The Railroad in Wanaque

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Erie Railroad Station, Haskell
Erie RR Station

The first railroad into the area was begun in 1865. It’s first station was located at the Ringwood Avenue crossing. As early as 1872, Midvale was listed as a stop on the Montclair Railroad. It was probably named for it’s location in the middle of the valley – Midvale. By the time the Railroad was run by the New York and Greenwood Lake Railway, there were two stations in Wanaque: one in Haskell near Doty Road and one in Midvale at the end of Railroad Avenue. The Greenwood Lake Railway was responsible for bringing many new settlers to the area. In the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, many summer travelers used this line to get to Greenwood Lake and its vacation offerings such as a steamer cruise ship called the “Montclair.” Along the line, commuter towns developed. This was especially true in Upper Montclair, which eventually became one ot the terminal points for this Railroad, the other being Greenwood Lake.

Railroad Station

This view shows a train and people from some unknown early date. From the engine type and the clothing, it seems to be the late 1800’s.

Wanaque-Midvale Station
Midvale Station

Charles Bowman was the last agent for the Wanaque-Midvale Station. It was built in 1904 by William Mullin and shows the standard Erie station architecture of the period. One of the last activities from this point was the shipment of long trains of sand from a nearby pit consigned for use in building the second deck of the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River to New York. For years this was the terminal for the New York and Greenwood Lake commuter trains, with locomotives and cars serviced here.

 

 

RR Bridge
A Wanaque railroad crossing as it was in the 1930’s.
Ringwood Station
A view of the Ringwood Railroad Station in the 1930’s. Photograph taken by Clinton W. Ackerman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Erie Railroad, Wanaque-Midvale Station, as a crowd gathers around the mode of the day.
The Erie Railroad, Wanaque-Midvale Station, as a crowd gathers around the mode of the day.

Last Train to Midvale

The Midvale Station was active as a stop on various railroad lines through 1966. The last line to pass through Midvale was the Greenwood Lake Division of the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad. In September of 1966, Engineer Martin Munson turned train number 1421 onto the “wye” at the Wanaque-Midvale Station for the last time.

Original Wanaque trestle before metal structure was built.
Original Wanaque trestle
before metal structure was built.

On this Friday evening in autumn at 7:55 PM, the last passenger train ever to enter Midvale paused and stopped. The Engineer and his crew left the train as the era of railroad service into Wanaque came to an end. Later, four engines and thirteen empty passenger cars would leave the Midvale Yard enroute to Hoboken. The Wanaque-Midvale Station building was destroyed by fire and then demolished, but the memory of the railroad and its real importance in the growth of Wanaque Borough would remain. Like many other small American towns, Wanaque grew up as a stop on the great railroad into the wilderness.

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