Sussex RR's Milk Trains
Though the Sussex Railroad came into existence
as a convenient way to ship iron ore out of the mines at Andover
to the waiting boats on the Morris Canal at Waterloo, the pervading
essence of the line for over 100 years was the milk and farm products.
One only has to examine the timetable of 1881 to see that more than
one-half of the Sussex's First Class trains were "milk trains,"
designed to transport the "white gold" of Sussex County to the markets
of metropolitan New York. Even the thriving excursion business to
Cranberry Lake that operated between 1900 and 1910 could not overshadow
the dairy trade, which lived to survive the thousands of happy picnickers
by over 50 years.
Milk trains picked up milk from farms along the
railroad and delivered it to a creamery for processing and bottling.
By the mid-1950s most milk trains in this country had vanished,
but on the Sussex Branch they continued to run until the mid-1960s.
"The" milk train of the Sussex Branch was the Branchville
Milk Train. It continued to operate until November 30, 1964, when
Henry Becker decided to consolidate all of his milk business into
his central plant in Roseland, N.J., and the Becker Processing Plant
at Lafayette was closed.
The loss of the milk industry placed the burden of
support for the line squarely on the shoulders of the passenger business.
The small trickle of commuters east of Netcong could not stand the
strain and the Erie Lackawanna could not stand the expense. The final
straw for the Sussex Branch was the loss of the Milk business.
The above article was excerpted from an in-depth report of the
decline of the Sussex Railroad written for the Block Line by
Jack Middleton, Frank Reilly, Don Dorflinger and Bob Bahrs.