The Delaware Line
This abandoned railway line was originally built by the Delaware and Pennsylvania Railroad to transport passengers from the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal to Newark, DE. By 1879, the finances of the D&P had collapsed, and the line was purchased by the Newark and Pomeroy Railroad, who put it immediately up for auction.
The line was purchased by the Delaware Peach Company, who then capitalized on the potential of the line by advertising it as a "peach growers express" of sorts. Indeed, farmers in Delaware began growing peaches based on the promised success of the line, and the state itself went so far as to declare the peach blossom the official state flower in the 1880s. However, by 1890, a disease known as "Yellow" killed a majority of peach crop, and the "peach era" of Delaware came to an end.
Despite the decline in peaches, the line itself survived carrying passengers (up until 1901), along with coal and other commodities. A trolley line utilized the route all the way into Newark, but closed down in 1937.
Over time, because of improved roads and planes getting more popular, the route north of the Delaware City proper was abandoned. The Newark to Porter road line was bought by CONRAIL and today is part of Norfolk Southern. The remained of the route was torn up from Delaware City to DE Route 9. A portion of the line that was extended for a refinery in 1950 is still there. The Peach factory in Newark was turned into a rail yard and in 1982 was put out of service but remains to this day.
An interesting side note: during World War II, the Governor Bacon Prisoner Camp opened, kept from the public eye. Receiving rail service, it closed down after the end of the war, and sat dormant. Then in 1998, a group of people found a set of tracks in the ground. The whole camp was subsequently dug up and the old railroad yard was found along with equipment.
Thanks to Christian B. for contributing information.
I'm pretty sure that this line is still in use. You can see it on google maps, which typically only lists active railroads. The crossings are very modern, and trains to travel north/south. The spur with the secret prisons may be gone/abandoned, but I'm positive that the railway along rt. 72 near rt. 4 is active, as I've had to stop there frequently for passing trains.
Joel, As stated in the second to last paragraph, I state that the line is still there. What you wrote is very true. Norfolk Southern operates up to 5 trains a day on that line between Delaware route 9 and Porter road. As for anything in Newark, that has been ripped up for the most part. You can actually see Main Street, Newark where the crossing use to be.
Sorry for any inconvenience sir. I will begin updating some of these articles in the near future.
I hear that NS is running two unit trains of oil to the Delaware City refinery from the Amtrak NEC mainline near Newark. Modern maps do not show a direct connection between this Delmarva line and the Reybold Industrial track. There is a connection to the New Castle secondary just north of where the New Castle joins the Delmarva.
The line ended on the northern edge of Delaware City at a station, a wye (mentioned in some accounts of growing up in town) and a single track to a coal pier. There was no "Governor Bacon Prisoner Camp." This was Fort Dupont, used towards the end of WWII for German POWs.
They came by train, got off, and marched through town, crossed the old (Branch) canal and went into the base.
What's left of the line serves industries at and next to the refinery. Tracks end inside the refinery grounds.
I'm sorry, I meant to add that Fort Dupont had its own narrow-gauge tram-type railroad used for hauling materials in and out of various artillery emplacements and magazines. It ran out onto a wharf in the Delaware River. I am not sure when it was operational, but according to my father the cars were there in the late 30s and early 40s.
Christian B... You are sadly wrong and misguided. There never was a Governor Bacon Prisoner Camp. During World War II, Fort DuPont served as a mobilization station for deploying units, and contained a prisoner-of-war camp for captured German soldiers and sailors. In 1948,the Governor Walter W. Bacon Health Center was opend and operated by the Delaware Division of Health and Social Services.
And Christian.. You are wrong once again."1998, a group of people found a set of tracks in the ground. The whole camp was subsequently dug up and the old railroad yard was found along with equipment". Not true at all. Read the above and you can see why this statement of yours is wrong.