Morgan Maritime – The Draw Bridges of Cheesequake Creek
I came across these two videos during the 2009/2010 time frame while doing endless Google (and some Bing) searches on all topics relating to Morgan, NJ. The sounds contained in both videos totally remind me of the local sounds of my childhood.
These two draw bridges which cross Cheesequake Creek – one for autos and one for trains – dominate the easternmost portion of the creek. They provide a double obstacle to any sailboats docked at Lockwood Boat Works, Morgan Marina or Brown’s Boat Yard trying to enter into or exit out of Raritan Bay. Sailboats based at Viking Marina, located on Stump Creek between the two bridges, have it easier by only having to contend with the road bridge. Power boats lack tall masts meaning they don’t have any problem crossing under the road bridge when going into Raritan Bay from this point. However, all sail and powered boats located up stream on Cheesequake Creek are blocked by the railroad bridge when it is in the closed position.
Both bridges will open for boats according to their respective schedules though the railroad bridge seems to frequently be in the open position – or at least seemed to be when I grew up there. It always opened up for us when we were on Rick’s boat heading out to the bay to go water skiing if no train was expected any time soon. The road bridge is one of twenty NJ Department of Transportation operated drawbridges and operates according to the following schedule:
1 May to 31 October
On the hour from 7am-7pm
On demand from 7pm-11pm
2-hour notice from 11pm-7am
1 December to 31 March
Drawbridge Operating Regulations for both bridges are itemized in this Department of Homeland Security Federal Regulation.
Route 35 DrawBridge
This video was taken on August 18, 2008 by a couple on a sailboat on Cheesequake Creek while waiting for the Route 35 draw bridge to open. Their boat was located in the area between the Route 35 draw bridge and the NJ Transit railroad draw bridge at the place where Stump Creek merges into Cheesequake Creek. It begins as they are waiting for the Route 35 draw bridge to open so they can cross under Route 35, cruise through the channel, and enter into Raritan Bay. You will hear the roaring sound of cars crossing the bridge’s metal grating roadway. A similar sound was heard on the older Victory Bridge which spanned the Raritan River between South Amboy and Perth Amboy which was replaced by the current Victory Bridge. When it is time to open the Route 35 Bridge, a series of events will begin. The signal lights in both directions transition from green to amber to red. BTW, my Sayreville War Memorial High School Driver’s Ed teacher told us emphatically that the State of New Jersey does NOT consider this middle color as being yellow – it is amber! At the same time as when the light changes, bells start ringing to alert the vehicular traffic and any foot traffic that they need to stop. Shortly afterward, the bridge attendant manually closes the gates across the traffic lanes. Once all vehicles have stopped, the horn sounds and the drawbridge starts to open.
Note that all of the buildings you see in this video in the two camera pans between 3:18 and 3:32 were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Railroad Draw Bridge
This video was taken by a boater heading west toward the headwaters/inland portion of Cheesequake Creek. The video starts at approximately the same location as the previous video but crosses under the NJ Transit Railroad Bridge. You can hear the spinning of the gears as the railroad bridge opens.
In the summer of 2013, this 100 year old train bridge received a long overdue new paint job!
Every time I go back to Morgan, I try to make it a point to watch and listen to the bridges open and close. The sounds made by these two bridges in these videos when they open had not changed from the time I grew up there but most likely the Route 35 Draw Bridge will sound different due to the extensive maintenance activities performed on it during the last few years.
Originally posted on August 28, 2010.