New York and Long Branch

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Tue Aug 9 22:40:32 EDT 2011


Thanks for the additional details, most of which I remember to some degree. You see, from October 1956 to September 1958 I was an Army draftee assigned to the Army Signal Research and Development laboratory (the Hexagon) at Fort Monmouth, NJ, (the lab was actually near Eatontown) doing radio interference testing and remediation.

I tried to get off base on alternate weekends as my meager finances would allow. Most weekends my destination was New York, where the USO had a whole blackboard chalked up with free tickets to Radio City Music Hall, Broadway and Off-Broadway plays, Yankee's baseball games, etc., all of which I took advantage of.

I always took the train anytime I traveled from Fort Monmouth. I could walk out the east gate to the NY&LB Little Silver station and get a PRR train or a CNJ train. Only a few trains stopped at Little Silver, so I would often take a local bus from the east gate to Red Bank where all of the trains stopped. The PRR trains went into either Penn Station in Manhattan or Exchange Place in Jersey City where I could transfer to a Hudson and Manhattan (aka Hudson Tube) train into Manhattan. The trains to Penn Station were diesel south of South Amboy and electric between South Amboy and Penn Station (the electrification now extends to Red Bank, south of South Amboy). Some of the PRR trains into Exchange Place, such as one nicknamed "The Broker," were power by K4 Pacifics, sometimes double headed. The CNJ trains were diesel powered and terminated in Jersey City where I could get a ferry across the Hudson River to Liberty Street in Manhattan. In good weather a morning ferry ride across the Hudson with the approaching New York skyline ahead was a pleasant experience.

On these weekends, and some mid-week leave days, I rode just about all of the NJ commuter lines and some of the Long Island RR lines. Also, during the almost two years that I was there, I rode into, or through, every station on the New York City subway system.

My work in radio interference testing resulted in 132 days TDY (temporary duty away from base), and these trips often involved train trips. I also took leave in order to take some train trips on my own. I have pleasant memories of the DL&W's Phoebe Snow from Newark to Buffalo and a Nickel Plate train on to Erie, PA, where we ran radio interference tests on a multi-gauge, multi-coupling, multi-brake system "universal" diesel-electric that GE had built for the Army Transportation Corps. The return trip was in the observation car of the Empire State Express. There was an overnight trip in a Pullman on the B&O's Washingtonian from Jersey City to Washington and daylight rides on the PRR's Senator and Keystone (the latter a low-slung train) in the northeast corridor. Other name trains included the Lehigh Valley's Black Diamond Buffalo to Newark and the New Haven's low center of gravity train, John Quincy Adams New York to Boston. Finally in my memory, a Budd RDC ride through Hoosac Tunnel.

As Archie and Edith used to sing, "Those were the days!"

Gordon Hamilton

----- Original Message -----
From: NW Mailing List
To: nw-mailing-list at
Sent: Monday, August 08, 2011 12:47 PM
Subject: New York and Long Branch

Rails Remembered, in the Arrow, includes time spent riding trains of the NY&LB. I lived there for the first 15 years of my life, and would like to add to the content of the article. The southern end of the line was a model RR style loop at Bay Head; and the loop is still there ! During steam days, all NY&LB trains started their northbound journey from Bay head; the loop included many storage tracks for staging. The land would be valuable real estate; but probably would need extensive remediation before it could be sold for residential use. Bay Head is an upscale seashore town; the loop property would be worth many millions.

The PRR locomotive change took place at South Amboy, on the south side of the Raritan River. It was also the eastern end of the legendary (and sometimes infamous) Camden and Amboy RR. The combined PRR--CNJ trackage extended north across the Raritan River on a low trestle w/ swingbridge, through Perth Amboy; and separated at a junction north of that town. The CNJ tracks continued north to Elizabethport (a junction), then turned east to the terminal at Jersey City. The PRR tracks turned northwest, through Woodbridge, then joined the PRR main just south of Rahway.

That junction, still in use, was interesting. The four track main was elevated; the tracks from the NY&LB
increased from two to three, and entered the junction from below, at three different points.

Today, all commuter trains use the ex-PRR tracks; many of the trains are electric MU's (originating at Long Branch); locomotive drawn trains from Bay head terminate at PRR's station at Newark New York bound commuters can finish their journey by changing either to a NJT train to Penn Station; or by changing to PATH (today's name for the original 'Hudson Tubes').

Anyway; loved the article and the chance to remember my early years.

Jerry Crosson (now residing in Missouri)..


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