Chapter 11
Morris Co. Up


CHAPTER XI.

TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION—TURNPIKES—THE MORRIS CANAL—RAILROADS.

BY the end of the last century the increased business and population of the county demanded better roads than had thus far sufficed. The pack saddle had been supplanted by wheels, and tolerable roads through the county had been built, but from the county to the seaboard the want of something better was felt. The first turnpike company in the county was the Morris Turnpike Company, which was chartered March 9th 1801. Its corporators were Gabriel H. FORD, David FORD and Israel CANFIELD, and its object was declared to be the erecting and maintaining of a good and sufficient turnpike road from Elizabethtown, in the county of Essex, through Morristown, in the county of Morris, and from thence into the county of Sussex. The act of incorporation is very much like a modern railroad act, and provided for tolls to be charged, condemnation of lands, etc., etc. The road was actually built, entering Morris county at Chatham, and, passing through Madison in almost a straight line, ran to nearly opposite Washington's headquarters in Morristown; passed through Morris and Spring streets and Sussex avenue in Morristown, and so on through Walnut Grove, Succasunna Plains, Drakesville and Stanhope to Newtown.

February 23d 1804 Elias OGDEN, Joseph HURD and John DeCAMP were made corporators of a new turnpike company, to be called the Union Turnpike Company, which had for its object the building a road from Morristown through Dover and Mount Pleasant, and from thence to Sparta, in the county of Sussex. The company was to commence building the road at Sparta and work eastward. Under the auspices of this company the pike was made which, coming east from Sparta, ran through Woodport, Hurdtown, Berkshire Valley, Mount Pleasant and Dover, to Morristown. February 4th 1815 the company was allowed by act of Legislature to raise $7,500 by lottery to pay its debts, and it is of record that a road near Stanhope was built with money raised in this manner.

March 12th 1806 the Newark and Mount Pleasant Turnpike Company was incorporated, its incorporators being Joseph T. BALDWIN, Nathaniel BEACH, Isaac PIERSON, Hiram SMITH and Joseph JACKSON. This road entered the county at Cook's Bridge and, passing through Whippany and Littleton, fell into the Union turnpike at Pleasant Valley, near Dover. It was abandoned as a turnpike before 1833.

March 3d 1806 a company was chartered to build a turnpike from Morristown to Phillipsburg, with a branch from Schooley's Mountain passing by the celebrated mineral springs to Hackettstown. The incorporators were David WELSH, George BIDLEMAN, Nicholas NEIGHBOUR, Ebenezer DRAKE, Israel CANFIELD, James LITTLE, John McCARTER, Edward CONDICT, Harry COOPER, and Samuel SHERRED, and it was called the Washington Turnpike Company. It built the road which, leaving Morristown by the court-house, is still the principal road to Mendham; running thence through Chester, by the late General COOPER's mills, to German Valley, and so up Schooley's Mountain, through Springtown, to the mountain hotels, where it branched, the "spur" going north to Hackettstown and the main line continuing through Pleasant Grove toward Phillipsburg. In 1823 the property of this company was sold by the sheriff to James WOOD, who owned the road until 1842, when he made a reconveyance to the company. Mr. WOOD also owned the franchises etc., of the Union Turnpike Company, which had been sold to Sylvester D. RUSSEL and by his widow released to him. The executors of Mr. WOOD sold his interest in it in 1852 to A. C. FARMINGTON and others, who reorganized the company.

At the same time, March 3d 1806, the Paterson and Hamburg Turnpike Company was organized, which built the turnpike that, beginning at Aquacknonk Landing, in Essex county, passed through Paterson to Pompton, and so up the valley of the Pequannock to Newfoundland, and on to Hamburg in Sussex. The corporators named in the act were Joseph SHARP, John SEWARD, Robert COLFAX, Martin J. RYERSON, Charles KINSEY, Abraham GODWIN, Abraham VAN HOUTEN, John Odle FORD and Jacob KANOUSE.

November 14th 1809 the Parsippany and Rockaway Turnpike Company was incorporated, Tobias BOUDINOT, Israel CRANE, Benjamin SMITH, Lemuel COBB, John HINCHMAN and Joseph JACKSON being the incorporators. It began at Pine Brook, ran up through the Boudmot Meadows--the dread of all travelers until filled in through their entire length--Troy, Parsippany, Denville, Rockaway, and across the mountain to Mount Pleasant, where it joined the Union turnpike. July 22nd 1822 this turnpike was abandoned as such and was laid out by surveyors of the highway as a public road, and it is still the main thoroughfare from that part of the country to Newark etc.

February 11th 1811 the Newark and Morris Turnpike Company was chartered, John DOUGHTY, Benjamin PIERSON, Caleb CAMPBELL, Seth WOODRUFF, Moses W. COMBS and Jabez PIERSON being the incorporators. The road was to pass through South Orange to Bottle Hill (Madison) or to Morristown.

The Columbia and Walpack Turnpike Company was incorporated in 1819.

These turnpikes had a great influence in developing the resources of the county--how great they who live at the present day of steam railroads can hardly appreciate. They were not profitable to the incorporators, and the benefit which accrued from them was to the community at large.

Some idea can be gotten of the means of communication in those days by the stage route advertisements. April 3d 1798 Pruden ALLING and Benjamin GREEN advertise the Hanover stage to run from William PARROT's to Paulus Hook (Jersey City) every Tuesday, stopping at Munn's tavern in Orange and William BROADWELL's in Newark, returning the succeeding day. The fare was one dollar. At the same time Benjamin FREEMAN and John HALSEY advertised stages to run from Morristown to New York every Tuesday and Friday, returning every Wednesday and Saturday. The stage started from Benjamin FREEMAN's at 6 in the morning, stopped at Stephen HALSEY's at Bottle Hill and Israel DAY's at Chatham, and from thence to Mr. ROLL's, at Springfield, from whence the stage went to Paulus Hook by Newark, but passengers desiring to go by Elizabethtown Point could have a conveyance furnished. The fare to the Hook was $1.25, and to Elizabethtown $1.

Ten years after, May 30th 1808, John HALSEY advertised a stage from Morristown to Elizabethtown Point, to start from his house at Morristown at 6 A. M. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, to arrive at the Point for the first boat and to return each succeeding day. The fare was $1. A four-horse stage ran to "Powles Hook" as usual on Tuesdays and Fridays of each week; and the next year (April 4th 1809) John Burnet & Co. advertise a stage to run from Seth GREGORY's tavern, on Morris Plains, through Morristown, Whippany, Hanover, Orange and Newark, to the "city of Jersey," starting at 6 A. M. Mondays and Thursdays and returning the succeeding days. They claimed that the route was shorter than any other and was on the turnpike nearly all the way. The fare was $1.50.

In 1812 William DALRYMPLE's stages were carrying people from Lewis HAYDEN's tavern to Elizabethtown Point three times a week for $1 each, and from the Point they took steamer to New York. December 22nd of this year notice is taken of Governor OGDEN's beautiful steamer, just completed, which went from Elizabeth to Amboy on Friday, December 19th, to take out papers. Returning she made the distance of thirteen or fourteen miles in two hours. The machinery, "which differs in many respects from any heretofore built," was made by Daniel DOD, of Mendham, a very celebrated inventor and clock-maker.

Sixteen years later, April 26th 1828 McCoury, Drake & Co. advertised a stage "to run through in one day and by daylight," for $2 fare, from New York to Easton, via Elizabethport, Morristown and Schooley's Mountain Springs. Passengers could leave New York by the steamer "Emerald" at 6 A. M., and returning leave Easton at 4 A. M. and arrive in New York at 6 P. M. While this was the through route the Morris and New York mail stages left Morristown Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and went by way of Hanover and Orange to Newark, whence passengers were taken to the city by steamboat. They arrived at New York at 3 P. M., and returning, at Morristown at 5 P. M. The fare through was $1.25.

Ten years later the Morris and Essex Railroad was in operation, and there was an improvement in point of time and comfort, but, as will be observed, little in the cost of travel.

The idea of making the Morris Canal was first conceived by George P. McCULLOCH, of Morristown, while on a fishing excursion to Lake Hopatcong, well known as the Great Pond. This lake was 925 feet above the level of the sea, and originally covered an area of five square miles. To dam up its outlet and husband the winter rains, and then lead the accumulated waters westward down the valley of the Musconetcong to the Delaware, and eastward to and down the valleys of the Rockaway and Passaic to Newark, was the object he thought attainable. The region to be traversed was rich in its mineral products, and iron was manufactured in abundance in the fifty forges and three furnaces which were still in existence. Thirty forges and nine furnaces in this neighborhood had fallen into disuse, principally for lack of cheap transportation. Mr. McCULLOCH attempted to interest the State in his project, and by an act of November 15th 1822 the Legislature appointed him, with Charles KINSEY, of Essex, and Thomas CAPNER, commissioners with authority to employ a scientific engineer and surveyor to explore, survey and level the most practicable route for this canal and to make an estimate of the cost thereof. The commissioners reported in 1823 and received the thanks of the Legislature; but the latter could not be induced to make it a State affair, and left it to private enterprise.

Mr. McCULLOCH communicated an account of the enterprise to Cadwallader D. COLDEN in 1832, in which he speaks as follows of Professor RENWICK, of New York, who planned the construction, as well as of others concerned in the business:

"Be it here broadly stated that up to the time when the Morris Canal became a Wall street speculation he was considered by every person connected with the enterprise as the chief engineer; and that without his zeal, talent and science it would not within our day and generation have emerged beyond a scheme transmitted to a more liberal and enlightened posterity.

"In April 1823 I went to Albany, and with Governor CLINTON's concurrence obtained from the Legislature of the State of New York a grant of its engineers to join in the Morris survey. But even this co-operation did not seem to me sufficient to counteract the apathy of friends or the prejudices and party spirit of opponents. I therefore wrote to Mr. CALHOUN, then secretary of war, for the aid of General BERNARD and Colonel TOTTEN, heads of the U. S. engineer department. This reinforcement, with the volunteer services of General SWIFT, constituted a weight of authority sufficient to overpower cavil, ignorance and hostility. From Albany I proceeded with Judge WRIGHT, chief engineer of the Erie Canal, to Little Falls, for the purpose of engaging Mr. BEACH to take the levels and survey the route, having previously conversed with him, and agreed with Professor RENWICK to entrust him with that task.

"The spring and summer of 1823 were spent by me in collecting topographical and statistic information, as also in reconnoitering the various routes, in company with the inhabitants of their vicinity. Here a singular fact should be stated, that the plain good sense and local information of our farmers staked out the most difficult passes of the boldest canal in existence, and that in every important point the actual navigation merely pursues the trace thus indicated. In July 1823 Mr. BEACH appeared for the first time on the scene of action, guided by Mr. RENWICK, to whom the deliberative department was confided."

December 31st 1824 the "Morris Canal and Banking Company" was incorporated, with a capital of $1,000,000, for the purpose, as stated in the preamble, of constructing a canal to unite the river Delaware near Easton with the tide waters of the Passaic. Jacob S. THOMPSON, of Sussex, Silas COOK, of Morris, John DOW, of Essex, and Charles BOARD, of Bergen, were the incorporators named in the act; and George P. McCULLOCH and John SCOTT, of Morris county, Israel CRANE, of Essex, Joseph G. SWIFT, Henry ECKFORD and David B. OGDEN, of the city of New York, were appointed commissioners to receive subscriptions to the stock. The company was also allowed to do a banking business in connection with its canal, and in proportion to the amount expended on the canal.

Relative to the financial features introduced in the organization through stock-jobbing influences Mr. McCULLOCH speaks as follows:

"It may be well here to remark that, anticipating the danger of throwing the whole concern into the control of mere foreign capitalists, the draft of a charter provided that a certain number of directors should be chosen resident in each county penetrated by the canal. * * * Several gentlemen from Wall street had volunteered their good offices and very kindly took post in the Trenton lobby after my departure. Upon their suggestion the draft of the charter was transformed into its present shape, nor did I receive the most distant hint of any alteration until the bill was finally passed. A company was formed and myself included in its direction. The precarious position of a canal coupled to a bank and directed by men of operations exclusively financial was obvious. The interests of the country and the development of the iron manufacture were merged in a reckless stock speculation. I did all in my power to arrest this perversion, but soon found myself a mere cipher, standing alone, and responsible in public opinion for acts of extravagant folly, which I alone had strenuously opposed at the board of directors. * * * I clung to the sinking ship until every hope of safety had vanished, and then vacated my seat by selling out, thus saving myself from ruin, if not from loss. From the moment the charter, altered without my knowledge, was obtained, the whole affair became a stock-jobbing concern, the canal a mere pretext; my efforts to recall the institution to its duty were regarded as an intrusion, and every pains was taken to force me to retire." * * *

"Not only was the project itself first conceived by me, but I employed five years in exploring the route and conciliating friends. The newspaper articles, the correspondence to obtain information, the commissioners' report, and an endless catalogue of literary tasks were from my hand. I claim to have single-handed achieved the problem of rendering popular, and accomplishing, a scheme demanding vast resources and stigmatized as the dream of a crazed imagination."

The route of the canal was selected and the estimate made by Major Ephraim BEACH, under whose direction the work was executed. The greatest difficulty experienced was in the inclined planes, which were not in successful operation until many costly experiments were made. The first completed was at Rockaway, and passed a boat loaded with stone, computed to weigh fifteen tons, from the lower to the upper level, 52 feet, in twelve minutes. It was not considered complete either in mechanism or workmanship, and it was not till 1857 that the present plane was adopted there.

The canal was completed from Easton to Newark, 90 miles, in August 1831. It was estimated to cost $817,000--it actually cost about $2,000,000. The canal was adapted to boats of 25 tons only, which in many cases proved too heavy for the chains of the planes. The pas sage from Easton to Newark was said to have been performed in less than five days. There were twelve planes and 17 locks, aggregating an elevation of 914 feet, the highest planes being those of Drakesville and Boonton Falls, which were each 80 feet. The continuation of the canal to Jersey City was not completed until 1836. To meet the payments in constructing the canal the company borrowed in Holland $750,000, which was known as the "Dutch loan," and secured its indebtedness by a mortgage on the canal. This mortgage the company was unable to pay, and a sale under foreclosure was had, by which the regular stockholders lost their stock, the unsecured creditors their debts, and the State of Indiana, which held a second mortgage, much of its loan. The canal was bought in by Benjamin WILLIAMSON, Asa WHITEHEAD and John J. BRYANT, October 21st 1844, for $1,000,000. The purchasers reorganized the company under the same name, and the new company immediately undertook the enlargement of the capacity of the canal, which has been carried on more or less every year since. While in its beginning its boats carried loads of 25 or 30 tons, they now carry loads of 65 and even 70 tons. Its tonnage (as appears by the reports to the stockholders) had increased from 58,259 tons in 1845, when only open part of the year, and 109,505 in 1846, to 707,572 in 1870. Its receipts for tolls and other sources in 1845 were $18,997.45; in 1846 $51,212.39; in 1870 $391,549.76.

On the 4th of May 1871 the Morris Canal Company made a perpetual lease of the canal and works to the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company, —a Pennsylvania corporation, that desired it as an outlet to tide water. This company has since operated and treated the canal as its own.

The Morris and Essex Railroad Company was incorporated by the Legislature of New Jersey January 29th 1835, the incorporators named in the act being James Cook and William N. WOOD, of Morristown, William BRITTIN, of Madison, Jeptha B. MUNN, of Chatham, Israel D. CONDICT, of Milburn, John J. BRYAN and Isaac BALDWIN. The capital stock was fixed at $300,000, with power to increase it to $500,000, and the professed object of the company was to build a railroad from one or more places "in the village of Morristown" to intersect the railroad of the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Company at Newark or Elizabethtown. The rate for freight was limited to six cents per ton for each mile, and for passengers at six cents for each passenger per mile. A provision was also inserted in the charter that the State might take the road at its appraised value fifty years after its completion. The next year the company was authorized to build lateral roads to Whippany, Boonton, Denville, Rockaway and Dover, and to increase its stock $250,000. In 1838 the company was allowed to borrow money for the purposes of its road, and in 1839 to increase the par value of the shares from $50 to $75.

Besides those named in the act of incorporation there were prominent and active in forwarding this enterprise from the beginning Hon. Lewis CONDICT, of Morristown, Jonathan C. BONNEL, of Chatham, and James VANDERPOOL, of Newark (father of Beach VANDERPOOL, afterward for so many years treasurer of the road). The difficulties met with in building the road were numerous and formidable, and were only overcome by enlisting in its behalf all who lived upon its proposed route. Changes were made in its location to gain it friends, and the directors exhausted every effort to carry the work to a successful termination. They frequently pledged their individual credit to supply the necessary funds. The engineer was Captain Ephraim BEACH, who had been the engineer of the Morris Canal. The track was at first the "strap rail," consisting of a flat bar of iron spiked on the edge of timbers running parallel with the road bed, and causing occasional accidents by loose ends curling under the wheels and sometimes going through the bottom of the cars. There was at the outset no idea of its ever being a "through road" across the State, or of the immense traffic of the present day ever passing over it. The engines were small and two sufficed to do the work. The depot at Morristown was on De Hart street, the railroad approaching it through the present Maple avenue--formerly called Railroad avenue and, before the time of the railroad, Canfield street. At Newark the cars were hauled from the depot on Broad street through Center street to the track of the New Jersey Railroad at the Center street depot.

The business done by the new road was not sufficiently remunerative to pay for its construction or to induce capitalists to loan the company money as it needed, and in 1842 the road with its franchises was sold, chiefly to pay about $50,000 or $60,000 due its directors for money advanced by them. The sale was so made, however, that all the original stockholders had an opportunity to come in and redeem their stock (a privilege which a majority availed themselves of) and all the debts of the company were paid.

A reorganization followed, and the new company at once proceeded to relay the road with iron rails of more modern pattern, and to make other and greater improvements. In 1845 the continuation of the road to Dover, agreeably to the supplement of the charter passed in 1836, was undertaken. There being some doubt as to the power of the company to build the road after the lapse of so many years, an act of the Legislature was obtained in 1846 reaffirming and continuing the company's privileges and allowing it to build a road from Dover to Stanhope. Work was at once begun, and in July 1848 the road was completed to Dover, an event which was celebrated by a grand dinner at the latter place. To get beyond Morristown the road was taken up from the "Sneden place," below Governor RANDOLPH's to De Hart street, and laid anew where it still runs. Contemplating to run from Denville directly to Dover, the people of Rockaway contracted to give the right of way from Denville to "Dell's Bridge," where the switch is now between Rockaway and Dover, if the road was laid through their place, which agreement was fulfilled.

Dover was the end of the route for a year or two, but in 1850 the further continuation of the road was begun, and in 1853 or thereabouts it was finished to Hackettstown. Here the work rested until 1861, when the road was completed across the State to Phillipsburg.

The tedious method of getting through Newark to the New Jersey Railroad by horse power was submitted to until 1851, when the company was authorized to continue its road to Hoboken. In did not, however, do this at once, but made an arrangement with the New Jersey Railroad to run a branch of that road over the Passaic to the present Morris and Essex depot, so that trains ran by steam uninterruptedly through Newark and so on to the New Jersey Railroad, and as formerly to Jersey City. It was not until 1863 that the company built its own road to Hoboken, getting an act passed in 1864 to enable it to buy the Passaic bridge, etc., of the New Jersey Railroad.

In 1866 an arrangement was made to lease the road to the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad Company, and it was the intention to make it a part of a great through route to the west; an enterprise which entirely failed, owing to the failure of Sir Morton PETO or the other parties interested. December 10th 1868 a lease was made to the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company, which is still in force. By it the lessees agree to operate the road, making it a part of their own line to tide water, and to guarantee the payment of interest on its funded debt and at least 7 per cent. per annum dividends on its stock.

Many collateral or branch roads have been built to the main line. Shortly after the continuation to Hackettstown the Sussex Railroad was built from Newton to Waterloo, hitherto owned and managed by a separate board of directors and kept entirely distinct from the main line. In 1864 the people of Boonton were accommodated with a branch from Denville to take the place of the stage line which had previously been their means of conveyance. This was largely through the influence of J. C. LORD, half owner of the Boonton Works and a director in the Morris and Essex. The Chester Railroad was constructed in 1867, mainly through the efforts of Major Daniel BUDD, by the Chester Railroad Company, an organization distinct in name but in reality an adjunct to the Morris and Essex road. Shortly afterward the Hibernia Railroad, which was built during the war from Hibernia to the Morris Canal at Rockaway as a horse road, was extended to the Morris and Essex line and made a steam road. It is a separate corporation in every respect, the Morris and Essex not owning or controlling its stock. The Ferromonte Railroad is a spur of the Chester road built in 1869 to the Dickerson mine. The Mount Hope Railroad, from Port Oram via the Richards, Allen and Teabo mines to Mount Hope, was built just after the war, to carry the immense ore freights of these mines along its route. It supplanted in use a tram railway from Mount Hope to the canal at Rockaway.

Since the Morris and Essex has been under the control of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company very great changes have been made in it. The Paterson branch, beginning at Dell's Bridge over Mill Brook between Rockaway and Dover, and running thence with double track to Denville, where it crosses the main line, thence to Boonton, mostly on the bed of the old "Boonton branch," and so by way of Paterson to the tunnel; the new Hoboken tunnel, and the double tracking of the old road its whole length except between Morristown and Rockaway, have been the work of the lessees. The expense of these improvements and additions has been charged to the Morris and Essex road, so that, while its stock and bonds amounted at the time of the lease to about $12,000,000, they now amount to about $36,000,000.

Besides the Morris and Essex Railroad and the branches mentioned in connection therewith, there are in the county of Morris the New Jersey Midland Railroad, which skirts the northern edge of Pequannock, Jefferson and Rockaway townships; the Greenwood Lake Railroad, which crosses Pompton Plains; the Green Pond Railroad, which is a branch of the New Jersey Midland running from Charlotteburgh to the Copperas mine; the High Bridge Railroad, a branch of the Central of New Jersey, running from High Bridge through German Valley and McCainsville to Port Oram, with a spur to Chester; the Dover and Rockaway Railroad, connecting the High Bridge Railroad at Port Oram with the Hibernia Railroad at Rockaway; and the Ogden Mine Railroad, running from the Ogden and Hurd mines to Lake Hopatcong--all built since the last war, and which properly come within the province of the histories of the several townships in which they lie.


This page was last modified on:  01 January, 2014

Copyright ©1999-2014 by Brianne Kelly-Bly, all rights reserved.