Tom’s Raritan River Railroad Page
Raritan River Railroad
Last Passenger Train on the Raritan River Railroad
When was the last passenger train on the Raritan River Railroad?
Passenger Service officially ended on the Raritan River Railroad on April 17, 1938. A big celebration was held at the Raritan River Railroad’s New Brunswick Station, as the last train was sent off. This ended almost 50 years of regularly scheduled service.
But it didn’t end there.
Little over a month later, on May 28, 1938, the North Jersey Chapter of the NRHS scheduled a special last trip over the Raritan River Railroad. Scheduled stops, photo run bys, and shop tours. Even a special run up the Serviss Branch in East Brunswick, as far as the Route 18 crossing. It was quite a day with many photos taken.
Click below to read the rest of the story
See my write up of that wonderful day:
And so it would seem that 1938 would have been the end of passengers on the little Raritan River Railroad.
On Columbus Day, 1947 the NRHS came back for another visit, but to the best of my research, they only got a big tour of the South Amboy facilities. The passenger coaches were long gone by then, but alas, this time it was about the engines. The Filscov management allowed one of each type locomotive that day to be pulled out of the roundhouse and placed on the turntable for photos.
But an amazing thing happened just over 30 years later…
The Raritan River Railroad pulls two Metroliner cars from South Amboy to Milltown, loaded with passengers!
Milltown was having its railroad days celebration in June 1969, and had a variety of railroad cars from some of the biggest online customers, as well as an open house in the Milltown freight station (which used to be the passenger station back in 1938). Tours of all the equipment, cars, engines and station made it quite a day.
But a long lost secret was that the Metroliners actually had carried passengers!
(If anyone can add to this story, please do. I have almost no info, other then the slides. Please contact me with anything you may remember if you were there.)
Here is the best
story I can tell from the slides I preserved from the late Bob Kipp (last VP
First, a brief history.
The Metroliners were created as the premier high speed trains for the North East Corridor to run between New York and Washington D.C. in 1969. In essence, they were the Acella trains of their day. So possibly, this was an advertising campaign for the Penn Central, who would have been interested in advertising their new high speed service.
Click on the links for larger pics!
It’s amazing to think that the Metroliners showed up under their own power. Here, the first slide, shows a Metroliner crossing south over the Raritan River bridge approaching the John Street Office (and former passenger station) of the Raritan River railroad in South Amboy.
Dozens of people wait near the John Street crossing, in front of the office of the Raritan River Railroad. It’s amazing to think, that the last passengers to gather here would have been on April 17, 1938. The crossman’s shanty can be clearly seen, and just to the left a Raritan River Railroad engine can be seen waiting on the track.
At this point, the train and passengers have arrived in Milltown. I do not know who she is, I feel she was someone important, as she shows up a few times. I shall call her the woman in the yellow jacket.
A nice young man stands on the steps of the Metroliner in Milltown, NJ. June 1969.
He has a number of
railroad patches on his coat, but none from the
A small display is setup on the deck of the Raritan River Railroad Freight Station in Milltown. Note the extra railings installed next to the switcher.
A larger display is setup on the eastern side of the Milltown Freight Station.
Representatives from the KATY Railroad were on and with a nice display.
The Metroliner can be seen directly behind them.
The lady in the yellow jacket is seen taking a tour of Raritan River Railroad Engine No 5.
Note the direction of the semaphore signal from the Milltown Station just over the engine. Its pointing towards the train.
Tours of the Milltown Ambulance were also available.
Plenty of people wander around the Milltown Station area.
A railroad employee makes final checks the Metroliner.
Note the array of other cars behind the Metroliner.
(boxcars, Hercules covered hopper)
The lady in the yellow coat takes a tour of an open box car.
The boy with the patches gets to climb the Hercules covered hopper.
Today, one might get arrested if they tried that!
The Hercules covered hopper with HPCX markings can clearly be identified next to the boxcar.
But what does this truck do?
These men stand in front of Metroliner No. 821.
One of them has a badge, possibly Milltown police?
Another shot of the KATY railroad table with two young kids enjoying the model trains.
Tours of Raritan River Railroad Engine No.5 while connected to Metroliner No. 822 (and 821).
Note the nice new steps created to access the platform of the Milltown Freight Station.
A shot of the back of the Milltown Freight Station showing the long line of different cars on display.
This slide shows the platform of the Milltown Station, with a special access ramp built to gain entry to the Metroliner.
The new stairs leading to the Milltown Freight Station and the Metroliner.
Catholic School Students get a tour of a Raritan River Railroad Truck! (see the name on the door?)
Note the 4 sets of stairs on the truck. Maybe they are for later or a different location?
The Catholic School Students get a tour of Raritan River Railroad Engine No.5.
A nice shot of the Penn Central Metroliners next to the Milltown Freight Station in June 1969.
This might be very early in the morning, as there is no Katy display yet as seen above, and the long shadows on a summer day would imply early morning.
Or, since the semaphore is now pointing towards the station and away from the tracks as compared to a previous picture, this may be a different day altogether.
The conductor hangs off the side of the engine and gives the wave with a white glove!
Note the semaphore signal now points both directions!
Also note, that Engine No.4 is now in front, (previous pictures show Engine No.5) implying that today is a different day.
Engine No.4 with the two Metroliners has moved off the run-around track and onto the main line.
Passengers seem to be loading.
All aboard Metroliners 821 and 822!
The train pushes away from the Milltown Freight Station, heading eastbound towards South Amboy!
Yes, pushes. Engine No.4 is at the back of the train, pushing the Metroliners east. There was no Raritan River engine up front!
Note the policeman is back.
This is from the rear of the train looking back towards Milltown.
The Metroliners just passed a Raritan River Railroad train with three boxcars and caboose on the old Serviss junction run-around track in East Brunswick.
The ballast on the right side is the recently laid East Brunswick Spur (which was relaid in 1969 on the old Serviss Branch which was abandoned in 1956)
This is from the rear of the train looking back towards Milltown.
The Metroliners just passed under the Old Bridge Turnpike Bridge.
Raritan River Railroad Special Metroliner Train…First Stop…Parlin!
Engine No.4 is seen on the back of the train as the passengers get off and get a quick tour of Parlin.
Just to the right of the train, the crossman’s shanty can be seen for the Washington Avenue crossing, as well as the switches and lead into Dupont.
This is the other side of the train, as seen from the Parlin Station.
Note the Ansul Company railcar (ACCX); they manufactured fire suppression systems and equipment.
I have found no other pictures of that rail car
A wonderful shot of Raritan River Engine No.4 with Metroliners 821 and 822 in front of the Raritan River Railroad’s Parlin Station on June 1969.
Another great shot showing the entire train!
Raritan River Railroad Engine No.4 with Metroliners 821 and 822 in Parlin, NJ June 1969.
Note the lack of an engine up front.
Engine No.5, this time with the cab side facing the Metrloiners.
This is a different position then on the first day when No.5 was on the back of the train.
This shot must be Milltown, with No.5 now on the front of the train.
The lack of any extra box cars also implies it is a different trip, if not a different day.
The long shadows also tell me it’s the end of the day.
More people gather in Milltown to see Raritan River Engine No.5 attatched to Metroliners 821 and 822.
I see the boy with the patches on his jacket on the Metroliner.
The train is moving east again towards South Amboy.
This time, a railfan gets HIS picture taken.
What a shot! June 1968. The Metroliners get pushed through Sayreville Junction, passing another Raritan River Railroad Engine, as well as a Penn Central Caboose!
Just like 30 years earlier!
May 1938 Sayreville Junction, NRHS train in backround.
Looking towards the back of the train as the engines pushes the train towards South Amboy.
The front of the train passes Crossman’s sand and clay pits in Sayreville.
Two, almost identical, pictures of inside the Metroliners.
Anyone you recognize please let me know.
The end of the line in South Amboy! Last Stop!
Note that Engine No.4 is now on the back of the train.
I assume that it’s Engine No.5 in the front.
Raritan River Railroad engine and the Metroliner as seen from the parking lot.
And so that’s it. The passenger train on the Raritan River Railroad was June 1969.
A final good by from
a passenger to the late Bob Kipp, GM and VP,
These slides were all recovered from Bob’s basement by me (Tom Reynolds), 36 years later in 2005.
Bob Kipp was the last General Manager and Vice President of the Raritan River Railroad from 1965 to the end in 1980.
When Conrail came in and took over, Bob just packed up whatever they didn’t want, put it in his basement. And there they sat.
Thirty-six years later, as I met with Bob, he showed me some slides…
When I found them all I couldn’t believe my eyes, and, with Bob’s approval, I rushed to get them all digitized.
Thanks Bob, for saving them and allowing me access to them.
All of us, who try to keep the memory of the great little Raritan River Railroad alive, greatly appreciate it!
Here is an entire forum dedicated to
discussions of the