Toms Raritan River Railroad Page




Forgotten History

of the

Raritan River Railroad

The Wisconsin Connection


US Plywood in East Brunswick

Owens Illinois on the Gillespie Branch

Wrights at the end of the South River Branch

Green Bay cars in East Brunswick

Raritan River Boxcars in Wisconsin








The mystery started with an email from Andy in Indiana back in 2007:




I am researching the Ahnapee & Western Railway, a 34-mile shortline in Wisconsin, that served a large U.S. Plywood plant in Algoma, Wisc. I have recently come across a large collection of inbound freight waybills for the railroad from the early 1960s. Some of those waybills are from the Raritan River. That's where I'm hoping that you can help me!

The station shown on the waybills is "Wrights, NJ" and the shipper is U.S. Plywood Corp. Weldrok Division. The cargo is "calcium of silicate & asbestos combined in flat pcs." These shipments were asbestos insulation from Owens-Illinois (later USP Weldrok) to Algoma for use in fire proof doors, being built there.

I found your website, while looking for the location of this O-I or USP plant, and I'm hoping that you can shed some light on which plant these shipments were coming from (for my own modeling curiosity).

I have some USP records that refer to the plant being in Sayreville, NJ, South River, NJ, and the waybills showing Wrights, NJ as the location. It appears from the 1947 route map on your site - - that these "locations" are all adjacent to each other, and that they are likely all referring to the same factory. I can't quite read the small print on the 1947 map, but there appears to be at least one Owens-Illinois plant in the area on the Gillespie branch, but my "Official List of Open and Prepay Stations" lists Wrights on the South River branch.


Were there two Owens-Illinois/Weldrok plants in the area? I tend to believe the RRR waybills about Wrights, but the 1947 RRR map shows the plant in Runyon... Any help would be appreciated. Also, I can share a scan of these RRR waybills if you are interested!

Andy Laurent

South Bend, Indiana


My Reply to Andy:


Hi Andy,

I have posted your question to my group, but it is summer, and the news group is very slow this time of the year. I hope to have something to get back to you with in another week or so.

But I do have a surprise for you!

I am sorting through my collection of slides to put a page together on the Wrecks, Fires, and Wash-Outs of the Raritan River Railroad and guess what I found!

In June of 1969 the US Plywood plant in East Brunswick burned to the ground.

Here is a great photo with a Green Bay Route car that got toasted in the fire!

Here is another of the fire from the NJ State Highway Route 18 Bridge.

(If they are to large I can scale them down for you)





I included the following photos:


Raritan River Railroad customer US Plywood in East Brunswick burns down June, 1969.

View from the Route 18 Bridge looking west.




Hidden in all that smoke on the right is the siding on the left side of the fence, and on that smoky siding was a poor boxcar from Wisconsin.





Green Bay boxcar 2414 got caught in the US Plywood Fire in East Brunswick on the Raritan River Railroad in 1969




Mark, who used the burned out boxcar pic on his Green Bay site noted:

I see the car is lettered WHEN EMPTY RETURN TO P.C.R.R. GAYLORD MICH. note that the US Plywood had a plant in Gaylord which opened in the mid-1960s.

Mark Mathu
Whitefish Bay
, Wis.

The Green Bay Route:


Andy also sent me the waybill he was referring to in his original email:


Waybill from the Ahnapee & Western Railway which sent freight to the Raritan River in 1962.



So now the mystery is why is the waybill for Wrights?

Wrights was at the end of the South River Branch, and really didnt have anything to do with freight for East Brunswick (US Plywood) or Owens-Illinios on the Gillespie Branch, did it?


Wrights was never an agency, station, stop, or a place to ship freight was it?



Official Raritan River Railroad Map dated 1947.


Owens-Illinois Plant was at the end of the Gillespie Branch, and was served by both the RRRR and PRR.

US Plywood was built in East Brunswick in 1961, and was near the letters JCT

Wrights does not even show up, yet it was at the end of the South River Branch, right?



Copy of the official Raritan River Railroad Board of Directors Meeting Minutes from 1961

From the Bob Kipp Collection






The questions never got answered for Andy in 2007, but in 2008 this showed up on Ebay:


Raritan River Railroad Boxcar 420 in Wisconsin?


We dont know the exact location of this place.

The only context clues we have is the great Wisconsin Central 18** marker on the large building on the back. Also the Frisco boxcar in the back left side.


Could this be the other end of the line in Wisconsin that Andy was referring to in Algoma?


With a little bit of help, Im sure someone in the mid-west can help us identify that building in the back!









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Questions? Comments?






Here is an entire forum dedicated to discussions of the RRRR!





Annual Report of the State Board of Assessors of the State of New Jersey 1895 pgs 694

Annual Report of the State Board of Assessors of the State of New Jersey 1909 pgs 579

Annual Report of the State Board of Assessors of the State of New Jersey 1913 pgs 735

Official Maps of the Raritan River Railroad Raritan River Railroad Mainline and Branches - about ~1912

Raritan River Employee Timetable No. 71, March 18th, 1912