of Danville, NY, and consigned to DeLaval Turbine Corp. in Trenton, was shipped over the Bel-Del from Phillipsburg to Lambertville.  There, because bridge and power line clearances were too low, the boiler was placed upon a trailer truck to travel the remainder of the distance. ♦


1966 CNJ coach No. 322 (built in 1927) was used to film part of the introductory scene to each of the 136 episodes of the American TV situation comedy “That Girl,” starring Marlo Thomas, that ran on ABC from this year to 1971.  The coach was stripped of most of its seats so the cameras could be set up to film Marlo (as the title character, Ann Marie) sitting in the eastern-most seat as the train departed the CNJ, Jersey City Terminal with the NYC skyline in the background.  That coach is now owned by the Black River RR Historical Trust and is the most luxurious and popular car on the Black River & Western RR excursion trains.  It has been restored and features plush arm chairs, a bar, and table seating.   ♦

1967 An experimental high-speed train which had hit 157.3 MPH on main line tracks, moved down the Bel Del at what must have been a "snail's pace" for it.  The TurboTrain was built by the Sikorsky Aircraft division of United Aircraft Corp. at their Providence, RI plant.  It came south via the Lehigh & Hudson River RR and was switched to PRR (Bel Del) tracks. It then moved via Trenton to Morrisville, PA where it was prepared for testing.  The gas turbine powered train later reached 170.8 MPH on a special 21 mile test track between Trenton and New Brunswick. ♦ On 26 November, a 13-car rail enthusiasts excursion was operated to Montauk on the Long Island RR using Black River & Western RR (ex-Great Western Sugar) 2-8-0 steam locomotive No. 60.  The locomotive was moved to and from Flemington, NJ via the CNJ to Jersey City and by carfloat to the Long Island RR and back.  ♦


1968 Stockholders of the PRR and NY Central RR approved a merger of the two railroads to form the Penn Central Transportation Co. (a/k/a Penn Central or PC).  It became effective 2.1. ♦


1970 The Penn Central Transportation Co. financial collapse occurred on 6.21.  They filed for reorganization under Section 77 after last-ditch efforts failed to secure Federal loan guarantees.  The railroad was unable to pay about $200,000,000 in long term loans that were coming due. ♦ After losing $325,700,000 during this year, PC was required by Congressional strike settlement to increase pay of affected workers by 13.5%, further increasing deficits. ♦ On 1 February, the Black River & Western Railroad, bought the entire Flemington branch from Lambertville to Flemington to provide freight service and seasonal tourist passenger service.  ♦


1971 On 16 January Public Service Coordinated Transport discontinued their Route 160 bus service between Lambertville and NYC. ♦ Congress approved $125,000,000 in loan guarantees to railroads.  PC immediately obtained $100,000,000, avoiding a 28 January shutdown for lack of cash. ♦ On 22 May Public Service Coordinated Transport resumed their Route 160 bus service between Lambertville and NYC, but only on Saturdays. ♦ The New Hope - Lambertville Rt. 202 Toll Bridge across the Delaware opened on 22 July.  However the 1,682 foot-long bridge, just north of Lambertville, was not connected to the realigned Rt. 202 until 1975. ♦ Penn Central closed the year with improved results, losing $275,000,000, reducing its operating ratio from 92.1% to 88.3%, and holding $25,000,000 of loan guarantees in reserve. ♦


1972 PRR engineer Richard Gratton made a trip up the Bel Del on a rainy winter night with a coal train.  Years later he commemorated that trip by composing a ballad entitled "Diamonds On My Windshield.” ♦ Gilbert Generating Station converted from coal to fuel oil, getting deliveries of about 225 tank cars per month from the Bel-Del. ♦ Pennsylvania Canal Society organized a tour of the D&R Canal on October 6 & 7, 1972, making stops at Bordentown, Trenton, Lambertville, Kingston, Griggstown, Bound Brook and New Brunswick.  Canal Currents, Issue #21, Summer, 1972. ♦ Transport of New Jersey sold their New Hope / Lambertville - Bridgewater bus route rights to West Hunterdon Transit (Fred Dilley - k/a the “Dilly Bus”), which also only provided limited service until 1987. History of Trans-Bridge Lines by Murray S. Kramer in Motor Coach Today #4


1973 A one day labor strike shut down the Penn Central.  Government intervention ended the strike, setting in motion the process of government participation to resolve the dilemma of rail bankruptcies in the northeast. ♦ Bankruptcy Court Judge John Fullam ruled that Penn Central RR couldn't be required to keep operating beyond Oct. 1 without unconstitutionally eroding creditors' rights; he estimated post-bankruptcy operations reduced the value of the company by $500,000,000. ♦  The Federal Railroad Administration loaned Penn Central RR $16,400,000 to cover hurricane Agnes-related losses, allowing the carrier to continue operating into 1974. ♦


1974 The Regional Rail Reorganization Act (RRRA or 3R Act) was signed into law by President Nixon.  The Federal government was forced to enact this law to prevent Judge Fullam from shutting down PC RR.  The act established Consolidated Rail Corporation (ConRail) as "a financially self-sustaining rail service system" for the northeastern United States; and created U.S. Railway Association (USRA) to develop a plan for merging the bankrupt eastern railroads into ConRail at an estimated expense of $500,000,000, and thereafter managing federal investment in ConRail.  PC got $85,000,000 to keep running until ConRail took over. ♦ The Penn Central, Reading, CNJ and LV RR's were ruled unreorganizable by their respective bankruptcy courts on May 2nd.  This made them eligible for inclusion in ConRail. ♦ A fire started on the Poughkeepsie Bridge on May 8th shortly after a mile long freight train crossed.  It heavily damaged the structure and severed the strategic rail route for traffic on the Bel Del to and from New England as Penn Central refused to repair the damage.  The advantage of the L&HR "bridge route" which bypassed the NY terminal area was lost. ♦ The USRA added the entire el Del to their list of "expendable" NJ trackage. ♦


1975 Penn Central RR locomotives with Bel Del coal and ore trains ran through from Phillipsburg to Bethlehem Steel. ♦ The US Ry Association's (USRA) preliminary system plan for restructuring bankrupt lines into Conrail was released.  It offered a 15,000 mile system, but up to 6,200 miles of the bankrupt's route systems would be abandoned or sold.  It proposed that the Maybrook Gateway/Poughkeepsie bridge route to New England be reopened for freight. ♦  The USRA reported that freight service on the Bel-Del Division of the Penn Central should be continued between Milford and Phillipsburg primarily because the Gilbert Generating Station was receiving 1.9 million barrels of No. 2 oil a year by tank car. ♦ After public review and comment the USRA released their Final System Plan for ConRail, calling for the abandonment of 5,100 route miles. ♦  USRA's final system plan for Conrail was accepted by Congress.  It eliminated the Bel Del-L&HR-Maybrook-Poughkeepsie bridge route. ♦


1976 The Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act (4R Act) was signed by President Ford.  It amended the RRRA and provided $2.1 billion in federal funding for ConRail's acquisition and upgrading. ♦ A financing agreement between USRA and Conrail was concluded.  It gave Conrail access to government funds of up to $2.026 billion to launch operations. ♦ Bankrupt rail properties were conveyed to Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail).  Mileage of the new combine was 25,167, with the following breakdown: PC 19,300; EL 2,807; LV 988; CNJ 526; PRSL 307; and L&HR 90. ♦ Through freight service on the Bel-Del main line from Trenton to Phillipsburg was terminated, and the line abandoned except for a 3.5 mile section in Lambertville which was taken over by the Black River & Western RR and the section from Phillipsburg south to Milford (however a 3 mile section from Coalport to Cadwallader Park remained in service long enough to enable the American Freedom Train to occupy a display site near the park).  Train BL-6 from Trenton to Phillipsburg was the last through freight on the Bel-Del. ♦ On 1 April, the date that Conrail assumed control of the properties of the Penn Central Railroad, the Black River & Western Railroad augmented its line through the purchase of two segments of track located on each end of its route.  On the southern end it purchased a 3.5-mile portion of the former Bel-Del main line and industrial trackage in and about Lambertville.  On the northern end, it purchased a 4.0-mile portion of the former South Branch Railroad (CNJ) that ran from Flemington to near the former Lehigh Valley main line (now Conrail) at Three Bridges.  During December 1976 a new interchange connection was constructed between the BR&W and Conrail by L.E. Vernon, former Bel-Del track expert.  It was placed in service during March of the following year.  Down Along the Old Bel-Del, by Warren F. Lee.  The 3.5-mile section of former Bel-Del track in the Lambertville area was along the original towpath of the D&R Feeder Canal.  On one of its field trips the Canal Society of New Jersey chartered a BR&W train and made a trip up to the Stockton Quarry and back on this track.  All BR&W track south of Ringoes is currently out of service.  ♦


1977 A final trip over the Bel-Del was arranged on Tuesday, Mar. 29th.  It utilized BR&W RR equipment, including the 1912 Pullman car "Enterprise."  The trip began at Flemington (using their steam locomotive to pull the train) to Lambertville where their RS-1 pulled it up the Bel-Del to Phillipsburg, backing over the L&HR bridge to reverse, then east on the LV RR to Three Bridges to return to Flemington.  "Friends" President Emeritus, Hal Carstens, filmed the trip and Roger E.M. Whittaker, also known as E.M. Frimbo, was on board.  "Frimbo" was one of the most famous RR buffs in the world, having traveled 2,748,636 miles by rail before he died in 1981. ♦


1979 Bel-Del rails were lifted by Contrak of Ridgefield, NJ from Trenton to Milford, except for the section in Lambertville purchased by the Black River & Western RR.  Much of the rail salvaged from this operation was purchased by the Kansas City Southern Railroad.  A two-mile section of welded rail found near Raven Rock was cut into 1,400 foot sections and moved for use on Conrail's Auburn Branch in upstate New York. ♦ The Delaware & Raritan Canal Commission assumed control of the former Bel-Del right-of-way from Trenton to Bulls Island and on to Frenchtown as an extension of the D&R Canal State Park.  They improved and converted it into a bike and walking path. ♦ The 105 year-old Bel Del Lambertville depot was sold at auction for $220,000.  Following a $2,000,000 renovation the depot now hosts the popular Lambertville Station Restaurant. Lambertville’s Legacy by Edward Cohen  ♦


1984 A Delaware and Raritan Canal Tour was organized by the Pennsylvania Canal Society on 12 October was described in their Canal Currents Issue No. 68, Autumn 1984.  They covered the main canal from Bordentown to New Brunswick plus Lambertville and the feeder.  Among the 35 canallers were Jill and Emil Gombosi, Steve Humphreys, Lance Metz, John Miller, Howard Swope, David Wright, and Zip Zimmerman.  Evening color slide programs were given by Jim Amon and Bill McKelvey. ♦ On 20 December Starr discontinued bus service on their Trenton & Lambertville route, which in the 1980s had been reduced to two round trips each weekday.  The service was replaced by extension of the New Jersey Transit Trenton Route R (West State Street - South Clinton Avenue). ♦

1985 On 21 September NJ Transit Route R was discontinued with Route S (Brunswick Avenue - West Trenton) extended to Lambertville.


1987 The NJ RR and Transportation Museum Study Commission was established. ♦  Down Along the Old Bel-Del: the History of the Belvidere Delaware Railroad Company, by Warren F. Lee (brother of James) was published. ♦ The NJ RR and Transportation Museum Study Commission voted 8 to 2 to locate the state museum in Raritan Township, near Flemington.  However, money was not made available by the NJ state legislature to purchase the required land with rail access, and the choice died. ♦ DeCamp Bus Lines acquired West Hunterdon Transit. ♦


1988 The Inn at Lambertville Station is located to the rear of the Lambertville Station Restaurant, also between the D&R Canal/Bel Del Railroad and the Delaware River.  In 1988 the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Commission and the United Railroad Historical Society hosted a special rail excursion to Lambertville powered by Morristown and Erie Railroad diesel locomotives for a banquet in the newly opened Inn celebrating the choosing of sites on the Black River and Western Railroad in the Flemington area.  The Inn accommodates 150 and all 45 antique-filled rooms and the Riverside Ballroom have a view of the Delaware River and most can see the D&R Canal as well.   609-397-4400.  ♦


1989 The NJ RR and Transportation Museum Study Commission completed a two volume report and expired. ♦ PRR "Doodlebug" #4666 was sold by the BR&W RR to Carl Hosler, who later also purchased their Alco RS-1 locomotive. ♦ A Chronology of the Belvidere Delaware Railroad Company (A Pennsylvania Railroad Company) & the Region Through Which it Operated, by Warren F. and Catherine T. Lee was published. ♦


1990 NJ Transit Route S, which served Lambertville, was re-designated Route 608 (Hamilton - West Trenton).  ♦


1991 The DeCamp Bus Lines operation of former West Hunterdon Transit lines service was taken over by Trans-Bridge Lines, which continues to operate the Lambertville - NYC service.  ♦


1994  Black River & Western RR steam locomotive #60 was moved from Three Bridges to Phillipsburg by Conrail with GP-38 #7868 as the pilot.  They then traveled eastward via the Washington Secondary and Dover to the Morristown & Erie Ry. for the Whippany Railway Museum, Railroad Festival '94 on July 30 & 31.  No. 60 was joined at Whippany by NYS&W RR steamer #142.  At the conclusion of the Festival and USPS locomotive stamp dedication, #60 went back to the BR&W RR, again via Phillipsburg. ♦


1996 FLOOD: 15.34 feet on 20 January.  ♦ Delaware River Scenic Byway on Route 29 was designated by the NJ DOT covering about 34 miles from Trenton to Frenchtown.  It offers spectacular views of the D&R Canal and the Delaware River and travels through the historic riverside towns of Titusville (where Washington Crossing State Park is located), Lambertville, Stockton and Raven Rock (where the D&R Feeder Canal begins), ending at the southern limit of Frenchtown.  For further information and a PDF see the NJ DOT website:   ♦


2000  The New England Rail Car Association sponsored speeder or track car excursions over the Black River & Western Railroad on 6 May.  ♦


2004  FLOOD: 16.5 feet on 19 September.  ♦ Delaware River Steamboat Floating Classroom is a project which was headed by the late Bart Hoebel of Princeton.  He acquired a steel replica of an 1880's sternwheel steamboat from a canal in Ohio, brought it to New Jersey and had it totally rebuilt to US Coast Guard standards and it began operating on the Delaware River, first in New Hope, PA and the grand opening was complete with a Mark Twain impersonator and a Dixie Land band.  They currently operate in the Delaware River at Lambertville, along the Feeder Canal and south of the Lambertville Station Inn.  The steamboat is called  S.P.L.A.S.H.  for Student Participation in Learning Aquatic Science and History.  Mostly school and other groups are taken on a two mile voyage of adventure, history, discovery, and learning - all ages are welcome.  SPLASH engages students in the pursuit of clean drinking water with interactive, on-board ecology lessons; biology; physics and chemistry.  Other specialized subjects, such as engineering, river art, river poetry, literature, music, etc. can be taught. 


2005  FLOOD: 19.6 feet on 4 April.  ♦


2006  FLOOD: 19.08 feet on 29 June. ♦ On 24 June NJ Transit discontinued Trenton - Lambertville bus service. ♦


2011  FLOOD: 13.07 feet on 12 March.  FLOOD: 12.74 feet on 12 August.  FLOOD: 15.1 feet on 9 September.  ♦


2013 On 8 April, United Railroad Historical Society Site Committee Chairman Bill McKelvey met with Richard Anderson and Scott Kwaitkowski of the Black River Railroad Historic Trust to discuss possibilities of restoration of dormant Black River & Western RR track in the Lambertville area for a trolley rail shuttle.  ♦ An inspection tour of dormant track in the Lambertville area was conducted by McKelvey for URHS Site Committee members on 27 April. ♦



Hamilton’s Grill Room at 8 Coryell Street, Lambertville “At the Porkyard,” overlooks the D&R Canal in a romantic setting that offers both indoor and outdoor dining.  It is a very nice restaurant with Nationally Acclaimed Mediterranean Cuisine, but a bit on the expensive side.  Open for dinner seven days per week - reservations recommended.   609-397-4343.


Lambertville Station Restaurant and the Inn are jointly owned. The restaurant, in the majestic old Bel Del station building, adjacent to the D&R Feeder Canal, is the most popular in town.


Current Motor coach service connecting Lambertville with Newark Liberty airport and NYC is provided by Trans-Bridge Lines with six trips east and west 7 days per week.  The bus “station” is at the east end of Bridge Street near the corner of Rt. 29.  Schedules are on line; Info: 610-868-6001.  Demand transportation service is provided by Hunterdon County Transportation Cross County “LINK” Service.  Info & reservations @ 908-788-1368.


Input to be added from: Warren Lee; J.R. Howell; & Yoder