Little Falls to Essex Fells

The Caldwell Branch

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The right-of-way is overgrown in Verona. This picture was taken near the grade crossing with Durrell Street, facing southwest. Photo by Mike Palmer, October 2008.

This line, part of Erie Railroad's Caldwell Branch, ran roughly southwest from Great Notch (Little Falls), through Cedar Grove and Verona to Essex Fells. The line crossed Pompton Avenue (NJ Route 23) on a deck girder bridge; the bridge still stands and is shown facing north from the street and facing west on the right-of-way. There are concrete steps leading up to track level adjacent to the bridge, they were likely used for a commuter train stop at one time.

This short branch is shown in the 2007 SPV atlas as being abandoned as "Erie", so it must have been abandoned prior to the Erie-Lackawanna merger of 1960.

In Verona, the line crossed Durrell Street at grade. Bahr Lumber on that street had a freight spur; track remnants are still in place there. The northeastern end of the line is used as a biking/hiking trail, although it has thick foliage.

Thanks to Mike Palmer for contributing information about this route.

"Concrete steps ... likely used by ...". No question about it. The Cedar Grove shelter was located on the west side of the right of way close by the top of the steps. It was a scheduled stop.

John Drennan
Bloomfield, NJ
12/12/2008

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Despite the SPV listing of "Erie", the branch was operated until July, 1975 when a washout near Overbrook caused the line to be embargoed. It was not conveyed to Conrail, but remained, moribund, in the Erie-Lackawanna estate. Tracks were removed in the summer of 1979. The branch had passenger service from August 3rd, 1891 until September 30th, 1966.

Mark Schmitt
Flanders, NJ
12/13/2008

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Abandoned prior to merger in 1960? Huh? Passenger service ran on the line until October 3, 1966. Freight service lasted until 1976. Tracks ripped up in 1981.

Interested Party
Caldwell, NJ
7/19/2010

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I grew up in Livingston but went to HS in Caldwell. While waiting for the school bus we'd hear the whistles from Caldwell passenger trains leaving for the early commuters. There was a Hugh two story Eire station, water tank and overnight parking for the steam engines. At Essex Fells the Eire connected with the Morristown and Eire. They would turn the engins on a turntable which was just apast the Essex felss station.I have many pics of those days.

e j christiansen
Petaluma, ca., CA
11/16/2010

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This must have been the abandoned branch we explored on Halloween weekend in 1981 or 82. The rails and ties were gone, but the roadbed was easy to follow. There were reflective, circular signs in red and green, posted for trains on either side of each grade crossing. Does anyone else remember these signs? I assume they were placed after automatic crossing gates were removed, to notify the engineer to stop the train and send a crewmember out to protect movement across each road.

Anonymous
Massachusetts
2/20/2011

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I was master machice for the M&E rr at the time back in the 70,s This branch very inportent to the M&E becouse when the train crew was working at pamer foods co a truck hit the bridge county road ,which torn down the track brigde.The train had to get the E.L rr train crew to met them Caldwall junction,we had travel to little falls junction ,up the booten branch then down lackawana main line to morris town back on M%E.When the caldwall branch got wash out the ERIE LACKAWANA offer the M&E the rights to buy the line for 1 us doller or it would full in to conrail .I asked Andey Cobb PRES.of M&E to buy the line .The anser was NO becouse the problem was the railroad could not aford the inshorance This was the wrong ,we should have took it over are the M&E would be better off .

Ed sinclair
clifton nj
4/14/2012

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You can believe Ed Sinclair comment he was my boss when I worked for the M&E . My dad trained him .

Gerry Roettger
Vernon, NJ
3/25/2013

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