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Customer | Woolley Fuel Company

Woolley Fuel Company
Maplewood, NJ

Sidetrack agreement entered into 3/15/1929 between Woolley Fuel and the RVRR.

Rahway Valley Railroad
Customer Profile


Woolley Fuel Company
(a.k.a. Woolley Coal Co.)


12 Burnett Avenue
Maplewood, N.J.
(Newark Heights)

Years of Operation:

1924 - Present

Nature of Business:

Retail fuel dealer. Sold coal and wood for heating, ice for refrigeration.

Shipments via RV:

Coal, inbound
Ice, inbound (?)
Wood, inbound (?)


An RVRR customer 1929-1957, with possible shipments as early as 1924.

A horse-drawn Woolley ice delivery wagon. Note the railroad tracks behind the horse. Woolley Fuel Archive.

This 1928 Sanborn map shows the RVRR's siding extending into Woolley. Courtesy of Don Maxton.
Woolley Fuel Company, located along the Rahway Valley Line in Newark Heights (a section of Maplewood ), was among the many coal dealers located along the branch line to Maplewood.

Founded in 1924 by brothers Herbert and Norman W. Woolley, Sr., the Woolley Fuel Company opened its doors at 12 Burnett Ave. The mainstay of their operation was the sale of coal as a home heating fuel. Woolley also sold ice for refrigeration as well as wood, presumably for homes still utilizing wood-burning stoves.

All of these commodities were shipped to Woolley Fuel via the Rahway Valley Railroad. A long spur extended from the main track to the rear of Woolley's offices, alongside the coal silos. Conveyers were utilized to unload hopper cars and shuttle anthracite coal up into Woolley's towering silos.

After being delivered directly to Woolley, coal, wood, and ice were delivered to the customer's doorstep by one of the wagons in Woolley's fleet.

Although shipments to Woolley via the RVRR probably began as early as 1924, a sidetrack agreement was entered into on March 15, 1929 between the Rahway Valley Company, Lessee and Woolley Fuel.

As the years went on and as technology changed, people switched from ice boxes to refrigerators and from coal fueled heating systems to oil fueled ones. Woolley kept up with the times and modified its facilities and equipment. Coal wagons soon gave way to fuel oil trucks and by the 1950's coal shipments delivered to Woolley by the RVRR began to dwindle.

George Clark , the ever mindful President and General Manager, became agitated with the lessening number of shipments to Woolley, more so due to the fact that the Rahway Valley Railroad maintained such a long siding into Woolley.

On July 28, 1956, Clark sent a letter to Woolley Fuel notifying them that their siding was slated for abandonment. Woolley assured more shipments, but they never came. On February 1, 1957 the Rahway Valley Railroad terminated its sidetrack agreement with Woolley Fuel and the siding was thereafter abandoned.

Today, Woolley Fuel continues to operate at the same location it has since 1924. Woolley is the one of the few former Rahway Valley Railroad customers still in operation, in its original location. Woolley continues to deal home heating oil but has diversified its business to include natural gas, Biodiesel, and propane. The Woolley family, in its fourth generation, still continues to own and operate the business till this day., see the Letters page, letters dated 7/16/1956, 7/28/1956, 8/6/1956, 12/18/1956, 12/26/1956.




Woolley Fuel's coal silos, note the hoppers ready to be unloaded. 3/1929. Collection of Norman Woolley

This view, taken from the roof of another building, shows Woolley's early office building, the track scales alongside it, an oil delivery truck, a coal delivery truck near the silos, the large coal silos, the conveyer, and a hopper full of coal waiting to be unloaded on the RVRR siding. The circles on the tower were the "Old Company's Lehigh" logo. Woolley Fuel Archive.

This circa 1932 view shows the early, original, office building of Woolley Fuel on Burnett Ave. Before the company dealt in heating oil it conducted business as Woolley Coal Company, Inc. As seen on the billboard above the company specialized in "Lehigh Coal," a hard anthracite coal

A nice view Woolley Fuel's operations in Maplewood in 1946. At this time the company deals in coal as well as oil, note the four oil delivery trucks as opposed to the two coal delivery trucks. The truck scales are located alongside the art-deco style office building. A lone hopper can be seen on the far left. Collection of Norman Woolley.

An oil delivery truck poses next to Woolley's three large fuel oil tanks. During the 1940's and 1950's, people were gradually switching their homes to burn oil for heating, but many older homes continued to burn anthracite coal well into the 1960's and 1970's. Woolley Fuel Archive.

In a view similar to the one on the left, a host of Woolley delivery trucks pose for this photograph. Woolley Fuel Archive.

Seen here is 1924 Ford Model T, modified to deliver coal to Woolley's customers. Woolley Fuel Archive.

Woolley's coal delivery truck #9 strangely lists "Fuel Oil" on its tender rather than "Coal Co." Woolley Fuel Archive.

A magnificent roster shot of Woolley's delivery trucks, in the shadow of the looming coal silos, and alongside the three fuel oil tanks. Woolley Fuel Archive.

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