The abandoned Rahway Valley Railroad: Part 1

Rahway Valley Railroad: Ashwood Avenue overpass, b.1915

The Rahway Valley Railroad was a little railroad that only operated between Summit and Roselle Park, connecting the Morris & Essex Line to the Raritan Valley Line. It was formed in 1904 and, after years of declining traffic, finally closed in 1992.

Rahway Valley Railroad, shown in context of modern NJTransit lines

Morris & Essex in green; Raritan Valley in orange; Rahway Valley (defunct) in pink


There was talk of revitalizing it in the early 2000s for freight, but funding ran short. At the moment, the line has been more or less rebuilt from Roselle Park to Union… which means this area, in Summit and Springfield, hasn’t been touched.



I’ve been meaning to explore this for a while, but it’s really tricky. Aerial photographs don’t show that most of the Summit part of the line is behind a tall chain-link fence with prolific “NO TRESPASSING” signs. It looks like it might be part of Celgene Corporation.

Near this particular bridge (dated 1915), there is a steep embankment from road level to bridge top that I could probably climb, but it’s in a very visible area (everybody driving or walking up the moderately-trafficked road would see me), and there are lots of dead leaves (so my exploration would be very noisy). I’ve scouted the area twice so far but have not found a discreet way to get to the top. If I ever climbed it, it’d have to be at 5:00 AM or something, and I’d have to pray that no police would be patrolling around while I was doing it.

Bottom line, I’d love to get some photos of the top, but I’d also love to not get arrested.

I did find a way in near the Summit chapter of the Knights of Columbus; you’ll have to wait ’til tomorrow to see what I found. 🙂



For more information (and for where I got my sources), here are some links. Google is helpful, too, as are the rest of the citations at the bottom of the Wikipedia article:

Cunningham, J.T.* (October 1950). “New Jersey’s Streak o’ Rust.” Trains Magazine.

King, R.J. (2009). “Rahway Valley Railroad History.” Trains are Fun {personal website}. and (to a lesser extent)

Wikipedia. (2012, last edit). “Rahway Valley Railroad.”


* John T. Cunningham is one of the foremost authorities on local history around here. I didn’t know he’d been writing this sort of stuff since 1950!



(This is part 1 in a series of posts on the Rahway Valley Railroad. Click here for Part 2, or click here for Part 3.)

9 Responses to “The abandoned Rahway Valley Railroad: Part 1”

  1. Another lovely shot and great, very useful, info in case one was to pass this and wonder.

  2. How many times have the Knights of the Columbus been used for a cliffhanger?! Who are you, Perry Mason? Did you write for the Sopranos or something?!

  3. I watched a PBS documentary one time that had a clip about a graffiti artist name Barry McGee (I may have spelling wrong). He sneaks into train yards, etc and paints on them. They filmed him and his wife spray-painting but they did keep an eye out for each other to watch for cops. Sneaky work! Strangely enough, their art has hit the big leagues and is featured in museums all over (installations of their graffiti). I know you are taking photographs but you might be interested in watching it. 😉 great post and I love how you have included the history behind this particular railroad. Just fascinating! Don’t get arrested but sounds like a thrilling adventure! 😉

  4. I think the next spot that looks just like that is over Shunpike Rd but I believe they took the bridge down years ago. Somewhere around there was the old Baltusrol station for RVRR.

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