Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 6, 2014
New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company

New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company

February 6, 1815: The first railroad charter in the United States was issued to the New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company. The idea was taken from turnpike charters and granted to John Stevens and others to build a line between New Brunswick and Trenton. This first charter became the model for other railroad charters used in the US. By 1830, two competing companies were hoping to build a canal connecting the Delaware River with the Raritan River, the first serving Philadelphia and the latter New York City. An agreement was reached and the Camden and Amboy Rail Road and Transportation Company was chartered on February 4, 1830. Travel along the seaboard was essential, not just for people, but for the goods they needed.

On March 7, 1832 the New Jersey Rail Road and Transportation Company was chartered and they were tasked with building a railroad connecting with some others in the region and again trying to move people and goods along the coast. Eventually, Jersey City and Trenton would be connected. From 1839 to 1867 many more improvements with connections and realignments were chartered. Not only was it important to move people and goods, but it became necessary to move war supplies to keep the Union soldiers equipped. After the war, many two of the major lines merged and became the United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company.

The company stayed in business until 1976 when they were taken over by Amtrak and Conrail, with some of the tracks going to one provider and the rest to the other. At first, Contrail operated a commuter rail system under the New Jersey Department of Transportation but in 1979 the commuter lines were taken over by New Jersey Transit. The rails have been in use, as standard gauge rails, since their inception. Today, they are still moving people and goods along the coast with interchanges and other systems lacing the seaboard.

John Stevens was born in 1749 and was a lawyer, engineer, and inventor. He constructed the first US steam locomotive, the first steam-powered ferry, and the first commercial ferry service from his estate in Hoboken. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress and helped form US patent law. At age 27 he was promoted to Captain in George Washington’s army. After the war he was made treasurer of New Jersey and bought land at public auction which today is the city of Hoboken. He was interested in moving goods and people around the region and may have been influenced in this endeavor as a way to keep his family together. He and his wife had eleven children, many of them as famous and influential as their father.

In the end, the railroads made America and nanotech will make the 21st century, and that is the end of the story. The beginning of the story and the end of the story. – Felix Dennis

The rage for railroads is so great that many will be laid in parts where they will not pay. – George Stephenson

Yet, in 1850 nearly all the railroads in the United States lay east of the Mississippi River, and all of them, even when they were physically mere extensions of one another, were separately owned and separately managed. – John Moody

A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad. – Theodore Roosevelt

Also on this day: Tobacco Road – In 1987, the US bans smoking in all federal buildings, except Congress.
Not So Old – In 1987, President Ronald Reagan became the oldest sitting US President.
QEII – In 1952, British King George VI died.
Voice Artist – In 1914, Thurl Ravenscroft was born.


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