Lake & Chester Junctions – Then & Now

DL&W, Wharton & Northern

At Lake Junction, the Wharton & Northern, later a part of the CNJ’s High Bridge Branch, crossed the DL&W’s Chester Branch. About a hundred feet over, the Chester branch terminated at its connection with the Boonton Line, then the Lackawanna’s high speed freight main. The Lackawanna recognized both of these as a part of Chester Junction.

Lake Junction also had a small interchange yard, on the CNJ right-of-way. In addition, a short branch to the Hercules ammunition plant (known as the ‘Gunpowder Branch’) broke off of the yard ladder. At the far end of the yard, the tracks again condensed to and ducked underneath the Boonton Line in a concrete culvert.

Lake Junction Yard 1976

This image is looking down the interchange yard, away from Lake Junction and towards the Boonton Line overpass. The track leaving the yard to the left is the Gunpowder branch. Notice the amount of sand on the tracks – this is due to the leaking covered hoppers that would sit in this area before being delivered to Hercules. The sand was necessary for making their explosive products.

Lake Junction Yard 1996

This is more or less what the yard looks like today. The cars at right are stored there by the Morristown & Erie, who operates the remaining trackage today. These tank cars are for Bayway Refinery. The track the photographer is standing on is the one to the left of where he stood 20 years before – the switch leads to the intact but overgrown Gunpowder branch.

DL&W Overpass 1976

This is the far end of the small interchange yard at Lake Junction, as seen from the top of the Boonton Line culvert. The track continued through Picatinny Arsenal en route to Green Pond Junction.

DL&W Overpass 2000

Twenty-four years later, this end of the yard is now overgrown. The M&E does not need to use the far throat of the yard, and instead operates it as a stub-end facility. The tracks, however, are intact here – some of which is still visible through the foliage.