Local Railroads: SB • MB • LB
For Gilded Age elites to make a remote seashore region (Sea Bright, Monmouth Beach and parts of Long Branch) into an excliusive summer resort, they required a safe and reliable way to get there — coming mostly from NYC.
The New Jersey Railroad Company had received the nation’s first passenger railroad charter in February 1815; it failed. It took another 50 years for the first shore area rail line to be built. In March 1863, the Long Branch & Sea Shore Railroad was organized by the NJ Legislature. In July 1965 a railroad running from Spermaceti Cove on Sandy Hook to Long Branch was opened (in 1884 the line was stretched to Bayhead junction). It ran mostly along today’s Ocean Avenue.
It was the great “rail-splitter” himself, President Abraham Lincoln, who allowed the creation of the first railroad to reach the north Jersey Shore. The Central Railroad of New Jersey acquired the line in 1882. From 1880 to 1910, the New York Times society pages were filled with notices on how the well-to-do families were “now in their summer cottage” with the mode of travel to their seashore respite almost always being by rail.
As getting to the beach by auto grew, railroad executives sought to eliminate the line’s “profitless commuter” service which had been in great decline for years. Stretches of track regularly wrecked by storms didn’t help either. In November 1945, the Central Railroad of NJ ended service from Highland Beach to East Long Branch.