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Cranford Junction

Cranford Junction
The Staten Island Railroad (Baltimore & Ohio) - CNJ Connection

The interchange yard at Cranford Junction can be seen at the left, crammed with cars. The Staten Island tracks, in the foreground, hitch up with the CNJ just up ahead. The Excee Tower can also be seen. Here we are looking west at the interchange yard at Cranford Junction, with the tracks heading to Staten Island at our backs. The CNJ mainline is just up ahead.

The Rahway Valley Railroad wasn't the only shortline to make a connection with the Central Railroad of New Jersey in the Roselle Park/Cranford area. The Staten Island Rapid Transit Railway (SIRT), a subisdiary of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, made a connection with the CNJ here as well. Their junction with the CNJ was called "Cranford Junction" while the RVRR's was called Aldene (or Aldene Junction).

The SIRT, primarily located on Staten Island in New York, offered commuter and freight service. An extension from the island, across the Arthur Kill, and through Linden, Roselle, and Cranford provided interchange connections with the CNJ and Lehigh Valley Railroad (a short distance from Cranford Junction, at Staten Island Junction).  

At the CNJ-SIRT connection at Cranford Junction there was a large interchange yard which extended alongside South Avenue and parallel to the CNJ mainline.

There was always a flurry activity here, as both the CNJ and SIRT switched this yard regularly. The SIRT often used EMD or Alco switchers to switch the junction but bigger road switchers, from the B&O (the parent company), could also be found here.

The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, as well as its Staten Island subsidiary, were absorbed into the Chessie System in 1973. The Chessie System looked to rid itself of unprofitable lines. The Staten Island operations which had been losing money for years, was a prime target of the new company.

The Chessie System continued to operate freight service over the Staten Island Railroad (the name was changed in 1971 when NYC took over the line's passenger operations on Staten Island) until 1985. The Delaware Otsego Corporation was contracted to operate the line, which they did until March 9, 1992.

This map shows the Staten Island Rapid Transit Railway system, with its extension into New Jersey where connections were made with the CNJ and the LV.

the photographer is standing alongside the Staten Island (SIRT) tracks with the busy CNJ mainline just up ahead. A CNJ passenger train, headed up by a Camelback, can be seen heading towards Cranford Station. The SIRT's tracks curve to the left and splay out into the many tracks of the west Cranford Junction yard. Switching operations in the west Cranford Junction yard often blocked South Avenue, sometimes for hours. The flashing signals were for South Ave. were triggered by a wooden lever switch located in the box mounted on the Staten Island's Freight Agency station seen on the right. The Staten Island's station here was strictly a Freight Agency Station, although the SIRT briefly operated passenger service between Staten Island, NY and Plainfield, NJ in the early 1900's. A third of the Station Agent's pay came from the CNJ. Behind the agency station can be seen the SIRT's Armstrong Turntable, used to spin the Staten Island's steamers around and pointed back east towards Staten Island. The mess of wires above the roadway are for Public Service's #49 bus line, operated with electric buses (the successor to the trolley).

Here we see CNJ 0-8-0 switcher #311 using the Staten Island line as a lead to switch the Cranford Junction yard. A motorist patiently waits for the switcher to clear South Avenue. The highway flashers seen are started and stopped manually. The brakeman stands at the control box, on the outside of the agency station, ready to turn the signal off after the crossing is clear. All photos courtesy of Steve Lynch
CNJ ALCo six axle RSD-4 #1614, on point of the "maybe freight," pulls into Cranford Junction to drop cars for interchange. The "maybe freight" was so called for the following reason, it left Jersey City early in the morning and would be given so much work to do there was a possibility it wouldn't finish before the crew had to punch out due to the 12-hour law. The train would reach Cranford around 4 pm in the afternoon. The train went out from Jersey City as JG-1 and returned as JG-2. The train, with so much freight in tow, utilized power such as the RSD-4 for their immense amount of tractive effort. 1971. Photo taken by Paul Carpenito.
Staten Island Alco S-2 #9027, wearing a B&O inspired paint scheme, switches the interchange yard at Cranford Junction. 1971.  Photo taken by Paul Carpenito.

B&O GP-9 #6482 working at Cranford Junction.
Collection of Mike Woodruff.

B&O SD-35 #7406 works the interchange at Cranford Junction. South Avenue can be seen in the foreground. 3/7/1975. Collection of John C. Durant.

Two Chessie System GP-40-2's leave Cranford Junction after making the Staten Island pickup. The Chessie System (and previously the B&O) had trackage rights over the CNJ through here. Once Conrail took over in 1976, the Chessie was only permitted to travel to Cranford Junction to service their isolated piece of trackage there. This photo was taken from inside Excee Tower. 7/28/1978. Photo taken by John C. Durant.
Seen here is the last run of the Reading's "Wall Street," being operated with a pair of Budd RDC's. But what's more noticable is the absence of the Cranford Junction Yard, which had been removed some time earlier due to the light business being conducted. In a few years the Delaware Otsego would take over the Staten Island's freight operations, as well as the Rahway Valley's. 7/30/1981. Photo taken by Randy Kotuby.


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