Branch EL Memories
I recently got
an email asking me if I remembered trains on the Sussex Branch.
To this I can
say, Yes, I do remember trains on the Sussex Branch. I remember the
Sussex Roustabout with an RS or GP a couple of cars and a caboose.
I remember seeing the passenger trains behind a GP and I even remember
the milk cars, but by this time the wooden D.L. & W. cars had
been replaced by the steel Erie milk cars. I do not remember the L&HR
freights. It was EL days and I am sure they had stopped running to
Port Morris by then. We also used to go to the Andover Diner, which
to me was a big treat so I could get a milk shake. Then we would go
to the Springdale Market and I would buy comic books for 5 or 10 cents
each. Once in a while Model Railroader or Trains magazines would be
there with the top of the cover ripped off and I got them for about
25 cents. Also when I was a teenager I purchased a lot of boot leg
8 track tapes at the market.
I also remember
the yard at Newton and the huge brick shoe factory next to it. The
water tower was gone. The station was standing without the platform
and the freight house was still there.
We used to cross
the Sussex Branch going toward Port Jervis and Beckers Dairy was near
the Rt. 206 crossing and I remember the Erie milk cars sitting in
front of it. I think there was mostly two of them. I never got to
Branchville until I was 17 and got my drivers license and by that
time the tracks where ripped up. I have a couple of slides I took
of the depot.
The other thing
that I remember about the branch was that we would go shopping at
Shop-Rite in Netcong and I would stand in front of the plate glass
window. I could see the station area and the coal and lumber dealer
across the street. I would wait for a train while my parents did their
weekly grocery shopping. I still remember the biggest treat was when
the two passenger trains met at the depot. One was on the Washington
line and the other was on the Sussex Branch and it always had two
Erie Milk cars behind the engine.
For one summer
in the late 1950's or early 1960's by grandparents rented a summer
place on Lake Lackawanna. This lake was formed by a D.L. & W.
barrow pit when the cut off was built. The place had a dock and row
boat and I would row out into the lake to the spot where I could see
the cut off and sit and sit and wait for a train. I still remember
seeing the silver and blue passenger cars in the trains and wonder
what they where as a kid. I now know that they where the through NKP
When we went
for the Sunday afternoon ride with my grandparents Flumerfelt we also
ended up at Blairstown to see the eastbound Phoebe Snow make its station
stop. I remember her in G_M_Y and later with the Erie Green cars also
mixed in and the Erie power.
Now my wife had
family just out side of Andover who had a dairy farm. Their son ran
the Andover Diner. She remembers going to the Johnsonburg creamery
with the milk cans in the back of the pick up truck. They unloaded
the cans and they went on a roller into the building then they drove
around to the other side and waited for their cans to come out empty
and washed then load them up and go back to the farm. Growing up in
Warren and Sussex Counties was a good life. Now it is all gone. The
farms are no more. The open space is no more. Just think of the changes
in life style. My father was born in the Allamuchy Hotel. His first
job was working at the feed mill their when he learned how to drive
truck. My Grandparents Stafford both worked for the Rutherford family
estate. My grandfather Joseph Stafford drove one of the cars that
went to the LHR depot to pick up Franklin Roosevelt and his body guards
when he visited his girl friend at the estate. My grandfather Flumerfelt
used to haul slate out of Pen Argyl with a chain drive Mack truck.
During the depression
he drove a milk truck, got his wages reduced but keep a job. My grandmother
always talked about how lucky their where that my grandfather had
that milk truck job. I still remember my Great Grandfather OB Flumberfelt's
steam powered saw mill on his farm at Great Meadows. My Great Grandfather
Abram Wildrick worked in the early teens as a trackman on the L&HR.
I often talked about being on the gang that used a big steam powered
shovel and dug out the side of the mountain beside the Pequest River
between Pequest and Butzville to build the Pequest Siding. He left
the L&HR after his wife died and his 3 kids where getting bounced
around among the Wildrick family at Johnsonville and went to work
for Morgan Brothers Lumber Yard in Great Meadows. He rented a house
from OB Flumberfelt and that is how my grand parents met. Abe used
to tell me L&HR stories when I was a kid and loved engines 10,
11 and 12 and talked about the sound of their steam whistles going
across the Pequest Valley. He lived right next door to us and until
he died in 1962. His house never had running water. He used to come
to our house with a bucket and carry water back to his house. I still
remember the outhouse and used it and thinking nothing of it. The
house we lived in was a old iron ore company house on Barkers Mill
Road. All the open fields now that used to have dairy cows in them
from George Cummins farm and OB's farm which by this time he was too
old to work himself and had rented out to a dutch family and it was
being called the Dutchman's Farm, is now houses. The last time I was
home in 1988 the Cummins where now totally out of dairy farming and
selling fruit from their barn area.
My mother's sister
lived in a old company house from the iron foundry at Pequest. As
kids we used to always run across the backyard to the tracks to wave
at the L&HR train crews. We used to cross the river and explore
the ruins of the foundry. We took rocks and built a dam across the
Pequest River that was about 3 feet tall and made ourselves a swimming
hole. Their was a small island in the river just above the swimming
hole and we built our fort on it. Every bunch of kids in those days
had to have a fort.
now that even the muck lands at Great Meadows no longer grow produce.
They are all now sod farms. I whole way of live has been lost to so