Days of Yore
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PRSL passenger station
as recounted by

Bill Day

 


The railroad scene that was
The automobile was still a rarity a few decades ago and their owners used them solely for pleasure.

To get to and from work commuters utilized public transportation.  Trolleys and railroads were busy in those days.

Haddonfield residents with businesses in Philadelphia took trains to Camden and rode the ferryboat across the Delaware River to reach the city.  Those with Camden as their destination took the trolleys to work.  The facilities existing then in Haddonfield, along the railroad tracks, are all entirely gone now, and it is intriguing to recall the things that have almost faded from memory.

There were two train stops in town.  One was at the Main street station, and the other was at the Mt Vernon avenue crossing.

The Main street (Kings highway) station had a ticket window in the waiting room and an iron stove supplied warmth in cold weather.  The Mt Vernon platform had a glassed in waiting room, with benches and a small potbelly stove kept commuters comfortable on winter mornings.

Across Mt Vernon avenue on the same side of the tracks as the station platform was a high switch tower where manually operated big levers were manned 24 hours a day.  from this point trains were switched to travel under the Haddon avenue bridge on to Delair and then across the Delaware River.

Two thriving businesses were nearby that had tracks into their yards.  Coal and lumber were unloaded from freight cars at Willits, and Haddon Ice and Coal Company was continually filling cars with 300 pound cakes of ice to be sent to the shore points.  Refrigeration then was not what it is today.

Main street, Lincoln avenue and Euclid avenue had cross signs, stop, look and listen, with bells attached, but after three pedestrian deaths, manually operated gates were installed.  Each crossing had a watchman's shanty with an attendant on duty night and day.

Who could ever forget old one-legged Billy Knowles who for years cranked down the gates at Euclid avenue every time the bell rang announcing the approach of a train?  Every kid in town was his buddy.

The water filled tank that stood by the tracks at the end of south Atlantic avenue was where the locomotives stopped to fill their boilers.  Many time the police chased the neighborhood boys who were swimming in that tank.

For a short time a gasoline railroad car ran to the Main street station form Medford every day and stood on the siding there all day waiting to take passengers back to Marlton and Medford every evening, but too many breakdowns stopped that commuter service.

Remembers the brick tunnel under the tracks at Main street that gave access to the other side?  The town's kids really enjoyed that.  An iron fence separating the tracks ran form the highway down to Lincoln avenue.  A locked gate enabled the stationmaster to get across the tracks with parcels and baggage.  At Lincoln avenue opposite to the freight station on Washington avenue was another gate that made thing convenient to the other side.

One hundred and eight trains daily passed through Haddonfield and this was a commonly spoken total.  A round trip to Philadelphia from Haddonfield was approximately 30 cents.  It seems that in such a short time that there can be so many changes in everything which makes it easy to believe that the modern ways the we enjoy now will become antiquated in the near future.

Reminiscing with Mr. Dorthy Lingg made most of this article possible


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