Scientific American—April 21, 1894

View Looking South

The North Hudson County Railway Company is a corporation owning a number of miles of surface and elevated railroads in Hudson County, New Jersey, which extend in their operations from Jersey City to the northern line of the county. This part of the country is characterized by the beginning of the hill which eventually forms the basis of the Palisades. Between the river and the foot of the elevated ground is a large area of flat land. The North Hudson County Railway Company has to provide transportation from the ferries on the river side to the top of the hill, involving a rise in some cases of nearly 200 feet. There are three means of access to the hill top—one from Hoboken Ferry by elevated road operated by trolley; and another at the terminus of the West Shore ferries by elevator and elevated road. We illustrate in our present issue a third structure, by which the summit of the hill is reached by a trolley line, known as the Hillside Electric Road. The map and the two views show the general construction and line of the road, and its extreme picturesqueness, in addition to its engineering interest, will be obvious features not at all exaggerated in our illustration. The portion of the road which we illustrate commences at Madison Avenue and Fifteenth Street, at West Hoboken, a point nearly opposite Fifteenth Street in this city, and includes the interesting part, as from the ferry to this corner it is an ordinary surface trolley road. Here the ascent begins. By two loops it climbs the hill to Palisade Avenue, the horizontal distance in a straight line between these two points being 700 feet. By constructing the loops as shown a line 3,688 feet long is developed for the ascent of 160 feet. The rise begins with a wooden trestle running nearly parallel with and to the east of the railroad tracks of the New York, Lake Erie and Western Railroad and of the New Jersey Central Railroad, the cars as they ascend going almost directly south. A couple of blocks below is a curve of 90 degrees, with a radius of 75 feet, crossing the tracks of the railroads just mentioned on an iron truss. Going around another curve of similar radius and of 93° 58', the road curves along the face of the hill, gradually rising and crossing the Hillside wagon road, which course on the ascent is now in a general direction to the north, until at an elevation of 110 ft. it enters the northern loop, and with a radius of 60 ft. goes around a curve of 215° 16'. The course is now to the southwest, and, still climbing the hill, the line crosses near the 140 foot contour line for a second time the Hillside wagon road, and going through an arc of 100° 32' with 100 ft. radius, it reaches its destination 160 feet above its commencement and connects with the rest of the system.

The road is built in the most substantial manner, parts being cut out of the face of the hill, other parts being filled and substantial retaining walls being applied when necessary. One of the latter is 70 feet high. Stone ballasting is used throughout, the material of the hillside supplying the best possible material, trap rock, for these purposes. The railroad tracks are crossed by a 92 foot lattice girder, the most considerable bridge on the line. Fifty-six pound steel rails are used for the cars to run on, and these rails are re-enforced with 32 pound guard rails laid close to them and inside. The cost of the work was $120,000 for the structural part alone. It was built by Mr. Miles Tierney as contractor, with Mr. C. B. Brush as chief engineer. The surfacing and finishing of the road is done tinder the immediate direction of Mr. Wm. H. Starr, formerly of the Erie Railroad, who is now general manager of the road and in charge of its operation. Mr. Tierney is now president of the North Hudson County Railway Company.

The power for the Hillside line is supplied by a 14,000 h.p. compound Corliss engine in the power station of the Hudson Electric Company.

The route involves maximum grades of 51½ per cent, and on the curves a grade of 1½ per cent is not exceeded. The road is reached by the Fourteenth Street Ferry, directly from this city. On reaching the top of the hill the passenger is put in communication at once, by means of the other lines of the company, with all of the elevated area beginning at Jersey City Heights on the south and ending with Guttenburg on the north. The North Hudson County Railway Company operates about fifty miles of road, including twenty-four miles of horse railroad, nineteen miles of trolley and seven miles of steam railroad. A very complete system of interchanging makes the entire area accessible. The road carries about 17,000,000 passengers per annum.

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