Oceanport to Monmouth Park

The Monmouth Running Track

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This is where the siding starts and comes off of the North Jersey Coast Line. Photo by Eric Kreszl.

This railroad spur is owned by NJ Transit, but its history goes back to the days of the Central Railroad of New Jersey. NJ Transit refers to this siding as the Monmouth Running Track, as it runs from NJ Transit's North Jersey Coast Line to the Monmouth Park Race Track in Oceanport, NJ. It was primarily used to give passenger train specials direct access to the Grandstand of the Monmouth Park Racetrack during racing season. NJ Transit still uses this siding but on a limited basis, since a new station was constructed on the North Jersey Coast Line less than a mile away. The track is declared out-of-service by NJ Transit, and not officially abandoned.

Jerry Clark talks about an experience he had on this line:

I had worked for the Jersey Central from 1961 to 1969 both as a brakeman and a conductor. July 4th, 1966 was the last time that the Jersey City race train would operate out of the Terminal on a holiday except for Labor Day of that year. I was called to work the Jersey City train as a brakeman. When I arrived at the stationmasters office, I was informed that I was going to be the conductor since I was a promoted conductor and the railroad had taken the assigned man off the train to be used elsewhere. So that left me one man short of the original five men, that is a conductor and four trainmen [brakemen]. We had a FM trainmaster 2400hp and 12 coaches. Because of the holiday the CNJ ran a Newark section from Broad Street station to the park. This train had 10 coaches and a GP7 for power.

When we arrived at the Park, our train platformed on track 2. There were four tracks that stub ended inside the gate. One and two were the assigned tracks for the Central as three and four were for the PRR. Because of the holiday the Penn ran a third section from New York. This made for some interesting movements since one of the Penn trains had to shove back and lay on the siding [runaround track] awaiting the arrival of the third section to platform.

This having been done, the five trains waited for the end of the daily double before the moves were made by the crews to turn around the trains for the return trip both to Newark[CNJ] and the three Penn trains to New York along with the Jersey City train.

There was an unwritten law among the engine and train crews that the trains would not be turned until after the second race being the crews that worked the trains had to place bets for all the office workers back in Jersey City, Newark and New York, this included management.

Normally the trains would back down to the wye and turn the entire train so as to be in position to leave when the races were over. In this particular case with the fifth train, one of the three Penn trains would shove back turn on the wye and lay on the siding next to the running track. After the first Penn train left, then the train on the siding would back into the track that just had been vacated by the previous train.

On this particular day, there was a total of 55 coaches between the two railroads with the Central having twenty two cars, 12 on the Jersey City train and ten on the Broad Street Newark train. The Penn ran a 10,11and 12 car train that day July 4th, 1966. Throw in six engines, two each on the Penn trains and one each on the Central trains and it made for a railfan special for the troops.

By the way, the other Central conductor and I went for our lungs with a two dollar bet on a horse that came in last. I wonder if the horse's name was caboose.

Thanks to Eric Kreszl for contributing information about this route.

I lived in NJ for many years before moving FL. I bought a book called "Railraods of Monmouth County" by Tom Gallo and William Longo and it has some great photos from Monmouth Park including the four track terminal as well as a copy of General Order No.19 dated 1947 which shows the layout of the main line, spur, terminal and wye. I was doing some research when I came across your web site. Great photos! I also went on Google Earth to see some more. In the latest revision you can go back through old satellite photos. The earliest one on Monmouth Park is 1995. Other satellite images includes 2002, 2006 and 2007 (which is the latest). In the 1995 image (which is in black and white and not very sharp)it clearly shows where the wye turnaround once was.

Richie C
West Palm Beach, FL
7/12/2009

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The regular shore trains would stop on the main shore line and many passengers would get off and walk a few miles to the track. The New York trains would make a change from electric to diesel at South Amboy so that many bettors could buy beer and other alcohol beverages to drink on the train and at the race track.

Francis Cywinski
Jersey City, NJ
8/24/2010

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