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Branch Junction

Branch Junction
Earlier Wright's Switch

In these two views the Rahway Valley train crew takes #14 through Branch Junction and is heading up the branch line to Maplewood. George Davis fills in as brakeman and is seen riding the pilot. 1947. Photos taken by Bill Burke.

Branch Junction, located just north of Route 22 in Union, was a junction between the RVRR mainline and the branch line to Maplewood (officially the Rahway Valley Line). This junction formed a track arrangement commonly referred to as a "wye." This track arrangement, which more closely resembles a collapsed triangle, enabled the RVRR to turn trains to facilitate different car movements.

The construction of the branch line did not begin in earnest until 1914. This location, before 1914, was known as "Wright's Switch." The name stemmed from the Wright Chemical Company which was located here. Later on, after the branch was constructed, the wye completely surrounded the plant. As the years went on, and the needs and layout of the facility changed, sidings were moved and rearranged as needed. Numerous sidings extended from the inner side of the wye at any one time.

After the departure of Wright Chemical, a number of customers came and went from the Branch Junction area with spurs jutting from both the inner and outer sides of the wye.

The Delaware Otsego Corporation took over the operations of the Rahway Valley Railroad in April, 1986 and continued to serve customers north of the Route 22 crossing until February, 1991. Poor track conditions forced the closing of the track here and concluded all movements made over the wye at Branch Junction.

The east switch of the wye at Branch Junction. To the left a boxcar is seen on the siding of Ply-Gem. Photo taken by Jeff Jargosch. The east switch of the wye at Branch Junction. Ply-Gem is seen on the left. Photo taken by Peter Thornton, courtesy of Don Maxton.

#16 at Branch Junction, just north of the westbound Route 22 crossing. Collection of Jeff Jargosch.

The UCTC Special crosses Route 22. The switch in front of the train is the southern switch of Branch Junction. In the engineer's perspective, the tracks to the right would head to Maplewood while the tracks to the left would head to Summit.

An early map of the wye at Branch Junction. New Jersey State Archives.

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