Summit to Kenilworth

The Rahway Valley Railroad

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(Forwarded from the New Orange Four Junction Railroad)

This railway line originally started out as the New York and New Orange Railroad in 1897. Chartered to run between Kenilworth and Summit, only 4 miles were completed between Kenilworth and Aldene. While built to serve local industries in New Orange (now part of Kenilworth), the industries ultimately failed, leaving the NY&NO with passenger service as its only source of revenue. Failing to make a profit, the NY&NO went into foreclosure and reorganized as the New Orange Four Junction Railroad in 1901.

Despite the interest of the Pennsylvania Railroad to acquire the line, desiring to extend it northwards to Summit, the New Orange Four Junction RR did not lay any more track and floundered as well. Moreover, the state of New Jersey chartered a second railroad, the Rahway Valley Railroad, to build between Kenilworth and Summit in 1904. Thus, with similar intentions, both the NOFJ and the RVRR consolidated in 1905.

The RVRR indeed fulfilled the charter and built to Summit in 1906. After being prosperous in World War I due to a nearby gunpowder factory (which saw both freight and passenger service), it struggled to make a profit over the next 20 years. Despite connecting to three different railroads (the Delarawe, Lackawanna and Western in Summit, and both the Lehigh Valley and the Central Railroad of New Jersey in Kenilworth), as cars and trucks started finding more prevalent use, traffic on the line declined. The formation of Conrail, which consolidated all three rail carriers that connected with the RVRR into just one, caused even more financial havoc. Ultimately, the RVRR was sold to the Delaware Ostego Corporation (a rail holding company) in 1986, who let the RVRR fall into an "out-of-service" condition.

Recently, the right-of-way has been the focus of some interest in reviving passenger transit, and in fact a small portion of the line was revived by the Morristown and Erie Railway to serve a sole customer, but this activity ended in 2012.

Remnants of the line remain in Summit within Briant County Park and overpasses can be seen in Summit. In Union, tracks between hwy 22 to hwy 509 have been removed. Some portions were rebuilt but officially it ran out of money. No further work has been done.

Robert Benkelman
Elizabeth , NJ
6/6/2013

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There has recently been some interest by the Morristown and Erie railway to reactivate this line, but the progress is slow, and it is expected that reactivation will not happen soon.

Zachary Zawila
Livingston, NJ
7/13/2013

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I did not realize that the information I put in my last comment was already in the description above!

Zachary Zawila
Livingston, NJ
7/13/2013

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Just some history since I live in union county. M&E was the private railroad company restoring the tracks. The restoration was in conjunction with the Staten island railroad branch right on the south side starting in Roselle going southeast toward the refinery once called Bayway (now ConocoPhillips) on the Elizabeth waterfront. The single mfg to be serviced was the refinery producing plastic pellets. However, the existing chemical coast line could easily be used instead of the small train winding its way thru the little towns and on up to summit to meet the mainline there. It was basically a make-work boondoggle situation, with useless funding appropriations generated by the local boss senator Lesniak and his nephew who was the manager of union county govt. (Patronage job); and for his croney godon fuller of M&E. Part of the plan was to have the tracks do a grade crossing at route 22, totally ridiculous along with many other major road grade crossings. They said the trains would only run at night. When it first came to public view in 2001 that something was being done around the old track beds, union county freeholder scutari sent a letter to the local towns saying it was just overgrowth maintenance. It turned out to be the start of actual restoration work and unsure to this day why he would lie outright to the public. However, in NJ even with minimal integrity you can end up as Senator Scutari. The county then said that if the majority of towns along the track did not want it they would stop the work. Each town passed a resolution against the work, except maybe 1 or 2 towns which accepted the work, so the 8 majority voted against it. The county then ignored their promise. A group called "coalition to stop the train" was formed and fought the restoration work, to no avail since politics were involved. The only roadblock ended up when the state funding dried up and the restoration work went defunct. Postscript: Gordon fuller, the Chief operating officer of M&E and crony of local boss senator Lesniak, his wife now works at union county govt, she now makes around $70k. Gordon fuller of Plainfield was indicted in 2012 for allegedly defrauding the state of $800k grant funds (wasn't part of above system). Trial resolution unknown at this time, july 2014.

of the It had cost $13 million in state tax dollars to try to have the system going unfortunately out of time and state cut off money, it failed. Gordon Fuller

bpaterson
garwood, NJ
7/18/2014

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Your map doesn't show the whole route, which continued into Maplewood, almost as far as Springfield Avenue.

Jonathan Snyder
Maplewood, then St. Louis
7/30/2015

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