• MR Tower in Matawan

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New Jersey
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New Jersey

Moderator: David

  by GSC
Once, the Freehold Branch and the Atlantic Highlands Branch met across the NY&LB at Matawan. Anyone know when the grade level connection was severed?
  by GSC
The Freehold and NY RR opened in 1877 from Freehold to Matawan.
Matawan to Keyport opened in 1880.
Keyport to Keyport Pier opened in 1881 as the Freehold & Atlantic Highlands RR, crossing the 1861 Raritan & Delaware Bay RR at Belford.
The NY&LB opened in 1875, the F&AH crossing at MR in 1880(?).

I can't come across when the line was divided at MR. The Freehold Branch operated into Conrail in 1976, and the Atlantic Highlands side ran to the fish plant for a few years, and was used to store MU cars running out of Matawan.

Would love to travel back to that time armed with a camera.
  by R&DB
Gary, Best I can tell it was 1952-53. The Highlands still connected to the NY&LB Northbound until about 1980. The Freehold connected to the NY&LB Southbound at MR and at Matawan Station until about 1976.
  by GSC
@R&DB: Bob Hoeft's article on working the CNJ out of Red bank about that time period spoke of the Red Bank - Matawan freight (I think it was Q or QR Extra) that worked the Freehold-side wye at Matawan. He didn't mention anything about a crossing, nor the big yard that was then on the north side of the tracks by the station. Kind of wish he did say something.

My family took the train to Matawan around 1967-8 or earlier to meet my father after work. To kill about an hour, I wandered over to the Freehold wye area and watched a CNJ Geep 7 working the yard there.

Google maps shows the ROW pretty well, including the triangle-shaped parking lot that had been the wye, and the ROW through the junction to the other side.

  by R&DB
#1580926 by GSC
Wed Sep 22, 2021 2:04 pm
I lived by the Little Silver station at thet time and had a girlfriend in Matawan. We used that station a LOT because we liked to hang out in Red Bank and Long Branch (and sometimes Asbury Park). I remember the yard, wye and both bracnhes.
  by GSC
Slide available of Matawan MR Tower on worthpoint.com, a selling site like ebay. I don't own the slide so I won't post the image here. Click on the link to see it.

https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/ ... -293330369
  by pumpers
If you go to https://www.historicaerials.com/viewer
and look at the 1919 and 1947 topo maps, you see in 1919 the Freehold line crossed the NY&LB over to the Highlands line (presumably at grade). The details of the connections to the NY&LB are difficult to see because of the "watermark", but by clicking at the other old maps there it seems the connections were such that from Freehold you could connect directly in the direction of Jersey City, as one might expect . For Highlands, it's hard to see because of the watermark - but it sort of looks like in 1919 that you have to travel across the NY&LB to the Freehold side and reverse. Or the map was just not complete.

By 1947 there was a wye on the (compass) south side of the NY&LB leading to Freehold, and a connection in one direction to Highlands, with no crossing of the NY&LB any more. The Freehold line has a slight kink from its former alignment to lead to the new wye.

Some more detail is in an employee turntable at http://raildata.railfan.net/cnj/homecnj.html . Look at the first NY&LB page. Regarding orientation, at Matawan, up would be in the direction of Freehold (note the wye) and down would be towards Highlands. But I don't know the date of the timetable - I would assume 50's or 60's
(The terms east and west are confusing here, since while travelling RR westbound on the NY&LB you are actually going compass east!)
  by GSC
@Pumpers: Unless I'm reading it wrong, the Matawan / MR Junction in the timetable you linked to looks like a crossover track rather than an at-grade crossing. Modern Google maps show a definite one-time ROW crossing, it's hard to hide it. My question is when the line was severed, we can easily see it once connected. Like at Red Bank, you can make out where the NY&LB once crossed the old R&DB. And where the line from Eatontown crossed the NY&LB at Branchport. Love those Google maps!
  by CharlieL
A 1947 USGS map of keyport shows the track crossing over the NY&LB (a diamond), with "handles" (not really a wye) allowing trains from Freehold to proceed compass south on the NYLB, and from Keyport to proceed north. See: https://ngmdb.usgs.gov/topoview/viewer/ ... 4/-74.2358
  by GSC
@CharlieL: Great find. I love maps, I could stare at them all day. I see where the Freehold line at MR Junction had a "right turn jughandle" to enter the NY&LB, and how the line crossed in 1947. I knew the lines crossed on a diamond, just don't know when the crossing was taken out of service and removed.
  by CharlieL
Yeah, those historic USGS maps are great; the maps for Lakehurst are also quite interesting going back to about 1900. Lots of detail. The wikipedia article on Lakehurst is as well.
  by GSC
There's a Don Wood photo I've seen for years that shows a K4 starting up westbound out of Matawan. Framing the image is a 3-over-3-over-3 absolute signal facing the train. Not sure of the date of that pic, but that three panel signal is protecting something ahead. I wonder if the diamond crossing was still there at that point, or the signal was left there, in service, much like Farmingdale's three-panel signal that was there for years protecting a level crossing that wasn't there anymore. F'dale's westbound signal showed three reds until the mast was turned 90 degrees and taken out of service and finally removed.
  by pumpers
GSC wrote: Fri Sep 24, 2021 1:28 pm @Pumpers: Unless I'm reading it wrong, the Matawan / MR Junction in the timetable you linked to looks like a crossover track rather than an at-grade crossing. ...
GSC, I don't think I was trying to say that the timetable showed an at-grade crossing, only that it had a lot of detail that the topo maps didn't have.
And in hindsight, you have to take those very old topo maps or the ones that are not at 1:24,000 (like 1:125,000) with a grain of salt -- they just don't have enough resolution to show all the details, and sometimes the old maps in my experience don't show all the detail even if the scale is such that they could if they wanted.

I agree with everyone that the USGS topoviewer site is great - it shows lots of maps for a given location over the years, and it shows the scale and year of each map. And you can spend hours and hours (and I have) comparing map vs map over the ages...

  by cnjtowers
The crossing frogs were removed from MR on/about October 22, 1942. While on the topic of the NY&LB, Branchport tower was removed 12/20/1929. IT appears that Branchport received upgraded color light signals as part of the cab signal train control project but then was abandoned shortly thereafter.