Th e station and freight house at Oak Ridge served the New Jersey Midland and New York Susquehanna and Western railroads for ninety years. In the 920’s and 30’s it was a gathering place where people came to talk and to get information from the telegraph. Passengers came and went on the train. The mail train brought letters and packages. Express shipments went in and out. Boxes and barrels moved n and out of the freight house. Coal trains, milk trains and ice trains passed by daily. While most days were routine there were some unusual happenings. The Trapper A well-known brakeman lived on a dead end road near the station. He was an ardent hunter, fisherman and trapper. He was often at the station telling fantastic stories about his exploits. He tended a trap along the right-of-way of the railroad. The man would jump off the front of a moving train, bag a muskrat, skunk or a mink and then jump on the caboose with his catch. Now if you asked the brakeman if this was a true he would assure you that it was. Anyway these exaggerated stories prompted some lively conversation. The Bitter Blacksmith One Sunday morning, in the early life of the railroad, an eastbound coal train stopped just below the station. There was trouble with the engine. A vital part needed welding, a simple job for a blacksmith. The local smithy was not cooperative. He refused to weld the part “because it was the Sabbath”. His language, however, indicated that there were other reasons. Some years before some of the man’s prime farm property had been appropriated by the Midland. His compensation was unsatisfactory and the blacksmith remem3 bered. Perhaps, the Susquehanna had an impossible job of making everybody a friend of the railroad. The Lost Mail Bag One hot summer afternoon the railroad mail clerk opened both doors of the mail car. When he arrived at the Oak Ridge he found that a bag of first class mail had fallen out. He was much disturbed as losing U.S. mail was a serious matter. My father sent my brother and me to find the bag. It laid somewhere between Stockholm and Oak Ridge. We drove to the midpoint at the Oak Ridge reservoir. My brother went west and I went east, looking on both sides of track. Two minutes out I spied the bag on the side of a small cinder fill. It was too late to reach my brother, a fast walker. I sat on a bank bag in hand while he went to Stockholm and back. The next day the grateful mail clerk gave us each a dollar which on the days of the depression was very adequate and welcome reward. The Stubborn Elephant Alfred Ringling, one of the brothers of the famed Ringling circus, came to Oak Ridge in 1913. He called a section of the Longwood Valley, “the most beautiful place on earth”. Here he built a three story fieldstone mansion overlooking a lake and farmer’s fields. Alfred envisioned and assembled a small trunk circus that would go from town to town in northern New Jersey. Animals were brought up on the railroad and marched three miles to the Ringling barns. Alfred’s only son, Richard, was named to managed the circus. Richard was a privileged young man who often came to the station in his Stutz bearcat sports car. The circus was not a success. The trucks were too often bogged down on the mud of the 1918 dirt roads. Ani(Continued on page 4)

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