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From a passenger of the last train from Branchville
Last Train From Branchville

Ed Montgomery

 

I was there. My friend Bernie and I were on that train. I had always wanted to ride to Branchville and got my opportunity on the last day train service was offered. There were quite a few railfans on that run.

We boarded in Mountain View. It had one Boonton coach and one Erie mainline coach painted Grey, Maroon and Yellow. We road in the Erie coach on the trip into Branchville.

We got to Branchville thinking there might be a place to get something to eat.--think again. Back then, the whole town was shut down [on Sunday]. We couldn't even find a soda vending machine. I took several photos of running the engine around the cars and then walked around for the next [5] hours.

It was quite a day. EL never adjusted their timetable for the time between Augusta and Branchville. It was always padded to allow for picking up milk cars and switching. So the train arrived very early in Branchville.

A number of Sussex County residents boarded the train and rode it to Netcong. Several families took their kids and were waving to family riding alongside on route 206.

On the way back we rode in the vestibule of the Erie coach just behind the Geep from just outside of Branchville to Sussex Branch Junction just east of Netcong. There was quite a crowd at Newton station that evening.

I was impressed with how well the EL maintained the branch all the way to the end. What amazed me was that most of the freight traffic was in Newton and Branchville and those two towns were abandoned.

I often wondered if the line could have succeed as an independent operator. The Roy Company in Branchville had several boxcars on its property on that last day of passenger service. There were a few freight cars at Newton as well. I don't think there was another siding on the line. Maybe at Andover but that was it. Possibly a shortline operator could have made it work.