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The Camden and Amboy Railroad

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The Camden and Amboy Railroad
Posted by John WR on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 7:02 PM

December 4, 1830.  Robert L. Stevens begins construction of the Camden and Amboy Railroad at Bordentown New Jersey.  The road was built for people traveling between New York and Philadelphia.  They would cross the Raritan Bay to South Amboy, transfer to a stage coach across New Jersey to Bordentown and then continue by ship to Philadelphia.  The railroad replaced the stage coach. 

Rails imported from England were fixed to stone blocks shipped from the prison at Ossining, New York.  When Stevens could not get enough stone blocks he took what he could get--wood timbers rails could be spiked down to.  He found the wood ties superior to the stone blocks; this was the beginning of the use of wooden ties on American railroads.  Today New Jersey Transit's Riverline runs on what was once the Trenton and Camden branches of the C&A.  Stone blocks shipped from Ossining may be seen at the Bordentown station.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 7:14 PM

AND don't forget Robert Stevens' father, Colonel John Stevens built the first steam locomotive in America and ran it around a loop track at the family home in Hoboken NJ.  (I can just hear Cake Boss Buddy yelling "Yeah, Hoboken baby!").  The site is now the location of Stevens Institute of Technology I believe. It was Colonel Stevens who started the push to get the railroad built.  Son Robert picked up the ball and ran with it

And the "Colonel" in Colonel Stevens is not just an honorific.  John Stevens had a very distinguished combat record  during the Revolutionary War, a full colonel by the time he was in his late twenties. 

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Posted by henry6 on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 7:34 PM

Some neat things remain of the C&A.  Ride the River Line LRT between Trenton and Camden and from Bordentown to Camden you are riding the original route of the C&A..  

Back in the late 50's we found a piece of original rail and stone ties with a plaque placed by successor PRR claiming the track was the original C&A rail and stones.  It was, I believe, just west of Jamesburg.  Question: does that memorial still exist?   

RIDEWITHMEHENRY is the name for our almost monthly day of riding trains and transit in either the NYCity or Philadelphia areas including all commuter lines, Amtrak, subways, light rail and trolleys, bus and ferries when warranted. No fees, just let us know you want to join the ride and pay your fares. Ask to be on our email list or find us on FB as RIDEWITHMEHENRY (all caps) to get descriptions of each outing.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 7:54 PM

There's a photo of what you describe on page nine of  Anthony Bianculli's book  "Iron Rails in the Garden State".   It's one piece of rail on several stone sleepers.  The picture was taken in 1932 , and the location is listed as "near Jamesburg"  but unfortunately Mr. Bianculli doesn't say whether it's still there.

However, he does show a monument erected by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1891 that originally marked the site of the first movement of the "John Bull".  It was relocated to Bordentown in 1970.  The monument consists of a seven foot high block of granite with a bronze plaque of the "John Bull", resting on a mount of original stone sleepers and encircled by a section of original Stevens T-rail.  This photo dates from 2006. 

"Iron Rails in the Garden State"  is a fun read, I recommend it highly!

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Posted by henry6 on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 8:06 PM

I'm gonna hafta look for that book.  I've got, and have relied upon it for years, John Cunningham's Railroads of NJ which also has the picture you mention...I have my own snap of it from about 1959.

RIDEWITHMEHENRY is the name for our almost monthly day of riding trains and transit in either the NYCity or Philadelphia areas including all commuter lines, Amtrak, subways, light rail and trolleys, bus and ferries when warranted. No fees, just let us know you want to join the ride and pay your fares. Ask to be on our email list or find us on FB as RIDEWITHMEHENRY (all caps) to get descriptions of each outing.

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Posted by John WR on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 8:25 PM

You took the words right out of my mouth, Henry.  

I don't know about Jamesburg.  However, there is a sign at Bordentown along with other information.  At one time there was a big station there as it was the fastest way between New York and Philadelphia.  

Do you ever get down as far and Camden and Philadelphia on any of your rail trips?

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Posted by Firelock76 on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 8:31 PM

"Iron Rails in the Garden State" should be available from Ron's Books, Railroadbooks.biz, and I THINK I got mine at a train show from  The Outer Station Project  ( OSPpublications@aol.com).   So it's around.

I have to say I THINK that's where I got mine because with a literal 2,000 pounds of books in the house it's hard to keep track of where they all came from.  Literacy, it's a CURSE!

And NOW I've got to start looking for John Cunningham's  "Railroads of New Jersey"!   That's OK, I love Cunningham's work, but just WHEN will this madness end?

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Posted by John WR on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 8:40 PM

My budget does not allow me to buy many books, Firelock, so I depend on the Public Library.  I just checked the catalog but they don't have John Cunningham's book.  I've read other books about New Jersey's railroads including the C&A and Isaac Dripps.  

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Posted by Firelock76 on Wednesday, December 5, 2012 5:56 PM

John, in my case it's not a budget problem, it's getting to be a SPACE problem!  Lady Firestorms'  laid down the law on books,  "one comes in, one goes out!"  Dammit, she's got a point.

Anyway, it doesn't have to be expensive.  Check around for any "Friends of the Library" sales that may be occuring in your area.  People donate books for these kind of fundraisers and sometimes you can find some gems, books that haven't seen the light of day in decades.  The librarys themselves use these sales to unload books that no-ones checked out in quite a while.  Books at sales like these usually go for a fraction of their worth.  I've donated myself to these fundraisers, but no rail books so far.

Secondhand book dealers are a good source too, as are antique shows and flea markets.  One of my scores was a copy of Lucius Beebe's  "Mixed Train Daily", republished by Howell-North, the original publisher, not a Bonanza reprint.  Got a good deal too, I don't think the seller knew what he had.  (And I wasn't about to tell him!) 

One problem, though.  Secondhand book dealers have told me railroad books are the first to go when they get them, even selling out faster than Civil War books which are always popular.

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Posted by John WR on Wednesday, December 5, 2012 6:18 PM

Actually, Firelock, I regularly check my library's sale books and attend there annual friends of the library sale.  However, I rarely buy books there and I don't recall every seeing a railroad book.  However, there is a used book store not far from me and I am going to check out their transportation section. 

Some classics in the public domain are on the internet.  Chapters of Erie by Charles Francis Adams is one that sticks in my mind.   

The one book is do own is  Sunset Limited, Richard Orsi's history of the Southern Pacific from 1850 to 1930 but it is a while since I read it.  

Thanks for your interest in my railroad education and good luck solving your book case problem.  

John

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Posted by henry6 on Wednesday, December 5, 2012 7:55 PM

Space is always a problem...I've sold off lots of my stuff over the years not to make a profit so much as to make room for more.  We all probably change our focus or interests, etc. so getting rid of the old to get the new is the only way to do it.  No matter what the wife says.

As for purchasing books...yes, expensive...and older books can be very expensive if they are good ones, important ones, out of print, etc.  But, as mentioned above, you can borrow from the library if you want to read or check it out....er, that's what you do when you take book home, isn't it....well, you know what I mean.. As for buying...yes, library book sales are great places to find some, as are thrift shops, etc., even antique shops.  Flea Markets, railroad shows and sales, yard and garage sales, are all good too.  Used book stores are good, too...they often have or will find it for you but you will pay sometimes dearly.  A friend once was looking for a particular book and found it on line at a book store for $95 I think but got them to part with it for $75.  Two weeks later I found the same book on a shelf in an antique shop for $5.  So, be smart, be careful and know what you want and what you want to pay and how you can get it. for that price.

The Cunningham book is a good example, too.  I had the hard cover original and lost it so bought the soft cover edition years later...years later still I found the hard cover at a real cheap price so got it and sold off the soft cover.  I don't believe I over paid for any of them...The book is available at the Whippany RR Museum...

RIDEWITHMEHENRY is the name for our almost monthly day of riding trains and transit in either the NYCity or Philadelphia areas including all commuter lines, Amtrak, subways, light rail and trolleys, bus and ferries when warranted. No fees, just let us know you want to join the ride and pay your fares. Ask to be on our email list or find us on FB as RIDEWITHMEHENRY (all caps) to get descriptions of each outing.

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