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Legend Has It ... Abandoned Rail Cars?

Updated: Jan 11, 2020

My grandfather worked as a railroad engineer for over thirty-five years. He loved telling stories about his time on the tracks, and I loved listening. Occasionally his route took him through Lambertville, New Jersey on his way back to Trenton. That's part of the reason why these images, taken by local photographer, Brenda Quinn, stopped me in my tracks ... pun intended.

Click the arrows or thumbnail images to scroll through the album.

The abandoned-looking cars stirred emotion in me. I was moved by the artistic eye behind the lens and, quite frankly, mesmerized by the graffiti itself. With the canal on one side, and an overgrowth of plant life on the other, the scene is captivating. To boot, it still lies on mysterious old tracks.

Right then and there, I knew I had to find out more. I wanted to know why there are abandoned cars off the beaten path in the picturesque town of Lambertville, New Jersey. One of my favorite small towns, just across the bridge from New Hope.

I was in for a surprise when I inquired.

The coaches are not abandoned at all. They ran in the 1920s and are being stored on private property, awaiting restoration. I couldn’t believe my ears. They can be restored? Incredible!

The cars and property are owned by Black River & Western Railroad, which stopped operating in Lambertville in 1997. The BR&W refers to itself as the “little-railroad-that-could,” serving communities for over 50 years. Their railroad is one of the few places in North America where you will occasionally encounter a steam-powered freight train.

They offer excursions and themed events throughout the year, providing visitors ways to experience old-fashioned railroading—right now in Hunterdon County. Special events include the North Pole Express, Pumpkin Junction, Story Time Express and Easter Bunny Express.

The great news is that they’re working hard to bring it back to Lambertville, using the very cars that moved me.

Images are from where you'll find lots of great information.

BR&W is in the process of replacing ties and making the necessary preparations.

According to Terry Talucci, Customer Service Manager for the line, they’ve made quite a bit of progress, but the last three miles down to the old Lambertville station are labor intensive.

As a volunteer organization, their projects are funded by offering rides in their restored coaches. They rely on the support of riders and donors for projects. If you’re as enamored and thrilled as I am to take a ride on one of these century-old coaches, consider supporting this terrific local project.

For more information, or to schedule an event, go to

A final note: If this article inspired you to check out the cars for yourself, refrain. It’s a hazardous area, and while the owners understand the allure, their biggest concern is for the safety of the curious. And they certainly don’t want any further destruction while the cars await restoration.

Written by Heather Slawecki

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