Welcome to the SJRail.com Wiki! (Delaware River Railroad and Bridge Company Page)
By Nick Frankunas, Michael W Andrescavage Sr and John Acton.
Delaware River Railroad and Bridge Company
*(Amtrak/NJT-Atlantic City Line)
*AKA The "Delair Bridge Line" or "The Bridge Branch"
The Pennsylvania Railroad (1895-1968) / Penn Central (1968-1976) Years
The Delaware River Railroad and Bridge Company was incorporated in 1896 under the general laws of Pennsylvania and by special act of the Legislature of New Jersey for the purpose of consolidating the property, rights and franchises of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Railroad Company (of Pennsylvania) and the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Railroad Company (of New Jersey), and completing and operating the railroad projected and partly constructed by those companies.
The first president of the DR.R.R.&B.CO. was Samuel Shea in 1897.
On April 1, 1918 entire property of the Delaware River Railroad is leased to the Pennsylvania Railroad under resolutions of Boards of Directors of both companies at an annual rental of net earnings for 999 years.
The DR.R.R.&B.CO. was equipped and operated by
- Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) 1895 to 1968
- Penn_Central (PC) 1968-1976.
The Deleware River Railroad and Bridge Comapny (DR.R.R.&B.CO.) extends from
- Shore to Vernon (West Haddonfield, N. J.) 8.42 miles
- Delaware River Draw to HATCH(Fish House Station, N. J.) 0.30 miles
- Delair to Morris, N. J. 0.76 miles.
- A total distance of 9.52 miles
Link---> DR.R.R.&B.CO. Corporate Genealogy
PRR Chronology Research by Christopher T. Baer and Philadelphia Chapter Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society,
Used with Christopher T. Baer's permission. -
Hagley Museum and Library
- Sep. 19, 1877 Toucey & Buchanan interlocking machine installed at new "FJ" Tower, Frankford, Pa., junction of Connecting Railway and Philadelphia & Trenton. ( , AR)
- April 1896 Delair Bridge completed. (WJRII)
- April 19, 1896 First passenger trains operate over bridge,only to Camden and Amboy Railroad (Southward), Line to West Haddonfield not yet open. (WJRII)
- May 29, 1897 Line to West Haddonfield, Wye at Delair, Connections to the Camden and Amboy Railroad (Northward), and Camden and Burlington County Railroad Company placed in service.
- 1902 Automatic block signals placed in service between Frankford Jct. and West Haddonfield on Delair Bridge line.
- May 24, 1903 PRR inaugurates 90-minute service between Philadelphia and Cape May.
- June 30, 1906 Through service between Philadelphia and Cape May via Delair Bridge begins; express trains to Ocean City, Wildwood, and Cape May begin running via trackage rights over Reading between Winslow Jct. and Woodbine Jct. to clear old WJ&S route for electric trains (or 6/26??);connecting tracks built at Woodbine Jct. (Mount Pleasant) and Winslow Jct. ( , Val)
- May 1, 1916 Fish House-Morris ceded from Trenton Division to Camden Terminal Division; Delair-West Haddonfield ceded from Amboy (?) Division to WJ&S. (MB, AR)
- Jan. 10, 1922 ICC orders 49 railroads to each equip one division with automatic stop or speed control systems; PRR lines are Philadelphia-Pittsburgh, Philadelphia-Atlantic City, and Pittsburgh-Indianapolis. (order made public 1/11 - NYT)
- June 17, 1923 PRR inaugurates Chicago-Atlantic City drawing room/compartment sleepers on The Pennsylvania Limited.
- Apr. 8, 1926 Second section of southbound Nellie Bly derails on split rail while taking curve at Delair, N.J. at excessive speed; engineer, fireman and one passenger killed; 40 injured. (NYT)
- May 7, 1927? Automatic train control and cab signals placed in service between Delair and West Haddonfield on Atlantic City line.
- July 1, 1927 The Sea Gull inaugurated as summer-only through train between Pittsburgh and Atlantic City with sleeping cars from Cincinnati, Cleveland, Akron and Wheeling; runs through Sep. 11.
- Jan. 22, 1928 PRR and Reading slash fare between Philadelphia and Atlantic City, Ocean City, Stone Harbor, Wildwood and Cape May to meet bus competition; two-day excursion round trip to Atlantic City is $2.25 vs. $4.12 regular fare, good through Oct. 31; PRR operates first Atlantic City excursion train ever via Delair Bridge. (NYT)
- July 1930 PRR begins carrying passengers' automobiles as baggage on The Sea Gull between Pittsburgh and Atlantic City to compete with highways.
- Aug. 1930 Cab signals placed in service between Frankford Jct. and West Haddonfield, N.J. on Delair Bridge line.
- Sep. 27, 1931 The Sea Gull makes last run as separate all-first class train between Atlantic City and Pittsburgh; hereafter Atlantic City sleepers are handled on the Philadelphia Night Express and the Pittsburgh Night Express. (tt, A-sheet)
- Sep. 13, 1942 Last run of summer-only through train No. 1046-1049 with coaches and parlor cars between Washington and Atlantic City.
- June 27, 1943 PRSL ceases operating direct summer service to and from Philadelphia via Delair Bridge on Sundays as part of war effort; some weekday trains continue to run via Delair.
- June 17, 1944 PRSL discontinues all Bridge trains to and from Atlantic City on weekends and holidays and shifts all equipment to Camden route.
- pr. 28, 1946 PRR restores operation of through trains and parlor cars between Philadelphia and Atlantic City via Delair Bridge; also restores through Washington-Atlantic City summer-only parlor car, but without through trains as in prewar years.
- Aug. 19, 1946 Garden State Race Track opens adjacent to PRSL main line in Cherry Hill, N.J.; "Pony Express" race track extras begin operating from Philadelphia.
- May 25, 1947 Atlantic City Race Track spur opens off PRSL main west of Atlantic City; "Pony Express" race track extras begin operating from Philadelphia and New York. (or rail service begins 7/27/47??)
- May 24, 1948 PRR moves 18,000 passengers to Shriner's convention in Atlantic City in 62 trains and 750 cars.
- Aug. 27, 1954 PRR files with N.J. PUC to discontinue all three New York-Atlantic City trains, including the Nellie Bly, and substitute Trenton-Atlantic City service, effective Sep. 26, 1954. (NYT)
- Oct. 1, 1955 Last run of "Pony Express" race track extras between New York and Atlantic City Race Track. (Coxey)
- Dec. 31, 1955 Last run of parlor cars between Philadelphia and Atlantic City.
- Apr. 9, 1956 Baggage service withdrawn from New York-Atlantic City trains.
- Sep. 9, 1956 Last run of summer-only through coaches and parlor cars between Washington and Atlantic City (trains No. 142/1029-1024/155). (tt)
- Dec. 28, 1957 Last run of Saturday parlor cars between New York and Atlantic City. (tt)
- Sep. 1, 1958 Last trip of Atlantic City-Pittsburgh sleeper.
- Sep. 8, 1959 Last run of last New York-Atlantic City buffet parlor car service on Nellie Bly. (Guide)
- Apr. 29, 1961 Nellie Bly, last New York-Atlantic City passenger train, makes last run.(tt)
- Oct. 28, 1961 Last run of Philadelphia-Atlantic City Sea Breeze; last named train on this run. (tt)
- Apr. 16, 1962 Reading inaugurates two daily round trip freight runs between Port Richmond and Bulson Street, Camden, via Delair Bridge and abandons car float service; last trip Apr. 15.
- Dec. 5, 1962 Last run of "Pony Express" race track specials between Philadelphia and Garden State Race Track in Cherry Hill, N.J. (Coxey)
- Oct. 6, 1963 Last run of Saturday and Sunday passenger service between Philadelphia/Camden and Cape May, Wildwood and Ocean City, including bus connection to Stone Harbor. (A-sheet)
- Jan. 16, 1966 All Atlantic City and Cape May trains routed into 30th Street via Delair Bridge; Pemberton and Millville locals continue to terminate at Broadway; P-RSL abanonded between Division Street, Camden, and "VERNON"; P-RSL single-tracked between West Haddonfield ("VERNON") and Kirkwood; P-RSL freights to Atlanitc City begin operating into Pavonia Yard via Delair instead of to Camden.
- Late 1966 PRR removes electrification between Frankford Jct. and Pavonia Yard over Delair Bridge.
- October 1, 1969 Last P-RSL passenger trains operate over DR.R.R.&B.CO. Branch into 30th Street station.
- May 21, 1973 Penn Central restores electrification between Frankford Jct. and Pavonia Yard.
Deleware River Railroad and Bridge Company (Delair Bridge) circa 1890
Delair Bridge Past Events
The Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) was the first to accomplish the goal, envisioned by many throughout the nineteenth century, of spanning the Delaware River between Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey.
In 1896, the railroad completed a bridge between the Philadelphia neighborhood of Bridesburg and Delair, New Jersey, just upstream from Camden.
For three decades until the Delaware River Bridge (now Benjamin Franklin Bridge) opened to automobile traffic in 1926, the PRR's bridge (commonly known as the Delair Bridge) was the only crossing downstream of Trenton.
The lower Delaware's extreme width, tidal current, and soft bottom made foundation work difficult, meaning that a successful design would need extremely long spans.
When completed, the Delair Bridge had 533'-0" Petit through truss spans.
This was an impressive length for the time, albeit a few feet shorter than the Chesapeake & Ohio's 1889 Ohio River bridge at Cincinnati, the record holder at 542'-6". Complicating the design further, heavy traffic on the lower Delaware required a high bridge, or else a movable one.
PRR engineers compromised by building the fixed spans 50'-0" above the water and providing a swing span for the tallest vessels.
At 323'-0" in length, the swing span did set a record as the heaviest to bear on a center pivot.
(as opposed to a circular nest of rollers)
The Delair Bridge is also significant for having set records at two widely separated points in its existence.
In the mid-twentieth century, PRR retained Hardesty & Hanover to design a 342'-0" vertical-lift span over a new navigation channel proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
While setting a record for the longest vertical-lift bridge with two tracks, it was two feet shy of the overall record, set by the New York, New Haven & Hartford's single-track bridge at Buzzard's Bay, Massachusetts, in 1935.
As a result, the Delair Bridge hosts an unusual combination of two different movable spans in one structure (although
the swing span was subsequently taken out of service).
Construction of the Delair Bridge in 1895 and 1896 held the interest of engineers around the world. What seems to be the most extensive description was in fact published by the German journal Allgemeine Bauzeitung (General Construction).
The structure was unusually long and heavy, and its construction proceeded at a remarkably rapid pace despite the difficult site.
Foundation work required the efforts of three contractors, Charles A. Sims & Co. of Philadelphia, Drake & Stratton Co., and P. McManus Co.
Excavation work began on 15 January 1895 and the mascauy piers stood complete on 1 November of that year. The year is
commemorated by a plaque bearing Drake & Stratton's name on Pier No. 6, between the last main span and the New Jersey approach.
Erection of the superstructure by Philadelphia-based Pencoyd Iron Works progressed as the substructure was completed, and took but four months more.
PRR officials and their guests rode a special train across the mostly completed span on 9 March 1896, but regular service did not begin until 19 April.
The bridge eliminated a time consuming ferry ride for Pennsylvanians heading to the New Jersey shore and an expensive transfer of freight as well.
Ship collides with bridge
A little past noon on January 9, 1959, the swing became outmoded. The SS Marie Leonhardt, an oceangoing ship carrying iron ore to the new Fairless Works steel facility in Morrisville, struck the bridge when the operator did not open it in time.
The S. S. Marie Loenhardt collided with the Delair Bridge at about 12:45 p.m. on January 9, 1959. The Pennsylvania Railroad Company, owner and operator of the bridge, filed a libel in rem against the vessel for damages to the bridge. The vessel owner filed a cross-libel against the Railroad for damages to the vessel resulting from the collision. The district court, after making findings of fact and conclusions of law, dismissed the Railroad's libel but allowed the owner of the vessel to recover against the Railroad for whatever damages the vessel sustained.
Read more link--> 
The Modernization of the Bridge 1960
The engineering of the Delair Bridge is a landmark in tidal crossings not only for its sandy foundation and length -- only one bridge in the country had longer truss spans in 1895 -- but also for the fact it was movable. Since the Delaware River is tidal, vessels heading upstream needed clearance; since heavy trains would need support, a high bridge was far more expensive than a low, movable bridge, even for the PRR. As such, a rotating swing truss was positioned in the channel for the passage of ships, marine vehicles took priority over rail vehicles, so the bridge was constantly manned to coordinate between the pilots of the ships and the trains.
This swing bridge sufficed . . . for a while. World War II really boosted naval technology, and that meant larger vessels, including civilian vessels.
The opening of Fairless Works also necessitated the deepening of the Delaware's channel; in 1959, the US Army Corps of Engineers moved the channel from the swing one span to the west, where the existing middle span was replaced by a lift that would rise 135'. (The bridge's existing clearance was 50'.) In addition to the added vertical clearance, the lift span provided far more horizontal clearance than the narrow swing did.
More info (PDF file)
Beginning on March 1, 1960 the new lift span, lift towers and hoisting mechanism was put in place. This work completed six months later. This project cost $12 million of which the thr PRR paid $360,000.
More Photos HERE
SHORE Tower and Interlocking
SHORE (formerly VN) tower is located 2.9 miles from NORTH PHILADELPHIA at the point where the Connecting Railway met the original Philadelphia & Trenton alignment. Originally known as Frankford Junction, the main line made a sweeping turn to the west as it cut onto the new alignment while the old line into the city was left diverging from the main as an industrial branch.
SHORE Tower and Interlocking From the collection of John Acton
The one and only SHORE tower was built in 1896 as part of the Deleware River Railroad and Bridge Comapny project to build a massive new bridge over the Delaware River. The Delair Bridge as it came to be known was the first bridge from Philadelphia into Southern New Jersey. The primary reason for this bridge was because the New Jersey Shore (including such places as Atlantic City, Ocean City and Cape May) was a very popular summer weekend destination for those residents of the Philadelphia region. With the construction of the bridge, riders no longer had to catch a ferry boat across the river, but could board a train directly for a one-seat ride to the Jersey Shore. Thus as you can see, the name SHORE is very appropriate.
Shore Interlocking diagram
Frankford Junction enroute to Delair Bridge 9-8-55
From the collection of Bill Lane
Frankford Junction coming off Delair Bridge
From the collection of Bill Lane
Accident at SHORE Interlocking
ICC Report (PDF file)
The Congressional Limited traveling between New York City and Washington, D.C., derails, killing 79 people, on Sept. 6, 1943. An apparent defect in an older car attached to the train combined with the placement of a signal gantry resulted in the deadly accident.
The Congressional Limited was a newly designed train that would carry passengers through the Northeast corridor at the then-unprecedented speed of 65 miles per hour. On September 6, there were so many customers seeking to ride from Washington to New York that it was decided to add another dining car, of an older design, to the train.
After a stop in Philadelphia, the train began to pick up speed as it moved northeast of the city and the just-added dining car began to experience axle problems. Observers near the track reported that they saw the axle burning and throwing off sparks. Two miles further, in SHORE Interlocking , the axle fell off, derailing the dining car.
The derailment happened just as the train was approaching a signal gantry, (in photo below) a steel structure built right next to the tracks. The gantry sliced right through the dining car, instantly killing many of the passengers. Seven more cars derailed as well, pulled off the tracks by the dining car. In addition to the 79 people who lost their lives, almost 100 more were seriously injured.
A subsequent inquiry placed more of the blame on the location of the signal gantry than the decision to add the old dining car to the speedy new Congressional Limited.
Congressional Limited Accident at SHORE Interlocking Sept. 6, 1943
Philadelphia, Sept. 6 (AP) -- One hundred and fifty persons were reported killed and more than 90 injured in the wreck of the Congressional Limited, fastest train of the Pennsylvania Railroad, in northeast Philadelphia tonight.
The estimate was made two hours after the accident by MATTHEW A. ROSS, chief deputy coroner.
A priest who entered on of the cars to administer last rites to the dying, said there were 75 persons in the car and he believed at least half of them were dead.
Many were still trapped in the cars, and acetylene torches were being used in an effort to cut an opening through to them.
Every available ambulance was rushed to the scene at the request of railroad officials, and police were dispatched to nearby hospitals to straighten out "traffic congestions" in the emergency wards.
Railroad officials said six cars were derailed -- two coaches, a twin diner unit and two pullmans.
Frankford Hospital reported shortly after the accident that if was "full of injured" and could take no more. Many others were taken to Northeast and Episcopalian Hospitals.
The train left Washington at 4 P. M. (EWT) and was due in New York at 7:35. It makes no stops between the capital and the metropolis.
Four wrecking trains were sent to the scene. The six wrecked cars were tossed crosswise on the railroads's main line. Trains were detoured over the Reading lines.
Traffic in the area was soon in a hopeless condition. The accident occurred in the middle of a crowded residential section.
Every branch of civilian defense units was called to aid in the emergency.
Mayor BERNARD SAMUEL directed operations of the police, auxiliary police and firemen, air raid wardens and others.
About 200 service men who were riding in the cars that remained on the tracks joined in the policing and rescue work.
All units of the city electrical bureau also sped to the scene. The wreck knocked down poles carrying high tension wires, which hampered the rescue work. The Pennsylvania is electrified along the section where the wreck occurred, but the Congressional Limited was hauled by a steam locomotive.
The smash-up occurred on a curve. The steam locomotive and first six cars of the 16-car train remained on the tracks. The next six cars were derailed and the last four remained on the rails.
All hospitals in the area were soon filled with dead and injured. Urgent appeals were sent out for blood donors and registered nurses.
At the scene of the crash, the dead were removed one by one and placed beside the tracks until they were removed by stretcher-bearing civilian defense volunteers.
At hospitals, this scene was typical:
At Frankfort Hospital, a small truck pulled up to the entrance. A woman, clad in what had been a skirt and sweater, stumbled out, holding her clothes together as best she could with one hand, while with the other she helped the driver life the body of her husband.
They carried the body into the hospital. An intern took one look, waved the husband to the morgue in the basement.
The woman was led to a room upstairs.
There were 18 bodies laid out in the basement, including four children's.
Priests of St. Joachim's church administered last rites in the basement, then went upstairs to the injured, many of whom were in critical condition.
The whole neighborhood responded. Men and women rushed in with bedding, sheets, gauze -- even pots and pans for heating water.
The dead and injured were being brought into the hospital so fast that no attempt was made to keep track of them.
It was reported that the train hit a freight. The limited was bound from Philadelphia to New York.
The engine and every coach were said to have been derailed. Railroad officials were quoted as saying, "The train was just thrown all over the tracks."
The wreck occurred at Frankford and Glenwood Avenues, near the Frankford junction of the railroad.
Book--> The Derailment of the Congressional Limited: Pennsylvania's Worst Rail Disaster by Benjamin Bernhart Publisher: Outer Station Project ISBN: 1891402080
Frankford Junction Station
"With help from Tony B and Chick Callan"
The Frankford Junction Station was located approximately 700 feet North of Shore Tower. Built in the 1930's, the Station was the last stop before Atlantic City trains crossed over the Delair bridge into New Jersey. The Station was on the "eastbound" track. At the time there was a passenger tunnel built under all six tracks at the location to permit passengers to board their train on the Westbound without crossing over any tracks. Today the platforms remain however passenger stops are no longer made at Frankford Junction Station by any of the Commuter Services.
Frankford Junction Station
P.R.S.L. Train @Frankford Junction Station
Jersey Tower and Interlocking
Photos from collection of H. G. MacDonald
Pictures of the outside 1985
PRR 8553 N.Y. Race extra. Delair N. J. 8-25-55
From the collection of Bill Lane
Wreck of the Nellie Bly
Apr. 8, 1926 Second section of southbound Nellie Bly derails on split rail while taking curve at Delair, N.J. at excessive speed; engineer, fireman and one passenger killed; 40 injured. (NYT)
Wreck of #1080
'Accident of train #1080 near Minson Tower - Delair, N. J., on May 23, 1943'
"Philadelphia Inquirer" article:
SPEED BLAMED IN TRAIN CRASH FATAL TO 14
Exceeding 15-Mile Limit Spills Engine, 7 Coaches on Curve
DELAIR, N. J., May 24 (AP). - A Pennsylvania Railroad spokesman said Monday that excessive speed caused a crack fifteen-coach Atlantic City-to-New York passenger train to lurch off the tracks on Delair's horseshoe bend Sunday night, carrying fourteen persons to their deaths and injuring eighty-nine others in the railroad's worst wreck in years.
W. C. Higginbottom, general manager of the line's eastern divisian [sic], said a preliminary investigation indicated the engineer was exceeding the fifteen-mile speed limit on the fourteen-degree curve when the locomotive shot twenty-five feet off the right of way and derailed seven coaches, all loaded with servicemen and week-end visitors to the seashore. A total of 1,281 passengers was on board.
Bodies Yet Unidentified
"Early checks show that the equipment and track were in good condition," Higginbottom said, "but definite indications are that the train was moving faster than the authorized speed limit."
Meanwhile, as the work of removing the twisted wreckage continued, the bodies of four women still remained unidentified.
Among those killed was Mrs. Orvetta Allanson, 28, Burlington, N. J., who was returning from Atlantic City after visiting her husband, Pvt. Everett Allanson. Her baby, born during the wreck, also died.
Four members of a New York family, all of whom had been guests at a wedding party in Atlantic City, also were among the dead. They were David Shapiro, his daughter, Mrs. Sadie Mell; his son, Louis, and a brother, Benjamin.
Other identified dead were C. F. Bohr, New York, conductor on the train; H. N. Becker, Trenton, N.J., the fireman,; Christian P. Horn, Trenton, and Miss Dorothy Bennett, Burlington, cousin of Mrs. Allanson.
Six of the injured are in a serious condition.
ICC Report (PDF file)
Jordan Block Station
The Jordan Block Station : located on the Northwest corner of Park Ave and the Railroad (DRRR&BCo)
was a Junction/Connection between the DRRR&BCo and the Camden and Burlington County Railroad Company (Pemberton Branch)
in Pennsauken, N.J. This connection was used primarily for troop trains into/out of
Ft. Dix N. J. The Block Station was established by Train Order, Bulletin Order, or
General Order as needed for operations. This station was located at MP 12.9
(from Suburban Station, Phila Pa.). The connection with the Pemberton Branch was
at Union Ave, also in Pennsauken. When the DRRR&BCo was single tracked in the
mid 1960's the need for the station was finished. All switches were ground throws with controlled
Race Block Station
Race Block Station: Located at MP14.7 on the DRRR&BCo (from Suburban Station in Phila. Pa.) was located in
Cherry Hill N.J. on the backside of Garden State Park racetrack. This was a temporary
block station that was established by Train Order, Bulletin Order or General Order as
needed for operations. All switches were ground throws with hand signals.
The last train was operated on December 5, 1962.
K-4's on the bridge line southward at Maple Ave Westmont NJ
From the collection of John Acton
A series of shots of M of W renewing No.2 track at Maple Ave. Westmont at Vernon home signal.
Resume speed sign at Maple Ave., Westmont, at home signal to Vernon Tower I.A.W. rule 38.
Vernon Tower and Interlocking
See Haddonfield for more information and photos of this area
Delaware River Railroad and Bridge Comapny (DR.R.R.&B.CO. Branch) Page 2