The Railroad & The Vernoy Quarry

The Railroad & The Vernoy Quarry (HMEEI)

Location: Califon, NJ 07830 Greene County
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Country: United States of America
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N 40° 44.237', W 74° 49.522'

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The High Bridge Branch of the Central Railroad of New Jersey

Opened in July 1876, the High Bridge Branch was once a busy railroad owned by the Central Railroad Company of New Jersey. It was built to bring iron ore from the mines in Chester, Hacklebarney, Mine Hill, Port Oram (Wharton), and Hibernia to the Taylor Iron Works (later Taylor-Wharton Iron & Steel Company) in High Bridge and to the foundries and steel mills along the main line to the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania region.

Other important commodities handled by the trains on the High Bridge Branch were milk, lumber, ice blocks (from Lake Hopatcong), U.S. Mail, quarry stone, coal, agricultural products (especially peaches), blasting supplies, sand and general merchandise. It also transported passengers to and from towns along the railroad and children to schools in High Bridge and Dover.

Passenger trains ran from the beginning of service in 1876 through March 31, 1932. Two round trips were made by the passenger trains each day and during its peak approximately 89,000 people rode these trains each year. The last train to travel on the line was on March 31, 1976, forty four years to the day that the last passenger train ran. The tracks were removed four years later. The railroad from Bartley to Wharton remains active and continues to serve local businesses.

After most of the railroad was abandoned, the Elizabethtown and the Columbia Gas companies purchased the railroad right-of-way, installed pipelines and transferred the surface rights to Hunterdon and Morris Counties for the management of a recreational trail. This trail is now known as the Columbia Trail.

The coming of a railroad to any town was a cause for celebration. It meant that the residents of the towns and villages were now connected to the outside world as they had never been before. Goods and services could arrive and be shipped great distances in hours or a few days, versus weeks or months. Before the advent of railroads, the average individual did not travel more than 20 miles from home.

The age of railroading in New Jersey began in 1834 with the completion of the state's first railroad, the Camden & Amboy Rail Road and Transportation Company which ran between South Amboy and Camden. Two years later, the Elizabethtown and Somerville Rail Road began train service on a modest scale. When that railroad was purchased by the Somerville & Easton Rail Road in 1849, the two merged and became known as the Central Railroad Company of New Jersey.

Shipments of iron ore, pig iron, coal and other hard minerals made this rail line extremely profitable with over half the iron ore produced in the state using it. By 1881, more than 25,000 tons of iron ore were transported each month. Some days it took several trains to handle almost 120 cars loaded with freight.

With the discovery of less expensive iron ore in other parts of the country during the late 1800's, the amount of iron hauled on this railroad declined each year as mines closed.

This area, settled in 1800 by Nathan Vernoy, became known as Vernoy and did not produce iron ore but relied on limestone and its by-product of burning; fertilizer. When the railroad came through this area, a spur line was constructed to the quarry. At the height of the limestone operation, the quarry employed approximately 50 men. Some of the present homes were built by people that were either employed by the quarry or the railroad.

Toward the end of the 19th century, the larger kilns were owned and managed by the area's more prominent families, such as Weise, Neighbor and Wack. As the years passed and the demand for limestone lessened, The Weise family sold the quarry to the Bound Brook Crushed Stone Company that continued operations for the next several decades.
Placed ByCounty of Hunterdon - Department of Parks and Recreation
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, September 13th, 2014 at 12:04am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 514745 N 4509608
Decimal Degrees40.73728333, -74.82536667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 44.237', W 74° 49.522'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 44' 14.22" N, 74° 49' 31.32" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)908
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1-49 Columbia Trail, Califon NJ 07830, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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