Former tower, station, and tunnel location
GPS Coordinates: 40.860353, -75.049324
None - N/A
Access by train/transit:
Manunka Chunk is the point where the PRR's Belvidere-Delaware Division
joined the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad's Old Main Line
that went through Washington NJ.
The view in the picture below that had me "do a page" around it, and it is looking eastward. A heavy rain
in 1913 washed out the bank that the tower, station, and Pennsy tracks sat on. The
tower was replaced the following year.
The DL&W tracks heading through the tunnels lead to Washington, Dover, Jersey City
and Hoboken, all in NJ. Trackage diverging to the right, along the river bank,
is the PRR's Bel-Del Division heading toward Trenton, NJ.
The following is from Wikipedia: The first railroad crossings through the
village of Manunka Chunk, New Jersey date back to 1856, when John Blair opened the
Warren Railroad throughout Warren County NJ, stretching
from Washington NJ to Portland PA. The railroad had to make use of two tunnels
to navigate its way through deep mountains and hills in the northwestern portions.
The Van Nest Gap Tunnel (also known as Oxford Tunnel) opened in 1862 near Oxford Furnace
NJ and the Manunka Chunk Tunnel, a then one-bore tunnel through soft shale. During
the construction of the Van Nest Gap Tunnel, Blair had a temporary road over the mountains
installed. The railway was complete when the tunnel was finished in 1862. The
delay in construction was due to difficulty boring through gneiss in Van Nest Gap and
due to the fact that the Morris and Essex Railroad got
a temporary injunction to stop construction of the Warren RR. In 1869, a second
bore was added to the Manunka Chunk Tunnel and the railroad was double tracked.
In 1876, the Pennsy brought its
Belvidere and Delaware Branch up north along the Delaware River and created a
junction at Manunka Chunk. The Warren Railroad, now owned by the
Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, and the Pennsy created a joint
venture, constructing a new train station, freight station and junction tower (U Tower)
for both railroads to share. This was done so neither railroad would have to
build extra mileage or construct new bridges to serve its passengers. The
station depot at Manunka Chunk was attached to the center of the western bores of
Manunka Chunk Tunnel. The station became a junction point for travelers from
Newark NJ and Philadelphia PA to reach the beauty of the
Delaware Water Gap. As a result of the newfound service, the
area around the village of Manunka Chunk grew, opening as a resort town along the
Delaware River. The area had the Manunka Chunk House built in the early 1900s,
but only lasted into the Great Depression, when the place was abandoned and burned
down on June 13, 1938 during a suspicious fire. The area was in a gradual
depression since a 1913 washout of the railroad lines, both of which caused the
station to be closed down and abandoned along with the collapse of the original
Manunka Chunk Tower, which rested on its side after the disaster.
1913 flooding -- On August 1, 1913, a cloudburst formed just west in the community
of Pen Argyl PA around 4 pm. The cloudburst crossed the Delaware River and
caused extensive damage in its path, and after it passed, six railroads including
the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western had
washouts. The newly created New Jersey Cut-Off withstood with no damage,
however, the DLW's Old Main and the Pennsy's Belvidere and Delaware Branch both
received extensive destruction. About 200 feet (61 m) of the Pennsy's
track was washed away and crumbled down to the public highway below, causing
the Tower and the Freight Station to both topple with the mountainside.
The tower operator, however escaped without harm. As a result of the
flooding, both railroads were blocked and experienced numerous track washouts,
along with a 50 feet (15 m) gully through the roadbed. The Pocono
special, a train run by the Pennsy from Philadelphia was blocked at the site
and had to turn back for Easton PA. The mountainside supported
Lackawanna also lost a freight train when the public roadway collapsed
on top of the freight cars passing 30 feet (9.1 m) underneath.
Nearby hotels and resorts were badly damaged, resulting in power
outages and broken water mains. No lives were lost in the calamity,
which was estimated to cause more than $100,000 in damages (in 1913
currency). Local news reports said the worst damage was centralized
to Manunka Chunk, where wire communication became near impossible.
The Bangor and Portland Branch also lost seven bridges during the storm,
causing all trains to be stranded in Portland.
The Manunka Chunk Tunnel was first
constructed part of the Warren Railroad through White Township NJ.
The tunnel itself first began construction in 1854, after John Blair got the
go-ahead from release of a court-appointed injunction placed by the Morris &
Essex Railroad. The tunnel itself was bore through soft shale, taking
less than considerable time to complete the entire then one-track, one-bore
structure. The tunnel at Manunka Chunk opened in 1856, taking a
quarter of the time it took to construct Van Nest Gap Tunnel on the
same line. It received a 2nd track and bore in 1869. The
tunnel was one of the problems with the main line for the now Delaware,
Lackawanna and Western Railroad. Its facing on the eastbound
portal had a significant design flaw as the natural structures around
the two portals sagged. However, the western portal was constructed
of fine masonry design of stones and bricks.
The tunnel remained active for many years, although service dwindled
once the New Jersey Cut-Off Line was completed to the north in nearby
Columbia NJ in 1911. By 1948, there was only one freight train
crossing through the tunnel and no passenger service. That year,
the eastbound tracks were ripped up from the old main line, leaving
Manunka Chunk as a single track line. In April 1970, the now
Erie Lackawanna Railway severed any train service past Washington,
and closing down Manunka Chunk Tunnel for good. It had not
seen a train for a while due to another flood a few years prior.
The Lackawanna Cut-Off opened in 1911,
spelling a sharp decline in freight and passenger service on the DL&W's
"Old Main." The line was returned to single-track in the 1940s and
officially abandoned between Delaware and Washington NJ, on April 21,
1970. Track was removed from the tunnel except for one small
section trapped between the two cave-ins of the westbound bore.
Nothing much exists of either right-of-way today, although the tunnels are
still with us.
OK, update 2020: at least in 2009, the tunnels were still there, and you can
get to them off US 46. Although, again, in 2009, you could go into
them, IT IS NOT RECOMMENDED! I would like to thank Mark for bringing
the pictures of Jeff4653 to my attention, I hardly ever go out and search
for these things! :-)
A review of the timetables below tells us much: Joint operation
there was really quite complex, and it is still
not clear just how the two RR's coordinated. The 1895 Official Guide
shows an almost extreme amount of activity at the Manunka Chunk Union
Station (so officially designated in the PRR listings.) It appears
that the PRR trains from Philly/Trenton continued on thru Manunka
Chunk on the Lackawanna track to at least Stroudsburg and maybe
Scranton. The attached two files are extracted from the 1895 Official
Guide to the Railways. Without counting precisely, it looks like the
junction handled more than 30 passenger trains a day!
The listings don't make clear what kind of switching or combining
might have been done at the various points in common on the DL&W.
There is no reference to sleeping cars or diners on the PRR Belvidere
Division; it appears those were then, and remained, coach trains only.
Anyone wanting better service could transfer to the DL&W trains at
Manunka Chunk or points west.
Another interesting note: by the 1910 Guide, the Lackawanna no longer
even lists Manunka Chunk, although the Lackawanna Cutoff was not yet
in service. The PRR service still looks much the same, with one train
a day even terminating and originating at Manunka Chunk (where there
was a turntable.)
Note: Although this isn't really a railfan guide, I had to create this page
for the sake of the picture.... as some things just warrant a page for the
sake of preserving history!
Thanks to Abram Burnett for passing along the picture!
Below is an aerial view of the area from Bing Maps.
The white dashed line is the PRR line, the dashed yellow line is the
tunnel, and the green arrows point to the Lackawanna's Old Main Line.
The tower would have been where the green dot is.
The two timetables are courtesy Bob McCown.
They show us that at the end of the 1800's and the early 1900's, the
junction was "hoppin!".
This sepia colored photograph is what started this page.....
In looking at the picture above, there are 10 control rods coming out of the
tower and coming towards us, two of them break off for the switch that is
washed out. That leaves eight control rods continuing north for
additional switches and/or signals. If you notice in this picture, we
do not see the Banjo signal before we head into the tunnel, so it may have
been replaced by the time this mudslide occurred in 1916 - it would have
been between the end of the platform and the tunnel portal.
Above: the eastern portals.
The picture above is half of a stereo-opticon view of Manunka Chunk.
The LOC page gives us a date of 1870 to 1910, but that would conflict with
the date they give us for the picture below. The picture above does
not have the developed yard as the one below depicts, so my guess is the one
above is an earlier view. And maybe it is just my eyes, but does the
gauge of the DL&W track look like it is wider when comparing it to the man
standing on the platform? Anyone know when, if the DL&W was built wide
gauge, when they went to standard gauge???
Above: the western portals, yard, freight warehouse, station, turntable (in
the distance), and a BANJO SIGNAL!
The tracks going off into the distance are the Pennsy tracks.
From the Library of Congress and the Detroit Publishing Co, sometime between 1890 and 1901.
Wonder if the banjo signal is still somewhere in the woods? :-) :-)
Thanks to Bob McCown for finding these pictures from the LOC!
And here we have a series of pictures from Jeffs4653 from 2009.....
Maybe we could get him to do a 2020 re-visit and get some pictures of the
Courtesy of the University of Texas Library, click here for
their index page. From an 1885 Delaware PA/NJ quadrangle map.
And just for continuity on the Oxford Tunnel, the
following screen capture is from the 1883 Hackettstown quadrangle. The
Google satellite view shows the approximate locations of the tunnel (in red)
and the tracks. I used the 1883 map to guide my efforts, but the old
roads don't quite match up with the current ones....
I love trains, and I love signals. I am not an expert. My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page. This is something I have fun with while
trying to help others.
Please Note: Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.
For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my
indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented
I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.
If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct. Once in a while,
an error may creep in :-)
My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning. Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or
disoriented. Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost! I belong to AAA, which allows you to get
local maps for free when you visit the local branches. ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the
railroads on them. If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job
of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads. Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.
Aerial shots were taken from either Google or Bing Maps as noted. Screen captures are made
with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it!
By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous
and/or other stuff.
Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit
is always given! Please be NICE!!! Contact info is here
Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.