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Aldene | RV/CNJ Connection

The Rahway Valley Making Connections to the Jersey Central

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Along the Jersey Central: Roselle to Cranford

#13 at Aldene.

Aldene , or rather Aldene Junction, was an important location for the Rahway Valley Railroad. Here the little shortline made its connection with the Central Railroad of New Jersey, which operated a busy four track mainline through this section.

The Rahway Valley crew usually began its day at 8:30 a.m. and headed down to Aldene to pick up northbound cars. The RV had a small yard on the northern side of the CNJ main where it picked up and dropped off cars for interchange.

The RV's track originally curved east into Aldene to hitch up with the CNJ, but after the Aldene Plan of 1967 the tracks were "flipped" to curve westward into Aldene.

Originally a crucial interchange partner, the RV's relationship with the CNJ waned in the late 1960's. Frank Reilly recounts why the RVRR and CNJ had such a strenuous relationship. "T he reason I was the first freight salesman the RV let on the property in over 10 years was because when my predecessor had visited the RV he heavily solicited piggyback shipments via the CNJ's "pig ramp" in Elizabethport, cutting the boxcar business out for the RV. That hurt the RV's bottom line and they didn't like it. Bob Clark's father   George Clark  was in charge at the time and he became down right hostile to the CNJ. Bob told me the last CNJ freight salesman that stopped in their office (10 years ago) was "punched out by my father". I had heard that story from the Vice President of Sales on the CNJ, so when I may my initial visit to the RV headquarters in Kenilworth I went in as an interested railfan (with my camera). After talking to Bob Clark for 10 minutes or so he asked what I did, and I said I was the new freight salesman for the CNJ with my territory being central NJ, including the RV. I was ready to duck his punch, but he said, "You know Frank, CNJ freight salesmen are not welcome on the RV." I asked for the story which he told me, as I had been told by the VP of sales on the CNJ ." ( Freight Salesman on the RVRR ) .

Frank Reilly and Bob Clarkworked together to solicit new business to the Rahway Valley Railroad, as well as increase the amount of cars interchanged between the CNJ and the RVRR.

Despite Frank and Bob's best efforts, everything changed with the advent of Conrail in 1976. The RVRR's three interchange partners, among other railroads, were consolidated into the new government owned rail line. The RVRR now had three connections to the same railroad. Bernie Cahill, who took the helm as RVRR President after Bob Clark's death in 1975, closed the DL&W interchangein Summit and more or less embargoed the interchange with the CNJ at Aldene. The former LV interchange at Roselle Park was heavily relied upon and also received major upgrades in the late 1970's. The former CNJ connection at Aldene was more or less embargoed, being used sparingly and received deferred maintenance.

Then in 1986 the Delaware Otsego Corporation took over the operations of the Rahway Valley Railroad, as a result of the RVRR being unable to obtain liability insurance. The DO, which eventually purchased the RVRR later that year, already operated the Staten Island Railway which connected to the old CNJ main at Cranford Junction. In an effort to consolidate their operations on both lines the RVRR's main interchange was moved to Aldene. This enabled one crew to operate both lines by switching over the former CNJ main at Aldene/Cranford. The former LV interchange was closed in 1988.

As the Rahway Valley Railroad's customer base eroded through the late-1980's and the early 1990's, it became apparent that the end was near. The last train traversed the RVRR on April 21, 1992 and ended its journey at Aldene, ending over ninety years of interchange here.

#16, running light, meets a CNJ Alco RS-3 at Aldene/Cranford. In the background can be seen the former CNJ Cranford Roundhouse. The building has been sold and expanded, housing Polaris Plastics. Collection of Jeff Jargosch.

Early Aldene
The New Orange Railroads Making Connections

Here we see NY&NO/NOFJ #2 meeting a CNJ passenger train at the original Aldene Station near the turn of the last century.
Collection of the late John J. McCoy, courtesy of Don Maxton.

These three photos show the NY&NO and NOFJ at Aldene. The first two shots show NY&NO #1 at Aldene after it had been delivered by the CNJ. The third shot shows NOFJ #3 at Aldene with it's one car varnish. Collections of Thomas T. Taber, III; Don Maxton; and Jeff Jargosch.

The New York & New Orange Railroad went into operation in 1898 after the original construction was completed between Aldene and New Orange (now Kenilworth). The Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ) was the original interchange partner for the small infant pike, a connection was made with the Lehigh Valley Railroad at Roselle Park shortly thereafter.

Early operations were relatively simple. One or two car passenger trains were backed down from New Orange and into Aldene, to the original passenger station. Freight service, which was light at the time, warranted a few cars to be interchanged here in those early days.

This map, from 1906, shows the Rahway Valley Railroad (the vertical rail line) coming down from Kenilworth to hook up with the CRR of NJ. The elevated Lehigh Valley Railroad mainline cuts across the bottom right corner of the photo. Rahway Valley passenger trains at this time had to travel under the LVRR to reach the Aldene Station on the opposite side of the embankment. The first Aldene Station is seen in a postcard view above. The station was wedged between the LVRR's elevated mainline, the CRR of NJ mainline (in the foreground) and Westfield Avenue, seen in the extreme right going underneath the LVRR mainline.

The Original RV - CNJ Connection


A CNJ 600-630 series Camelback, on a run from Singer's to Aldene for wartime workers, rolls past the RV/CNJ interchange. The RV's tracks curve out of the foreground and duck under the LV bridge. The construction of the Aldene Connection ramp in the 1960's prompted the removal of this interchange track and the "flipping" of the RV's interchange to curve towards the GSP instead of the LV. Photo taken by Arthur E. Owen. Collection of Rich Taylor.

This stunning side-profile view shows the full length of #15 and Caboose 102 at Aldene. 1/19/1951. Collection of Thurlow C. Haunton, Jr.

#15 and Caboose 102 back into the original CNJ/RV interchange at Aldene. In the background can be seen Westfield Avenue. 1/19/1951. Collection of Thurlow C. Haunton, Jr.

#13 at Aldene. 2/1932.
Gene Collora photograph. Collection of Richard J. King.

#15 steaming at Aldene.
Collection of Jeff Jargosch.


#14 at the Aldene interchange. 11/20/1933.
Dave Keller Archive.

#13 and Caboose #102 are seen here at the CNJ's Cranford facilities, in the background looms the CNJ's water and coaling towers. 6/10/1950. Photo taken by F. Trittenbach. Collection of Jeff Jargosch.

#15 steaming at Aldene. 1/19/1951.
Photo taken by Thurlow C. Haunton, Jr.

#15 steaming at Aldene. 1/19/1951.
Photo taken by Thurlow C. Haunton, Jr.

#15 and Caboose 102 at the Aldene interchange. Second to last day for steam on the RV. 11/26/1953.
Collection of Jeffrey J. Jargosch.

#16 and Caboose 102 at Aldene on April 10, 1951, less than three months after the engine was delivered. Collection of Thurlow C. Haunton, Jr. Just weeks after being delivered, #17 is seen here at Aldene with Caboose 102. 2/22/1954. Collection of Thurlow C. Haunton, Jr.

A brand new #16 and Caboose #102 work the interchange at Aldene. 4/1951.
Photo taken by John Dziobko.

Caboose 102 at Aldene. The elevated LV mainline can be seen in the background, with the bridge over South Avenue also visible.
Collection of Patty Clark Gilbride.

#16 coming from the CNJ interchange at Aldene. Summer, 1951. Railroad Avenue Enterprises. Courtesy of Don Maxton.

#16 at Aldene.


Post Aldene Plan
The Later RV - CNJ, and RV - Conrail, Connections


This view shows the RV trackage as it appeared after the Aldene Plan was put into effect in 1967. The ramp seen on the right connected the Lehigh Valley with the CNJ. It's construction prompted the rearranging of the RV/CNJ interchange. The RV's track was flipped. Instead of curving under the LV bridge, it now curved towards the GSP bridge (at our backs).

Hey look! It's ol' Frank Froat leaning out of the cab, with #17 sandwiched between a cut of cars, pushing into Aldene through Horan Lumber. A rail of the Aldene Connection ramp can be seen in the foreground. 6/1968.Collection of Paul Carpenito.

The always busy #17 eases her train underneath the Parkway bridge at the CNJ interchange at Aldene. 7/1970. Collection of Paul Carpenito.

#16 at Aldene. 9/1970.
Collection at Paul Carpenito.

#16 pulling off of the Aldene interchange, through Horan Lumber, with the Parkway bridge in the background. 10/1970. Collection at Paul Carpenito.

#17 switching cars at the Aldene interchange. 2/11/1971.
Collection of Frank Reilly.

#17 works up a nice plume of smoke as Engineer Bob Jones coaxes a cut of cars under the Parkway bridge at Aldene. Collection of Paul Carpenito.

#17 running light at Aldene. 11/1971.
Photo by Paul Carpenito.

#16 picks up a carload at Aldene bound for Jersey Tab Card in Union. 11/1/1971. Photo taken by Paul Carpenito.

#16 shuffles cars around at Aldene. 4/1972.
Photo taken by Paul Carpenito.

#17 moves a long cut of cars, its amazing what these little 70-tonners can do! 6/1973. Photo taken by Paul Carpenito.

#17 switches cars at Aldene.
Photo taken by Paul Carpenito.

Bob Jones, with his trademark yellow fishing hat, is at the throttle of #17. The 70-tonner is alongside Polaris Plastic, which occupied the CNJ's old Cranford Roundhouse. c.1972. Photo taken by Paul Carpenito. After the creation of Conrail in 1976, the RV heavily relied on it's former LV interchange at Roselle Park. The RV didn't reappear at the old CNJ interchange until about 1986. The Delaware Otsego Corporation closed the former LV/RV interchange in 1988, leaving Aldene as the only interchange point. 11/1989. Photo taken by Carl Perelman.

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