History of the Kinkora Branch
Before the construction of the Kinkora Branch another rail line through Springfield was surveyed in 1827. In the summer of that year a civil engineer named William Strickland suggested a rail route which would have connected Mount Holly, Jobstown, Georgetown, and Hightstown with the Camden and South Amboy Railroad. His report of November 5th, suggested that the gently rolling terrain in this area would be ideal for the rail line. If this line had been constructed, there probably would not have been a need for the parallel Pemberton and Hightstown Railroad.
All this changed on February 4th, 1830 when the Camden & Amboy Rail Road & Transportation Co. was chartered. This line would connect Camden and South Amboy via Bordentown and Burlington City. Due to the impressive $1 million initial stock offering, another rail route linking South Amboy and Camden was unlikely.
The Delaware & Jobstown Rail or McAdamized Road Co. was chartered on February 11th, 1833. The promoters anticipated a railroad connecting the Delaware River at the mouth of Craft's Creek with Columbus, Jobstown, Juliustown, Lewistown, and New Lisbon. The name was changed on January 20th, 1834 to The Delaware & Atlantic Railroad Co. The charter was changed at this time to allow the railroad to continue eastward from New Lisbon and reach the ocean somewhere between Tuckerton and Barnegat.
Between December 31st, 1835 and December 31st, 1838, the railroad was constructed through Mansfield, Springfield, and New Hanover Townships terminating at the "Public Road leading to Mount Misery" in the vacinity of New Lisbon. The line used mule drawn carts riding on iron strapped wood rails primarily to haul wood and charcoal between New Lisbon and Kinkora. (Since the line was in service before the Camden and Amboy reached the intersection at Kinkora I am theorizing that it was used to supply the iron furnace in Roebling. Was there ever low-grade iron ore mined in the Arney's Mount area?)
The chief promoter of the railroad was John Black. The railroad languished under his direction until it was abandoned in ????. John Black was also a promoter when the line was reincarnated as the Columbus, Kinkora & Springfield Railroad Co.
On March 24th, 1864, the Pemberton & Hightstown Railroad Co. was chartered. The Kinkora Branch intersected this railroad in Lewistown and it is interesting to note a list of the incorporators:
- Richard H. Conover
- George F. Fort
- Job H. Gaskill
- James S. Giberson
- Joseph K. Hulme
- John S. Irick
- Gilbert S. Lawrie
- Colin B. Meirs
- Benjamin Reed
- Nathaniel S. Rue
- Samuel Stockton
- Richard Waln
- Rescarrick M. Smith
- Harrison G. Wright
The Kinkora Branch was reborn on April 2nd, 1866 as The Columbus & Kinkora Railroad Co. The incorporators included:
- George Black
- Watson Newbold
- Peter E. Harvey
- John Bishop
- Clayton A. Black
- Amos Gibbs
- George B. Wills
- Nathan Folwell
- William Brice
The charter stated the railroad would utilize the Delaware & Atlantic's roadbed "from the low water mark in the Delaware at the mouth of Craft's Creek, thence running on the bed of said railroad to the village of Columbus, with privilege of extension to Vincentown". In 1870, the following commissioners were added:
- John Black
- Henry Ellis
- Edward Wills
- Richard H. Page
- J. Elwood Hancock
On February 16th, 1870, the name was officially changed to The Columbus, Kinkora & Springfield Railroad Co. On December 15th, 1870, an agreement was signed to allow the Camden & Amboy Railroad to operate the CK&S upon completion. Since the C&A would eventually become part of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Kinkora Branch would also come under PRR jurisdiction.
The line was officially opened on July 22nd, 1872 with service being provided by the Pennsylvania Railroad. A newspaper account noted that one could leave Trenton at 6:45am, change trains at Kinkora, New Lisbon, and Whiting to reach the shore resorts. Four round trip trains were offered in 1872. During 1878, the local newspaper noted that 3,000 quarts of milk were transported daily.
In 1881, 3.31 miles of track between Lewistown and New Lisbon were abandoned. The track was not removed until 1909. By 1900, the CK&S had fallen on hard times. Even the Union Transportation Co. (the reorganized Pemberton & Hightstown) refused to take over operations of the line from the PRR. In 1915, the PRR reorganized the Pemberton & Hightstown, Philadelphia & Long Branch, and the Kinkora Branch into the Pennsylvanbia & Atlantic Railroad Co. with the Union Transportation company being the lessee.
A resurgence of the line occured during the first World War when the Pennsy started routing troop and supply trains for Fort Dix via the Kinkora Branch. By June of 1917, the PRR had 300 men working on the Pemberton & Hightstown and Kinkora Branch to upgrade the lines to handle the increased number and weight of trains. The first train ran on August 15th, 1917.
By 1932, the Kinkora Branch had lost all milk traffic. It was still running 2 round trip passenger trains but the PRR was petitioning the BPUC to cut it to one. It was looking pretty bleak for the line until WWII.
Once again, a war would revitalize the line. Troop and supply trains were running on the branch bringing recruits and goods to and from Fort Dix and McGuire. Trains from all over the east were scheduled to run via Trenton, Kinkora., and Lewistown. Even weekend trains from New York City were running in and out of Fort Dix via the branch. A record 25 trains pulling 298 coaches carrying 18,534 men was achieved on February 7th, 1943. The troop train movements continued until the end of the war and then sporadically until the Korean Conflict. Train traffic increased during this war and then tapered off until October 30th, 1965, when the last troop train ran.
The beginning of the end came on March 8th, 1971. On this date, the Penn Central filed to abandon the Kinkora Branch from Lewistown to the Route 206 crossing in Columbus. As it turns out, the final abandonment of the Kinkora Branch didn't occur until Conrail took over from Penn Central. A specific date of abandonment for the branch has not been found, but the original filing was with the Pemberton & Hightstown and that portion was abandoned on March 30th, 1982. It is assumed that the Kinkora Branch was abandoned then also.
There are many familiar names listed in the roster of people who worked for the Pemberton & Hightstown and the Kinkora Branch. The list is in the process of being compiled and will be added in the near future.