On-line Book




Chapter 1

Chapter 2
Urban Development

Chapter 3
Maritime Activity

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Appendix 1
Patterned Brick Houses

Appendix 2
Stack Houses

Appendix 3
Existing Documentation


Historic Themes and Resources within the
New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route
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Steamboats replaced schooners as the main mode of transportation for persons traveling from Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Wilmington to Cape May for a vacation in the spring and summer during the early nineteenth century (Fig. 87). Even before the railroad, steamers competed with turnpikes, though predominantly for passenger rather than freight services. As early as 1816, the steamboat BALTIMORE traveled between Salem and Philadelphia twice a week; once in Salem, passengers continued to Bridgeton and Cape May via stagecoach. By the 1830s there was a great demand for steamboat travel on the Delaware River, and rate wars were common. [19]

Figure 87. Steamship CLIO, of Odessa, Delaware. New Jersey: Life, ca. 1900.

With Cape May's ascension as a summer resort, steamboat service was extended to the southern tip of New Jersey. In 1824 the DELAWARE, under command of Captain Whilldin, began shuttling vacationers from Wilmington and New Castle, Delaware, and Philadelphia to the shore. As the demand for this service increased, established and new independent lines competed for riders, and the ticket price fell from $5 to 50 cents. By mid century, tourists and goods were imported from New York along the Atlantic coast. [20] Few steamboats were built in the South Jersey region, but in October 1856 the first steam-powered vessel constructed in Bridgeton was launched. [21]

Perhaps the most opulent steamboat to travel from Philadelphia to Cape May during the late nineteenth century was the REPUBLIC, launched in March 1878 from Harlan and Hollingsworth's shipyard in Wilmington, Delaware. The vessel boasted large, fully furnished saloons, sixteen state rooms, and two private parlors on the upper deck. It accommodated 2,500 passengers in luxury—which included breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A similar ship, the JOHN A. WARNER, bore its passengers from Philadelphia and Wilmington to the now-lost resort of Sea Breeze. [22]

Considerably inland from bay waters, Bridgeton sought steamboat line in 1844, and the following year the COHANSEY began making thrice-weekly excursions from Bridgeton to Philadelphia, with stops at Greenwich, Port Penn, Delaware City, New Castle, Marcus Hook, and Chester, as well as occasional trips to Cape May. Three other steamboats operated on the Cohansey: the ARWAMES, PATUXENT, and EXPRESS. [23] In 1876, Bridgeton's steamer landing was on the east shore of the Cohansey River between the Jefferson Street bridge and a glassworks. [24]

The Maurice River Steamboat Company operated the THOMAS SALMOND which, like the Cohansey River steamers, offered excursions from its home port to Philadelphia. Before steamers reached this far up the Cohansey and Maurice rivers, stages via turnpikes carried travelers from Bridgeton and other interior towns to Salem to pick up the steamboat. [25] Salem's steamboat landing was located at the end of West Broadway at Salem Creek, where it shared a dock with a canning works and shipyard. [26] As railroads grew prominent in the South Jersey region during the late nineteenth century, the use of steamboats declined.


By the 1860s, the turnpikes and stage lines were being superseded by railroads, the most economical mode of transportation to date (Fig. 88). Establishing the railroads in South Jersey took a long time but showed a gradual profit. The first, the Camden and Woodbury Railroad, was chartered in 1836, and received immediate support from the residents of Woodbury who sought a quick route to Philadelphia. Its charter called for the line to eventually extend to Cape May but it failed first due to lack of ridership. The Camden and Woodbury failure did not discourage proponents of a line connecting South Jersey with Philadelphia—including Salem and Bridgeton residents. In 1853 the Camden-to-Cape May line became a reality with the West Jersey Railroad, authorized to build a line from Camden through the counties Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland, and Cape May. The railroad began operation in 1857. By the end of the nineteenth century, the West Jersey Railroad offered services to Philadelphia via Salem, Swedesboro, Woodbury, Wenonah, Glassboro, Clayton, Vineland, Millville, and Cape May. [27]

Figure 88. "Map of Rail Roads of New Jersey, (1871)." The railroad introduced great industrial changes: In South Jersey, produce and shellfish were shipped to market faster, and glass with less breakage.

The same year the West Jersey Railroad began operation, the Millville and Glassboro Railroad was incorporated with a twenty-two mile route from Millville to Glassboro. At Glassboro, passengers could take a stagecoach to Woodbury. In 1875 the West Jersey Railroad connected with the Millville-Glassboro Railroad in Glassboro, and passengers could then complete their trips to Camden and Philadelphia without interruption. [28]

The Cape May and Millville Railroad Company was incorporated in 1863 as a competitor to the Millville and Glassboro Railroad; the Cape May and Millville line acquired permission from the state to build along the right-of-way that the Millville and Glassboro line had reserved in a previous charter. The state, however, favored the Cape May and Millville company because it had agreed with the West Jersey Railroad to serve as one rail system that connected directly with the Salem Railroad Company. This single network could then be "operated with greater economy under one management." West Jersey could lease and operate the Cape May and Millville Railroad and the Salem Railroad; this passed through Manumuskin, Belleplain, Woodbine, Mt. Pleasant, Seaville, Swainton, Cape May, Court House, Rio Grande, and Bennett. [29] The railroad tracks in Millville ran northwest to southeast through the town with a depot at High and Broad streets (Fig. 89). Another minor depot was located at the "rear of the yard of Warren Hall on the north side of Broad Street between Buck and High [streets]." [30]

train station
Figure 89. Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Railroad Millville Station (ca. 1879). This depot with deep, braced eaves and large windows was at Broad and High streets. Wettstein, 1958.

In 1861, the Pennsylvania Railroad laid the first rail lines into Bridgeton. The railroad had a terminal on Irving Avenue near Walnut Street, and later extended around East Lake and downtown to what is now the visitors' center. [31] In 1875 the West Jersey also extended a line to Bridgeton via Glassboro and Elmer; at Elmer a connection could be made with the Salem Railroad. The line that connected with Bridgeton eventually ran a spur to Port Norris; this was called the Bridgeton and Port Norris Railroad and was incorporated in 1866. Completed in 1875, it transported oysters from Port Norris to Bridgeton and on to major market cities. Shortly after completion the railroad was sold to the Cumberland and Maurice Railroad Company in foreclosure proceedings. The line served Bridgeton, Buckville, Fairton, Westcott's, North Cedarville, Cedarville, Newport, Dividing Creek, Buckshutem, Mauricetown, Centreville and Port Norris. Stage connections could be made at Newport, Dividing Creek, and Mauricetown (Fig. 90), while the train connection to Philadelphia could be made at the West Jersey depot in Bridgeton. [32]

freight station
Figure 90. Cumberland & Maurice Railroad Co. Mauricetown Freight Station (late 19th century). Small with decorative Victorian "framing," this depot has been moved to Route 47.

The New Jersey Southern Railroad, a unit of the New Jersey Central Railroad, was incorporated in 1867 and ready for service from Vineland in 1872. The line passed through the central part of Cumberland County extending from Bayside/Caviar on the Delaware River to Bridgeton and Vineland, then northward to New York City. In the 1880s the railroad passed under the control of the Reading Railroad company. [33]

The Salem Railroad, chartered in 1856, was originally sixteen miles long from Salem to Elmer. The line could run "from a point in the town of Salem, or within one mile thereof, to any point on the West Jersey Railroad, at Woodbury or south thereof, which the directors deem most eligible." [34] It was completed in 1870, including a spur to Bridgeton. The Salem depot for the West Jersey and Seashore Railroad was located on Grant Street. Built in 1888, the building had separate areas for women and smokers, as well as passengers and baggage. The depot was active until the 1920s and was demolished in 1944. A freight-train station and office was also located on Grant Street. Today the latter continues to be used as the office for the West Jersey Line Excursion Tours, which offers recreational train rides through Salem County. [35]

By the 1930s, the railroad's importance in South Jersey started to diminish. Businesses and vacationers, as well as residents, relied more upon vehicular transportation. In addition, many of the industries that had once supported the railroad were no longer profitable; the caviar industry had ceased and the oyster industry was slipping into a forty-year slump that continues today. In 1933, the Maurice River Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad had reached such a low ebb that the New Jersey State Public Utilities Commission approved a plan to eliminate the service. [36]

In the mid twentieth century, Conrail took over several of the financially failing lines that passed through South Jersey. One, the Millville-Leesburg and Manumuskin line, was rehabilitated in 1982 to ship sand for the local sandmining companies. The same year, however, Conrail dropped its service to Seabrook—just north of Bridgeton—due to dwindling profits. [37] Four years later Conrail also dropped its southern railroads, which included the Millville-Leesburg and Manumuskin and the Bridgeton-Mauricetown lines. The Winchester and Western Railroad bought forty-six miles and operated eighteen miles of Conrail's lines. "Along with the Bridgeton to Millville run, Winchester and Western also operates two other freight trains around the county, forming a horseshoe route around townships that include Dorchester, Downe, Commercial, Lawrence, Fairfield and Upper Deerfield." [38]

Electric Trolley

Prior to the turn of the century, the electric trolley developed as a popular mode of transportation, particularly in Cumberland County. As early as 1893, the Bridgeton and Port Norris Railway Company was organized with both a freight and passenger service. The line started in Bridgeton and continued on to Fairton, Cedarville, Newport, Dividing Creek, Port Norris and Bivalve. Substations supplied the current between cities; the one between Cedarville and Bivalve was in Dividing Creek. The 5-cents ticket price of the Bridgeton and Port Norris Railway Company route was affordable for everybody, including many of the workers who came from Philadelphia for spring planting and fall harvesting seasons. [39] By 1900, the Bridgeton and Port Norris Railway Company had merged with the Bridgeton and Millville Traction Company (Figs. 91-92). As a result, the Bridgeton and Port Norris route became one of three lines operated by the Bridgeton and Millville Traction Company. The second was the Bridgeton and Millville line, which left from Bridgeton and arrived at the Pennsylvania Railroad station in Millville. The third was a local line that served only Bridgeton. In 1922, the Bridgeton and Millville Traction Company ceased operations due to delinquent taxes, and the rail lines were removed. [40]

Figure 91. The Bridgeton & Co. trolley, shown here at the Union Lake Park stop, provided transportation to Cumberland County residents from ca. 1900-22 Wettstein, early 20th century.

Figure 92. Bridgeville & Millville Traction Co. trolley tickets. Gehring.

The trolley was prominent throughout all resort towns, and Cape May Point was no exception. The Cape May Delaware Bay and Sewell's Point Railroad carried riders from Cape May Point through Cape May to the Sewell's Point amusement complex. When the line first opened cars were pulled by horses; they were later converted to steam, and finally to electricity. The electric cars served the Cape May and Sewell's Point area until 14 October 1916 when the company closed due to the rise in automobile traffic. [41]

As the trolleys in Cape May and Cumberland counties decreased in importance, they were increasingly used in Salem County. The Salem-Penns Grove Traction Company began its service in 1917, with a line from Salem through Pennsville and on to Carney's Point. Until 1927, all passengers had to dismount the cars and walk across the Penns Neck Bridge, as it could not withstand the weight of the cars. In 1927 a more durable bridge was erected and it remains in place today. The trolley service ceased in 1932, again due to the increasing use of cars; moreover the maintenance and repair of cars and track had become too costly. Today, the only evidence of the extensive South Jersey trolley system is one structure, a garage in Pennsville at Broadway and Union streets. The garage appears the same as when it was used by the traction company, except that the hinged front doors have been replaced. [42]

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