#17 approaches the elusive diamond
while working the interchange in the winter of 1985. The track
crossing at center is the former LV, now Conrail team track. Note
the brakeman on the engine walkway and the flag at his feet. Winter
1985. Collection of Jeff
A few years back, on some of the railfan
internet sites, the subject of the Rahway Valley Railroad’s ‘mysterious
diamond’ was bantered about for a curiously long time. Obviously none of
the fans actually got out on the roadbed. If one went to the Lehigh
Valley’s yard, which was the interchange point with the RV, the first
piece of trackwork encountered after climbing the slight grade on the
curve beyond Webster Avenue was the diamond.
Two rail lengths past Webster Avenue was the property
line separating the Lehigh Valley from the Rahway Valley. The track
beyond this point was laid with 132 lb. rail, upgraded from the 70lb.
rail utilized by the Rahway Valley. The entire yard was also laid with the
heavier rail and was owned and maintained by the Lehigh Valley.
East of the diamond, and opposite the Roselle
Park High School, laid the runaround and storage tracks for the
LV/RV interchange. Prior to the Aldene Plan, the original
interchange and team track extended all the way to Chestnut Street.
Following elevation of the Lehigh Valley and construction of the new
Roselle Park station, the track was cut back to Locust Street.
The diamond itself was constructed to allow
the LV’s team track to curve into a paved area beyond the RV’s lead. There
was a small freight office and room to spot one or two cars. Opinions
abound about protection for this crossing, including the use of a switch
stand with day targets. I never observed any such protection, nor was any
observed by two former Brakemen who worked on the RV in the 1970s. This
area is now gone.
#17 crosses the Lehigh Valley/Conrail diamond at Roselle
Park with freight in tow. The consist includes ACFX 78822, an
American Car & Foundry tank car leased to the Reilly Tar &
Chemical Corporation of Indianapolis, Indiana, a manufacturer of
specialty chemicals including creosote and wood preservatives.
Reilly was well known for its development of synthetic pyridine
which was essential to the production of synthetic rubber during
World War II. The tank car itself is classified as AAR T105, and had
a 21,000 gallon capacity. Winter 1985.
Collection of Jeff
A map of the Lehigh Valley
interchange, post Aldene Plan of 1967. The diamond can be seen
at the upper left.
Collection of Steve
#2 – Union
Next, the more obscure diamond on the Rahway
Valley could be found on the Summit Leg of the wye in Union. When the
industrial development of the Rahway Avenue area was built, the warehouses
and structures were closely packed. The structures were mostly one story
block buildings with loading doors at trackside and truck docks on the
street side. Because of tight clearances encountered in reaching the
tightly spaced loading doors, a switch through a diamond was necessary.
Although the track of the main line has been relayed, and no longer
connects with the sidings, the diamond still lays in the weeds behind the
old Baxter Warehouse/New Jersey Tab Card building and its odd shaped
concrete loading dock (only room for one car here).
While on the subject of diamond crossings, a
third location comes to mind. This goes back aways to when Public Service
still ran trolleys to Kenilworth. Built in 1906, the Kenilworth Car Line
ran from Westfield Avenue in Aldene, up what is today Valley Road, past
Crossfield Products, and alongside the RV right of way. It paralleled the
tracks up to Colfax Avenue under wire and turned toward Faitoute Avenue.
After turning left on Faitoute Avenue, our trolley route heads toward the
Rahway Valley tracks, east of Karlink Brothers coal yard, and had to have
made a level crossing of the RV’s branch to the CRR of NJ. After the
diamond, the Brill car rolled up to the Boulevard, turned left and ended
at the old Kenilworth Inn. The trolley lasted until 1924 when the tracks
were torn up. This is early stuff and we would love to see a picture or
hear of any firsthand accounts of this crossing.