Main Index
History Index
Modeling Index

Trail Index



New Jersey Herald - November 15, 1970 issue

Newton's Old Railroad Station Bites the Dust

The old railroad station on Lower Spring St., Newton, came tumbling down yesterday [Nov. 14, 1970]: It was Newton's last monument to the age of the "Iron Horse" and fell almost 40 months to the day after the overpass on Sparta Ave. came down.

All that's left to remind people of the 112 years of railroad service to the town is the abandoned right-of-way which once saw trains carrying passengers from Branchville through Newton and on to Hoboken. Now sections of the railroad bed are used primarily by children walking to and from school.

The fall of the station is a forerunner to another threat to railroad service: On Dec. 3 the Interstate Commerce Commission will conduct a hearing in Sparta Township Municipal Court on the application of the new York Susquehanna and Western Railroad for abandonment of 16.21 miles of tracks from Sparta Junction to Oak Ridge.

John L. Treen, general chairman of the United Transportation Union, which will protest the abandonment on Dec. 3, wrote to John Kohl, State Commissioner of Transportation, that "We are now faced with another loss of an existing rail route in Northern New Jersey.

"I call your attention to the abandonment of the Lehigh & New England Railroad in October 1961 and the subsequent abandonment of the Susquehanna from Hainesburg to Sparta Junction in June 1962 because of this, the abandonment of the Susquehanna from Beaver Lake to Hanford in 1958 and the abandonment of the Delaware Lackawanna & Western from Andover to Branchville in July 1966," Treen said.

In asking the department of transportation to protest the abandonment of the railroad, Treen said Sussex County is one of the fastest growing communities in the state. If the abandonment is permitted, only the Lehigh & Hudson River Railroad will serve the county He said experts have stated that existing rail routes in New Jersey are assets and resources and should not be discontinued. "It is of the greatest importance that this section of railroad be kept in operation," Treen said.

Sussex County Freeholders also have gone on record opposing the abandonment. The county planning board went further and is asking that even the tracks be maintained for possible future mass transportation use.

The Newton station, according to town assessor, William Bene, was torn down because of exterior deterioration and bad structure. "Walls were crumbling and doors and windows were broken," he added.

The building was abandoned in 1968, two years after the last railroad passenger service in Sussex County was terminated. On July 14, 1966, all service on the Erie Lackawanna Railroad between Andover Junction and Branchville ceased. On Oct. 3, 1966 the last remaining railroad passenger service ceased when the Erie Lackawanna discontinued all but freight service between Netcong and Andover Junction. The building was still owned by Erie Lackawanna when it was demolished.

Railroads in Sussex County died hard despite sometimes frantic attempts by commuters and government officials to keep them alive.

A group calling themselves the Sussex County Commuters Association protested the 1955 plan to discontinue all Lackawanna Railroad passenger service on the Boonton branch, {line} which served Sussex County. They described themselves as "the daily users of the diesel-powered prairie schooners that serve as rolling stock."

The station which was torn down yesterday saw its last train more than four years ago. The news report following the last nostalgic trip read: "Newton, the county seat, has lost its commuter trains. Branchville, once the terminal for hundreds of vacationers who spread out from the railroad station to the many lakes in the vicinity, has lost its weekend rail service from Hoboken, and, of more significance today, the freight service on which many businessmen still rely."

The abandonment of the New York Susquehanna & Western Railroad tracks from Sparta to Oak ridge would mean detouring all metropolitan-bound freight to South Jersey. With the repair of one bridge in Sparta, the tracks reportedly would be able to handle freight traffic.

[Top][Report Broken Link]