Sometimes all the right elements just come together, and all you can do is watch the results.
A visual chronicle of suburban NJ
This is Convent Station (the train station), located in Convent Station (the community)!
Back in 1860, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson was like, “hey, there’s this newfangled Morris and Essex Railroad, and probably the entire area between Madison and Morristown will develop and be known as ‘Millionaire’s Row’ someday. We should totally build a school for girls there.”
So the Sisters of Charity acquired some land and founded the Academy of Saint Elizabeth.
In 1870, they’d convinced the passing train to pause in between Madison and Morristown, right at the Academy’s doorstep (the railroad ran right through the Academy’s property). By the end of the decade, that train stop was appeared on maps as “Convent Station,” because what else would you call a railroad station for a Catholic girl’s school?
The borders between Madison and Morristown and Morris Township shifted over the years, but everyone who settled around the train station and the Academy of Saint Elizabeth (and, as of 1899, the College of Saint Elizabeth, the oldest women’s college in NJ) came to know the area itself as Convent Station.
The Traction Line Recreation Trail in Morris County is a two-to-five-mile bike path (the distance depends on your source) that parallels part of the NJTransit Morris and Essex Line, from Madison to Morristown.
You may wonder: Why does this bike path have so much traction? Where does the line come in? “Traction Line” is a silly name.
Well. This bit of land used to be a trolley line belonging to the Morris County Traction Company! It’s officially a rail trail.
Just in case you had any other questions, here’s the rest of what my handy-dandy brochure has to say (with links mostly to Wikipedia dispersed throughout):
In 1981, Jersey City Power and Light Co., now GPU Energy Corp. [now FirstEnergy, as of 2001], donated portions of this property to the Morris County Park Commission. Originally comprising the Morris County Traction Company (a trolley line), this land was designated to be used as a recreational trail. The facility parallels a 5-mile portion of the Morris and Essex Rail Line operated by New Jersey Transit, between Morristown and Madison centers.
Subsequent to additional land donations from GPU Energy and Fairleigh Dickinson University, the New Jersey Department of Transportation has funded construction enhancing the durability, safety, and multiple-use aspects of the trail. The State of New Jersey, the County of Morris, the Park Commission, and surrounding municipalities have promoted the trail usage as a safe off-road linear passage for local residents and commuters.
The original 2-mile segment from Washington’s Headquarters to Convent Station was dedicated in 1986. The paved trail is suitable for biking, jogging, and cross-country skiing. An added benefit to the Traction Line Recreation Trail is a nine-station parcourse fitness circuit. The enhancement of this popular facility was made possible by matching grants from Allied-Signal Foundation, Crum and Forster, and GPU Energy. The cooperation of both public and private agencies has been critical to the project’s success, and it is utilized and appreciated by the people of Morris County.
…Dearest Morris County Parks Commission, please don’t sue me for copyright infringement. I’m just tryin’ to spread the knowledge. You totally get credit for writing this. Are we cool?
Morris County Park Commission. (n.d.). “Traction Line Recreation Trail.” (Brochure). Morrisparks.net/.