Camden and Amboy Railroad (Bordentown Branch)

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Pennsylvania Railroad

Camden and Amboy Railroad

(Bordentown Branch)

Operated from 1830 to 1976.
1830-1977








Contents

History

The first railroad charter in the United States was issued February 6, 1815 to the New Jersey Railroad Company on behalf of John Stevens (inventor) and others. Based on turnpike charters, it allowed the company to build between New Brunswick and Trenton, and became a model for railroad charters in the future. That company never did anything, but the idea evolved into the later NJRR, chartered in 1832.

The United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company was part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system in New Jersey, including their main line to New York City (now Amtrak's Northeast Corridor). Prior to 1872, its main lines were the Camden and Amboy Rail Road and Transportation Company (C&A), the first railroad in New Jersey and one of the first railroad in the United States, and the New Jersey Rail Road and Transportation Company (NJRR), the first railroad across the New Jersey Palisades. The C&A first purchased and operated the oldest surviving operable steam locomotive in the world today, the John Bull. The United Company also included the Delaware and Raritan Canal, an early foe and then friend of the C&A.



Camden and Amboy: 1830-1834


John Bull on display at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, 1893.
Enlarge
John Bull on display at the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, 1893.

The Camden and Amboy Rail Road and Transportation Company was chartered on February 4, 1830, on the same day as the Delaware and Raritan Canal Company, after the two competing companies had come to a compromise. The C&A and D&R had the same goals - to connect the Delaware River, serving Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with the Raritan River, for access to New York City. The D&R was built to the west of the original C&A, leaving the Delaware at Trenton and running roughly northeast to New Brunswick on the Raritan, while the original C&A ran from Camden, across the Delaware from Philadelphia, to South Amboy on Raritan Bay.

Robert L. Stevens was president of the Camden and Amboy Railroad (C&A) in the 1830s and 1840s. The C&A was organized on April 28 1830, in Camden, and surveys began June 16. As railroads were a relatively new invention, rails and locomotives were bought from England. Construction began December 4, 1830 at Bordentown on the Delaware River; construction efforts were largely carried out by horse-drawn carriages. The John Bull arrived at Bordentown on September 4, 1831 and was first tested November 12. The first section, from Stewarts Point Wharf near Bordentown north to Hightstown, was opened to the public on October 1, 1832, being operated by horse at first. Service between Philadelphia and New York City was provided by steamboats, and a stagecoach trip was used between Hightstown and South Amboy. The trip cost $3 and ran in 9.5 hours, 1–2 hours faster than other routes. The rest of the line to South Amboy opened December 17, allowing for the elimination of the stagecoach transfer, but the Delaware soon froze on December 27, requiring stagecoach operation south of Bordentown. Freight service began January 24, 1833. Regular locomotive operation by the John Bull began September 9 of that year. In Fall 1833 the line was extended south to Delanco, and the full line to Camden was completed December 19, 1834.



Jersey City to Trenton: 1832-1839


On March 7, 1832 the New Jersey Rail Road and Transportation Company (NJRR) was chartered as a parallel line to the C&A, beginning at Jersey City, closer to New York City, but was limited to building south to New Brunswick due to the C&A's influence; the C&A would build the part from New Brunswick south to Spotswood (changed to Trenton in 1836 due to the alliance with the Philadelphia and Trenton Railroad).

In November 1832 the NJRR acquired control of the Newark Turnpike, which paralleled the planned alignment east of Newark , to avoid problems caused by competition. The stock of the Essex and Middlesex Turnpike, running south from Newark to New Brunswick, was bought April 6, 1833; the majority of the line was built directly along the turnpike. The alignment as originally planned crossed the Passaic River on the Centre Street Bridge (Newark), then curved south along Park Place (Newark) and Broad Street (Newark) directly into the turnpike. A branch would have run from the west end of the bridge south along the river and then southwest to the main line at the south end of Broad Street, but this became the main line and the original plan along Broad Street was never built.

On November 24, 1833 the NJRR bought out the Proprietors of the Bridges over the Rivers Passaic and Hackensack, who had monopolies on their bridges over the Passaic River and Hackensack Rivers (on the Newark Turnpike), in order to eliminate their threat. Around 1852, the NJRR acquired the Newark Plank Road and Ferry Company (incorporated 1849) to keep the Passaic and Hackensack monopoly.

Regular NJRR service began September 15, 1834 between Newark and Jersey City, using a temporary track over Bergen Hill. An extension to Elizabeth opened December 21, 1835, using the turnpike from the south end of Broad Street. Service to Rahway began January 1, 1836, again along the turnpike from a point south of Elizabeth. Locomotives were only used south of Newark until January 11, though some horse power operations continued east of Newark. The line opened to east of New Brunswick July 11, with an omnibus transfer the rest of the way; the turnpike was used north of Iselin. On September 8, 1836 the NJRR acquired a majority of stock of the New Brunswick Bridge Company to avoid its local monopoly over crossings of the Raritan River. The double-deck bridge over the Raritan opened October 31, 1837, with a road beneath the railroad, taking the NJRR to New Brunswick. The New Brunswick Bridge Company was authorized to charge a toll on the lower level on May 7, 1838. The old 1795 Albany Street Bridge in New Brunswick was removed in 1849, but was later rebuilt.

The Bergen Hill Cut, the last part of the Jersey City-New Brunswick line to be finished, opened January 22, 1838, replacing the old temporary alignment over the hill and ending the use of horse power.

On March 15, 1837 a supplement to the C&A's charter was passed, allowing the branch to New Brunswick connecting with the New Jersey Rail Road to branch off of the C&A at Bordentown rather than Spotswood, to pass through Trenton for a connection with the Trenton Delaware Bridge and the Philadelphia and Trenton Railroad. Portions could be built next to the Delaware and Raritan Canal or along the New Brunswick and Trenton Turnpike.

Construction on the branch began in September 1837 between Bordentown and Trenton, where it was built on the east bank of the D&R Canal. The initial branch opened April 4, 1838. Construction on the extension to New Brunswick began June of that year, opening January 1, 1839. The branch continued northeast from Trenton on the east bank of the canal, splitting at Kingston and running cross-country to Millstone Junction, southwest of New Brunswick. That same day, the NJRR was completed from New Brunswick to Millstone Junction. Despite forming one third of the route, the NJRR only got one sixth of the earnings from the joint operation, which ran between Philadelphia and New York City in 5.5 hours (down from 6 hours 50 minutes via South Amboy).



Further connections and realignments: 1839-1867


By 1841, a connection opened between the Philadelphia and Trenton Railroad and the C&A's Trenton Branch, including a bridge over the Delaware and Raritan Canal in Trenton; this allowed for through Philadelphia-Jersey City operation, but most traffic continued to run via Camden due to the distance between the P&T's Kensington terminal and Center City Philadelphia.

On May 31, 1854 the C&A decided to realign the Trenton Branch between Trenton and Deans Pond due to bad soil conditions on the current line on the bank of the D&R Canal; a plank road would be built to connect to Princeton, which the new alignment would bypass. A tunnel under the canal in Trenton was completed in March 1860 (for the line between the Philadelphia and Trenton Railroad and the new alignment). Construction on the new line began October 1862; the Clinton Street Station on the new line at Trenton opened April 20, 1863, replacing the old State Street Station . The first train ran through the new tunnel on October 5, 1863, and the new line opened November 23, cutting New York City-Trenton time to 2.5 hours. The second track on the new line opened September 1864, but the old line remained for southbound freight. The Princeton Branch opened May 29, 1865, on which date passenger trains stopped running over the old line. The old line was removed between Trenton and Princeton in July; a portion in Trenton was kept to serve businesses. The part from Princeton north to Kingston was removed in September on the start of freight operations on the Princeton Branch; and the part north of Kingston (which was not next to the canal) was kept to serve the Rocky Hill Railroad.



Monopoly and competition


The C&A often used legislative and legal means to protect its monopoly on New York City-Philadelphia travel. The monopoly was finally broken on May 1, 1876 with the completion of the National Railway, over seven years after the legal monopoly expired.

On January 19, 1831 New Jersey passed a supplement to the D&R Canal's charter, allowing them to build a railroad alongside their canal. However, this was soon mooted by the union between the C&A and D&R. On February 15, 1831, the C&A and D&R were combined as the Joint Companies, with all important decisions made by a Joint Board, and all stock was consolidated.

An act passed February 4, 1831 gave the C&A monopoly powers for nine years against railroads built within three miles of the C&A, in exchange for the state receiving 1000 shares of stock. The "Protection Act", passed March 2, 1832, expanded this to give the Joint Companies a monopoly on New York City-Philadelphia traffic across New Jersey. On March 16, 1854 this exclusive right was extended to January 1, 1869, as long as the C&A helped other railroads including the West Jersey Railroad and double-tracked its main line.

In Summer 1835 Robert F. Stockton bought control of the Trenton Delaware Bridge and Philadelphia and Trenton Railroad to end its competition with the C&A and the legal battle to connect at New Brunswick with the NJRR. On October 12 the C&A/D&R Joint Board authorized a purchase of the P&T, and an agreement was signed November 11, by which the P&T would send all traffic beyond Trenton to New York City via the C&A. A pro-C&A board was elected by the P&T on January 12, 1836, and on June 1 the stock of all three companies was divided pro rata.

On September 1, 1862 a competing line began operating via the Raritan and Delaware Bay Railroad and Camden and Atlantic Railroad, running steamboats between New York City and Port Monmouth at the north end of the R&DB. This common threat caused the C&A and NJRR to work more closely, signing an agreement October 1.

The Newark and New York Railroad, later part of the Central Railroad of New Jersey, opened in July 1869, giving major competition to the NJRR from Newark east.



Consolidation and PRR lease: 1867 onwards


On February 1, 1867, after much back-and-forth bickering, the C&A and NJRR were informally joined as the United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Companies. The Pennsylvania Railroad approved a lease of the UNJ on May 15, 1871, and the UNJ approved May 19. The lease was made December 1 and the PRR began operating the UNJ that day, though the lease was retroactive to July 1. On May 18, 1871 the C&A, D&R Canal and NJRR were consolidated, forming the United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company. The new company was split into two divisions - the New York Division consisted of the NJRR and the C&A Trenton Branch towards Philadelphia, while the Amboy Division was the original C&A main line.

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Lines Leased

Other branches

The Burlington & Mount Holly Railroad and Transportation Company opened in 1849, providing a branch from Burlington southeast to Mount Holly. From opening it was controlled by the C&A.

The Camden and Burlington County Railroad Company (Pemberton Branch), running east from Camden to Mount Holly, opened in 1867 under C&A operation. In 1868 the C&A leased the Vincentown Branch of Burlington County Railroad, and soon after formally leased the C&BC.

The Pemberton and Hightstown Railroad opened from the C&A at Hightstown south to Pemberton in 1868, under lease and operation by the C&A.

In 1869 the Mt Holly, Lumberton, and Medford Railroad (Medford Branch) opened under C&A lease, running south from Mount Holly to Medford.

The Columbus, Kinkora and Springfield Railroad was leased March 11, 1871.

In 1872 a short branch was built at Florence to serve a foundry on the Delaware River.


1976-2010

The Line Today

The original C&A alignment and the Trenton Branch from Pavonia Yard in Camden to Trenton was, up until 1999, Conrail's Bordentown Secondary , and is presently NJ Transit's River Line diesel LRT system (although freight still operates overnight under an FRA waiver). The rest of the Trenton Branch is now part of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. The original line from Bordentown to Robbinsville is Conrail's Robbinsville Industrial Track. Track has been removed from Robbinsville to Hightstown; the rest of the line to South Amboy is Conrail's Hightstown Branch (south of Jamesburg] and Amboy Secondary.

References

External links










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