Greenwood Lake Division – What Lies Beneath

One of the more fascinating aspects of local history is the old infrastucture that normally lies buried beneath reservoirs. With the Wanaque Reservoir at record lows, all sorts of railroads, bridges, culverts, stone fences, foundations, tree trunks, roads, etc. become visible. In order to build the Wanaque Reservoir, four cemetaries had to be relocated. The Greenwood Lake Branch was re-aligned to a higher elevation. Villages such as Erskine and Boardville disappeared into oblivion.

All pictures were taken from public areas. At no time did any trespassing onto reservoir property take place!

Click Here for a large, detailed map of the Wanaque Reservoir

Old GLD Bridge over Wanaque River

Seen through a 400mm lens is the original bridge where the Greenwood Lake Division crossed the Wanaque River, prior to 1926. When I first saw this, I thought it was an old dam. Upon further examination, I noticed the concrete abutments and girders of a bridge, complete with embankments on each side! They just happen to be the right width for a single track RR. This view is looking west from Greenwood Lake Turnpike, south of the Skyline Drive intersection.

New GLD high fill

Traveling further north, we observe the new alignment of the RR. What normally looks like a causeway is in fact a massive fill. The concrete culvert allows Cupsaw Brook to pass beneath. The dark coloration on top of the fill is normally the only part above water.

Original Skylands Road (Hilltop Farm Road)

This is Skylands Rd. looking southwest towards the fill of the new RR alignment. Skylands Road was called Hilltop Farm Road, according to an old map of the area.

Original Greenwood Lake Road grade crossing

There are many things that can be observed from the long straight section of Greenwood Lake Turnpike. The new alignment of the RR ran parallel to the road for about a mile and is now an access road. Pictured here is the village of Erskine, located just south of the new alignment. The large trench starting at the lower right is the cut through which the original Ringwood branch passed on its way south toward old Ringwood Jct. Greenwood Lake Road crossed the Ringwood Branch here at grade.

Former town of Erskine

Another view of Erskine shows the old RR cut looking south. The small island is the top of a hill behind the Erskine station, which was nothing more than a small wooden shed.

Former town of Erskine

This view of Erskine shows from left to right, the old RR cut, the foundation of a house, and the Greenwood Lake Road bridge over Ringwood Brook.

Bridge near Ringwood Junction

Looking south across the reservoir can be seen the original pre-1926 RR bridge. The Greenwood Lake Division crossed the Wanaque River and then divided at old Ringwood Junction. The main part of the RR continued west towards Greenwood Lake. The Ringwood branch turned north, crossed the Wanaque River again, and followed the contour of Ringwood Brook.

Ringwood Junction

Although hard to see, across the reservoir lies the original Ringwood Junction. Curving up out of the water is the old roadbed of the Ringwood Branch, which really followed the countour of the land on its way south to the junction. As it headed north (toward the camera), it must have dropped in elevation down to the level of the Wanaque River. The reservoir will probably have to be almost empty to see that bridge.

Boardville and Old Greenwood Lake Road

Looking southwest across the reservoir, was Boardville, another stop on the RR. Along the distant shore, outlined in snow, is the old alignment of the RR. Coming up out of the water, complete with pavement, is old Greenwood Lake Road. In the lower right foreground is the access road which was the new alignment of the RR after 1926.

Old Greenwood Lake Road culvert

Traveling further west along modern Greenwood Lake Turnpike, we look across the reservoir and see the old Greenwood Lake Road crossing a small creek in the foreground. On the distant shore can be seen two distinct railroad right of ways. The upper one is the new alignment, after 1926. The lower one is the old alignment, before 1926. The upper one is at 300 ft elevation. The lower one climbed up slowly as it headed west. They met near the site of the Monskville Dam. From there on, the RR is buried beneath the waters of the Monksville Reservoir. It reappears again at Hewitt.

Original Ringwood Branch ROW

Standing on the north side of Greenwood Lake Turnpike, the right of way of the old Ringwood Branch can be easily seen, heading towards the mines.

Original alignment of Ringwood Branch

Another view of the old alignment of the Ringwood Branch, looking north from Greenwood Lake Turnpike. In the distance, to the left of the RR, was Forge Pond. There was a siding here for harvesting ice.

New Ringwood Branch culvert over Ringwood Brook

Traveling north on Sloatsburg Rd., we can observe the old and new alignments of the Ringwood Branch. Pictured here are the culverts that carry the new alignment over Ringwood Brook.

1926 engraved on the culvert

The date says it all!

Original Ringwood Branch crossing of Ringwood Brook

Stone abutment and wood pilings mark the site of the old Ringwood Branch’s crossing of Ringwood Brook.

Roadbed of original Ringwood Branch farther North

The roadbed of the old alignment heads north to Ringwood.

Original Ringwood Branch climbing

Seen through a 400mm lens is the old Ringwood branch gaining elevation to meet the new alignment. The old map shows 3 different alignments in this area, all on reservoir property.