Looking darn good for 158 years old

In the year 1854, the Flemington Transportation Company built trackage from Flemington to Lambertville, NJ, where it connected with the mighty Pennsylvania Railroad on its Phillipsburg to Trenton main line to interchange mainly agricultural freight (milk products, fruits, meat products). In 1871, the line became part of the Pennsy system, and in the years before the automobile, some 50 passenger trains traveled to and from Flemington each day, in addition to the freight movements. The Central Railroad of New Jersey also recognized Flemington and the surrounding Hunterdon County area as a potential for expansion, and built its own line west from Somerville in the late 1800s; Flemington was now sitting pretty, with two rail lines into town, and the area prospered. However, with cars & trucks becoming more popular as the 20th century took shape, the general public abandoned the trains for more ‘personal’ methods of transportation, and passenger service was halted on this line in 1953; with trucks becoming an option for shippers, freight service decreased substantially as well. In the late 1950s, a certain Mr. William Whitehead desired to start a tourist line, running excursion trains for the general public, and made an agreement with the Pennsylvania RR to lease the Flemington to Lambertville line to run his trains. In May, 1965, the first tourist train was successfully run, and in March, 1970, the Black River & Western purchased the line from the newly established Penn Central RR, and now handled both passenger excursion and freight duties along the route. On April 1, 1976, the newly formed Conrail closed the ex-PRR Bel-Del line that ran through Lambertville, and at the same time, sold the Flemington to Three Bridges section of the old CNJ to the BR&W, establishing an interchange at Three Bridges, NJ. The rest is history, and today the BR&W continues to hold its own, a true shortline success story with a rich and colorful past, with a handful of full-time employees, and several very dedicated volunteers, ensuring efficient rail operations into the 21st century. Yes, indeed, the old station sure looks good for being 158 years young.

Image recorded on May 28, 2011.

Black River and Western Ringoes NJ ex Pennsylvania RR Flemington Branch

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  1. Very nice article and photo!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Connor, and the good words. The BR&W is a neat little operation, and very deserving of a visit if you’re ever in the area. Take the train from this station into Flemington, spend the day shopping at the outlet center, and then take the train back. They will sometimes tack on a privately owned caboose to the coaches, and have been known to offer lucky folks a ride in the hack!

  2. It was sad to see the Ringoes to Lambertville “Doodle bug” excursion train come to an end. I think it would be just what Lambertville needs to see again and would be successful as it once was.
    Love to see any pics you have on that. Ran from 1987 to 1998?
    Love this site, thank you.

    • Well, good news, Robert; the BR&W is in the early stages of rehabilitation of the line to Lambertville, with work starting this past summer (2014). The doodlebug is still on the property, although I do not believe it is operable at this time. Sorry, I have no photos of that period, but there are a few online if you search hard enough! Thanks for the visit, have a good day……

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