Paulsboro "A" Frame Moveable Bridge

Michael Sirotta <msirt@...>

Thank you, Brad. I grew up in Paulsboro and wandered the PRSL there extensively. Many times to the bridge and also to the oil refinery rail yards at the other end of town. My earliest memories there were my grandfather taking me to the head of the yard (I was in single digits of age) to watch that B6 0-6-0 switcher shuffling the tankers. Oh, that sound and the hypnotic motion of that double-mounted crosshead. Fixed in the memory of this 78 year old, despite my forgetting more important things now.

I love seeing the low station platform in your shot - the remains of what was once the passenger station between Delaware and Commerce Streets. That’s gone now, and the station building was even gone before my time.

But I do remember the manually operated crossing gates on Delaware St. - a crew member stationed in a little shack coming out to turn the crank for approaching trains. I wonder at what point he knew to close them, or specifically, how did he know when to close them. 

On Sep 30, 2022, at 12:43 AM, Bradford Phillips <bradford.phillips@...> wrote:

Attached from my October 1967 drive through town.

Brad Phillips

From: Michael Sirotta <msirt@...> 
Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2022 11:01 AM
To: members@...
Subject: Fwd: "A" frame Moveable Bridges [correction]


I misstated the cause of the Paulsboro collapse. It was a derailment that took down the bridge, plus a chemical spill. 


There was some weirdness with the signaling, but the bridge looked “closed", so dispatch ordered crew to ignore a red signal. Somehow 2 engines and 2 cars got across, but then the collapse happened. Does anyone know the exact cause? One report said the crew had inspected things first - rail locks were in place, I guess, but there would be no way of knowing about the deck lock at the North end. Unlocked? Maybe that was cause of the red signal? If the deck was not locked down, I can see it’s traversal by some considerable weigh could knock it out of position, despite the rail locks.


I was always curious about the “automation upgrade” so that crews could operate the whole closing and opening process remotely. What was done? There would have had to be heavy duty servos on the rail locks as well as on the deck fastening screw at the north end of the swing. I suppose automation eliminated the mechanical smashboards at both ends in lieu of just a plain red signal light.

Begin forwarded message:


From: Michael Sirotta <msirt@...>
Subject: "A" frame Moveable Bridges
Date: September 29, 2022 at 12:57:22 PM EDT
Resent-From: msirt@...


Hello members,


Some of you may remember an inquiry I posted last week about the former “A” frame swing bridge over Oldman’s Creek in Pedricktown on the Pennsgrove branch. I learned from a response it was called “Jumbo”. I was interesred because I grew up in Paulsboro, where we had one of those (well, we did, until a boat accident wiped it out).


Well, waddya’ know. Brian Yates’ link to the station photos has a picture of it. The caption (not visible - pic was oversized and I had to crop it) seems to call that operator’s shack a station. I doubt that. The bridge is in the middle of marshland. And there’s a picture of another one outside of wildwood.




Grassy Sound station (Wildwood):


As I said, Paulsboro’s movable swing bridge was destroyed and has been replaced by a vertical lift bridge, but here is a wonderful YouTube showing a complete closing for Conrail traffic and then opening it up again for boat traffic. I love the smashboards:




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