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Former Greenwood Lake–Boonton Line Demise

Erie-Lackawanna RS3 954, leading an all-Boonton car consist, passes Milepost 10 just west of Rowe Street Station in Bloomfield, N.J., March 3, 1971. —Tom Nemeth photo

Former Greenwood Lake–Boonton Line Demise

April 2023by Denis Connell Sr.

The Erie Railroad Greenwood Lake Division segment from just east of Pine Street in Montclair towards Jersey City, N.J., is no more. That portion of this historic rail route is being scrapped, to be converted into a rail-trail. The Greenwood Lake Division once extended from Erie’s Pavonia Avenue Terminal in Jersey City 52 miles through Belleville, Bloomfield, and Glen Ridge, to the shores of Greenwood Lake, N.Y., until 1939. Cut back to Wanaque/Midvale, regular commuter service survived until 1966 behind Erie’s venerable black-and-yellow RS-3s pulling strings of Stillwell heavyweight coaches.

Beginning in the early 1960s, the route served as a through-route for both passenger and freight trains for the Erie-Lackawanna. The “original” Delaware, Lackawanna & Western “Boonton Line” extended from West End Junction in Jersey City through Paterson and around Garrett Mountain to Wayne, Boonton and Denville, serving as its freight main line, as well as a secondary commuter and passenger line.

When the New Jersey Highway Department was in the process of designing and building Interstate Route 80 through Paterson during the early 1960s, it determined that it needed much of the DL&W Boonton Line right-of-way, by that time operated by EL. Although it was possible to maintain a single track through the narrow con-fines along the edge of Garrett Mountain, EL decided to take a settlement for the entire real estate, abandoning the original “Boonton Line” in 1963 between Paterson and Mountain View Junction in Wayne, where the former Erie Greenwood Lake Division crossed on a diamond.

Greenwood Lake

ABOVE: Looking eastbound at the Rowe Street station platform in Bloomfield, New Jersey, new blacktop replaces rail at the Orchard Street crossing, February 2, 2023. The former Erie Railroad station building, built in 1955, was located across from the second set of stacked ties. —Denis Connell Sr. 

Erie-Lackawanna then cobbled together a new “Greenwood Lake/Boonton Line” utilizing the former Erie Greenwood Lake Division from West End Junction through the Montclairs to Wayne, connecting there with the “original” DL&W Boonton Line, enabling a through route. While this preserved a through route for former Boonton Line passenger trains, its fatal flaw for freight trains was the single track, tortuous eastbound grade from Little Falls to Great Notch, which caused myriad operating problems for heavy eastbound freights. Passenger service was discontinued over the former Greenwood Lake Division north of Mountain View Junction to Wanaque-Midvale by the Erie-Lackawanna in 1966…

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This article was posted on: April 3, 2023