The Central Railroad of New Jersey, and its famous train “the Blue Comet”, split the New Jersey Pinelands, connecting southern New Jersey and Atlantic City, to central New Jersey, and distant locations like Scranton, Pennsylvania, and New York City. The rail only functioned between 1929 and 1941, but its remnants can still be found today in Pinelands locations like Atsion, Chatsworth, and Manchester.
Often, when I visit the Pines, I stop at the Atsion Furnace, which was once used to make iron. The spot is used by kayakers to launch their boats into the Mullica River.
Walk south from the furnace and you’ll find Washington Road. Washington Road becomes Railroad Avenue. It has potholes large enough to consume a mid-sided sedan. The sand road is colored gray from the ashes of forest fires. Forest fires are a common occurrence in the Pines. Fire-resistant trees like pines and oaks thrive in the area.
Walk along the road and you’ll come to railroad tracks. The tracks have a patina of rust but they’re still firmly spiked to their wooden ties, which are now nestled in a bed of pine needles, soil, and moss. Weeds, and periodically trees grow between ties, making it all the more fun to imagine a massive blue locomotive flying along the rails.
Follow the tracks to the north, and you’ll come to a bridge where the rail crosses the Mullica River.
This is a view of the bridge from the side. Try to imagine a huge train racing by overhead.
Very little graffiti on the bridge — rare for New Jersey.
More places where you can see the rails: