Who would realize that behind the row of antique
shops on the main street of this small town of Andover Borough,
a quaint, old fashioned railroad depot once stood. Diagonally
across Smith Street from the town hall, a flat-roofed freight
house and a simple passenger station once served the community
as a lifeline to the outside world. Today, only an empty lot
and a Park Service sign, denoting the presence of the Sussex
Branch trail, mark the site.
Borough holds the distinction of being the destination of the
first rail road built in Sussex County, New Jersey. After Abram
S. Hewitt re-opened the Andover iron mine to feed his iron works
in Phillipsburg and Trenton, he quickly tired of the turnpike
tolls necessary to cart the ore to the Morris Canal at Waterloo
On March 9, 1848 he received a charter from the state of New
Jersey to build the Sussex Mine Railroad. Work was begun on
May 21, 1850. By August of 1851, teams of mules were hauling
ore cars, called "jimmies," from the mine located
off Limecrest Road near Old Creamery Road, to Waterloo. From
there, the ore was transported via canal to Phillipsburg and
mules plodded, Hewitt plotted to extend his railroad to Newton,
the county seat, However, it was more than an extension he envisioned.
Hewitt planned to completely rebuild his road to the standards
of the iron horse and bring Sussex County its first ever steam
incorporated Sussex Railroad Company would join with the Morris
and Essex railroad below the village of Waterloo as the latter
company was building west from Dover. Construction was begun
on May 5, 1853. After several setbacks, iron ore from the Andover
mine began moving under steam in September of 1854.
Passenger service from Waterloo to Newton was opened on December
11 of the same year. Within a short time, the produce of much
of Sussex County was trundling through Andover past the newly
was the site of several mishaps during the Sussex Railroad's
early years. In 1870 one of the most serious derailments occurred
at the switch for the mine spur, (now the approximate location
of the Andover Diner.) The engine Franklin "mounted the
rails on the curve of the road at that point, and the passenger
car becoming disengaged from the locomotive it was suddenly
whirled down an embankment twenty feet high, a complete wreck."
Several of the seriously hurt passengers were cared for in a
local residence until a doctor was summoned from Newton.
the Lehigh & Hudson River Railroad and the Lackawanna came
to an arrangement for hauling quick freight to New England thus
eliminating the need to 'float' it across the Hudson from Hoboken
to Harlem. A new connection with the L&HR was built just
north of Andover. Locally, rumors spread that because this new
interchange was expected to generate so much traffic, the Sussex
Branch would soon be double tracked from Andover to Netcong.
It was also rumored that the recently abandoned connection to
Waterloo would be re-tracked and used for western freight.
years later, the Lackawanna Cut-Off was built through the southern
end of the Borough. One of the base camps was in Andover as
the Sussex Branch was convenient for shipping men, supplies
and equipment for this engineering feat.
of 1909 a car load of rails destined for the Cut-Off was being
transferred across the active tracks at the depot. While one
of the rails was being dragged across, it became disengaged
from the hook which was carrying it and fell across the track
dead center in front of an approaching train.
of the engine picked up the rail and it caught between two signal
towers, wrecking them and bending the rail into a 'U' shape.
Amazingly, no one was injured.
post war years, trains continued to roll through the borough,
however, some passenger runs were eliminated as the economy
of Sussex County changed. The station agency at Andover was
discontinued on March 6, 1953. Long time Lackawanna employee,
Daniel Plant was its last agent.
a resident of the Borough, rode the Lackawanna trains a few
times to the high school in Newton. He remembers the interior
of the depot.