Archive for Rail Road

Christmas Day 2012 Hike with Friends

Posted in Daily Pictures, Friends and Family, Good Times, Hiking and Camping with tags , , on April 8, 2013 by Verge
We went exploring on Christmas Day, after opening some gifts we had gotten each other.  Two of my favorite local abandoned places.

We went exploring on Christmas Day, after opening some gifts we had gotten each other. Two of my favorite local abandoned places.

This is inside one of the abandoned trains down at Winslow Junction.  Since I've been coming here, the amount of cars has slowly gone down, I assume because they are being scrapped.  there was once at least a hundred cars, but now there's maybe a dozen.

This is inside one of the abandoned trains down at Winslow Junction. Since I’ve been coming here, the amount of cars has slowly gone down, I assume because they are being scrapped. there was once at least a hundred cars, but now there’s maybe a dozen.


Monika, Ehsan and Sam, who had “found” herself a hell of a walking stick.

And, the inside of the other abandoned location, a former recycling plant.  It used to be filled with garbage 25 feet high, but it's now cleared out, so something is happening there, although I have no idea what yet.  We had to cleverly gain access.

And, the inside of the other abandoned location, a former recycling plant. It used to be filled with garbage 25 feet high, but it’s now cleared out, so something is happening there, although I have no idea what yet. We had to cleverly gain access.

You can see all four of my hiking companions in this photo.  Looks like it should be the cover of an album, in my opinion.  Christmas Day with friends, hiking.  Nothing I wanted to do more.

You can see all four of my hiking companions in this photo. Looks like it should be the cover of an album, in my opinion. Christmas Day with friends, hiking. Nothing I wanted to do more.


Winefest 2011 @ Valenzano

Posted in Daily Pictures, Friends and Family, Good Times with tags , , on September 30, 2011 by Verge

wow, I have been amazingly busy the last few months.  Working extremely hard on remodeling my house, which is coming along tremendously, albeit slowly.  I’m doing a ton of work mostly by myself, and mostly in the few hours after work before I have dinner and go to bed.  The weekends are usually filled with my part time job, and when I get a chance to breathe for a day, I have as much fun as I can.

Which brings me to Winefest 2011!  The third year in a row I’ve been able to attend, I highly recommend this event for wine lovers anywhere near South Jersey.  This year they even had 6 or so other wineries on board, which made for a tasting of nearly 100 different wines!

we finally got our own tent this year, which is the way to go! you get reserved seating, and 6 free bottles of wine, guaranteed tickets and parking, express check in, and it only costs a few dollars more than regular admission. We'll be back for sure.

we brought a pretty large contingency, with Kreg and Kat, Wendy and Jason with my niece and nephew, Molly and her friend...

...of course, my awesome parents, even my dad who off roaded his scooter through some vineyards to get to the all-you-can-sample wines...

...and me, trying my hardest to sport a scruffy Autumn beard, with Monika.

last year, we really wanted to check out the helicopter, but it was sold out. This year, we splurged and went for it!

so here we go. I've been in a helicopter before, but Monika hasn't. I can't say that flying over the Pine Barrens was even remotely as beautiful as flying over the waterfalls of Hawaii, but it's still like a roller coaster without a track.

I've studied maps of this area for a long time. Modern and historical. Pretty extensively. Even though the pilot points out Philadelphia and Atlantic City, I can pinpoint Atsion, Apple Pie Hill, the old rail lines, old saw mills, and other forgotten remnants of a once booming South Jersey industrial area reclaimed by nature.

surprisingly, there's still a lot of privately owned farmland in the area. One day it will be all condominiums, for sure.

we were in a much smaller aircraft than I've ever flown in, except I guess the hot air balloon we rode for my dad's birthday one year. The copter only held the three of us, and there were no doors and it was basically a big glass ball with a tail. I wondered what good a fire extinguisher would do us if we caught fire in this flying milk crate one thousand feet in the sky.

Monika smiles as she confirms it was worth the price to take a five minute chopper ride over the festival, kamikaze style.

this is the parking lot as we came back in for a landing. there's some grapes growing in there somewhere.

I know there are better pictures out there, but hey, this is all I've got time to document. After Winefest, we went to Kelly's to hang out and wind down. It was a hell of a day, to be quite honest. great times, for the third year in a row!

Manchester Bridge Rock Climb

Posted in Daily Pictures, Good Times with tags , , , , on July 26, 2011 by Verge

Saturday night, my band, the Dirty Robots, played a show at the Indian Chief Tavern in Medford.  It was remarkably unspectacular, and I was actually planning on sleeping in until noon when I finally got home at nearly 3 am.

Nevertheless, and bursting with ambition, and after only 3 or so hours of sleep a piece, Monika woke me up at 6:30, demanded I get dressed in the clothes she had already picked out for me, get in the car and go to our friend Cory and Erica’s place.  In a completely un-prepared manner, and in a spontaneous moment, we were headed to Richmond, Virginia to hang out here.

This is the main wall of an old train trellis bridge.

the entire bridge is basically in ruins and has fallen into the river and along the banks.

but, someone got permission to put climbing hooks all over the walls and old standards so people could climb here.

this is looking in the other direction. Richmond is on the other bank. I'm standing under the newer car bridge, and you can see the old, abandoned one over on the left.

there, that's a better shot.

the main wall again, from the entrance to the climbing area. There is a lookout at the top of the wall that looks out over the valley. probably about 40 feet tall or so.

later, we went to try and climb one of the standards, which has slanted walls, but is still pretty difficult to climb. That girl on top was the lead climber, and she was awesome. There wasn't anything she couldn't do.

did I mention how hot it was. All of us were drenched in sweat, even those of us who didn't climb at all. Just standing made you sweat. The top of this standard, I was told, burned your hands and radiate like an oven. I wouldn't know, though.

it was pretty dry and I guess there was a drought. the river bed was exposed and you could walk all the way across the river if you were careful and found a good path.

this is about a third of the way across. we didn't go all the way, but it was damn cool anyway. we wanted to cool off in the water but it looked and smelled kinda nasty.

We had a hell of a road trip with Cory and Erica, and met some really cool people.

Afterwards, even though we were tired, and I was completely soaked, we headed to the local brewpub, a place called Legends!  I had a golden IPA, of course, but it wasn’t hoppy enough for me, but tasty nonetheless.  Then I found their Belgian Quad, which of course was the highest alcohol content on their menu.  That was indeed very tasty.

Since we left in hast that morning, my phone was not charged, and by this point, was dead.  I would have liked to grab a few more pictures, but alas, you’ll have to trust me that it was a beautiful view across the river of downtown Richmond from the back deck of Legends.

I’m not a very experienced climber at all, but a day like this one makes me want to try.  We may start going to the local climbing gym that is in these pictures to strengthen up and get more practice.

Nevertheless, we had a great day and met some very good people and dined with our new friends, got some great exercise and saw some always fascinating, Mayan-like ruins, and didn’t waste our Sunday mowing the lawn and doing laundry.  Not too bad at all.

The Thirteenth of March, Two Thousand and Eleven (Hiking in Atsion)

Posted in Daily Pictures, Good Times with tags , , on March 14, 2011 by Verge

Rail Road Hiking

Posted in Good Times with tags , , , , , on January 19, 2010 by Verge

Over the weekend, Monika and I went on two afternoon hikes.  In our haste, we forgot to charge our camera the first day, and the second day it was raining, so we have no photos of our excursions, which suits me just fine because the hikes were more about collecting the experience rather than a few photos.

It’s hard to explain why I am so enamored by old railroad tracks and trains because I’m not really sure myself.  I can be reasonably assured that trains have always been a fascination of little boys.  My nephew loves them and has a sizable collection, some of which I contributed.  Of course he watches Tommy.  I remember setting up train tracks in our basement every Christmas when I was a kid.  They were my fathers, and I still have them in my attic, although they haven’t been set up in years.  I don’t have a basement, but someday…

There were a lot of “right-of-ways” that ran close or through Atco.  Most of these were, in the beginning, for cutting down trees  in the Pine Barrens and bringing them to Philadelphia for the expanding city.  They also transported the glass that was made in several glass furnace factories located in the woods to the city for windows in the newly built buildings.

In later years, the destinations reversed, and trains instead hurried passengers from Philadelphia to Atlantic City in a trip that formerly took over a day to make.  In fact, nearby Berlin, formerly Long-a-Coming, was originally an overnight stop on that trip.  When the name of the local train station there began to confuse travelers, they changed the name from Stratford Station to Berlin, along with the name of the town itself.

There are two active lines that still run latitudinally through Atco.  One is right through the Center of town and has been there for as long as Atco has existed.  These days, it’s run by NJ Transit and can technically bring you from 30th Street Station in Philadelphia all the way to Atlantic city.  It connects with PATCO at Lindenwold and Amtrak at 30th Street.  There, you can catch the Northeast Corridor Line that will bring you from D.C. to Boston.

The other one is to the south of Atco and was part of the Pennsylvania Reading Seashore Line, originally called the Pennsylvania Atlantic City Rail Road Line.  I’m no expert yet, and I’m always reading more and more, but I think at one point it may have been absorbed into the Central Rail Road of New Jersey, and perhaps again reabsorbed into Conrail in the 1970’s.

This line still operates as well, but it is not a passenger line and I believe only transports freight.  It runs from Camden in the West to Atlantic City in the East and you’ll rarely catch a glimpse of a train running on the tracks.  We’ve hiked on this line a bunch of times and I’ve never seen a train running on it.  This is the railway that runs through the center of Clementon right next to Harper’s Pub, and through downtown Haddon Heights, where the original station still stands and is maintained by the local Historical Society.

We parked on the corner of North grove Street and Norcross road, and hiked east on the rails.  We’ve never been on this particular stretch of tracks.  We always bring a backpack and plastic bag to hold anything of interest that we find.  Although it’s against a lot of hikers creeds, we sometimes bring back items that we may find.  We’ll never destroy parts of history, but some old trash, rocks, or rusty rail road spikes aren’t exactly a piece of history in general, and are just cool little collectibles that I like to decorate with.

We came across a horse farm that we never knew existed, and a woman in her forties was out back feeding the horses.  We said hello and asked if the half dozen horses that were there were all hers.  She said that she only owned one of them so I guess she was boarding the rest.  The horses came over to the fence to inspect the visitors (us) and we really wanted to pet them, but resisted.  Although the woman seemed nice enough, we were in the Pineys, and you just never know what kind of people you’re going to encounter.  There were a few men on the other side of the field that glanced our way, so I wasn’t about to invade anyone’s space.

There are old telegraph poles that run down this line, and I’m always looking for an intact insulator cap, which I have yet to find.  These lines have been hiked so many times over the years that a really good insulator cap is impossible to find.  I did find one that was in pretty good condition, but in two pieces.  There are always little shards and chunks that you can pick up, and I pondered whether or not my friend Eva, who is a glass blower, would be able to melt down this type of glass and make something with it.

Further down we ran into some people riding quads and they were nice enough.  A brief hello was all that was exchanged and that was fine with me.  Off the tracks a little bit, we found the remains of an old house of some kind.  There was a well that had been filled in, and a pretty good sized foundation.  around back was a few steps and a porch, and I wondered if this had been a station at some point.  It was made of concrete blocks that kids had clearly moved around and stacked up in various ways, and there was a pole nearby that must have provided telegraph, phone or electricity at some point.  Abandoned buildings are always a treasure to find.

I also found one really unique find.  It was a ceramic insulator cap that was still attached to the pole that had been downed.  I had to unscrew it and although it had a few chips on the rim I was amazed that no one else had come along and taken it before me.  Clearly the pole had been downed for some time and all the other caps had been taken.  I’m going to use it either as an ashtray or a candle holder.  We hiked probably a mile down and a mile back, and called it a day.

On Sunday, we wanted to look for signs of the old Williamstown Brach of the Pennsylvania Reading Line which, as far as I can find, had been torn up in the mid 60s.  It’s not hard to find where it ran and there are still signs of it on satellite images that I have looked up.   Plus, there’s still a section of town called Williamstown Junction with a little store called Junction Liquors, so that really narrows it down.

We’ve been back here before when geocaching. There’s an old weigh station of some sort that is along the path of the old rail line.  A little exploring turns up a ton of really cool, interesting remnants.  For some reason, when they tore up the rails of this line, they also tore up the ties, so there are huge piles of rotting rail lroad ties all along the right of way which you can recognize by the obviously artifically raised ground.  We found the concrete and wood remains of an old mile marker, the actual sign long gone.  There was another building back here as well that must have been some kind of station.  Huge sections of brick had been toppled, but it was at some point a sizable building.  At some point there was a lot of garbage being dumped back there, and that yielded some pretty interesting old bottles.

That day was raining, but it didn’t stop us from exploring.  We looked all around this patch of wood before stumbling into the back of a rock and sand supply yard nearby.  We hiked our way through the yard without incident and out onto New Brooklyn Road, which is loaded with curiosities.  All the houses on this street are from a different time, and one of them has a little farmer’s market out front.  We had to stop and take a look inside the barn that was there because it was just too damn interesting.  There was a barn cat inside that we did not disturb.  After poking around for a few minutes, a older gentleman, probably in his 70s, came out of the house to talk to us.  We bought a small bag of tomatoes from him for 2 dollars because they looked good and we needed them.  I forgot to ask the old man what the deal was with the sign on the barn that said “New Jersey Devil Scull.”  That alone warrants a return trip.

We hiked up the tracks back to our car parked at Williamstown Junction and headed home.  For our troubles we acquired:  1 cermaic insulator cap, 3 glass insulator caps, 5 interesting bottles, 9 iron screws, 2 iron bolts, 3 iron nuts, 1 piece of talc, 2 pieces of limestone, 1 flintstone, 15 glass marbles, 2 very heavy can-shaped weights, 6 assorted couplers, a pile or iron spikes, a pile of coal, and one bag of tomatoes.

Exploring places that are abandoned or are the remnants of a long ago reminds me how fleeting life is.  And just being there is proof to me that I’m not squandering what little time we all have.  It should be spent with people we love, doing the things that make us happy.  The rain and threat of crazy Piney’s wouldn’t stop us from going hiking this weekend, and it never will.  Tell us if you’d like to join us sometime for a hike and some exploring…and remember your camera.

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