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Central Railroad of New Jersey

Central Railroad of New Jersey

The Central Railroad of New Jersey came into exsitance in 1849 with the consolidation of two small New Jersey railroads--the Elizabethtown and Somerville Railroad and the Somerville and Easton Railroad. It remained a New Jersey frieght and Passenger concern until 1866 when it entered into Pennsylvania because of a desire by the managment to become an anthracite coal carrier. The Pennsylvania addition consisted of a lease of the LEhigh and Susquehanna Railroad whose tracks ran from Easton on the New Jersey border northwestward to Wilkes-Barre. Just prior to the lease, the Lehigh and Susquehanna had taken a twenty year lease on the newly built Union Coal Company line between Wilkes-Barre and Scranton. As a result, the Central Railroad of New Jersey acquired the twenty year lease from the Lehigh and Susquehanna. This included a small wooden depot in Scranton, which was located at the end of Bridge Street.

For a short time in the 1880's the Central Railroad of New Jersey lost its access into Scranton. When the company's twenty year lease of the olf Union Coal Company tracks expired in 1886, the Delaware and Hudson company obtained the line. As a result, the Central Railroad of New Jersey owners built their own line between Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, which paralleled its former one. When completed May 1, 1888, the tracks, like its former leased route, entered Scranton by following the Lackawanna River. The company constructed a new station on the west side of the Lackawanna Avenue bridge. That depot burned on December 18, 1910, and another structure replaced it in 1914. The 1914 depot still stands.

The Central Railroad of New Jersey added a few miles of track in Pennsylvania after 1888. Through its connections with the Rading Railroad, it did offer the Scranton area the most direct connection to Philadelphia. All the other steam railroads that served Scranton had more direct ties with New York and New Jersey. By 1901 the Reading Company as the parent company for the Reading Railroad purchased controlling interest in the Central Railroad of New Jersey. Although the two lines continued to operate independently, close cooperation exsisted until the two concerns merged into Conrail in 1976.

Until the 1930's the Central Railroad of New Jersey prospered with its major source of income from anthracite coal. The company's track mileage reached a high of 711 miles. In the 1930's however, the depression brought financial problems and the railroad entered into recievership in 1939 for a period of ten years. After its reorganization in 1949, the company continued to face financial problems. Its operating miles slipped to 576. Finally, in the early 1970's it returned to bankruptcy and became part of the Conrail system in 1976. Its trackage in the Scranton area was abandoned at that time.

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