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Rahway Valley Line

Rahway Valley Line
(a.k.a. Maplewood Branch, Unionbury Spur, Newark Heights Branch)


Map of the Rahway Valley Line (Maplewood Branch) through Union. 1967.

The Rahway Valley Railroad's longest branch was a three mile spur that broke off the mainline at Branch Junction, just north of the Route 22 crossing, and headed northeast through Union.

There were three bridges on the branch crossing Morris Avenue, Vauxhall Road, and Stanley Terrace before the line entered Maplewood and crossed Rutgers Street at grade.

It is interesting to note that the branch line, which had a multitude of names including the Unionbury Branch, the Maplewood Spur, and so on, was actually a separate company from the rest of the Rahway Valley Railroad Company. The branch line was owned by the Rahway Valley Line which, along with the Rahway Valley Railroad Co. (which owned the rest of the railroad), was leased and operated by the Rahway Valley Company, Lessee, just business tactics in an attempt to reduce taxes.

The Rahway Valley Line was incorporated in 1914 and was constructed over a period from 1915 to 1918. Evidently, regular passenger service was never offered on this branch line, however an April, 1921 schedule mentions "labor trains" on the spur.

The Rahway Valley Line served a large number of varying customers over the years, but up until the 1950s and 1960s the main commodity shipped over the branch line was coal. Shipments of anthracite coal were delivered to a number of coal dealers that had sidings along the spur, including Woolley Coal Company (later Woolley Fuel), Falk Coal, Jaeger Coal and Supply (later Jaeger Lumber), and Heller Coal and Supply, among others. George Clark once referred to the branch line as, "a great place for anthracite."

By 1962 the drop in coal shipments over the Rahway Valley Line hurt the RVRR so badly that the line reported a deficit that year. George Clark said of the slip, "Our biggest jolt was when the anthracite coal market dropped a few years ago. Eighty percent of our business was coal. But when homes switched to other fuels, we were hurt" and went on to say, "When the men see a train carrying coal now, they all stop work to look."

During the early 1970s, Interstate 78 was being constructed through the area. Two portions of the RVRR lay in the path of the new highway: a piece of track just beyond the Baltusrol Station in Springfield, and a piece of track near Hollywood Memorial Park in Union. The piece of track in Springfield would remain untouched, the same could not be said for the stretch of track in Union. By 1973 the only customer beyond the piece of track in question was Maplewood Building Specialties, who occasionally shipped a carload of slate. While the railroad had the right-of-way and could have forced I-78 to leave their track untouched, the time and effort was just not worth the trouble.

The Rahway Valley Company, Lessee filed for the abandonment of the Rahway Valley Line, between Hollywood Memorial Park and the end of track in Maplewood, with the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) in 1973. The line was subsequently cut back to just past the J.L. Hammett Co. siding, behind Hollywood Memorial Park.

As customers on the branch line dwindled, the Rahway Valley Line was slowly chopped back more and more until it extended just past the Morris Avenue bridge in Union. The last customer, on the once busy and vibrant spur, was Jaeger Lumber on Morris Avenue. Service to Jaeger was discontinued in February of 1991 by Delaware Otsego, due to poor track condition. The Rahway Valley Line was subsequently embargoed.


#15 with Caboose 102 steaming on a siding in Maplewood

Falk Coal Co. on the Rahway Valley Line


Rahway Valley Line
(a.k.a. Maplewood Branch, Unionbury Spur)
Branch Junction
(earlier Wright's Switch)
MP 0.00
Switch Connection: Mainline(wye, east switch) MP 0.27
Station: Unionbury MP 0.78
Bridge:Morris Avenue MP 0.81
Bridge: Cattle Pass MP ?
Bridge: Vauxhall Road MP 1.43
Bridge: Stanley Terrace MP 2.15
Union/Maplewood town line MP 2.37
Grade Crossing: Rutgers Street MP 2.44
Hilton Wagon Scales MP ?
Hilton Freight Office
(a.k.a. Newark Heights Freight Station) 
MP ?

Rahway Valley Line, End of Track
(Track terminated at Woolley Fuel)

MP 2.90



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