• Picatinny Arsenal

  • A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads
A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by NJTRailfan
I see that years ago there was an active railroad going through the base. When did passenger service exist on the line and why was the service stopped? Would there be any chance in ressurrection of this line?

I've also noticed that they have a model railroad club on bas. Is it worth going up there to check it out?

Is it like Carlstadt or Union Rail Clubs?
  by Phil Hom
NJTRailfan wrote: I've also noticed that they have a model railroad club on bas. Is it worth going up there to check it out?
Not unless you have a DOD issued photo ID card.

  by NJTRailfan
I last saw this club on the last Armed Forces Day from the outside. But I haven't heard much about an open house. I did hear the club meets every 3rd Thursday of the month.

So is the club's HO-Scale layout better then that of Union and Carlstadt?
  by Jayjay1213
I visited the club back in 2002. It has a huge area, and could have alot of potential. It seems though that they dont have many members, maybe just a handful.


  by CarterB
The Wharton & Northern ran between the CNJ High Bridge Branch near Lake Jct., NJ to a connection with the NYS&W at Green Pond, NJ. Originally the line was owned by the industries it served around Wharton, NJ but by the 1920's the line was controlled by the CNJ. The junction at Green Pond was a major interchange point between the CNJ and the Susquehanna. In 1958 the City of Newark built a new reservoir caused the W&N to be relocated at the north end to a new connection with the NYS&W near Newfoundland. After the NYS&W embargoed the line in 1972, the W&N stopped running north of Picatinney Arsenal. By 1976 the line north of there was torn up. Today the remainer of the line is still in place but out of service. The Wharton & Northern RR operated passenger service between Wharton and Green Pond Junction near Newfoundland from January 1889 until December 1, 1928.

  by njtransitrookie
Barnes And Noble has a good historical book on the arsenal. Inside you will find much information about RR activity. It seems as though there once was a narrow guage RR that went between a good portion of all the buildings. This was for moving live ammo. during wartime. The locos were called "Fireless Locomotives". They don't indicate if they were battery powered or diesel.

Fireless locomotives were actually little steam switching locomotives that didn't have a firebox. Steam was pumped in at the engine house and they ran around the complex until the pressure dropped to a certain level at which point they'd return for a refill. There's a nice example at the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum.

  by SemperFiSep11
I wouldn't look for a return of service anytime soon. I walked the lower part of the line on Sunday and it doesn't look good. Many ties are missing and those that are not are rotted to the point of uselessness. The rail through the new development to the west of Picatinny is in place but has been "reguaged" to around 3 feet by the good people who brought more suburbaniztion upon the area.

The whole line would need significant rehabilitation as would the anti-rail mindset of the U.S. Military. Beyond that, Picatinny is an R&D base and has little or no need for rail service.

The best hope (and I hate to call this a hope) is that the idiots on the Base Closure and Realignment Commission close the base and it gets turned into an industrial park.

  by sullivan1985
I dont know much about who serviced it and how, or with what, but I do know that on Rt. 15 in Sparta, right by the arsenal, there is an old, banged up crossing peice sitting in the middle of the green between the two lanes, facing the westbound traffic.

I thought it was pretty cool, and I would have stopped to photograph it if i wasnt driving at 55 Mph.

  by krieglok
The Armed Forces Day event at Picatinny will be open to the public this year, the first time since 9-11. While you are in there you may be able to check out some of the rail bed. The tracks enter just above Rt15 and head north just about a half mile where the track ends at a long runaround. Much of the abandoned roadbed is still visable, but access to the northern areas of the Arsenal will probably be resticted.


  by Jayjay1213
Most of the events are held in the parking lots. As you drive in from the main gate, if you look to your left you can see the tracks along the jogging trail and golf course. You can still see the old engine house, its not in the restricted area, but it is away from where the events are held.

  by theShrubber

  by CJPat
excellent photos! Nice find.

  by SemperFidelis
One of my first memories is riding behind one of those switchers at an Armed Forces day during the Reagen years. Back then Picatinny was so much different...different for the better I'd have to say.

The tracks still exist next to the ammunition bunkers and at least one switch is still operable, though the Provost Marshalls seemed confused as to why a former Marine would be so interested in abandoned railroad tracks.

The tracks lead from a gate near Route 15, through a wooded area of little note, over an old bridge traversing a creek. They then pass between a ballfield and some of the typically ratty housing designated for those who defend our nation (why we spend billions on bombers for a war we won two wars ago but find it hard to fix leaky base housing is beyond me). The tracks then split into a small, three track yard, which end prematurely where they were severed by shortsighted government policy.

Aboard the deeper innards of the base, there is a substantial yard by a power plant (since converted to gas, hence the end of railroading aboard base), crisscrossing abandoned ROWs, some narrow guage rail in place inside older buildings slated for demolition, and the old ROW leading to the north end of the base and, eventually, the junction with the NYS&W. Some of that ROW has been obliderated by housing, but most is walkable.

Rail on Picatinny, unless government policy swings wildly towards fuel conservation (highly unlikely), is dead.

As I stated a few posts above, the only hope is if the Base Closure people decide to do away with more vital defense infrastructure and turn the property over to wealthy commercial developers.

  by themallard
SemperFidelis wrote:
Rail on Picatinny, unless government policy swings wildly towards fuel conservation (highly unlikely), is dead.
http://www.cecer.army.mil/techreports/W ... ds__TN.pdf
The energy situation is highly uncertain–for the Army, the Nation, and the world. Now is the time to consider both short and long-term issues to develop enduring energy policies and solutions... domestic natural gas production plateaued in 1973 and the United States currently imports 17 percent of the natural gas it consumes. This imported share will increase dramatically in the long term as domestic supplies deplete and the
amount of natural gas used to fuel the electric system increases. In about 10 years, world natural gas markets will reach equilibrium on supply/cost basis, but at higher prices reflecting the higher costs of production and transportation. In the long run, worldwide natural gas production will peak in the 2030-2035 time range and then decline as an available resource...
...The supply of oil will remain fairly stable in the very near term, but oil prices will steadily increase as world production approaches its peak. The doubling of oil prices in the past couple of years is not an anomaly, but a picture of the future... World oil production is at or near its peak and current world demand exceeds the supply. Saudi Arabia is considered the bellwether nation for oil production and has not increased production since April 2003. After peak production, supply no longer meets demand, and prices and competition increase. The proved reserve lifetime for world oil is about 41 years, most of this at a declining availability. Our current throw-away nuclear cycle will consume the world reserve of low-cost uranium in about 20 years. Unless we dramatically change our consumption practices, the Earth’s finite resources of petroleum and natural gas will become depleted in this century. Coal supplies may last into the next century depending on technology and consumption trends as it starts to replace oil and natural gas. We must act now to develop the technology and infrastructure necessary to transition to other energy sources and energy efficient technologies. Policy changes, leap-ahead technology breakthroughs, cultural changes, and significant investment is requisite for this new energy future. Time is essential to enact these changes. The process should begin now...
Cultural changes, like maybe driving less and using the more energy efficient train for passenger and freight use?