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Jaeger Coal & Supply

Jaeger Coal & Supply Co.
(now Jaeger Lumber & Supply Co.)



 

Jaeger Lumber & Supply Company has been a consistent presence in Union, NJ for more than seventy five years. The company, now operating in seven locations throughout New Jersey, opened its flagship location in 1937.

 

Jaeger's first location, located at 2322 Morris Ave., Union, NJ, was formerly occupied by Fred Stone Lumber Company. Adolph Jaeger purchased Fred Stone's property in 1937 but kept the nature of business here quite the same. Stone was a seller of lumber and building materials. Part of the allure of purchasing this property was the availability of rail service. The Rahway Valley Line was constructed through the area from 1914 to 1918 and a siding was constructed for Fred Stone, later utilized by Jaeger.

 

Lowell Jaeger, son of Adolph Jaeger and current President of Jaeger Lumber, shares some early recollections of rail service, "One of my first jobs around 1954 would be climbing into a box car loaded with pine boards and shooting the boards through the open doors there was no hotter job when the sun beat down on the car roof. Flat cars eventually replaced boxcars carrying dimensional lumber; their increased size and weight also spelled the end of our siding. #2 Pine also was no longer purchased by the rail car; oak flooring went to flooring specialists; we stopped selling bricks. I forgot to say that the earliest use for our siding was delivering coal that was probably in the earliest days of Jaeger Coal and Supply; lumber came later. We had a cement and cinder block plant also in those earliest days. That was closed down in the early 40s. In those early days a siding went right into a pine shed but I cant recall ever seeing a rail car in there there wasnt enough room to serve customers and unload."

 

In addition to stocking general building supplies, Jaeger also expanded into the home heating fuel industry in those early days. Lowell Jaeger remembrs, "Coal: my earliest recollections probably back to 1943 or so are of an elevated siding up which coal cars were backed. Once up, they dumped the coal into bins. Not sure you can trust the recollections of a 3 year old. We did stock, I believe, three grades of coal, soft (bituminous), hard (anthracite)and coke same caveat. Probably before I was ten, we had switched to oil only." The original name of the company was Jaeger Coal & Supply Company but as local residents switched to oil and natural gas, the 'coal' in Jaeger's name eventually was dropped in favor of 'lumber.'

 

As the years wore on it became apparent that better, and cheaper, opportunities were presenting themselves for shipping lumber and building materials to their Union location. Lowell Jaeger tells us, "It was normal to have a few cars on our siding in the 40s even into the 60s. Eventually our siding deteriorated and reload points opened allowing our cars to be shipped to more efficient unloading points then having the lumber brought in by truck."

 

Jaeger's siding became silent and unused during this time but only to be reactivated once again. By the mid-1980's the Rahway Valley Railroad was well onto its downward spiral. The Union County Transportation Advisory Board, fearful of the railroad's possible abandonment, stepped in to find additional freight customers for the line. With the county's intervention and Jaeger's willingness to help out, Jaeger Lumber once again became a Rahway Valley Railroad customer in 1985. Inadvertently, Jaeger may of helped the railroad just hang on just a little bit longer. The Delaware Otsego Corporation took over operations of the line in 1986. Customers continued to dwindle and Jaeger, as well as Ply-Gem (another lumber shipper), became the only remaining customers north of Route 22. Service to these two lumber companies would have continued but deteriorated track conditions prevented this. In February of 1991 the DO embargoed all service north of Route 22 and direct rail service to Jaeger Lumber ceased once again.

 

Jaeger Lumber & Supply Company continues to do a lively business in Union, NJ as well as at its six other locations in New Jersey.

Rahway Valley Railroad
Customer Profile

Name:

Jaeger Coal & Supply Co.
(later Jaeger Lumber &
Supply Co.)

Location:

2322 Morris Ave.
Union, NJ 07083

Years of Operation:

1937-Present

Nature of Business:

Retail coal, lumber, masons materials, building
materials

Shipments via RV:

Lumber (box and bulkhead flat cars), Coal (hoppers), inbound
Notes: Former property of
Fred Stone Lumber Co.

This view shows the switch and the siding into Jaeger Lumber. Note the bulkhead flatcar sitting on the spur. The tracks straight ahead lead to the bridge over Morris Avenue. By the time of this photo the spur to Unionbury and the teamtrack had been removed. The remnants of the switch can been seen just beyond Jaeger's switch. Photo taken by Jeff Jargosch.
An aerial view of Fred Stone Lumber Company in 1923. It became Jaeger Coal & Supply in 1937. A siding forks off the main track and into the lumber yard, terminating inside a storage shed. Opposite the tracks from Jaeger is Unionbury as well as Hozapfel American Compositions Co. (later International Paint). Morris Avenue can be seen as well as the railroad bridge. Courtesy of the Union Township Historical Society.
Two cars wait to be unloaded at Jaeger Lumber in Union. 1990. Photo taken by Peter Thornton, courtesy of Don Maxton.
Two cars wait to be unloaded at Jaeger Lumber in Union. 1990. Photo taken by Peter Thornton, courtesy of Don Maxton.

 

 

Aerial view of Jaeger Lumber. 1961. Courtesy of the Union Township Historical Society.

#16 hauls two loads of lumber off the Lehigh Valley interchange, bound for either Jaeger or Ply-Gem. 4/1988.
Photo taken by Carl Perelman

NYSW #120, operating the RVRR and SIRY, hauls four loads of lumber past Excee Tower in Cranford. These loads are bound for Ply-Gem and Jaeger. Photo taken by Carl Perelman.

Two cars wait to be unloaded at Jaeger Lumber in Union. 1990. Photo taken by Peter Thornton, courtesy of Don Maxton.

The front of Jaeger Lumber in Union.

 

 

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