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Delaware & Bound Brook Railroad

The charter for the Stanhope Railroad was submitted in 1872 at a time when the monopoly power of the Camden & Amboy was still in full force.  Although some Reading fans may disagree, the most important contribution by this Railroad was the opening of NJ to competition from other railroads.  The route was to proceed from a point on the Delaware River to an interchange with the Central Railroad of New Jersey in Bound Brook.  The charter was approved and the railroad incorporated on 5/12/1874.

Construction proceeded quickly from the Delaware River through the small farming communities along the right of way until the Mercer & Somerset Railroad was reached in 1876.  This railroad was part of the C&A family and fought the D&BB.    The C&A (Pennsylvania by this time) refused to allow the D&BB to place a frog to cross the tracks.   This resulted in the once-famous "Frog Wars".  This was eventually defused by involving the Governor of New Jersey and the D&BB was allowed to continue construction.

When finished in 1879  the D&BB ran from the Nashaminy Falls Bridge near Trenton Junction where it connected with the North Penn Railroad to Bound Brook and its connection with the Central of New Jersey. It built stations at Trenton Junction, Hopewell and Manville. 

Shortly after its completion, the D&BB was leased for 999 years to the Reading Railroad. To the best of my knowledge - no trains every ran with the markings of D&BB. 

Most of the original right-of-way is still in use.  It follows Rt 206 most of the way until it joins the Raritan Valley line in Bound Brook.  A few of the stations - most notably Belle Meade are still in existence and there is talk to re-opening passenger service on this line.   There are some obstacles standing in the way - but few real.  The largest problem remains the NIMBYs. 

In a rather unusual turn, the Delaware & Bound Brook ended up in Federal court in 1986. (Drayton v. United States, 801 F.2d 117).   The trustees of the D&BB still had a solvent railroad on their hands, but the 999 year lease was only 100 years old at the time, so the properties where included with the Reading in the Conrail Agreement.  

For more information:

I haven't found too much - most detailed books on the Reading history will have a few lines about this road.  The best source I've found is:

"The Reading Railroad: History of a Coal Age Empire Volume 1: The nineteenth century", By James L. Holton


Does anyone know where the Mercer & Somerset ROW was located?  None of my maps have tracks that look to be "Pennsylvania Branch / north of Belle Meade" that are mentioned in the Frog Wars.

An alert reader recently told me that the frog in question was where the railroad crossed Rt 518 in Hopewell - I haven't been down there to check it out.

Delaware & Bound Brook: 1872-1879

(c) 2002 - Phil Paone