How I Became Interested in Trains & Rail Transit
It was the passenger service operated on the New York & Long Branch Railroad that was largely responsible for my interest in trains and rail transit.
I grew up in Teaneck, where I still live. I was born in 1951, and passenger service on the West Shore Railroad, which provided service to Teaneck, wasn’t abandoned until 1959. But my father, who then worked in Jersey City, rarely (if ever) rode the West Shore trains, and I have no recollection of ever riding (or even watching) passenger trains on this line.
However, we had a summer home in Avon. It was located at 216-218 Main Street, right opposite the railroad station (which was then an old wood frame building that dated back to the 1800s). The living room windows overlooked the train tracks, and I would run to the window whenever I heard a train go by. In those days, of course, there were trains operated both by the Central Railroad of New Jersey and the Pennsylvania Railroad, and it was interesting to distinguish between the trains operated by each railroad. Particularly interesting was the one-car “hinky-dinky” (as we used to call it). This was the “doodlebug” operated by the PRR between Trenton and Red Bank (discontinued in 1962 or so).
A number of times, I accompanied my father on the train to work (by this time, his office had moved to Newark). Some of the trains stopped at Avon, and I distinctly recall waiting for the train there (service to the Avon station was subsequently discontinued) and watching the immense diesel engines pulling into the station with the old PRR cars. At times, we boarded the train in Bradley Beach or Belmar, where additional trains stopped.
I never rode the North Jersey Coast Line south of Belmar until the week of Super Bowl in 2014, when I took advantage of the Super Pass issued by NJ Transit to ride a number of rail lines, including the North Jersey Coast Line all the way to Bay Head.