Sunday, March 22, 2015

Review: Railroads of New Jersey: Fragments of the Past in the Garden State Landscape by Lorett Treese

While doing some research on New Jersey Shortlines, I found a few brief references to Railroads of New Jersey by Lorett Treese. I was curious and tried to find a copy online. As the book was published almost ten years ago, it had gone the way of popular rail books. Collector prices were double the list price, and higher. So I did my usual thing: wait. And soon enough, I found a new copy was available and at a small discount

Railroads of New Jersey: Fragments of the Past in the Garden State Landscape was not quite what I expected. In fact, the book was very different from the usual railroad-oriented texts. I wondered at first is this were not a light tourist guide for the very casual railfan. In fact, it was anything but light. Lorett Treese presented the history and current state of New Jersey railroading in a very different and refreshing manner.

To begind with, the state is divided into seven regions These are Skylands -Northwest, Delaware River -southwest, Gateway - Northeast, Shore Area - Monmouth and Ocean counties, Greater Atlantic City (that’s a contradiction) and Southers Shore at the bottom of the state. Treese covers each one from various angles, including histories of several of their prominent railroads, a few notable personalities, travel notes, current railroad activity and rail trails.

This is not your usual dry history.  It is like reading good stories from the viewpoint of someone who has visited the area.

Railroads of New Jersey gives you the feel of railroads in New Jersey from its beginnings to its present state. Most railroad books do not do that well.  They get caught up in numbers and details. You get the facts, but not much feel. Railroads of New Jersey gives a very different and refreshing view.

Treese also covers the railroads that mattered: Erie, Lackawanna, Jersey Central, the Pennsylvania, Reading and Lehigh Valley.  She also covers a lot of the smaller ones, and some short lines that became big lines. If you want the finer details such as locomotive rosters, you will have to look elsewhere. Railroads of New Jersey takes a different track, and does it well.

BTW - Lorrett Treese also wrote a book called Railroads of Pennsylvania. In fact, she wrote that one first


More book reviews will be coming!

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