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Black River & Western Railroad Caboose Hops Ringoes to Three Bridges 7/20/2013

by Chris Guenzler

Dave Smetko and I drove into Flemington, New Jersey and followed the signs towards the historical district where we found the object of our search.

Central Railroad of New Jersey station built in 1865, the former terminus of the railroad's South Branch. Service began on July 1, 1864 and passenger service was discontinued on April 25, 1953. It now houses Unity Bank of Flemington. From here we drove to the Black River & Western station in Ringoes and parked.

A Brief History

Founded in the early 1960's by a group of friends with an interest in steam railroading, Black River & Western Railroad has seen many changes over the years. The first BR&W passenger trains between Flemington and Ringoes operated under a lease agreement with the Pennsylvania Railroad, which still operated freight service on the line. Eventually, the BR&W purchased the line from Lambertville to Flemington, and later added the former Central Railroad of New Jersey line from Flemington to Three Bridges.

Once the BR&W owned the railroad outright, we got into the freight business! We are proud that our little railroad, built in 1854, has never ceased serving its original purpose: providing economical transportation to local businesses. BR&W currently serves several industrial customers in Hunterdon and Warren Counties. In fact, our railroad is one of the few places in North America where you will ocassionally encounter a steam-powered freight train!

While we take good care of our freight customers, the heart and soul of our operations continues to be our passenger excursion trains. Excursions and themed events operate throughout the year, and provide visitors many ways to experience old-fashioned railroading right here in Hunterdon County.

A look around the grounds

Pennsylvania Railroad Doodlebug 4666 built by J.G. Brill in 1930.

Black River and Western 2-6-0 60, nee Great Western 60 built by American Locomotive Company in 1937. It was sold to the Black River and Western in 1963.

Black River & Western SW-1 70, ex. Lukens Steel 70, nee Pennsylvania Railroad 9206 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1949.

Black River and Western coach 1009, nee Central Railroad of New Jersey 1009 built by American Car and Foundry in 1923.

Arizona Eastern Railway Doodlebug M55 "Delaware Turtle" built by J.G. Brill in 1930 and restored by Edwards Railway Motor Car Company in 2004.

Pullman 6-3 sleeper "Herald Square" built by the company in 1929. It was sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad and rebuilt with an open end and is currently painted New York Ontario and Western, lettered "Chenango" and privately owned.

Black River and Western caboose 24531, nee Penn Central 24531 built by International Car Company in 1971.

The Train

Our train sat in front of the Ringoes station.

Black River and Western SW-1 112, nee Lehigh Valley 112 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1939.

Black River and Western SW-1 112 builders plate.

Baltimore and Ohio caboose C2440 built by the railroad in 1941.

Wabash caboose 2727 is former Chicago, South Shore and South Bend 10003, ex. Santa Fe 999096, nee Santa Fe 1982, built by American Car and Foundry in 1931.

Maine Central caboose 645 built by the railroad. After this we waited to see if we had to exchange our e-mails for tickets but they allowed us to use them for this evening's run to Three Bridges. Dave and I boarded the Maine Central caboose for the start of this trip and would ride to Flemington where the power would be run around the train and push us to Three Bridges.

Our Trip

Our train departed the former Pennsylvania Railroad Ringoes station built in 1854.

Making our way north towards our first stop at Flemington.

Two views looking west.

The view foward.

The view to the rear.

The view ahead.

A westward view.

The view ahead.

Hunterdon Concrete.

Coming up to the Neshanic River.

Crossing the Neshanic River.

Two more views west.

View forward.

The train crossed Walnut Brook.

The flag of our United States.

Dave enjoying the caboose.

Those clouds seem to be returning.

We arrived at Flemington and I detrained to get the power running around the train.

Lehigh Valley 112 ran around our train and would push us to Three Bridges. I reboarded, this time in Baltimore and Ohio caboose C2440 so I could be on the forward end of the train to photograph our route to Three Bridges.

The train departed Flemington.

We took the track to the right.

Property marker of the Pennsylvania Railroad/Central Railroad of New Jersey.

Our train passed through the Flemington historical district.

That is the old turntable pit in Flemington.

This curve took us by the freight house.

We passed the Flemington station.

Going by where we had parked to take pictures of the station earlier this late afternoon.

This curve led to this grade crossing.

Going through a tree tunnel and down the straight track.

The end of the siding.

We crossed over a road.

Views ahead of our train.

The train passed under this bridge.

On our way to the next grade crossing.

The grade to the left is to a future new freight customer on this railroad.

I love straight track.

Another old siding along our route.

Another spur track went off to the left.

The train went by another siding.

Crossing the South Branch Raritan River.

Heading down the straight track towards the next curve.

Taking a long curve.

It seems as though there are plenty of tree tunnels on our route this evening.

Rounding a slight curve to a rural crossing.

Crossing another road.

Rolling down a long section of straight track.

Aapproaching Three Bridges.

Freight cars in the siding here.

We reached the end of that siding.

We took the interchange track to the left.

Looking down the track from where we had just travelled.

Our train stopped just short of the Norfolk Southern mainline at Three Bridges. There was a green signal on the mainline so we waited a few minutes to see if it would arrive.

Our train at Three Bridges. With no luck, we left Three Bridges for Ringoes and later through the trees, saw a two-unit light Norfolk Southern motive power set. I relaxed all the way back to Ringoes.

My last picture of the day before we returned to Ringoes. I thanked our crew for the great trip on the Black River & Western Railroad.

On to Hanover

Dave and I left and drove back roads to the Pennsylvania Turn Pike which we took west to US Highway 30, which took us almost all the way to our hotel in Hanover where we called it a night.