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The Rahway Valley Railroad

The Rahway Valley Railroad was a 17 mile short line connecting the DL&W (later Erie Lackawanna) at the North end with the Jersey Central and Lehigh Valley at the South end.

The Rahway Valley started in 1897 as the New York & New Orange Railroad. The first stretch of tracks ran from Kenilworth to Alden where it connected with the Lehigh Valley & Central Jersey. After running out of money, construction stopped.

In 1905, the name was changed to the Rahway Valley railroad. The railroad occasionally added trackage and finally reached its complete length when it connected to the DL&W in 1931. This connection turned the railroad from a marginal operation into a steady money maker.

The railroad dieselized in 1951 and retired its aging steam fleet in 1954 along with the facilities needed to support them.  The entire new fleet consisted of GE 70-tonners #16 and #17.   #15, the last steam engine was sold to a tourist railroad and operated in excursion service in New England.

The railroad was bought by the New York Susquehanna & Western (Actually Delaware & Ostego Corp) after the Erie Lackawanna was absorbed by Conrail and discontinued mainline freight service on that trackage. It managed to hold out until December 22, 1986, living to the ripe old age of 89. The only current landmark at the northern end are the bridge abutments which can be seen from the NJT Summit station. A car lot sits on the site of the interchange track.

No story of the RVRR could be told without mentioning the movie making. Both the RVRR and the Raritan River made some extra cash by allowing movies to be filmed (mostly train wrecks) on their rails. This profitable enterprise continued for many years until an accident hospitalized several people and did some property damage.

Perhaps the more interesting pieces of trackage is a grade-crossing over Rt 22 in an area affectionately known as "The Gauntlet" due to the volume and chaotic nature of the traffic.

#15 is preserved and  currently on display at Steamtown in Scranton, PA. In addition, one of it's GE switchers was in recent use by the NYS&W.  Both #16 & $#17 will most likely find a home in the State Transportation Museum in Phillipsburg, NJ.

The railroad had stations at:

Rosell Park - Interchange with Jersey Central/Lehigh Valley
Kenilworth
Unionbury (Union)
Newark Heights
Springfield
Baltusrol  - Golf Course
Summit - Interchange with DL&W/EL

More information:

Arcadia Books - the publisher that produces  those great "Images of America" books has released a gem - "The Rahway Valley Railroad", by Donald A. Maxton. 

Kenilworth Historical Society published a book "Saga of a Shortline", by John J. McCoy.  I haven't seen this book.

Alan Binenstock is interested in starting Rahway Valley Historical Society.  For more information - he can be reached at RVRRHS@comcast.net  One the of the primary goals is to recondition the RVRR Station in Springfield.

What's left?

There are quite a few reminders, including the  wonderful passenger station in Springfield and the grade crossing on Rt. 22 .  The bridge abutments south of the Summit station are still visible as well.

Rahway Valley Railroad: 1897-1986

Links:
    New Rahway Valley Web Page by Steve Lynch