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The Unionbury Freight Agency Station. Morris Avenue is in the foreground. Photo taken by Jeff Jargosch.

This April, 1921 passenger schedule mentions "Freight service and labor trains" on the Rahway Valley Line. Were the labor trains the only passengers Unionbury would have seen?

Unionbury (RVL MP 0.78) was a station along the route of the Rahway Valley Line in Union Township. This area was located between the railroad embankment and International Paint, on Morris Avenue.

The name itself, "Unionbury," does not seem historical to the area. The name was more than likely coined by the railroad itself. Unionbury was chosen to avoid confusion with a station the railroad had already named Union (earlier Doty's).

Although the line was completed to Maplewood in 1918, the earliest mentions of a station here are not until a passenger schedule which took effect in April of 1921. The Rahway Valley Line was completed at the tail-end of the era of Rahway Valley Railroad passenger service, which ended in the early 1920's. It is unclear whether Unionbury was ever a stop for passengers travelling on the Rahway Valley Railroad. The possibility is entirely plausible, as this location would have been a good connecting point for trolleys of the Morris County Traction Company, which travelled along Morris Avenue, on their way to Elizabeth.

In the RV's April 1921 passenger schedule labor trains are mentioned as running on the Rahway Valley Line, perhaps to serve the many industries along the line. Perhaps they used the rail-buses for this? The schedule does not make mention of any scheduled stops at Unionbury, nor does any schedule that has come to light.

There were two railroad owned buildings here, the freight agency station and a freight house (measured 10' x 12' in a 1922 tax assessment). The agency station was a small concrete block building, painted yellow with a mansard roof. The freight house, which transferred freight on the team track here, was reportedly destroyed by fire.

The freight agent posted here handled all paperwork for freight cars bound for customers on the Union portion of the Rahway Valley Line. The workload for the Unionbury freight agent increased when the Newark Heights agency station in Maplewood was closed and consolidated with Unionbury.

For many, many years the Unionbury freight agent was pipe-smoking Thomas E. Miller. Mabel Miller, Tom's daughter, even assisted him here at different times. But as the years wore on and the 1960's arrived, the job of the Tom Miller steadily dwindled. Anthracite coal had been the bread and butter of the Rahway Valley Line, which was Tom's territory. The switch to oil and natural gas as home heating fuel spelled the end for the coal yards along the branch to Maplewood. The Unionbury Freight Agency had out-lived its usefulness and was doomed to be closed. The management of the Rahway Valley Railroad, namely Bob Clark, however kept the agency open for the time being. The reason? To let Tom Miller finish out his time so he could collect his pension. Tom did eventually retire and the little yellow agency station, and Unionbury, were closed forever.


This aerial view, cropped from a postcard, is the only photo we have to offer of the Unionbury Freight House (if only a sliver of it). International Paint is seen the background. The siding on which the two box cars are sitting is not International Paint's . . . it's the Unionbury Team Track. However, International Paint was a railroad customer and took in carloads off the team track. The other track in the photo, on the embankment, is the main track of the Rahway Valley Line between Union and Maplewood. Collection of Don Maxton.


Both courtesy of the Union Township Historical Society.



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