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200 Years of History

200 Years of History

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Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII
Part IX
Part X
Part XI
Part XII
Part XIV
Part XV
Part XVI
Part XIX
Part XX
Part V: Transportation by Water & Rail: A Three Part Article: I
By R. Richard Willis

The Morris Canal was the brainchild of George P McCulloch. The Canal traveled across New Jersey, from Phillipsburg to Jersey City. Lake Hopatcong was the main source of water for the canal. By 1820’s the lock and dam at Landing was in operation. Now ice and ore could now be transported easier from Jefferson Township. The Morris Canal connected twice with Jefferson, first at Woodport and then at Nolan’s Point in 1866.

Iron was transported from the Ogden (Edison) Mine in Sparta and other mines located in Jefferson Township to the shores of Lake Hopatcong at Woodport, via pack animals and wagons. This was a cumbersome way of transporting heavy ore. Many trips would be made. Then the ore was loaded on canal boats that traveled across the Lake and into the Morris Canal. When the Ogden Mine Railroad was built the Morris Canal moved its loading docks to Nolan’s Point for the pick up of ice and ore.

The Ogden Mine Railroad was chartered February 19, 1864; it was built by 1865 and in operation by the 1866 Canal season. The length of the railroad was about ten miles and it had many sidings that connected with local mines. Some of these mines were the Ogden (Edison) Mine in Sparta, Schofield, Dodge, Ford, and Weldon Mines in Jefferson. The railroad passed the villages of Weldon (originally Well-Done), Hurdtown (originally New Partners), Callaghan’s Island, Castle Rock and on to Nolan’s Point. Portions of the rail bed for the Ogden Mine Railroad can still be seen along Weldon Road. The railroad terminated at Nolan’s Point with a Marine Terminal where it connected with the Morris Canal.

The organizers of this railroad were Ario Pardee, a Pennsylvania Coal and Lumber Magnate. George Richards, who was involved with the Glendon Iron Co. at Hurdtown and was President of the Ogden Mine Railroad for the entire time it, was an independent line. Lyman A. Chandler, who was a Lawyer in Rockaway. Anson Segur a Banker in Dover, he also operated a Forge at Shippenport (part of Landing), and William A. Wood, who established the first store in Woodport. Harlan W. Cortwright was superintendent of the Ogden Railroad from the beginning.

The railroad regularly carried 50,000 to 60,000 tons of iron ore a year through the 1870’s. It also carried a little zinc ore; hauled up from the Sterling Hill Mines near Ogdensburg until the New Jersey Midland Railroad (Latter known as the New York, Susquehanna & Western) took over in 1872.

With the building of the Ogden Mine Railroad, Nolan’s Point, became an important railroad town, complete with machine shop for repairs, because this railroad did not connect with any other railroads when it was first built. The rolling stock (steam engines, gondola, box, refrigerator, and passenger cars) were brought up to the Lake in pieces and assembled on location. Housing was supplied for the employees in the form of three row houses each with four units. These houses were used primarily for the employees, yet if there were vacancies the general public could rent these units. When employees outnumbered the public; the housing was given to employees and the public had to vacate. On October 30, 1921 when the Nolan’s Point Icehouse burned, it also burned the freight house for the Central Railroad and one of the Ogden Mine Railroad houses. The second house, was taken down in 1941 and replaced with a store (now a private home in 2003). The third is still standing in 2003. At first, the railroad had a turntable located behind Chabon’s Tavern on Espanong Road; latter the turntable was replaced by an “Y”.

This railroad was unique, as it did not run the full year; the railroad would transport iron ore primarily when the Morris Canal was open, usually eight months a year. Ore could be brought down to Nolan’s Point year round, but the ore had to be stored until the canal re-opened the next spring. Passenger and work trains would be running year round. The railroad made money, that was unusual then and even today as most railroads do not make a profit.