An overall view of Middletown in 2010 shows the new Sawmill. The original mine beneath the Sawmill is now a Cogeneration Plant that receives coal from the mine at Otter Creek.
A closer look at the west end of Middletown in 2015 shows the completed Perry Creek Lumber facility and signals down on the GSN.
Here is a close up of the Sawmill, with an OC&P logging steam locomotive switching the plant.
The Dave Speid Memorial Enginehouse was erected at the east end of Middletown in 2007 after Dave passed. Dave’s N&W 611 was donated to the Club by his family and lives in this shed all year long. It is removed annually at our Open House to pull the Santa Claus Express much to the delight of children. Dave always greeted our young visitors with a friendly smile and gave out candy he donated to the Club.
Middletown is, as stated in the name, the middle of the railroad. Only DOUG Tower has seen more reconstruction since the new layout’s beginning in 1992. Middletown started out as the home of a large mine producing coal which later transformed into the Middletown Cogeneration Plant receiving coal from Robertsdale when the OC&P extended north. In fact the mine at Robertsdale is still called Middletown Mine. The Club needed empty coal hoppers to run back to Robertsdale so a few members got together and produced a fleet of 20 empty custom lettered Middletown Mining Company hoppers, having a little fun with Einstein’s famous relativity formula. The mountain originally constructed to house the old underground mine was later demolished to erect a sawmill when the OC&P was extended north again to Woodvale.
Middletown has always been an important point on the Garden State Northern though, having a large passenger station that all the express trains, even the High Mountain Flyer, stop at. The High Mountain Flyer drops its dining car off for service here after its first class riders have finished their gourmet lunch. A passing siding parallels the mainline here, and both tracks are served by the large commuter station. Middletown is home to a moderately sized switching yard, to serve the local industries. The yard can also serve as a local commuter train yard since several trains only run between Jersey City Terminal and Middletown. Behind the mainline is a large mountain, with a set of industrial tracks that climb the side at a very steep grade and form a switchback into a sawmill and its drying sheds.
The track configuration is unique at Middletown. It was originally designed to be modeled after the New York, Susquehanna, & Western’s yard and facility in Butler, NJ. The westbound main takes a wide turn to mimic the curve around where Butler Mountain would have been and the eastbound main was brought right up to the fascia and sunk down a bit to be hidden inside the mountain and help keep the mountain low so Butler could be seen over the top of that mountain. As a result, the eastbound mainline totally bypasses Middletown. Railroad ties were added going into a double track tunnel at the very west end of Middletown to make it look like the siding was the original eastbound main. There was even a proposal to have the east end of the siding go straight into the eastbound main at Perry and bring the bypass into a separate switch.
The mid-point on the Garden State Northern mainline, Middletown never has a dull moment. Reading Company SD45’s enter the passing siding with a mixed freight. They are heading westbound, making for the Deleware River and their home rails in Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, EL SD’s bypass the yard with an eastbound ore train. An EL GP35 switches the Mine in the background. The mine, mountain, and passenger station shown in this historic photo are long gone.
Nickel Plate Road 2-8-0 #492 stops at the west end of Middletown Yard for a drink, while PRR Gas-electric car #4644 stops at a passenger shelter on its commuter run. It has already made its stop at the large Passenger station at the East end of the Yard. A train of loaded hoppers sits on the mine tracks on the hill above. This hill is now the location of the sawmill.
2001 saw a lot of alterations for the east end of Middletown. A city-like backdrop was added. The old depot was removed and replaced with an over-the-track station. The tracks were completely reconfigured, incorporating a pair of diamonds to cross the westbound mainline and the siding. Note the old mountain still in existence behind the new station. The eastbound main is in the cut at the lower left. Here a local passenger pulls westbound into the station while a double-headed freight passes eastbound on the siding.
A 2003 view of Middletown Station. A NYC passenger train is arriving.