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Sussex Branch Timeline

A year by year listing of important events during the history of the Sussex Railroad/Sussex Branch. As time progresses, I'll link the events to any articles I find. If I've forgotten something, tell me (please source your information if possible.)

All citations are from: The Lackawanna Railroad in Northwest New Jersey unless otherwise noted.


1840s/1850s/1860s/1870s/1880s/1890s/1900s/1910s

1920s/1930s/1940s/1950s/1960s/1970s/1980s/1990s


1848 March 9 - Abram S. Hewitt obtains a charter for the Sussex Mine Rail Road.

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1850 May 21 - Ground broken near Waterloo for mule road.

1851 August 23 - New Jersey Herald reports that three mules were killed by accident on the mule road.

1853 May 5 - Ground broken on the Sussex Railroad.

1854 September 25 - A steam locomotive reaches Andover in time to haul ore from the mine to the canal at Waterloo before it freezes for the winter.

1854 December 11 - First passenger train enters Newton.

1857 January - Snowstorm blocks slate cut and is cleared by citizens of Newton.

1858 - First arrangement made with the Morris & Essex for transporting milk to the city.

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1866 September - Track gauge adjusted from 4'-10" to 4'-8 1/2". Continuation to Branchville begun under William 'Billy' Bell.

1868 - Work begun on line to Franklin.

1869 January 1 - First train ran over the Branchville line as far as Lafayette.

June - Trains able to run to Franklin as far as Fowler's Homestead.

July 3 - Line completed to Branchville.

Mid September - Regular service to Franklin commences.

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1870 January - 28 - train car overturns in Andover

1870 July 14 - The depot at Franklin is finished.

1871 March - Track work begun on south Vernon branch.

1871 March - supplement added to charter allowing connection from south of Newton to Stanhope.

1872 May - track obstruction

1872 July 4 - Newton 'cutoff' completed.

June - Franklin line completed to McAfee (south Vernon branch.)

October - Work on Newton's Brick Depot begun.

November - McAfee Depot completed.

1873 June -New four stall engine house completed.

August - Newton's Brick depot opened. Prefab depot transported from Newton to Lafayette.

1879 early - slate quarry opened between Newton and Andover

Spring - replacing iron rails with steel.

July - telegraph line installed between Franklin and Waterloo

August - Waterloo siding extended.

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1880 May - some trains discontinued.

November - new wye installed at Franklin

1881 May - Sussex Railroad closes its McAfee depot

July 27 - Lackawanna bought controlling interest in the Sussex Railroad.
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1890's Boston flyer traverses Sussex County

1891 November: New turntable built in Newton.

1898 humble station shelter built at Cranberry Lake

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1900 blast furnace at Franklin shut down

March 1 - schedule change.

July 12 - work on Stanhope cutoff begun.

1901 July 21 - Stanhope cutoff put into service.

July 25 - Camel-back locomotives running on the Sussex road.

August 5 - train wreck

1902 May - Cranberry Lake developed as a resort

1903 June 4 - New Jersey Herald story

Major improvements at Cranberry Lake

Waterside hotel built at Cranberry Lake

Ice house built at Cranberry Lake

1905 new Newton water tank erected

1906 - Newton's concrete freight station built.

1907 April 11 - Andover depot first lit by electricity. (NJH)

1909 - one arm electric semaphore signals installed.

December- Telephones being installed in all Sussex Branch stations.
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1910 December 4 - hotel at Cranberry Lake destroyed by fire.

1911 November 24 - Branchville Junction station burns down.

1912 Lackawanna contributed half the cost of establishing a county agricultural agent in Sussex County

1915 Lackawanna inaugurates first solid-vestibule commuter train on the Sussex Branch.

1916 February 3 - 80lb rail has been laid as far as Augusta.

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1922 Lackawanna receives permission to remove station agent in Waterloo.

1924 Lackawanna signs perpetual lease agreement of the Sussex Railroad

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1932 February 23 - permission to discontinue service to Franklin granted by Public Utilities Commission

1933 October - Newton roundhouse torn down.

1934 May 26 - abandonment of Franklin branch approved by Interstate Commerce Commission

1938 Sussex County buys Franklin branch right-of-way

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1941 July - new turntable pit blasted at Newton

October - new, 90' turntable installed at Newton

1944 January 27 - 130 lb. rail being laid from Stanhope to Andover Junction. 90 lb had been used previously.

1945 Sussex Railroad fully merged into the Lackawanna

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1951 June - Hart & Iliff Lumber yard burns.

1953 June 5 - engine No. 1135 on Branchville Milk train No. 1050 made the final steam run on the Boonton Branch of the DL&W [DL&WRR in the 20th Century pg. 201]

1953 July 7 - Newton water tank dismantled

1955 April 12 - Wye track outside of Branchville taken out of service and replaced by run-around track.

August 19 - Hurricane Diane causes flash floods which burst two dams in Branchville washing out about a mile of the railroad.

October 10 - service restored to Branchville following hurricane Diane.

1958 January 1 - Franklin station destroyed by fire.

1959 January - Mail service delivery on the Sussex Branch comes to an end

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1960 Erie and Lackawanna merged to become Erie Lackawanna

1962 January 12 - blocking signals taken out of service north of Andover

July 17 - Boiler explosion and fire in the Sussex Milk & Cream Co. closes the Branchville plant.

September 12 - Sussex Milk & Cream Co. Closes for good.

1964 November 30 - Becker's creamery at Strader's closes. Last milk train runs on the branch. [Sussex County Voice]

December 29 - remainder of blocking signals taken out of service on Sussex branch

1966 July 9 - Last fan trip runs up the Branch. It was sponsored by the Railroadians of America.

1966 July 10 - Last passenger train from Branchville to Hoboken.

July 13 - Last passenger train from Newton to Hoboken. Two Erie Stillwell coaches behind RS-3 #932 ended passenger service on the Sussex branch north of Andover Junction.

October 2 - Last passenger train from Andover ended all service on the Sussex Branch.

1969 Sussex branch completely out of service

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1970 November 14, - The Newton Depot is taken down

1976 April 1 - Erie Lackawanna absorbed into Conrail

1977 July - track torn up between Andover and Stanhope

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1994 January 22 - 8:15 A.M. - The roof of the Branchville station collapses under the weight of heavy snow, pushing out the end walls. (Crash heard by Dick Roy)

1998 September 26 - Plaque commemorating the Branchville station was dedicated as part of Branchville's 100th anniversary celebration.

1999 April 15 - My Sussex Branch Memorial site up and ready.

October 24, 2001: The Sussex Branch Memorial receives its domain name, SussexBranchMemorial.com. 

May 5, 2003: I changed the domain name to DLW-SussexBranch.com.

June 2003: The siding behind the G.L.F. (Agway) building in Branchville is relayed with track by the owners of Montague Tool & Supply to display a baggage car. The baggage car was set on the rails on July 1, 2003.


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