Dave Rutan 2002
This is my
driving pilgrimage tour of the Sussex Branch. While I only drove
it once, and I started in Franklin, I think most pilgrims would
start in Netcong and work their way up from there. The route crisscrosses
the branch as much as possible.
I tried to give good directions here, a good road map will undoubtedly
help you out a great deal. The best time to drive this tour is
during the day, not during rush hour. Preferably on July 10, as
that was the last day of regular passenger service up to Branchville.
Perhaps a better time would be on a bright winter day after a
dusting of snow so that many of the things I mention are more
arrival here to watch a NJT train arrive and depart
telegraph poles along parking lot by the station.
To see the
house which was the later Waterloo station, go south on Route
206 to just before Meier Stone. There, # 103 is a small
house which was the Waterloo station. For more info on this,
see this page.
Take 46 W
from Netcong station for about 1/4 mile and make a hard right
to cross the tracks. Keep going until you cross the old Sussex
Branch ROW. The recycling center on the left is on the old right
on to the intersection and make a left. follow the road to stop
sign and make a left turn onto Waterloo Valley Road.
At the next
stop sign you will be at the remains of a trestle. One of the
still stands on your right. Make a right turn and continue on
along the ROW. You will see the green
overpass where the Branch ROW crosses Route 206. At the stop,
you can turn left to go to the Waterloo station
site or straight to continue on.
towards the Trade zone until you see a sign for Waterloo Valley
Road on the right. Turn onto this road and follow it. You will
cross the NJ transit Hackettstown line (note the Mt. Olive station.)
After crossing the track again slow down. You will have Route
80 on your right and the tracks on your left. Look for a 'dirt'
road on your left. This leads to the station site.
to get out and walk to see it, but there's a turntable pit, the
remains of the retaining wall for the tower and a few foundations.
This area is seen better on a warm day during a dry winter because
the foliage and weeds tend to hide things.
site is located several hundred feet further west. You'll know
it when you see the concrete wall along the in-service tracks.
The wall used to be the platform for the station and the station
was right across from it.
road until you come to a stop. Much of it is actually the ROW
of the Sussex Branch. The two bridges you pass over are actually
built on Sussex Branch stonework. One is a graceful arch, and
the other a pair of cut stone abutments.
At the stop
sign you can see a cinder path parking lot for hikers on the branch.
In the car you need to turn right. Keep going till you get to
206 N at the light. Turn left onto 206 N.
The ROW goes
through the commuter parking
lot on the right.
At the bottom
of the hill you will see the 'Hole
in the Wall' at Whitehall. From here until it goes under the
Lackawanna Cutoff the Sussex Branch is on probably it's highest
go through the tunnel you're in Andover. Make a left onto Brighton
Ave/517 right before the Getty station. Then make the first right
onto Railroad Ave. The depot and creamery are long gone of course,
but what did you expect?
right to get back onto 206 N at the light. It's a narrow road.
see an Exxon station on the right. You can either go straight
on to Andover Junction or right onto Limecrest
toward the Andover Mine.
road parallels the path of the Sussex mine Railroad which is the
reason the Sussex branch was originally built. My wife told me
that when she was younger she always wondered why there was black
dirt (cinders) in the field along Limecrest.
ROW was on the right as you travel down Limecrest. You'll come
to a dip in the road and the trees will quickly encroach on the
road. At this point, in winter, you can see evidence of the railroad
embankment on the right.
Old Creamery Road, the ROW crosses Limecrest, goes into the woods,
turns and crosses Limecrest again to enter the mine property.
MINE PROPERTY IS PRIVATELY OWNED. I DO NOT RECOMMEND ANYONE EXPLORING
occasionally, tours have been given (mainly because the mine operated
during the American revolution.) If I find out about it, I'll
post a notice.
cross the weed-choked Lehigh and Hudson ROW, and as you go around
the curve, the Sussex Branch ROW.
About a half
mile down the road make a right onto Goodale road. A ways in,
you will cross the ROW again and parallel it for a short time.
Keep following this road till you come to an intersection. Make
the left turn and go to the traffic light. Make another left onto
crest the hill, make a left onto Yates Ave and go until you cross
the ROW then make a right onto Sticklepond Road. When you get
to the intersection,
make a left onto Newton-Sparta road.
the 'Welcome to Newton' sign there is an open spot where the "Welcome
to Newton" sign USED to be. Behind this is Newton Junction. The
place where the Bell Road to Branchville originally broke off.
(There is a cut stone culvert in evidence to attest to this fact
and once when I walked it I swear I saw the remains of a smashed
Newton, you will see the Hicks Avenue crossing with a surviving
on the right and then the 'great scar'. The town of Newton took
away the fill in the early 80's to better cover their closed dump,
(because it wasn't covered enough I guess.) The town of Newton
owns the ROW in town and I've heard that there is a bike path
ROW in there somewhere. Anyway, there's a great big building in
the middle of what used to be the ROW. That's all I know.
At the light,
go straight and keep going straight till you come to a beige-painted
concrete mini mall. This is the Newton Train yard! They turned
the Freight station into shops (better I suppose than taking it
down) Up until the shops were done, the cobblestones were still
in where trucks would pull up to receive goods brought by rail.
build the roundhouse restaurant and the passenger station replica/museum
(ha ha) have some lunch in the cafe.)
Spring Street to Diller Avenue and take a left onto Stewart Street
(it's a 3 way stop street) When you get to Trinity Street, the
gray building with the cinder parking lot on the left used to
be a creamery on the railroad in the 1930's. Now go up Trinity
Street to the blinky light and make a left onto Union Place. Make
a left at the next light and head back towards the Freight house.
onto Sparta Avenue and go straight at the next two lights. Turn
left onto Hicks Ave. You will cross the ROW. Keep going down Hicks
Ave. When the road straightens out, you are driving on the old
ROW for the Bell Road to Branchville. It was abandoned by 1911,
because the ROW was extended through Newton Proper to the connection
about where the road comes closest to the ROW on the left. (see
Junction is hard to see. You can drive right past it and not even
know unless you're aware of its location. Where once it was an
open field there are now trees and houses. What you'll see is
a gravel parking lot on the left after you've passed it. The state
has constructed a solar powered outhouse here for the convenience
of hikers. The gravel parking lot is actually for the Paulinskill
Valley trail, but if you park there you can easily walk into the
junction and follow the Sussex Branch Trail.
663 just south of the Sussex Branch crossing, the Branchville
agent's house still survives.
if you walk down the Susquehanna trail toward Sparta Junction
and look carefully, you can see where the Franklin line crossed
over the Susquehanna. There was a lone standing telegraph pole
still standing in the woods when I did this.
on Hicks Ave (here called Warbasse Junction Road) until you rejoin
Route 94 N. Just before the bridge by Lafayette Village is where
the branch crossed Route 94. Continue on this road to the traffic
light. Make the Left.
At the next
light turn left. This will take you past the station site on the
left and the old mill on the right. (there's still a length of
rail from the siding. One of the few industries on the branch
right up to its last day.)
At the next
intersection bear right and continue until you make the right
onto Valley View Rd. You will cross the branch. Take the next
left onto Morris Statesville Rd. You will come to where the branch
crossed over the road on a low clearance trestle. The state has
recently removed the abutments and created a scar
for the benefit of bikes and horses.
next right onto Decker Rd. You will be paralleling the branch
on your right. At the intersection with 206 turn right. Before
the bridge, you will cross the branch. The building which housed
creamery is on the left.
At the light
turn left to stay on 206 N. At the next light turn left and pull
into the gravel lot on the right. This was the station site and
of the Branch and the Lehigh and New England. Go back to the light
and turn left to go to Branchville.
at the next light, then left. bear left again onto Mill Street
and after you cross the bridge, take the next right. Turn right
at Milk Street, right onto Broad Street and a quick left onto
Railroad Ave. Check out the plaque
in front to the firehouse, leave your flowers and get back into
the plaque here)
street back to 519 S and go the the light at 206. make the left.
You will go over one of the two automobile overpasses on the branch.
Stay on 206 S until you get to the light. Go straight onto 15
S until you get to 94 S in Lafayette. Take the right onto 94 S,
pass by Lafayette Village on the right and re-cross the branch.
Make the next left onto Warbasse Junction Road and drive through
Warbasse Junction again. Make the next Left onto Garrison Rd.
Just after you cross the bridge, you will cross the ROW of the
Susquehanna and then the Franklin Line. The tree line on the right
marks the ROW.
At the intersection
turn right onto Sunset Inn Rd. Just before you cross the bridge
you will cross the Franklin Line ROW and then the Susquehanna.
Turn left onto Limecrest, cross the tracks and turn left again
onto Houses Corner Rd. Follow this until you cross the tracks
at a big crossing.
next left onto Demarest Road (be careful it has a sharp turn to
the right ahead) After you pass the industrial park Demarest will
turn to the right. The crossing of the Franklin line is right
there. It will parallel the Road on the right until you reach
Route 15. The crossing at Route 15 is to your right, but you want
to turn left onto 15 N .
At the light,
turn right onto 94 N. Follow this road until you reach Sussex
Tech High School. The ROW went right through the campus as you
come into it. The fill can still be clearly seen in the winter
Now the ROW
is on your Left. Keep going on 94 N until you see Downing's Furniture
on the right. Turn Left here onto Hopkin's Corner Rd. About a
quarter mile in you will cross the ROW. There is a small house
on the right which was built on the site (if not the foundation
of the Monroe creamery. Interesting that their shed occupies the
approximate location of the Monroe Station too.
Go back to
94 and turn left onto 94 N. If you look carefully you will see
remains of cinder path on the left just before the road goes up
a hill. Coming down the hill, as you enter the curve, this is
where the ROW crossed 94 for the last time.
on to Franklin. At the next Traffic light, bear right onto North
Church Rd. After you pass a cemetery on the left, you will go
around a corner. At this point the ROW is between the road and
the existing tracks.
I figure across from Scott Road (on your left) the ROW crossed
the tracks and went over the first
of two stone bridges. Keep driving till you cross the Franklin
Viaduct and come to a 'T' in the road. Turn right onto Fowler
Street. After a sharp curve, turn right onto Wildcat Rd. The cut
that the Railroad made to enter Franklin proper is on your left,
and the house
on the right used to be the switch tender's house for the Lackawanna.
Up until a few years ago it still had a flat roof.
down Wildcat until you come to an intersection. Turn left onto
Maple and follow it past the Golf Course. You will cross the very
end of the Franklin Line just before you reach Cork Hill Rd. Turn
left and look for Dixon Road on the left. Turn Left onto Dixon.
As you crest the hill you may see a 'sort of' dirt path leading
toward three ROW this was the road to the Franklin Station--Now
At the bottom
of Dixon Road, turn left onto Church Street. About a quarter of
a mile down the road you will cross a small bridge. As you cross
the bridge, look to the left and you will see the other
To get back
to 94: At the bottom of Dixon, turn left onto Church street. Follow
Church Street until you reach Fowler and then the Viaduct. Turn
left onto the viaduct and follow North Church Road to Route 94.
To get to
Route. 23: At the bottom of Dixon, Turn Right onto Church Street
and follow it to the light. This is Route. 23.
This is the
end of my Sussex Branch Auto Pilgrimage. If you have any suggestions
for improvements, please let me
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