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Remember the Sussex Branch

By

David E. Rutan

Oh, do you remember that Sussex Branch 'road?
'Twas built 'round the hills, through the fields newly sown.
It bridged our small rivers, our towns it did link,

To Branchville for milk and to Franklin for zinc.

Upon reaching Newton, the town did rejoice,
"Three cheers for the railroad!" they yelled as one voice.
"Our town is now linked with the rest of the state."
"Let us hold up our children to remember this date!"
 
The band played its music and the speeches were made.
The children stood wondering where the tracks had been laid.
The first train departed, along on its way.
"What a great thing has happened in our history this day."
 
 
When first it was built it just hauled iron ore.
Then later came passengers, then more and more.
From Newton to Waterloo they rode the trains.
And there the tracks joined with the M & E Main.
 
The milk trains came steaming on down from the hills.
They rumbled through cuts and out over the fills.
At stations they waited for passengers' fares,
Hissing white steam and gray smoke in the air.
 
At Netcong the new track joined up with the main,
And often the local'd meet Washington trains.
The station between them, the ev'ning light strange,
Who could have predicted that their world would change?
 
The Lake at the summit was given a trade.
The railroad built parkland where people could wade.
They lengthened the platform for new Sunday trains,
And brought out the people to play country games.
 
It lasted a decade, this holiday craze.
"Excursions now canceled; it no longer pays."
They pulled out the bridge and the hotel did burn,
And Cranberry Lake then the Railroad did spurn.
 
In Franklin two others were built through the town,
And then the blast furnace began to shut down.
No riders were seen on the ol' Franklin line,
And so then they tore up the track to the mine.
 
Four years past the merger, the creamery closed.
Trainmasters still trundled, despite E-L's woes.
The passengers dwindled, but weeds never grew,
Until '66 on the day we all rue.
 
"We just got a new car," said Daddy with pride.
"She's all set to go, so let's go for a ride."
We drove to the station to see the last train,
From Branchville to Hoboken - Never again.
 
Then businessmen from our whole area met.
To buy up the trackage would be a sure bet.
Arrangements were made; they were ready to go,
But at the last minute the railroad said, "No." 
 
Now overgrown pathways are all that remain.
Our effort to save them will not be in vain.
Someday they'll rebuild it, admit they were wrong,
If only to hear that sweet steam-whistle song.
 
Oh, will you remember that Sussex Branch 'road?
'Twas built 'round the hills, through the fields newly sown.
It bridged our small rivers, our towns it did link.

To Branchville for milk and to Franklin for zinc.

 


This poem may be disseminated freely as long as I, David E. Rutan, the author, am given full credit.

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