PRR Interlocking Diagrams: Philadelphia to New York Branches

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Milepost numbers as per Eastern Region ETT #23, 1967-04-30.

Chestnut Hill Branch

Starts at NORTH PHILADELPHIA on the New York main line.

Chestnut Hill Branch, Philadelphia, Pa.

Ref 1, Sheet 7, 1971; 7370x692, 70K, 150 dpi

This branch sees much commuter traffic, though there is a considerable amount of freight traffic at its lower end (Midvale Yard), and as of the date of this map, the Fort Washington branch is still in place. The branch winds north and slightly west, skirting Fairmount Park, and dead-ends in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia. The Reading had a similar branch to the east of the PRR's; the terminal stations are only a couple of blocks' walk from each other. I would like to scan a PRR-era map if anyone has one.

D.R.R.R.&B. Co. Branch, other New Jersey lines

Starts at SHORE on the New York main line.

JERSEY, DIVIDE, HATCH, MINSON, Delair, N.J. - Philadelphia, Pa.

Ref 1, Sheet 17, 1971; 2861x1275, 59K, 150 dpi

Pictures of the outside and inside [EJ Toal, 1985]

Here the main line comes across the Delaware River. To the east is the PRSL main line. To the south is another main track to Pavonia Yard and Camden. To the north is the Bordentown Branch toward Trenton and South Amboy. The main to Pavonia yard twists and turns a bit through Pennsauken, along the back channel of the Delaware, crosses River Rd. (see next diagram) and proceeds through northern Camden.

Pavonia Yard, Camden, N.J.

Ref 1, Sheet ?, 1975; 4700x1300, 61K, 150 dpi.

Pictures of the West Yard and Hump Tower, inside [EJ Toal, 1985?]

The yard axis is oriented in a SW direction, ultimately WSW as one approaches the Cooper River. River Ave. roughly parallels on the north, Federal St. on the south, and State St./Marlton Ave. crosses as shown on the diagram.

The Pemberton Br. appears to have paralleled Rosedale Ave. / Chestnut Ave. due east, to join the PRSL main line from JERSEY; can anyone confirm?

The spur to Petty Is. appears to have turned NW between 36th and 37th Sts., crossing the back channel of the Delaware to the island at a point nearly opposite Port Richmond, turning WSW along the axis of this island. Who can explain the other 2 tracks in this part of the diagram, and where they may have gone?

By the time of the 1975 scan, the manual block signals had been taken off the Pemberton Branch, which had itself become labelled an industrial track.

COOPER, Camden, N.J.

Ref 1, Sheet ?, 1975; 8790x1275, 123K, 150 dpi.

COOPER, part 1 (4780x1275, 64K, 150 dpi)
COOPER, part 2 (4359x1275, 64K, 150 dpi)

Pictures of the outside and inside [EJ Toal, 1985?]

This location is just east of a bend in the Cooper River. Federal St. and River Ave. meet just south of this location, and just to the west, across the river, is where U.S. 30 (Ben Franklin Bridge) ceases to be an expressway and becomes a divided highway.

The main line continues WSW, crossing U.S. 30 and Federal St., then turns sharply nearly due south, with I-676 parallel to it on its western side. Soon the PRSL boundary is reached; the remainder of the line is found on the PRSL page.

Bordentown Branch

Starts at JERSEY on the Atlantic City main line, just across the river from Philadelphia, and proceeds north and slightly east. This is the former Camden & Amboy.

DELANCO Movable Bridge, Riverside, N.J.

Ref 1, Sheet 12, 1971; 2205x810, 70K, 150 dpi

On the Bordentown Branch, 6.6 miles north (RR-east?) of JERSEY.

BO, Bordentown, N.J., M.P. ???

Ref 2, Sheet 2, 1969; 1933x1065, 27K, 200 dpi

Ref 4, Sheet 31, 1968; ?x?, ?K, 200 dpi -- Map listed in index but missing from set.

The Robinsville Secondary Track is given off as the Bordentown Branch curves. The installation is controlled from FAIR tower in Trenton.

? Branch

Starts in the vicinity of Camden. The branch proceeds east through Mt. Holly, where a north-south branch from Burlington to Medford crosses on the 1923 system map.

BIRMINGHAM, Birmingham, N.J., M.P. ???

Ref 2, Sheet 3, 1969; 1895x1016, 34K, 200 dpi

Per the 1923 system map, a branch to Lewistown veers northeastward. This branch itself splits in that town, one leg running northwest to rejoin the Bordentown Branch at Kinkora, the other running a more northerly course, joining the Bordentown Branch at Hightstown. The other branch from Birmingham proceeds due east to Whitings, Tom's River, and Sea Side Park on the Atlantic shore, then north to Bay Head. It appears that one could have connected there to the New York & Long Branch, and thus to the Freehold Branch [see below] at Sea Girt and ultimately back to the Camden & Amboy (Bordentown Branch; Amboy Branch; etc.) at South Amboy.

This diagram's right end was erased. Just beyond M.P. 24 was a road crossing for ?n?ver St. Tom's River, N.J. is mentioned as being beyond the limit of the diagram. A siding is labelled just below the secondary track, but I cannot make out the name. There is text under "Pointville Rd" that appears to say "Kinkola Branch".

The note mentions semaphore signals, but none are evident on the diagram as scanned. Erasures indicating former signal locations are evident at the BLS sign and below the running track, just below the Birmingham YL sign and above the running track, and at Buddtown Rd., below the secondary track. I cannot make out any location for a westward (northward?) signal on the secondary track.

Trenton Cut-Off

Starts at MORRIS on the New York main line. See Harrisburg branches for full description.

Belvidere-Delaware Branch

Starts at FAIR in Trenton, and proceeds north (geographically and by RR direction), hugging the east shore of the Delaware River.

MG, Trenton, N.J., M.P. 1.4

Ref 4, Sheet 37, 1968; 1944x1028, 47K, 200 dpi

The diagram shows the beginning of the Bel-Del branch. The tower was presumably named after the nearby Montgomery Street. [Micheal Allen]

North of here, MG controlled block-limit stations WB (M.P. 6.1), GW (M.P. 9.3), and MOORE (M.P. 12.2). Block-limit station RK (M.P. 21.0) was controlled by FRENCHTOWN.

FRENCHTOWN, Frenchtown, N.J., M.P. 31.7

Ref 4, Sheet 36, 1968; 1893x1015, 24K, 200 dpi

A station and small interlocking. Note the rather difficult way one had to place cars at the freight depot. Also, at the right end of the diagram, note the distant switch indicator, an item seen in the rulebook, but seldom on these diagrams.

A note in employee timetable #21, 1966.04.24, states "Home signals will convey no Manual Block indication" when this part-time block and interlocking station is not in service. [thanks to John Bobsin] John also notes that there were Distant Switch Indicator signals along the line:

I recall visiting Lambertville at one time when the line was in service and finding switch locks on every turnout, except the lead switch on the main line! This switch was however connected to a distant switch indicator

North of here, FRENCHTOWN controlled block-limit stations MD (M.P. 34.9) and HD (M.P. 38.9), after which KENT (M.P. 49.0), PG (M.P. 51.3), DY (M.P. 54.2), and CR (M.P. 58.2) were controlled by G.

G, Belvidere, N.J., M.P. 63.9

Ref 4, Sheet 35, 1968; 1885x1052, 26K, 200 dpi

A slightly cleaner, later 1969 version.
Ref 2, Sheet 21, 1969; 1880x1056, 26K, 200 dpi

Here the Bel-Del Branch connects with the Lehigh & Hudson River RR to Maybrook, N.Y., and ultimately to the New Haven RR to the New England states. This is a block station only according to the ETT. A lonely little outpost of the PRR!

The Bel-Del branch ends at M.P. 64.6 at Belvidere.

Jamesburg Branch

Starts at MIDWAY on the New York main line, proceeding east. Distances in the ETT are listed westward from JG

JG, Jamesburg, N.J., M.P. 0.0/13.6

Ref 4, Sheet 33, 1968; 1898x1059, 29K, 200 dpi

Here is the junction of the Jamesburg Branch with the Bordentown Branch (by the time of this map renamed as the Hightstown Secondary Track. To the right of the map the line continues northeastward to South Amboy as the Amboy Secondary Track, in this era. The Freehold Secondary Track continues east to/toward the Atlantic. The 1968 ETT lists JG as being a remotely controlled Block Station. The remote control was split between MG and SA, even to the point that the (RR-)eastward block signal was controlled by SA and the westward block signal by MG. M.P. 13.6 is measured from SA tower along the Amboy Secondary.

This branch, and the Amboy Secondary, were probably the longest surviving Conrail non-passenger lines under catenary -- the catenary was still up in 1990, some 4-5 years after the majority of Conrail's ex-PRR catenary came down. (Anyone know for sure when it was taken down?)

Freehold Secondary Track

JG, M.P. 0.0

Start of the Freehold Secondary. The branch proceeds east.

NG (6.9), HW (14.4)
Block-Limit Stations, controlled by SA.

FARMINGDALE, Farmingdale, N.J., M.P. 19.1

Ref 4, Sheet 34, 1968; ?x?, ?K, 200 dpi

Crossing of the Freehold Secondary Track and the CRRNJ's north-south line to Winslow Jct., Vineland, and Bridgeton. Map missing from set.

The branch ended at M.P. 19.6 near Farmingdale according to the 1968 ETT, but is shown as ending at Sea Girt on the Atlantic, apparently connecting to the New York & Long Branch there, on a 1923 system map. The same map shows trackage rights from Sea Girt to Bay Head, and PRR trackage continuing from Bay Head south to Sea Side Park, where the Toms River branch joined.

Amboy Secondary Track

Starts at JG in Jamesburg, M.P. 13.6, which is described above. The branch continues northeast, and timetable east. Distances are measured from SA.

GO (11.7), OB (7.1)
Block-Limit Stations, controlled by SA.

SA, South Amboy, N.J., M.P. 0.0

Ref 4, Sheet 42, 1968; ?x?, ?K, 200 dpi -- map missing from set.

SA, obviously an abbreviation for "South Amboy". I've also seen "ESSAY", but this may be a later, non-PRR creation. Connection, from the east/southeast, with the New York & Long Branch RR from Long Branch and Bay Head.

This tower was built by CNJ but manned by PRR. It controlled the New York & Long Branch from its (RR-)western end on the north shore of the Raritan River to south of South Amboy. [MDB] The crossovers at the tower, switch leading to the Amboy Secondary, and switch at the east end ofthe MU track were powered and controlled by the operator. Farther south along the NY&LB, closer to the center of town, CNJ switchtenders were employed to throw switches, though SA controlled electric locks on them. Signals could not be cleared until the switches were locked. [PD] South Amboy also had (?still has) manually operated crossing gates. SA also controlled the Amboy Secondary from CQ to JG, the Freehold Secondary from JG to Farmingdale, and the Hightstown Secondary from JG to K.

The NY&LB crosses the Raritan River on a movable bridge and connects with the CNJ's Perth Amboy Branch.

Perth Amboy & Woodbridge Branch

Starts at UNION on the New York main line. Runs south and somewhat east, toward the CNJ Perth Amboy Branch. [MDB] Signals were PRR position-light from Perth Amboy Jct. (0.3 mi. W of UNION) and Woodbridge Jct. (WC, WOOD). Resignalled by NJT to color-light. [JB]

WC, Perth Amboy, N.J.

Ref 4, Sheet 41, 1968; ?x?, ?K, 200 dpi -- map is missing from set.

The PRR tracks split apart, and the westward track ducks underneath the CNJ tracks. This tower was built by PRR but manned by CNJ.

The branch continues past WC for another mile, parallel to and east of the CNJ, into downtown Perth Amboy. [JB] A connection, which postdates the PA&W, is then made with the CNJ. [PD] The 1.7 mi. of track between WC and CP-BEACH, the north end of the Raritan R. bridge, was owned by CNJ as its Perth Amboy Branch but operated as part of the New York & Long Branch RR, and is the only part of the CNJ ever under catenary. [JB]

The New York & Long Branch had originally been built [from where to where? -MDB] as a local project but soon received the backing of the CNJ. When the PRR threatened to build a parallel line, the railroads settled on a 50/50 ownership agreement. NY&LB used color light signals because this was the maintenance responsibility of CNJ; PRR maintained the track. [JB]

Passaic & Harsimus Cove Branch

This area is very confusing and interconnected, and the limits of the various branches as defined in the ETT have shifted somewhat over time.

Starts at LANE on the New York main line, cutting under #1 Track.

WA-6, [West Newark Jct.], N.J.

This is a block station at the entrance to Waverly Yard which is shown on the map of LANE. The block station ("tower", though really a shack) controlled signals but all switches were hand-thrown. WA-6 was manned by a block operator. Since the tower was part of the yard, it never received an "X" (= in service full time) in the employee timetable. All movements at the WAs were by hand signal: green lamp for Clear Block; yellow lamp for Permissive Block. [Philip Donnelly; Richard Makse]

From here, the P&H Branch proceeds northward (RR-east) along Waverly yard, which itself parallels the east side of the main line. You may wish to view an unofficial map of the Waverly Yard area created with the great help of Philip Donnelly

WA-3, ?Newark, N.J., M.P. 8.1

Junction with the Greenville Branch, which from here turns more directly eastward, paralleling the Lehigh Valley's Oak Island Yard. See further on for more detail. The P&H Branch approaches the main line. Another location with a block operator who threw switches by hand.

WA-5, Newark, N.J., M.P. 7.7

The P&H Branch continues north and somewhat east, more or less paralleling the main line. It then veers more to the northeast. This is also the junction of the Bayline Spur to WA-2.

This tower was the exception among the four WAs in that it was manned by a block operator and yardmaster on the 2nd floor, and switchtenders on the 1st floor. "0" Running Track between WA-6 and WA-5 was used whenever the P&H Branch was tied up. The Bayline track from here to WA-2 was used for Greenville trains utilizing "0" Running Track as a bypass, and for interchange with the Lehigh Valley.

KARNY, GRAPE, Kearny, N.J., M.P. 3.3, 2.4

Ref 4, Sheet 28, 1968; 4375x1041, 87K, 200 dpi

The P&H Branch crosses the Passaic River, and passes through and feeds Meadows Yard, as seen on this map. [Richard Makse] The cabin symbol in the circle represents the bridge tender's shanty at Point-No-Point bridge; the bridge was in KARNY's interlocking, and KARNY controlled the signals to the bridge. [Phil Donnelly]

GRAPE was originally a manned Int called OS. It provided a way for LCL and perishable trains from the cove to cross from the P&H to the Jersey City line, to operate through #2 track in Newark and head west, avoiding the congestion of the freight lines. Also, if the engine track became crowded, a steam loco from Manhatten Transfer could come down the Naught track and cross over at "OS" to the meadowes. Later control of "OS" went to Karny, and the interlocking was renamed GRAPE because of the Grape Yard in South Kearney -- this yard handed perishable fruit, mostly grapes, for NNJ and N.Y. The perishable yard is now gone, replace by the Truck Train yard, which still has a "grape" lead track. PATH also still has a GRAPE interlocking.

GRAPE, HACK, Jersey City, N.J., M.P. 2.4, 1.4

Ref 4, Sheet 27, 1968; 3985x1049, 72K, 200 dpi

The branch crosses the Hackensack River on a movable bridge.

WR, WALDO, Jersey City, N.J., M.P. 0.0

Ref 4, Sheet 26, 1968; 5904x1116, 130K, 200 dpi

The former telegraph call letters for WALDO were SC, which stood for "Shanley's Cut", the cut through Bergen Hill in which WALDO tower sat. The name "Waldo" is for nearby Waldo Avenue [Bill Strassner, Phil Donnelly]. The 2 tracks become 1 at the east end of the cut as the branch continues to the Jersey City waterfront. [PD]

Under Penn Central, a connection was built 3/4 mi. east of WALDO. A single-track girder bridge curved northward and downgrade to the National Docks branch and NAVE interlocking. (NAVE was short for Newark AVEnue.) It was a temporary block station, housed in a 4'x4' shanty, until it became remotely controlled.

Harsimus Cove Yard

The Harsimus Cove yard fed car floats and the PRR's massive Harborside Terminal. The float operations served Manhattan and the Bronx. [Richard Makse, Philip Donnelly] (NJ Transit's Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system, currently under construction, will immortalize these famous PRR locations with stops at Exchange Place, Harborside and Harsimus Cove. [RM]) With PC, Harsimus Cove Yard and ex-NH Bayridge Yard ended operation, and local float service moved to Greenville Yard. [PD]

For details on float connections, see the Freight Train Schedules page on this site. Scan down to the "by destination" listing to find Greenville and Harsimus Cove.

Greenville Branch

LANE, Newark, N.J., M.P. 5.4

Start of the branch. See description on the New York main page.

WA-6, Newark, N.J., M.P. 5.3

Waverly Yard

WA-3, Newark, N.J., M.P. 4.2

on the Passaic and Harsimus Cove Branch [see immediately above] is the start of the Greenville Branch. It then turns eastward and running alongside the Lehigh Valley's Oak Island Yard. You may wish to view an unofficial map of the Waverly Yard area created with the great help of Philip Donnelly.

CY, WA-2, Newark, N.J., M.P. 1.6, 3.5

Ref 4, Sheet 30, 1968; 4718x998, 69K, 200 dpi

The Greenville Branch passes through WA-2, which is another tower manned by block operators who threw hand switches. It was closed 3rd trick (1960s, ?also before). The branch continues in its eastward direction, crossing and interchanging with the Central RR of New Jersey at CY, a CNJ tower. [Is this the N/S line that goes S to Elizabethport; is it the present-day Chemical Coast Branch?] [Philip Donnelly]

BAY, Newark--Bayonne, N.J., M.P. 0.0

Ref 4, Sheet 29, 1968; 5196x1014, 80K, 200 dpi

The Greenville Branch crosses over Newark Bay into Bayonne, ultimately to the car floats at Greenville Yard that formed the gateway to New England. [Richard Makse] Greenville Yard is just off the right edge of the map. BAY is now named UPPER BAY; this occurred with the Conrail takeover, to avoid confusion with CNJ's BAY (located from the east end of Elizabethport Yard to HOOK in Bayonne). [PD]

Greenville Yard

Under PRR, the major yard of the area, providing a connection to New England and Long Island via float operations. With PC, New England traffic shifted to the West Shore line (ex-NYC) and Selkirk Yard. Greenville Yard then shifted to local float operations only. [Philip Donnelly]

Jersey City Branch

This is the original URR of NJ main line, and the PRR main line to Jersey City until the opening of Pennsylvania Station in New York. After the Jersey City terminal was closed, PRR still dispatched the line for H&M. After acquisition of H&M by PATH, PATH assumed dispatching control, but PRR/PC continued to own the right of way and listed it in the employe timetable. [Philip Donnelly]

The branch's interlockings are described above, and only minimal additional description will be seen here.

HUDSON, Newark, N.J., M.P. 4.3

KARNY, GRAPE, Kearny, N.J., M.P. 3.3, 2.5

Note the employe timetable's discrepancy in the milepost for GRAPE given here (2.5) versus that given for the P&H Branch (2.4).

GRAPE, HACK, Jersey City, N.J., M.P. 2.5, 1.4

Journal Square, Jersey City, N.J., M.P. 0.1

WR, WALDO, Jersey City, N.J., M.P. 0.0

From the present day location of the N.J. Turnpike extension, the tracks ran on a viaduct over Railroad Ave. (now Christopher Columbus Dr.) to Henderson St. From there the tracks continued east on an earth fill. Tower A previously sat at Washington St., and a signal bridge for the station at Greene St. The station and its trackage sat on the north side of Mongomery St. [Frederick J Jaeger, based on the map "The Port of New York" by Carl Coudit]

Mark's Railroad-Related Stuff
The Broad Way: A Pennsylvania Railroad Home Page
Maps of the PRR
Interlocking Diagrams
Philadelphia to New York: Branches and Yards

Mark D. Bej
+1 216-444-0119