3 South Jersey Railways

The Leap Collection has strong holdings in the history of railways in South Jersey and beyond. Atlantic City Railroad: The Royal Route to the Sea covers one railroad’s history from the year 1877 to 1933, when it ran from Camden to Atlantic City with various branch-lines running to other towns. The volume has a variety of maps showing routes across South Jersey and along the shore. Included are rare photographs of Reading steam powered locomotives, timetable sheets that the trains used to run on, and also a few photographs of various wrecks that occurred through the years. This text also includes schematic drawings of the various rail-yards and engine terminals, located in all the major towns in South Jersey; among those included are the large station and terminal at Kagens point in Camden and the Atlantic City Station and terminal of which we see a map on these open pages.

Cook, W. George and William J. Coxey. Atlantic City Railroad: The Royal Route to the Sea: A History of the Reading’s Seashore Railroad, 1877-1933. Oaklyn, NJ: West Jersey Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, 1980.

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In South Jersey, three major railroads competed with one another: The Pennsylvania, The Reading, and The Central Railroad of New Jersey. This magazine-like book, West Jersey Rails: A Series of Stories About Southern New Jersey Railroad History, contains stories about these three railroads’ history and service in South Jersey up to the year 1971, ten years before passenger operations ended entirely, and has a rare photograph of crossings in Pomona. The text also mentions the “shore-flyers,” among the most luxurious and fastest trains at the beginning of the 20th century. One of those trains was the famous “Blue Comet” which ran from New York to Atlantic City. This book explains how railroads worked in conjunction with ferries that crossed the Delaware River from Philadelphia, arriving in Camden at the stations where passengers would then board trains.

Coxey, William J. West Jersey Rails: A Series of Stories about Southern New Jersey Railroad History. Oaklyn, NJ: West Jersey Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, 1983.

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Published in 1877, the New Jersey Railroad Gazette and Business Directory claims that it records “all the names, businesses and addressed of merchants, manufacturers and professional men in all the railroad towns in the state.” Alongside listings are add-like placements with office numbers and addresses. No telephone numbers are provided, of course (the first patent for a telephone was granted in 1876), and the listings are in alphabetical order. Some of the businesses listed are carriage makers, blacksmiths, shoemakers, dentists, and hotels, all of which are located within such towns as Newark, Vineland, and Glassboro.

Mitchell & Co.’s New Jersey Railroad Gazette and Business Directory, 1877. Newark, NJ: Mitchell & Co., 1876.

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Published in 1856, thirteen years before the trans-continental railroad was completed, the Pacific Railroad Survey is a broad survey and guide to the Pacific Railroad’s expansion west of the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. The text surveys railroads routes and tries to determine how practical and economical they are, while also going over the geography of the land and determining appropriate spots to build bridges and lay track. The book has detailed artists’ renditions of the landscape during the time the railroad was being built. The text describes some of the dangers that workers encountered while on the job: among these are grizzly bears and Indian attacks.

Reports of Explorations and Surveys, to Ascertain the Most Practi-cable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean made under the direction of the Secretary of War, 1853-54. Vol. 5. Washington: Beverley Tucker, 1856.

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Train Models

This HO scale 4-6-2 twelve-wheel Pennsylvania steam locomotive, not part of the Leap Collection, is a good rendition of some of the locomotives that ran along the Southern New Jersey Rails. The Pennsylvania coach that couples to it represents the standard design of all coaches in the early half of the 20th century.

Not entirely limited to steam powered operations, diesel powered locomotives, like these two models, made their first appearance along South Jersey rails during the 1930s, carrying both freight and passenger trains.