Morgan Memories – Jersey Central Traction Co. Trolley, Trestle & Bridge
Yet another thank you goes to Joyce Elyea for helping me obtain this rare image of the Jersey Central Traction (JCT) Company’s Morgan trestle. Even better is that it has a trolley on it! This trolley, by the way, is one of the “Open Car” trolleys and is heading from Morgan Heights toward the Morgan Bridge over Cheesequake Creek toward Laurence Harbor and points east. If the late Mr. Joseph Eid was still with us and reading this web site, I am willing to bet he would have been able to positively identify which series of cars this one was. I think it might be car 15 or 17 based on a photo and roster in Mr. Eid’s book “Jersey Central Traction Co. Trolley to the Bayshore”.
This trestle crossed over what used to be the original mouth of Cheesequake Creek and connected the Cheesequake Creek “County Drawbridge” to the bridge over the New York and Long Branch Railroad pictured in this same photograph. The trestle and bridge over the railroad was built sometime between the summer of 1903, when the county freeholders granted permission for JCT to use the Cheesequake Creek County Drawbridge, and March 1905 when the initial run of the trolley line through Morgan occurred.
This trestle survived the nearby T. A. Gillespie plant destruction of October 1918, a fate which many other structures in the area couldn’t claim.
The trestle was part of the critical link between Monmouth County cities and points north for nearly 20 years. With the advent of the private automobile, bus services, and improved roads, the economics for trolley lines ultimately made it impossible for any trolley line to stay in business. After a 19 year and 4 month run, the last trolley of the Jersey Central Traction Company passed through Morgan, over this bridge and trestle some time near midnight on July 28, 1923. Subsequently, and pretty quickly it seems, the bridge and trestle was removed and the land fill and current Pratt bridge of the north bound lanes of Route 35 over the railroad were built. According to the NJ Department of Transportation, the current Pratt bridge was built in 1924.
If the prospect of being able to ride on a still functioning open car trolley – in many ways similar to the one pictured on the Morgan trestle – appeals to you, make your way to the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum located in Washington, PA, approximately 30 miles south of Pittsburgh. They have this beautifully restored JG Brill designed and Brazilian manufactured trolley in perfect working order and available for rides!