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Black River & Western Railroad Trip June 19, 2010

by Chris Guenzler

I left the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad and crossed the Delaware River into Lambertville, New Jersey where I took NJ 179 to US 202 which I took into Flemington and found the Black River & Western Railroad Station in that town. I picked up my ticket and then got ready to catch the Black River & Western Railroad Excursion Train coming into Flemington.

Two views of the Flemington Station. I soon heard a horn and saw the headlight coming towards me down the tracks.

The Excursion Train arrives into Flemington. The train had Black River & Western engine 1202, Coaches 491 and 494. The engine will now ran around the train for the trip back to Ringoes.

The rear of the excursion train.

The engine runs around the train.

Our train is now ready for the trip to Ringoes.

A Brief History

The Black River & Western Railroad was started by William Whitehead in Oldwick, New Jersey in the late 1950's. A portion of the defunct Rockway Valley line went through his back yard. He and his sons started collecting rolling stock and an engine. They started laying tracks but then the expansion of Route 78 halted their dream of building a railroad at that location. They moved their equipment to the Chester Hill branch of the Central Railroad of New Jersey with the hope of starting a railroad there. The section of railroad they were scouting soon became landlocked by the construction of Route 80. The Black River & Western Railroad was incorporated in 1961. The Black River is a river in Chester and the Western portion of the name comes from the direction of travel. The cars were moved to Flemington, New Jersey and the search for a place to start their tourist train was continued. within a short period of time, it became apparent that Flemington might just be the perfect location. A deal was stuck with the Pennsylvania Railroad for a tourist train to operate from Flemington to Lambertville section of track. The Black River paid $5,000 a year and fixed up the track. During this time, the Pennsylvania Railroad operated the freight service. Steam engine #60 pulled the first trip out of Flemington on May 16, 1965. Weekend and holiday schedules were devised. On March 16, 1970 the Black River & Western Railroad took over the ownership and operations of the entire Flemington/Lambertville line purchasing it from the Penn Central. That was the same day New York Central and the Pennsylvania Railroad merged to become Penn Central. With now operating both freight and passenger trains a true shortline railroad was born. Then on April 1, 1976 the central branch which runs Flemington to Three Bridges was purchased from the Central Railroad of New Jersey. On the same day Conrail was formed combining the CNJ, Penn Central and five other railroads. The line continues today as a well working shortline handling both freight and passenger trains over its rails.

Our Trip

The train left Flemington and passed a freight customer before heading out into the countryside.

Views along our route.

Mayrode Farm.

The train crossed a run which would be a creek in most places in the USA.

A tree farm along our route.

Two views of the golf course.

A tree farm.

Hunterdon Concrete.

Views along our route.

The owner of that business has an outdoor garden railroad built along the tracks.

Our train arrives into Ringoes.

Maine Central Caboose 648.

Erie Caboose C140

A Mack Center Cab Switcher.

Caboose 24531.

Wabash Caboose 2727.

Leigh Valley SW-1 112 and Steam Engine 60 in the Black River Shop.

TVRM Caboose 133.

VLIX 782.

PRR Hopper 15555.

Black River 752.

Open air car.

PRR Doodlebug 4666.

Two unnamed passenger cars.

Observation Car.

Line a cabooses on private land behind the observation car.

The Ringoes Station.

View at Ringoes.

Black River Baggage Car 420.

Railbus M-55

Another Ringoes view.

The train returns to the Ringoes station for the trip north to Flemington. I relaxed and talked with the crew as we headed back north to Flemington where I thanked them for the excellent trip aboard the Black River & Western Railroad.