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Customer | Chemical Company of America

Chemical Company of America
Springfield, NJ



Rahway Valley Railroad
Customer Profile

Name:

Chemical Company of America
Chemical & Dye Corporation

Location:

Springfield, N.J.

Years of Operation:

1915-1929

Nature of Business:

Aniline dyes, photographic chemicals, perfume synthetics

Shipments via RV:

Bituminous coal
Sulphur

RR Siding? Yes, two. One siding ran parallel to the main RV track, another curved into the plant.
Notes: Located between Van Winkle's Brook and the Rahway River, present day Meisel Football Field.


September 20, 1918


January 22, 1919




 

 

 

 

 

 


The Chemical Company of America was a customer of the Rahway Valley Railroad during World War I and for a few years thereafter. At its height, the Chemical Company of America employed well over 125 people and occupied approximately twenty buildings. The plant produced various dyes, photographic chemicals, and perfume synthetics.

Although we do not know for sure what the Rahway Valley Railroad shipped in/out of this site, we can guess that the RV brought in raw materials and shipped out finished products. There were two freight sidings built to accommodate the site, one was constructed parallel to the RV Mainline and another forked off in a curve into the middle of the plant.

Letter from Louis Keller to Gen'l Mgr. James S. Caldwell asking him to forward to carloads to the Chemical Company of America. 11/19/1917.
The Chemical Company of America occupied 5-1/2 acres of land between the Rahway River and Van Winkle's Brook in Springfield, NJ. What is now Waverly Avenue led to an access road into the site. There was a concrete road bridge built over Van Winkleís Brook, adjacent to the RVRR's Van Winkle's Brook Bridge. Also part of the plant was a sizeable pond which, according to the Union Township Historical Society, was used to soak timber in creosote. More likely it was a settling pond of some sort.

Like most of the factories along the Rahway Valley Railroad during World War I, the Chemical Company of America contributed to the war effort. The plant manufactured cellulose acetate, benzyl benzoate, and benzyl acetate, used largely in the coating of airplane wings.Activities at factories during the war, such as this one, were highly secretive. During the war years twenty armed guards were posted here.

After the war the Chemical Company of American went bankrupt in 1925. The company merged with several other chemical companies in 1927 to form the Chemical & Dye Corporation. Last mentions of the latter company appear in railroad documents as late as 1929. Traces of the plant existed as late as 1940.

This area, once occupied by the Chemical Company of America, is now Meisel Field, the football field for Jonathan Dayton High School. Meisel Avenue was constructed after the factory siteís closing, which occurred in approximately 1924, and cuts across the southern most portion of the former plant. The large pond, seen in the aerial below, was filled in.

Few reminders exist today to remind us of the Chemical Company of Americaís existence. There are, however, remnants of the concrete abutments of the plantís access bridge over Van Winkleís Creek. Also if one looks hard enough, you will notice that the embankment that the Rahway Valley Railroad lays on between Meisel Avenue and Van Winkleís Brook is exceptionally wide. This was to accommodate the siding that existed parallel to the RVís Mainline.

(Research: Richard J. King. Field Notes: Richard J. King & Jeff Jargosch)


Apparently the activities at the Chemical Company of America during World War I were so 'tight lipped' that not even firemen were allowed to enter when a fire broke out at the site. This site, as seen in a few articles on this page, suffered from several fires and explosions over the years. NY Times. 8/10/1915. This aerial view, dated 1923, shows the Chemical Company of America located between the Rahway River Trestle (located lower right) and the Van Winkle's Brook Bridge (located upper left). The two railroad sidings, serving the Chemical Company of America, can be seen. One is parallel to the RVRR Mainline and runs between a switch along the large pond and runs for about six car lengths. The other siding begins in the same location and enters, in a sweeping curve, in the factory site. A hopper and a boxcar can be seen sitting on the latter siding. Just southwest of the RVRR's Van Winkle's Creek Bridge can be seen the factory's access bridge. Collection of the Union Township Historical Society.

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