Railroad Trains and Flooded Bridges

Here are two pairs of images of local scenes of railroad trains and flooded bridges, thanks to family photos from two kind contributors. The first pair show a “Bel-Del” Railroad train near Titusville in the 1940s – and the Washington Crossing bridge during the 1955 flood. The second pair shows a Reading Railroad train at the Pennington station in the 1920s/30s – and what may be the Glen Moore bridge in a flood.

Learn more about The Belvidere-Delaware Railroad in Hopewell Valley this Sunday, January 22, 2023 at 2 pm, at the Titusville Presbyterian Church – or online over Zoom. This presentation by Robert Lawless is co-sponsored by the Hopewell Valley Historical Society, the Hopewell Museum, the Hopewell Township Historic Preservation Commission, and the Titusville Presbyterian Church.

== View the Hopewell Valley (and beyond) Railroad album in the Image Gallery ==

Bel-Del Train in Titusville, 1940s

Bel-Del train at water tower, near Jacob’s Creek [DVS]

This 1940s photo shows a Pennsylvania Railroad freight train passing a water tower, near where Jacob’s Creek meets the Delaware River (view area on Google Map).

This southbound train on the Belvidere Delaware Railroad is traveling towards Trenton on the west bank of the adjacent Delaware and Raritan feeder canal.

This location was once known as Somerset Junction, where the Mercer & Somerset Railway split off from the Bel-Del and travelled north through Pennington and Hopewell to Millstone.

Courtesy David Van Selous

Washington Crossing Bridge Flood, 1955

The left photo shows the Washington Crossing bridge during the 1955 flood along the Delaware River. The water is up to the base of the bridge roadbed, so the pylons visible in the 1909 postcard are totally covered. The photo also shows a pile of debris washed against the right side of the bridge – but the bridge survived.

Courtesy David Van Selous

Washington Crossing bridge flood, 1955 [DVS]
Washington Crossing bridge, 1909 [DD]

The flooding in August 1955 was the result of Hurricane Dianne, and made worse because the ground was already drenched from Hurricane Connie. The flood water destroyed four free bridges and caused considerable damage to others. The results for the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (see NJ.com):

  • Lower Trenton (“Trenton Makes”) – closed on account of flood August 19 to August 22.
  • Calhoun Street – (closed at the time of the flood) closed on account of construction of East-West Highway (now signed as Route 29 in Trenton) August 8, 1955 to August 31, 1955.
  • Yardley-Wilburtha – bridge destroyed, flood August 19-20, 1955.
  • Washington Crossing – bridge closed on account of flood damages August 19, 1955 to November 17, 1955.
  • Lambertville-New Hope – bridge closed on account of flood damages August 19, 1955 to September 22, 1955.

From Karl J. Niederer on Facebook:

The demolished structure lodged against the bridge on the upstream side is the barn of my grandfather, Otto Niederer, Sr., lifted off its foundation on the riverbank at the north end of Titusville, across River Drive from the first manufacturing plant of Egomatic (Otto Niederer Sons, Inc., circa 1939-1942), originally the Titusville Fruit & Vegetable Canning Co. My father, Floyd S. Niederer (1923-1993) always looked at this photo with sadness, lamenting the loss of his childhood bicycle, carried away with the wreckage of the barn. The Toll Bridge Commission was far less concerned about the bicycle than they were about the destroyed barn pressing against the bridge, threatening to knock it off its piers.

Pennington Station Postcard, late 1920s / early 1930s

Pennington Train Station, 1920s/30s

This postcard of the Pennington train station not only shows the station, with dome lighting posts, but also shows the passenger shed across from the station, with a Reading train. The single track and the automobile in the background suggest that the photo is from the late 1920s or early 1930s.

The train is a Reading Gas / Electric Passenger, Baggage and Mail Rail Motor Car. The Reading reportedly had about six of these cars in 1944-45.  Four were build for Passengers, Baggage, and Mail and two were for Passengers and Baggage only.  The schedule in 1947 has this type of car leaving Trenton Warren Street station seven times a day, and proceeding to West Trenton, Ewing, Pennington, Glen Moore, Hopewell, Stoutsburg, Skillman, Harlingen, Belle Mead, Hamilton, Weston-Manville, and Bound Brook, and return.

Courtesy Richard Anderson

Bridge in Flood – Over Stony Brook at Glen Moore

Bridge over Stony Brook in Flood?

Could this unidentified photo of another bridge in a flood be the old Bridge at Glen Moore under flood conditions, with the Golf Course property in the background?

Courtesy Richard Anderson

== View the Hopewell Valley (and beyond) Railroad album in the Image Gallery ==

Please contact us if you have more information or materials to share on local railroads, or on Hopewell area history in general.

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