The North Jersey Rapid Transit Line
This article, by
Charles Anderson, was first published in “The Old Station Timetable” in March 1984.
Although the North Jersey Rapid Transit Company had trolleys running from East Paterson to Ridgewood in 1910, it was not until June, 1911 that tracks were completed through Mahwah to Suffern. After leaving Ramsey, the route continued to parallel the Erie Railroad to present day Wanamaker Avenue, then it curved eastward to cross the Franklin Turnpike, turned north in a straight line across Miller Road to Christie Avenue in Suffern, N.Y., and then went on to Main Street.
At that time, most of the area was wooded with a few residences ‘in the Cragmere Park section. At the east end of the Henrietta Building on Miller Road, waiting passengers had a shelter of sorts, but the other crossings were “flag stops.” Most people used the line to get to Ridgewood for shopping or to Ramsey to attend the High School, although there were also regular commuters to towns along the route.
With the exception of parts of Ridgewood, it is possible to’ follow the right of way from its southern end in today’s Elmwood Park all the way north to the Mahwah line. From there on, time and real estate development have almost obliterated the route. Having taken over the original line, the Public Service sold some parts of the Mahwah area to the Rockland Electric Company, which resold two large sections. Present occupants of these sections are the Short Line Bus Company, the Ford Display, A & P, and the Rockland Electric Company.
The route south to Miller Road is impassable, but as the right of way passes across the road and in back of the Police Station, it is clearly defined (although local residents have preempted it for gardens and a swimming pool). At Franklin Turnpike it can be followed on the south side of the apartment buildings, and then it is lost entirely as it begins to parallel the railroad. The last trolley left Suffern on December 31, 1929. It is to be expected that 55 years of urban development would tend to wipe out all signs of the trolley right of way, but only in Mahwah and Ridgewood is this so frustratingly apparent. In towns further south, it has become a bike-path as in Ramsey, and a pleasant walking path as in Waldwick, Hohokus and Allendale.
We put up historical markers for old houses and vanished grist mills. It might be a reasonable move to mark a section of the old trolley route while there is still some of it left in Mahwah.