The Rockaway Valley Railroad - One of New Jersey's Earliest Railroad Abandonments

The Rockaway Valley Railroad was a short line railroad extending from White House Station on the Central Railroad of New Jersey,  to Watnong, NJ near present-day Morristown, NJ, just over 24 miles north along a northeasterly route. (Right of way). 

A northern extension that was never built would have connected the road to Morristown and the Delaware Lackawanna & Western Railroad's Morristown-Essex Division.

Photo from Tom Taber III, “The Rock -A-Bye Baby, A History of the Rockaway Valley Railroad”

Constructed mainly to aid in New Jersey's peach industry in 1888, traffic along the line would only last about 25 years, although it would also haul passengers and other freight. Like many short lines of the day, it was constructed cheaply, and thus accidents and derailments were common along the line.

However, even before the line began service, the peaches in its first year were blighted as a result of a pathogen. Sadly, this would set the stage for the rest of the railroad's life.

1910 map showing RVRR line in Morris County, from Ralston station to Watnong station. (Wikipedia Commons)

In 1915, the company was reorganized as the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Railroad. Nonetheless, the company could not muster up the funds necessary to complete the planned extension to the Lackawanna, an extension which may have opened up potential freight traffic to use the line as a bypass of sorts.

Looking west at Whitehouse Station toward RVRR station on right across from still standing CNJ (now New Jersey Transit) station at near left, 1915. The sign on the RVRR station reads "New Jersey and Penna RR," the name the RVRR carried for most of the last bit of its existence.

Reorganization did not lead to long term success, however, and abandonment occurred just two years later in 1917, with everything scrapped and sold off by the following year.

Most of the right of way would be incorporated into the Patriots Path Trail.

Thanks as always for reading!


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