RRRR Field Trip #3

November 13, 2004



To view last years trip:

Raritan River RailRoad (RRRR) Field Trip #2 November 15, 2003



Raritan River Railroad field trip #3 started out on the western side of the South River Draw, and proceeded west.  The team passed the Gillespie wye and headed to the site of the old Parlin Station.  Passing Parlin, the team made it to the site of the old Sayreville Junction, where in later years the wye was ripped out and storage tracks were added for the classification of freight.  The team continued west up to the bridge over the old Crossman’s narrow gauge line.  The team packed up and headed to Main Street in Sayreville, and continued towards the JCPL power plant and the old Sayre and Fisher brick yards.




For a complete map of the RRRR ROW click here







Map 1

SR Draw to Jernee Mill Rd

Shows 3 spurs

Only two were found, only one being used



Click on the pictures below to see the full size 800x600 pictures



South River Draw to Jurnee Mill Rd




South River Draw Bridge - Close up of the RR

Sayreville side of the SR Draw Bridge

Note the RR logo still visible on the bridge.

This Logo is painted on both sides of the bridge





Bridge Pic #7 8 9







Map 2

Army Core Engineers map from 1933

Shows a 4th Spur going north from the main

We were unable to find any traces of this spur






Looking back from SR Bridge

Towards Sayreville

On an older Army Corps Engineers Map it shows an older spur off to the left.

We could find no traces of this spur.







First abandoned spur on left side of the main line

SR Draw is straight ahead

Spur #1

Note the 6 Mile Marker Sign. 

6 Miles to where?  New Brunswick? South Amboy?

Browns Yard? 







Spur #2 – Active on left and connected, John looks for any reference to Spur #3

which would have been directly opposite #2 We could find no trace of Spur #3

Box car being unloaded on Spur #2





Jurnee Mill Rd Crossing

Facing toward Sayerville                       Facing SR Draw





Jurnee Mill Rd to Gillespie Wye



Jurnee Mill Rd to the Gillespie Wye



Click on the pictures below to see the full size 800x600 pictures





Spur #5 - New and Active!

A new spur was located just past Jurnee Mill Rd

Facing Sayerville



Pic 18 and 19

An assortment of very old trucks lined the ROW near Spur #5





Pic 22 23 24

Site of former switch which acted as run around track around the Gillespie Wye

It was noted in a NJ DOT News Release from Oct 2003 that the storage tracks were to be ripped up.

The read the article, click here





It is clear the tracks have been removed, and this odd Zig-Zag left in its place.

Here, a welded rail is clearly dated 1992, although we know that this change didn’t take place until after 2003





Here is a shot from 1995 when there were still cars being stored on the passing track at Gillespie


From the DOT Press Release:  “”“The residents of Sayreville will now have the long-awaited relief from the rail noise associated with the storage of freight cars,””


These old rail cars didn’t seem very noisy to me???!!!






Switch #2 and Switch #3 – Gillespie Wye





Switch #3 – Gillespie Wye



Gillespie to Minnisink Ave



Map 4

Shows active spur #6 going into Hercules Plant and the famous Ducks Nest Pond




Spur #6

Connected and active with 2 Box cars spotted.

This is the Hercules Plant




John looks into the remains of the double track that has since been removed.

John also noticed a line of ties and metal strapping that shows a third track had been here once.

This is not surprising, as Hercules was a very very active customer during the RRRR’s lifetime.





Ducks Nest Pond

With a view of pilings going into the lake!


History of Ducks Nest Pond

In 1914, the Raritan River Rail Road was used to film a move called “The Juggernaut”.  This movie required that a locomotive and some cars crash into a lake!  They picked Ducks Nest Pond!  Today that pond is a part of Bailey Park in Sayerville.  So, back in 1914, the Fort Lee based Vitagraph Company filmed a sequence where a locomotive and three cars filled with dummies plunged into the lake!


To make all this happen, the railroad added a switch and built a line to the waters edge.  They then constructed a trestle into the middle of the lake, and with only one chance to get it right, ran the train full throttle into the lake.


According to Mark Nonesteid, assistant curator of the Middlesex County Museum in Piscataway, “they built a stand in the pond for the camera man, and when the train went into the water, the waves from the impact almost knocked him off!”


Apparently, once they were done filming, they never retrieved the locomotive.  It sat there submerged for almost 25 years!  It took until 1938 for them to get the locomotive out of the lake.  It wasn’t until Sayreville wanted to clean up the lake that a South Amboy company fetched the wreck for scrap.


See the following article I found from the Home News Tribune in 1999


Raritan River Railroad in the Movies - The Juggernaut (1914) - The Perils of Pauline (1914)





South Minnisink Avenue to Parlin




Shows Bridge over Minnisink Ave, Dupont Spurs, location of Parlin Station



Pics 39 40 41

Minnisink Ave Bridge.

This was a neat looking bridge, as it had three tracks at one time.

The switch for Dupont would have been right in front of us.

Starting at the bridge, the rails caould be traced up to the Dupont gates. 

The line was overgrown and inactive for quite some time.





Old and very overgrown switch going into Dupont



Pic54 55

A very overgrown and gated entrance into Dupont.

Tom used a long branch to retrieve this sign from beyond the gate going into Dupont!

What did it say? 

We will never know, as it was so old, as to be completely rusted over





Strange Dupont Culvert





Shows what appears to be an older railroad grade parallel to the grade we were on.

Looks like a very old re-alignment, as the trees on the grade were very big.





Pic 52 45

Following the paths closer into Dupont, both the older re-alignment and the current set of rails went over this water culvert.

But take a second look!  There is something odd about this culvert.  It appears to be made out of metal?





Pic 46 48 47

Not only is this made out of metal, it appears to be riveted?  With a sequence of holes, with rivets around them?

This didn’t make any sense yet.






Pic 49 50

Further in the back, a few more smaller holes, until we got to the end. 

Then in front of us was a bigger hole with a wooden plug of some type.

The big hole was about 12 inches in diameter. 

When you consider all the pieces together…

it appears that this could be a Locomotive Boiler?


I’ve never seen the inside of a locomotive boiler so I don’t know????


Could the RRRR have used an old and un-used locomotive boiler as the foundation to build a drainage culvert for the original spur going into Dupont?


Did any other railroads ever do this?  Further research into this strange discovery will need to be continued!


It’s amazing that almost no one knows this is here!  It’s amazing that no one knows what it is?






Pic 51

These bricks lined the inside of the locomotive boiler drainage culvert.


That’s odd because Watsontown PA is almost 175 miles away, and Sayreville and South River were known for their bricks.

Was Watsontown also a brick town too?  A quick search on Google shows that there IS a brick company there….

Were these special bricks, for a special purpose in the culvert?




Pic 56

These bricks were found between Dupont and the ROW.

They clearly state the local brick industries of the time

Sayre & Fisher No1 Sayreville NJ.



There wasn’t much to note, walking from the Minisink Ave bridge to the Parlin Station location



Parlin Station




Unfortunatly, the Parlin Station is long gone, torn down by Conrail in the early 1980s. 



Pic 57 58 59

Site of the Parlin Station at the Washington Rd crossing

At one time this crossing had three tracks across it, two for the ROW, and the Dupont spur.

Today the Dupont Spur still exists in the road, but is clearly disconnected from the main.

Many years ago there was an interesting network of tracks here, as can be seen in the earlier photos below






Pic 60 61 62

Site of the lone gone Parlin Station at the Washington Rd crossing in Sayreville, NJ.

The crossing on the left is the former Dupont spur.


Here are some photos of the Parlin Station



Parlin Station in the late 70’s Early 80’s before Conrail renumbered the EMDs

This is an excellent picture of a long lost time!  Note the three sets of tracks crossing Washington Ave




Parlin to Sayreville Junction



Map 10

Parlin to Sayreville Junction







Pic 67 64

Sayreville Junction looking east towards South Amboy

Deeper in the overgrowth, looking east towards South Amboy from the Sayreville Branch





This is just a wonderful shot to compare!

Sayreville Junction 2004 vs. Sayreville Junction 1971

Note the light pole in the center of the view hasn’t changed in over 30 years!

Thanks to Lou for taking the pictures in 1971!  Thanks to Don for taking this picture in 2004!









Pic 63 65 66

Pic 63 shows how the houses have closed in on the ROW near the Sayreville Junction, looking west towards the Sayreville Branch

Pic 65 66 Quite to our surprise, we did find some ties from the old Sayreville branch!


The path of the old Sayreville Branch went cold very quickly after this point. 

With the houses being built, sewer and water lines being run, there wasn’t much left to find at this point.





The team packed up and relocated to the Main Street crossing of the Sayreville Branch to see what we could find.




Sayreville Branch




Map 11







Pic 82 83 84

Main Street crossing in Sayreville

No clearly visible signs of a railroad are apparent

Pic 82 looks across Main Street towards the JCPL Power Plant

Pic 83 looks back down the old ROW towards Sayreville Junction.

According to the maps, the ROW ran to the right of the power lines.

Pic 84 shows a few ties found near Snyder Ave.




Pic 68 69 70

Walking towards the river from Main St, more ties were discovered in an area washed out by some water!

I love finding ties!  Some of them still had strapping on them!

Pic 70 shows the view looking back towards Main Street







Pic 71 72 73

More ties were found in the area where the switch would have been for the JCPL Power Plant spur.

In Pic 73 Don goes off and starts exploring the JCPL Spur, which is clearly visible as the cut in the trees ahead of him.








Pic 74 75 76

The team continued going deeper into the Sayreville Branch.  This branch once went all the way to the river,

where the Sayre and Fisher Brick company had a major brick plant.  The RRRR was an integral part of their

operations back then, moving large amounts of coal for the kilns, plenty of supplies, even moving small amounts of brick.

The team was able to find plenty of ties and some strapping up until the area of the swamp.  We couldn’t (cleanly) get past the swamp.

There didn’t seem to be much past it, except a trucking company parking lot.







Pic 77 78

Eventually Don and Tom were the last two left.  We went back to the site of the switch

And followed the spur as far as we could to the JCPL power plant

The line was very over grown, and at points almost impassable, but nothing could stop Don

Except for a very large wash out!  Pic 78 shows the wash out that we could not cross

Note the ties hanging off both edges of the wash out.


Eventually Don and Tom made it back to the Trucking parking lot, and looked for any signs of the ROW. 

None could be found


We looked and looked, but could find nothing.  Did the truck parking lot bury it?  Or were we just off too far to see it?


The Sayreville Branch continued to the Sayre and Fisher Brick Factories along the river,

but at this point, new houses have replaced the factories, and there is no sign of the ROW.  The trail was cold!  L



Pic 88

This is River Rd, on the other side of the truck parking lot, with the river and the JCPL Power Plant to my back.

I hope to someday comeback to explore this area again,

I believe the ROW can be found with in this area to the left between the trucking company and the river.

A big park like area with parking lot and boat launch have been built up on the right side, so nothing survives there, but the left side is virtually untouched.




Map 12


Here is a larger cut from the Army Core Engineers Map from 1933.  It clearly shows the spur going to the JCPL Plant, as well as an intricate network of tracks around the
Sayre and Fisher Company.  It is clear from this map that the RRRR had tracks that went all the way along the river and down along the Washington Canal.

Next time we should explore the area near this canal to see if anything remains.  The entire area along the River has been built up with houses.





Pic 92 91

This shots show the housing development along the River.  No traces of any RRRR stuff could be found here.

Next time we’ll look along the canal!











Why am I so obsessed with this area?


Sayreville Station?


The Sayreville Branch was to also have had passenger traffic between 1890 and 1901.

From looking at Yahoo Maps and Mapquest,

both maps surprising list this area as “Sayreville Station” !!!????


So where is it?  What was it?

I have never seen any pictures or references to it.  Was it only for Sayre and Fisher, or did Sayreville the town also use it?



Map 13

Yahoo Maps shows a section labeled “Sayreville Station” right near River road.



Map 14

Mapquest clearly shows “Sayreville Station” exactly where Don and I were looking!

Is this just a typo?  Was there ever a station here? 

Funny how the name survives 100 years later after service ended!






Pic 79 80

Near the corner of Main St and River Rd was this ancient building.

Taking a closer look, the masonry and terra cotta work was amazing

The writing says Sayre and Fisher Reading Room followed by Sayreville Hall

With the Date of 1883, it actually predates the Raritan Railroad by almost 7 years!





Pic 89 90

Further down on Main St, this large smoke stack and plaque survives at the entrance to the development.


This was the end of the day for us.  We had accomplished some great things, and been to places I’ve never seen, even when I was a kid.

The Sayreville Branch requires further research as to its use of a station.  The steam locomotive boiler requires research to find its origins.


One thing is for sure, the history and excitement will continue along the ROW of the old Raritan River Rail Road.


Written by Tom Reynolds



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