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Publishers Proof 6 of 50 Signed and Numbered by Artist Larry Fisher

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Publishers Proof 6 of 50 Signed and Numbered by Artist Larry Fisher

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The CNJ Bronx Terminal

The CNJ Bronx Terminal was a very unique terminal located along the Harlem River in The Bronx, New York.  Built in 1906 on a single city block, the CNJ Bronx Terminal was completely isolated from any other railroad, that is, the only way to move freight in and out of the terminal was along the Harlem River on car floats.

To fit in a freight house, engine house, team tracks and overhead cranes into such a small space, some very unique trackwork was required.  This trackwork, which included several curved #2.5 three way turnouts, a "quad diamond" and a triple lapped turnout was the inspiration for Tim to develop the tools and techniques that would eventually become Fast Tracks.  Wanting to build a working model of the terminal, the only way he could construct the trackwork with the skills he had was to make some sort of fixture system.  From this, the Fast Tracks system was developed, and the rest, as they say, is history.

With such limited space available, a "curved" freight house was constructed on site.  Typically freight houses are long slender buildings where strings of rail cars can be spotted and unloaded.  At the CNJ Bronx Terminal, this building was wrapped into a complete circle, with an opening on one side to allow truck traffic to enter the center of the building.  Not really round, it was a 28 sided building, with every other wall containing a door where 36" freight cars could be spotted in a continuous string.  Once 40' and longer freight cars became the norm, the yard was resigned to allow two strings of cars to be spotted, each occupying one side of the freight house.  They wouldn't match up perfectly, but they were close enough to allow them to be unloaded.

Driving over turnouts...

One of the more unique features of the terminal, was the method used to get a locomotive into and out of the engine house (which hung out over the Harlem River).  In front of the engine house was a "triple lapped turnout".  Three turnouts all sharing the same location...

If you look closely at the track above you may notice some rail seems to be missing.  This is the engine house lead, it had to cross directly through the moveable points of one of the turnouts.  To make this work, they would lay removable rails on top of the turnout and drive over it!  Look closely, at the left and right of the image above the removable bars can be seen laying on the ground.

The image above is a close up showing locomotive CNJ 1000 driving over the trackwork on these removable bars, on its way into the engine house.  Now that is ingenious! 

CNJ 1000

Another first for the CNJ Bronx Terminal was CNJ 1000, a 300hp oil electric locomotive delivered in 1926.  This was the first use of a "diesel" locomotive in North America.  Due to the clean air laws enacted in New York City, steam locomotives were no longer allowed to be used within the city limits.  CNJ was the first to add one of these boxcab locomotives to their roster, and it was deployed at the terminal.

CNJ 1000 replaced the 0-4-0T that was in use since 1906.  CNJ 840 was still used as a backup locomotive from time to time, but the main power from 1926 on was CNJ 1000.

The CNJ Bronx Terminal was without a doubt a very interesting place back in its day.  The information presented here only scratches the surface of this once bustling terminal in The Bronx.  We are so fascinated with it that we have commissioned a painting depicting the terminal in its heyday, with all the action that would have been.

Follow the progress on Tim's CNJ Bronx Terminal Layout Blog.  For even more infomration about the CNJ Bronx Terminal and all other rail marine operations, don't miss Phil Goldsteins excellent website

Click here for an interesting animated "then and now" view of the CNJ Bronx Terminal!