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The Northern Branch

Exploring the Line

Page added 2006. Last Updated February 2009.
Copyright 2006, 2009 Lewis Bogaty

Above: C777 is southbound under the Erie-era pedestrian bridge in Ridgefield, heading for the yard, on August 17, 2004.

It's easy to follow the action on the Northern Branch. Since the train travels no faster than ten miles per hour, you can keep up with it along its entire route. A good starting place is the busy city of Englewood, where the train usually spends well over an hour servicing the most important customer, Supreme Oil, Admiration Foods.

When this article was written in 2006, you could expect to find them arriving in Englewood some time between 11:00 and 1:00 most weekdays. While there were no guarantees, the train was most likely to be on the Ridgefield run-around at 10:00 (give or take an hour); in Englewood before noon; in Closter at 1:00 or 2:00; and at the customers in Ridgefield sometime between 3:00 and 5:00. Today, on most days, the train goes straight to Englewood without stopping on the Ridgefield run-around, spends endless time sitting in Englewood seemingly without doing much, and generally goes north of Englewood only on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

To get to Englewood: From the George Washington Bridge, take the Palisades Interstate Parkway to Exit 1. Then head west on Palisade Avenue into the heart of the Englewood shopping district. Park your car and watch from the switch, or walk one block south to Englewood Avenue, where Supreme Oil is located. Or walk north half a block to see the former Englewood train station. 

To get to the towns south of Englewood: From the George Washington Bridge, take Route 46 to Broad Avenue (Routes 1 & 9). Turn south for Ridgefield, Fairview, and North Bergen. Turn north for Palisades Park and Leonia. To get to the tracks take cross streets west. If you are following the train south on its return trip, from Palisade Avenue in Englewood, take Dean Street (a block east of the tracks) to Van Nostrand Avenue. Turn east one block to Grand Avenue. Take Grand Avenue south into Leonia, Palisades Park, and Ridgefield. Grand Avenue merges into Broad Avenue in Ridgefield. 

In the next several pages, we take a look at the action on the line, starting in North Bergen and rolling north to Northvale. 

From North Bergen to Fairview

Five-One begins its day in the North Bergen Yard, located on 69th Street in North Bergen, west of Routes 1 & 9. First stop of the morning is at 83rd Street in North Bergen, where W. R. Grace is located (west off Routes 1 & 9). A good vantage point in Fairview is Fairview Avenue, also reached by turning to the west off Routes 1 & 9.

North Bergen

Above: The North Bergen  Yard, on 69th Street, where C777 is based. October 27, 2008.

Above: At 83rd Street, C777 passes under the River Subdivision's "Bridge 4"
as the train heads north through North Bergen. November 11, 2004.

Above & Below: Just north of 83rd Street, C777 services the first customer
of the day, W.R. Grace. November 11, 2004.



Above: Just north of Fairview Avenue in Fairview, heading for the yard
in the late afternoon of a warm Fall day, October 11, 2004.

Below: Stopping to protect the crossing at Fairview Avenue, heading south on October 11, 2004.

Two Below: Who Needs Tracks?: Crossing Fairview Avenue, heading north and entering Ridgefield in new snow, on February 14, 2006.
The Northern Branch rarely operates the day after a snowstorm. Work crews give priority to
digging out the River Subdivision switches. The snow fell on Sunday. This Tuesday
trip is 5-1's first, and the train will go no further than Englewood.



Above: Plowing new snow, heading into Ridgefield, just south of the old, decaying pedestrian bridge, February 14, 2006.

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