Connecting The Dots: Phillipsburg, NJ: The Crossroads Of 5 Conrail Predecessors

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The city of Phillipsburg, New Jersey was once served by five major railroads:

1. Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ)
2. Lehigh & Hudson River Railroad (L&HR)
3. Lehigh Valley Railroad (LVRR)
4. Delaware, Lackawanna & Western (DL&W)
5. Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) which included a hump yard.

Today all of those railroads are gone, however, all but one route remains through town is still used in some capacity.

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The CNJ left its mark on Phillipsburg with a yard nearly a mile long which was complete with a roundhouse and a wooden coaling station that stretched across the length of the yard tracks. The yard gave local freight service to customers in Phillipsburg and Easton, Pa.. After the CNJ ceased, the yard was left to rot but thanks to local historians, what’s left of the CNJ yard has been saved from years of overgrowth and today is the Phillipsburg Railroad Historian’s Museum site. Concrete foundations that supported structures all over the yard and the turntable pit can easily be seen.

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The Phillipsburg Railroad Historians museum has a display of railroad memorabilia inside the museum, an “N” scale diorama, two Lehigh & Hudson River cabooses (one of which is currently being restored) and a Jersey Central caboose. There’s a L&HR snow flanger, Tidewater tank car, a CNJ box car owned by the Anthracite Railroads Historical Society, a 1922 Chestnut Ridge Mack railbus owned by the Lehigh Valley NRHS, a Public Service trolley owned by the North Jersey Electric Railway Historical Society, a 44-ton GE locomotive and a 25-ton GE locomotive. They also operate a miniature railroad, the Centerville & Southwestern, that formerly ran in Roseland, New Jersey.


Route 122 through town becomes South Main Street and crosses over the Lehigh Line at M.P. LE 72.15. The through truss overhead bridge (a.k.a. Black Bridge) gives you a nice view of eastbound trains coming off the Delaware River bridge. You can also shoot down at ground level and include the Main Street bridge (and station) in your shots along with the historic CNJ “PU” Tower which is being restored by Ron and Jeane Titus and will eventually be open to the public. Behind the tower is the former CNJ-DLW Union Station which is also under restoration.

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Being at the confluence of the Delaware and Lehigh rivers, Phillipsburg had once been a major transportation hub. That said, Phillipsburg is still an important spot on the Lehigh Line which contains the junction with the ex-Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Washington Secondary as well as the big bridge over the Delaware River. There’s a tourist railroad; The Belvidere & Delaware River Railroad that operates on the former Belvidere-Delaware Railroad, Pennsylvania Railroad (Bel-Del) Branch that serves excursions from Lehigh Junction Station south to Carpentersville.

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Norfolk Southern serves the industrial interests in Phillipsburg using the former Lehigh Valley tracks and the Lehigh & Hudson River bridge to connect to the PRR Bel-Del tracks. The Belvidere & Delaware River, a subsidiary of Black River and Western, uses the ex-PRR route to the south and runs excursions using ex-NYS&W 2-8-2 Mikado #142. NS uses the ex-CNJ right of way as its Lehigh Line and uses the ex-L&HR/PRR line to the north as its Portland Secondary (the track that connects with the Delaware-Lackawanna at Slateford Junction).

M.P. LE 75 on the Lehigh Line is the location of the track swing installed in 1987 to allow freight trains to use the ex-CNJ mainline through Phillipsburg and CNJ’s more modern deck truss bridge over the Delaware River into Pennsylvania.

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Long after the CNJ was gone the New Jersey DOT and NJ Transit established Phillipsburg as their westernmost commuter rail terminus until the operations west of High Bridge, NJ ended on December 30 1983. Since then, Phillipsburg has been selected as a site for the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Heritage Center (jointly with Netcong), which is a museum designed to help preserve and showcase the state’s transportation history, and since 2007 the New Jersey Transit has been studying to determine if re-establishing a commuter rail extension of the Raritan Valley Line to Phillipsburg is economically feasible.

Phillipsburg, New Jersey – The Crossroads Of 5 Conrail Predecessors

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Author:Railfan AC

AC is a U.S. Air Force Veteran, a long haul trucker, a transportation enthusiast and a lifelong lover of trains. AC's mission is to travel America documenting American railroading in the 21st century while educating those who want to know about the importance the railroads play in our daily lives including, but not limited to, the movement of goods, services and more.

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