The Central Railroad of New Jersey
known as the Jersey Central Lines
, was a Class I
with origins in the 1830s, lasting until 1976 when it
was absorbed into Conrail
with the other
bankrupt railroads of the Northeastern United States
line ran from Jersey City west through New Jersey to Phillipsburg and across the Delaware
River to Easton and Scranton in Pennsylvania. Branches stretched
into southern New Jersey to Delaware Bay.
The CNJ was acquired by the Philadelphia
and Reading Railway
in 1883. Though that was later canceled, the
Reading continued to exert major influence over the CNJ, and used
it for its New York
Park in Jersey City, New Jersey includes the CNJ's Communipaw
Elizabethtown and Somerville Railroad was
chartered on February 9, 1831 to build from Elizabeth on the Newark
Bay (with a steamboat transfer
to New York
City) west to Somerville. The line to Plainfield was completed in March 1839, connecting to the
New Jersey Rail Road in
Elizabeth. Extensions took it west to Dunellen in 1840, just east of Bound
Brook in 1841 and to Somerville in 1842.
The Somerville and Easton Railroad
on February 26, 1847 to continue the line west to Easton.
extension, to Whitehouse, opened in 1848 and was leased to the Elizabethtown
and Somerville Railroad.
On February 11, 1849 the
Elizabethtown and Somerville Railroad bought the Somerville and
Easton Railroad, and on February 26
two companies were consolidated as the Central Railroad of
Map of CNJ and other terminals in New
York region ca. 1900
The rest of the line to Phillipsburg opened in 1852, and on
September 8, 1855 the upper level of the Lehigh Valley Railroad
's Easton Bridge
over the Delaware River
, taking the CNJ to Easton. At
that time, Lehigh Valley coal
running over the CNJ to Elizabeth. A similar operation with the Delaware, Lackawanna
and Western Railroad, joining at Hampton, began May 27, 1856.
This required the
addition of a third rail
to join the
DL&W onto the standard gauge
On December 1, 1859 the CNJ arranged to run over the New Jersey
Rail Road to the latter's terminal
in Jersey City. That
operation began December 19
included a third rail for DL&W trains.
South Branch Railroad,
controlled by the CNJ, opened July 1, 1864 as a branch from
Somerville to Flemington. The CNJ's extension to their new
terminal in Jersey City, including the first CRRNJ Newark
Bay Bridge, opened on July 29, 1864, with a ferry transfer to
Cortlandt Street in New
York City, ending operations over the NJRR. On July 23, 1869, the
Newark and New York
Railroad opened, providing a straight route from downtown
Newark to the CNJ's
Jersey City terminal. The Newark Branch, running north from
Elizabethport to the N&NY in Newark, opened June 7,
October 6, 1873 the CNJ leased the New York and Long Branch
Railroad, which was in the process of building from Perth
Amboy southeast to Long Branch.
At the same time the Perth Amboy and
was building from Elizabethport on the
CNJ south to Perth Amboy. Hostilities at the crossing of the
Perth Amboy and
in April 1872 led to an injunction against
the PRR interfering with the construction. The CNJ bought the
PA&E later that year. The full line to Long Branch opened
September 7, 1875, and was later extended south, reaching Bay Head in 1881 by acquiring other companies.
1882 the CNJ and Pennsylvania Railroad agreed to use the line
jointly, with trackage rights
granted to the PRR over the Perth Amboy and Elizabethport between
the Perth Amboy and Woodbridge crossing and its south end at the
The CNJ leased the Dover and
for 990 years from April 26, 1881; the
Ogden Mine Railroad
years from January 1, 1882; and the Hibernia Mine Railroad
for 20 years
from October 1, 1890, renewed at least once for another 20
Behind the terminal
In late 1917, the following companies were absorbed into the CNJ:
In 1901 the Reading Railroad gained control of the CNJ, which
lasted until the creation of Conrail on April 1, 1976.
The first commercially successful diesel-electric locomotive
, manufactured by Alco
in 1924, was built for the Central Railroad of New
the CNJ began operating its most famous train, The Blue Comet, from Jersey City to
It ran until 1941.
The Interstate Commerce
(ICC) authorized the CNJ to acquire the Wharton and Northern Railroad
and the Mount Hope Mineral
on February 4, 1930.
The Hibernia Mine Railroad
was merged into the CNJ on November 25, 1930.
On June 6, 1935, the ICC authorized the CNJ to abandon the Ogden Mine Railroad
Concourse at Communipaw Terminal, with
tablets, is separated from the abandoned trackage by a fence
Reproduction of a tablet designator
for the CNJ Blue Comet
Lafayette Street terminal,
In 1961 the CNJ purchased two portions of the dissolving Lehigh and New England
from the Lehigh Coal and Navigation
. This became the Lehigh and New England
Railway, with two segments - Lansford to Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, connecting coal mines to the Reading Railroad, and
Bethlehem to Bath and Martins Creek, Pennsylvania, connecting cement mills
to the CNJ and Lehigh Valley Railroad.
Paralleling the Lehigh Valley Railroad from the Hudson River
to Scranton, the CNJ was a fierce
competitor for anthracite coal
freight traffic. With heavy commuter
and short freight hauls, the company was in and out of
throughout its history.
Another problem the railroad had was simply its overall size
whereby larger competitors tended to take away potential traffic.
In 1967, bankruptcy was declared for the last time. In 1972 all
Pennsylvania operations ceased and the Lehigh Valley Railroad took
over the remaining Pennsylvania trackage. The CNJ was merged into
Conrail on April 1, 1976. It did not help the CNJ that New Jersey
heavily taxed railroads operating in the state. The state was quick
to tear up and abandon former CNJ lines shed by Conrail, notably
its four-track main line and impressive Newark Bay Bridge, which
came down in the early 1980s, a structure that would be an ideal
commuter line into NYC today. Little of the former CNJ remains in
CNJ emerged from bankruptcy in 1979 as Central Jersey Industries
(later CJI Industries), a corporate shell. It eventually merged
with the packaging company Triangle Industries, owned by Nelson Peltz
, in 1986.