• Help needed in identifying coupler knuckle

  • 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 HSWT
P1310057 RR Coupler detail (small) copy.JPG
Our Historical Society has a knuckle that is purported to be from a train that travelled the Williamstown Railroad (NJ). I have been unable to identify its age or manufacturer from several web searches. I would like to make sure it came from the same period during which the railroad existed. From the location it was found, it is suspected to be from a section of the Williamstown Railroad ROW that ran through Sicklerville, NJ. This proximity to the railroad is the only thing that ties it to this line. The Williamstown Railroad was in operation from October 21, 1812 when regular passenger service started, to sometime after 1834 when the section from Williamstown Junction to Williamstown was taken up as part of the PSRL merger. We would like to know any details that can be found about the coupler and the period of time that it was in use. There appears to be a number cast into the rearmost part, but it is unreadable. From the little bit of searching I have done, it appears that the most distinguishing portion of the knuckle is the pointed rear section (see photos). Thanks for any information you might provide.
Jack Jennings, President
Historical Society of Winslow Township
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  by NY&LB
Based upon your dates indicating the line was taken up in 1834 I do not believe the knuckle if from that line since in that time period link and pin couplers would have been used. Knuckle couplers were not used before 1873 as far as I can determine.
  by snavely
Your dates are off by 100 years. !st railroad in NJ was Camden & Amboy, 1830.
  by Return to Reading Company Olney Sta
snavely wrote:Your dates are off by 100 years. !st railroad in NJ was Camden & Amboy, 1830.
Yes, and PRSL merger was 1934.
  by HSWT
Snavely was correct that the Camden and Amboy Railroad was a the first railroad in 1830.

My dates were mistyped and incorrect. The Williamstown railroad was chartered on March 13, 1871, by the owners of the Bodine glass works in Williamstown to build a line from Atco to Williamstown, and later to Glassboro. 
On Oct. 21, 1872 Williamstown Railroad opened for regular service between Atco and Williamstown; connects at Atco with Camden & Atlantic and New Jersey Southern Railroads. The 9.5 mile line was completed to Glassboro in 1873. In 1887 a new extension was built to Mullica Hill. Now the line was 15.73 miles long. July 14, 1933 was the last run of passenger service between Williamstown Jct. and Glassboro, N.J.

The knuckle coupler or Janney coupler was invented by Eli H. Janney, who received a patent in 1873, but this Janney knuckle did not have the pointed back shown in the photos. If I could determine when this coupler was in use, I could tell if it fell within the years the railroad was in operation.

I have place a query with the National Railroad Museum. If anyone has other possible sources of informational lease let me know.