The Warren Reporter - Old county railway to get new generation of traffic

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JORBA Board Member/Chapter Leader
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Old county railway to get new generation of traffic
Friday, March 17, 2006
By KEVIN LECHISKI
Staff Writer

A steady stream of traffic will once again be present along portions of the former Lehigh & Hudson River Railway, but instead of rail engines and cars, it will be hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders.The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), as part of its Rail Trails program, has purchased nine more miles along the former Lehigh & Hudson right-of-way in parts of Allamuchy, White and Washington townships as well as the Sussex County municipalities of Green Township, Andover Borough and Andover Township.

The $283,580 purchase will add to an extensive network of public recreation trails in Warren and Sussex counties by linking to the Sussex Branch Trail to the 26-mile Paulinskill Trail and a portion of the railroad right-of-way owned by Allamuchy Township. This right-of-way purchase, to be managed by Kittatiny Valley State Park in Andover, will also be an integral part of future connections to Allamuchy State Park and the Pequest Wildlife Management Area.

DEP officials say this latest purchase is providing a valuable addition to the state's growing number of rail trails.

"New Jersey residents can now enjoy nearly 65 miles of former railroad rights-of-way for a variety of recreational opportunities including biking, hiking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing," said DEP Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson. "What's more, this acquisition advances our goal of creating a network of open spaces throughout the Garden State."

This purchase, in addition to adding nine miles of trails, will preserve a combined total of more than 80 acres of open space.

The Lehigh & Hudson River Railway, formed in 1882, ran 61 miles between Belvidere and Greycourt, N.Y. The rail-line pioneered the transport of milk to New York City by being the first to have specially designed refrigerated milk cars. In addition to milk, the railway later transported bituminous coal and various other goods including grain products, iron, steel, cement, lumber and petroleum.

During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made a stop in Allamuchy while riding on the Lehigh & Hudson in his private railway car, the Ferdinand Magellan.

The Lehigh & Hudson River Railway continued to have a presence in Warren County until going bankrupt in the 1970s.

Part of the trail system includes the historic Allamuchy Freight Depot, the restoration of which is part of a plan to transform the building into a Warren County landmark. It had been left to deteriorate for many years. The 100-year-old depot, listed on both the state and national historic registers, is of especial significance as the only Lehigh & Hudson River Railway freight house still in existence. For many decades, goods were shipped to and from the freight house. It was abandoned during the 1980s.

The depot, located on Route 612, is being restored thanks to a pair of county grants totaling $145,000.

Staff Writer Kevin Lechiski can be reached at klechiski@njnpublishing.com or (908) 852-3397.
 
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