• In the '50s, what branches contributed cars to the train?

  • Discussion relating to the PRSL
Discussion relating to the PRSL

Moderator: JJMDiMunno

  by Jay Phelan
As a kid, before my dad discovered limos, we used to go from Montclair to Cape May by train. I have to dig way back, but in the early '50s I remember taking a main line PRR train, pulled by GG1s, from Newark to North Philadelphia. We waited there a while for a connection to a steam train to Haddonfield. The steam train was probably out of 30th Street. And I remember tiny cinders getting through gaps in the window frames and covering us with little black dots. My mom hated the cinders almost as much as she hated the two connections we had to make. Not to mention cab rides at both ends of the trip. The limo idea took hold after doing the train thing maybe two more times. I hated the limo, but I had no vote.

At Haddonfield we connected with an RDC train from Camden. Certain cars were designated for Cape May passengers, others I think for (and here's where I need help) Sea Isle City, Ocean City, and Wildwood. We always traveled on Saturday, and the RDC train was pretty long. As it ambled on to Cape May, it lost more and more units, and when it got to Cape May it may have had just one or two.

Other memories, possibly flawed, are of a steam locomotive once taking us to Cape may instead of RDCs, and a diesel locomotive pulling into the Cape May station one day. It may have been on a freight run, but it did pull into the passenger station.

Leaving Cape May two weeks later I used to stand up front in the lead RDC, and was able to get a good view of the track ahead and watch the engineer work the controls. I don't recall if the cars joining us from Wildwood were put at the front or the rear, but I seem to remember that I didn't have that great view for the entire trip to Haddonfield, so some must have gone up front.

Five or six years ago the family, minus mom and dad, returned to Cape May, and I was blown away to see an idling RDC car at the railroad station. It wasn't the same station, and it was a block or more from where the old one was, but it was the same RDC! Unfortunately it was our last day, so I didn't ride it.

We're going back to Cape May in September, and I thought I'd ride it this time. But now I read in other forum threads that it's iffy whether or not they'll be running out of Cape May this summer. The moving bridge is broken. Blast.

If I haven't remembered things correctly, please set me right.

  by JimBoylan
Except for Sea Isle City, I think you have it right. The train split 3 ways, Ocean City, Wildwood, and Cape May. Sometimes, steam or Diesel locos were used to pull passenger cars, when the R.D.C.s were on other runs.
I don't think that Sea Isle City train service lasted into the R.D.C. era, the last service may have been a Sundays only Fishermen's Special. The last routing was ex-Reading to Ocean City, over a new wye near 55th St. without reaching 51st St. Station, and then down the ex-PRR to Sea Isle City. You may have remembered an announcement about the summertime bus connection at Cape May Court House for Stone Harbor and Avalon. The bus to Townsend's Inlet via Sea Isle City met the Ocean City train at 51st St. In the winter, this bus continued through to Stone Harbor via Avalon.