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DISCOVERY DAYS - BOONTON

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BOONTON DISCOVERY DAY photos, March 7, 1998: Photos by yours truly. On March 7, 1998, a group of EL fans descended upon Boonton, New Jersey to explore the former DL&W at the west end of town. The group hiked down to one of a handful of Lackawanna signal bridges remaining on this line. This signal bridge is on the border of Boonton and Mountain Lakes. Its signals were removed a few years ago, replaced by the tri-color poles seen in the distance. This bridge is particularly unusual, as it sports a unusual lattice truss design, more common on certain Lackawanna catenary structures. Much to our surprise, sitting in the trees adjacent to the signal bridge was a collection of historic trucks, along with this milk container, commonly seen on flat cars in days past. After examining the structure, we hiked back east. Along the way, we found the foundation of another signal bridge, obviously protecting the other end of this interlocking; it looked like it was a similar style of bridge. Across the tracks, NJ Transit recently completed the rehabilitation of a portion of the Boonton Industrial Track, the former lead into the "old yard" at the east end of town. Unfortunately, just underneath the Fanny Road bridge was this bumper, with rails cut just beyond it. Not a good sign! NJT is slated to tear up the yard trackage and the signal bridge in the near future. The yard itself began around Milepost 30. The view of the yard from the west end was pretty somber. Here, EL fans examine track diagrams to see what once was. The yard is the weed overgrown group of tracks at the left. The track the group is on is the abandoned Boonton Industrial Spur, and the current NJT main is to the right. Walking east and looking back, the size of the yard is apparent. It was once filled with tank cars for Drew Chemical at the center of town. Further east, the remains of the old scale track and scalehouse were marked by a pile of rotting wood and two large cast scale beams. At this point, we're nearing the old Boonton freighthouse, seen in this view looking east. After walking east past the freighthouse, we crossed under the tracks at the Rockaway River. Here, the DL&W bridged over the river with four parallel deck truss bridges, three of which still remain. From the underside, the steel structures appear massive. Note the stone piers under one side, and the concrete under the other - these demonstrate how the DL&W expanded this part of the Boonton Line from two to four tracks. We headed back west, stopping to examine the nicely-maintained freight house. The owner, a lumber distributor, has given the structure a coat of concrete-colored paint, and has even taken the time to highlight the cast Lackawanna lettering on the ends! Time for a group photo! From left to right are Jay Held (ELHS EL Freight Car advisor), and list members Scott Lupia and Gary Kazin. Across the street from the freighthouse are some little-known landmarks: A former Lackawanna turntable pit, small by today's standards but just right in the late 1800's, lies in the woods here, its stone walls still solid. A rumor still abounds that the Town of Boonton will clean up the pit and place a historical marker here. Even more impressive than the pit, however, is this giant (for a branch, at least!) steel trestle over the Rockaway River. The deck looks clean and relatively well-kept, but its full majesty can be seen by climbing down to the bank of the river. The structure sure looks mainline-like!. This structure hasn't been used since the late 1970's. The last customer was an air conditioning warehouse that received flatcars with large air conditioning units. After photographing these pieces of history, we started heading back west. The spur to this bridge came out of the yard, but is no longer accessible, as this large fill has replaced the bridge that once went over the tracks here. Note the base at the bottom right. Is it a signal base? A water column base? Remember, this was a spur! With the turntable nearby, there's a good chance that this was a water column once upon a time. Any confirmation? Heading back through the yard, we discovered this freshly-removed frog from a turnout in the yard. No doubt reused for trackwork elsewhere!

And so ended our day - watch for future outings on the EL Mailing List! As an epilogue, I stopped by the Rockaway River mainline bridge on the way to work March 11, 1998, and shot this former-EL/NJDOT cab car heading east with its train over the bridge. Signs of the EL still linger on...