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Rahway River Trestle

Bridge: Rahway River

Looking towards Springfield
Photo taken by Jeff Jargosch

#15 and Caboose #102 charge across the trestle over the Rahway River.
Collection of George Wankmueller


Looking towards Springfield, Meisel Ave. can be seen just up ahead.

This truss bridge over the Rahway River was perhaps the most notable structure on the Rahway Valley Railroad. The bridge itself was constructed in circa 1905 as part of the extension to Summit and was more than likely designed by J. Wallace Higgins who engineered most of the RVRR.

The bridge straddles the border between the towns of Springfield and Union in the marshes of the Rahway River. This marshy area proved to be troublesome to the contractors building the line between 1904 and 1906.  "The story is told how disaster struck, as the line was being built toward Springfield. The grading crew knocked off work at sundown, about 450 yards west of Branch Junction. Returning the next morning, found that about 100 cubic yards of fill had disappeared into the marshland on the approach to the Rahway River. Considerable delay in the construction timetable resulted while a coffer dam was built and the soft footings removed. A firm bed was found somewhat lower and grillage dropped. The Rahway River span itself redesigned from the original plate span to a heavier truss bridge, mounted on stronger reinforced abutments." (Rahway Valley Railroad: Saga of a Shortline, by John J. McCoy, 1976).


Wm. Wyer & Co.
Report on Rahway Valley Railroad
August 1944

Over Rahway River. One span riveted truss bridge for one track. Length of trusses 93'-0". Condition fair. End roller bearings are badly rusted and out of line
Annother interesting story from the time of the bridge's construction tells of an "awful" snapping turtle spotted here. "A snapping turtle of huge proportions, whose habit it is related was to plunge at men who approached it with a grunt resembling the bark of a ferocious dog, and whose glance was equally terrifying was caught . . . Workmen employed in erecting an iron bridge over the Rahway River at Springfield for the Rahway Valley Railway [sic] have noticed the turtle swimming about in the stream or basking in the sunshine on the bank." ("An Awful Snapping Turtle," The Washington Post, August 12, 1905)

Of vital importance to the railroad the bridge, commonly referred to as "the Trestle" by local residents, has also been a local landmark to the youth of the area. Hanging out, with friends, in the woods around the trestle was a past-time. Local kids were known to have wild bonfires and even try to jump a ride on the slow moving trains that passed. Leaving pennies on the track was also a must.

See what this location looks like today

#13 roars over the trestle
and into Springfield

While on the clock, Conductor Walt Switz took this photograph from #17 as the engine approached the trestle. Photo taken by Walt Switz.


Diagram of the Rahway River bridge from Wyer, Dick, & Co.'s 1969 analysis of the railroad.

#13 comes across the Rahway River and whistles for Meisel Ave. in this Fall, 1947 view. 
Photo taken by Charles Roselius, collection of Don Oberding.

#15 and Caboose #102 have just crossed the Rahway River and the engineer is pulling on the whistle chord for Meisel Avenue.

Looking towards Union. Photo taken by Jeff Jargosch

Looking towards Union. Photo taken by Jeff Jargosch



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