From: Todd Hollritt thollritt AT yahoo DOT com
Date: Sat, 30 Aug 2008 12:47:11 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Essex Fells today
"Erie_turned_driveway.jpg" - image/pjpeg, 922x691 (24bit)
It was back in August of 2001 when I posted information about the former Erie station and yard that was located in Essex Fells NJ (Erie-EL / Morristown & Erie interchange), the small forest I walked through seven years ago is deep woods now.
Today I found many more changes, and a few new artifacts. First I was surprised to see that the east end of what used to be the neat little Erie plate girder bridge (Removed in 2000) over Runnymede Road, is now a driveway entrance to a private residence. You can actually drive down a portion of the former Erie right of way to get to the home. The town of Essex Fells had removed everything except the large cement abutment on the west side of the bridge, and that still exists today. But it's difficult to tell the Erie tracks ever crossed over here since the concrete abutment is completely covered by foliage now. They completely demolished the east side bridge abutment for the new driveway!
And sadly, in 2008, the last visible rails of the former Caldwell Branch that crossed Oak lane have been torn up. They had survived just east of the Essex Fells yard and former station site, in the photos you can see the four well worn and rusted sections of Erie (EL) rail discarded and waiting to go to scrap at the freshly paved over crossing where they were pulled out. Near the crossing are a few other interesting "Bones of the Caldwell Branch", they include a rusted Erie Railroad sign that was unearthed, no lettering remains, but I am guessing it was the "Yard Limit" marker or something similar that stood trackside, there was also a well preserved brake hose and four railroad ties pulled from the ground when they paved over the crossing.
The station site still had some large rocks that formed a landscape border around the structure, but little else remains that would give you a hint a Railroad, Yard or a Station once stood here.
Yet, just around the corner is a house that was the original Essex Fells station! I included two photos of it, it was moved off site and turned into a private residence on Oak Lane many, many years ago, notice it still retains the station platform and the bay window that is the main entrance now, a few Erie style gables in the roof, and some of the original windows on the first and second floor remain.
I also included a photo of the other remaining Erie structure, this small freight house is still located in Verona on what used to be "Trackside". Again, every year man and nature takes a little more of the Caldwell Branch away, to the non-railfan eye almost nothing is visible today.