Hopewell Valley Railroad Artifacts

Here are some amazing artifacts of the early railroad service in the Hopewell Valley, courtesy of Rich Anderson and family. And they raise interesting questions …

Hopewell Station 1905

The first railroad to arrive in the area was the Mercer and Somerset (M&S), which started service in 1874 as part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system. The Delaware and Bound Brook (D&BB) then followed in 1876, on the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad line.

The D&BB is the line that we still have today, with the associated train stations in Pennington and Hopewell. The M&S went bankrupt and shut down in 1879, after which the track was removed – and we have a piece of the track!

On Thursday, Oct. 27, Doug Dixon will present Life in 1900s Hopewell With the Arrival of the Railroad, exploring how the arrival of the railroad in the late 1800s drove the growth of Hopewell into the town that we know today.

This Sourland Conservancy talk will be at the Hopewell Train Station. There is limited space, so advance registration is required – Click Here to Register

== See The Railroads of the Frog War for more on the train lines ==

== See 1940s videos of people boarding trains at the Hopewell Train station ==

== View images of the Railroad Artifacts in the Image Gallery ==

Mercer & Somerset Railroad Track Section (c1880)

Mercer & Somerset Railroad Track Section, c1880

This is a short section of track from the Mercer & Somerset Railroad line, which shut down in 1879, after which the track was removed.

The M&S line ran through the Moore Farm on Province Line Road east of Hopewell Borough. This section of rail was presumably acquired there as the track was being dismantled, and then was passed down through the family.

The track section is about 7 inches long. The M&S track is around 4 inches high and 2 inches wide at the top. The foot has a flat bottom that sits directly on the railroad ties, instead of being anchored in a “chair” enclosure on the ties. The head is asymmetric, to fit the design and flange of the train wheels.

Mercer & Somerset Rail Spike (c1880)

This is a rail spike, also from Moore Farm on Province Line Road. These were used to secure the train track rails to the railroad ties. This spike is about 7 inches long, and has a symmetric head design (instead of offset to one side), with the four sides rising up to a point.

Mercer & Somerset Rail Spike, c1880

The spike was passed down in the family along with the M&S track, although it’s not clear if this spike was used on the main line, or perhaps on the railroad crossing on the farm.

Armspear Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Lantern

Phila. & Reading Railroad Amspear Lantern

This is an Armspear brand kerosene lantern for the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad locomotive shop (see more on Armspear). Prior to battery operated lanterns and two way radios these kerosene lanterns were used to communicate the movement of trains.

This lantern has been in the family for a while, but was probably originally acquired from an outside source. It is approximately 11 inches high and 7 1/4 inches in diameter.

These lanterns were typically marked for the specific railroad. Here the railroad is identified on the glass globe, marked “P & R Ry,” and on the top lip, as “P. & R. Ry. / Loco Depot.” The manufacturer is shown on the outer rim of the top cap, marked “ARMSPEAR Manf’g Co / New York,” and even on the wick adjustment screw, as “ARMSPEAR / NY.”

There are also patent markings on the top chimney, but these are not fully readable, so the specific model and date of this lantern are currently unknown.

== View images of the Railroad Artifacts in the Image Gallery ==

These artifacts and images raise some interesting questions to more precisely identify them. Please contact us if you have more information or materials to share on these, or on Hopewell area history in general.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: