Lambertville

A Brief History

Located in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, Lambertville was incorporated as a town on 1 March 1849, and re-incorporated as a city on 26 March 1872. Due to its proximity to the Delaware and Raritan Canal and the Belvidere Delaware Railroad, Lambertville quickly became an industrial town, producing a wide range of products including rubber boots, hairpins, clothing, pottery, spoke wheels, and even railroad cars and steam locomotives. The Belvidere continued to serve as a freight carrier until the mid 1970s; later, the Black River & Western acquired the line into town and continued operating local freight as well as passenger excursion trains into the late 1990s. Today, Lambertville is a tourist destination for shopping and dining, and was voted one of the 15 prettiest towns in America.

Although I love modeling dense industrial urban areas, my preference is to live in the wilderness. However, if someone were to declare that I must live in a city, Lambertville would be my pick. Thus it gets the greatest amount of layout area devoted to it. Despite this, like every locale on the layout, it's still highly compressed—after all, just a few blocks, if modeled faithfully, would completely fill my layout room. So I had to pick and choose key structures and cram them into an absurdly tiny space. It remains to be seen if I'm successful at pulling this off convincingly.

    

When a fellow modeler kindly pointed me to a set of street maps from 1912, I felt as though I'd struck gold. To better understand how the town once looked, I overlaid some of the maps over satellite images; the results are quite fascinating. The north end of town (above) had numerous industrial sidings, some of which wound through the streets and around houses. Note that nearly all of the houses on the map still exist, whereas all of the original industries are gone.

Toward the south end of town, just below Swan Creek (left), was a Pennsylvania Railroad engine facility, which at one time manufactured rail cars and locomotives; later it serviced trains running on the PRR Belvidere Branch along the Delaware River from Trenton up to Philipsburg. By the 1930s there was nothing left of it but trees, although the coal dock in the middle of the station parking lot was still there into the 1940s. A decade later, at the engine facility site there was some sort of business, possibly a rail-serviced lumber yard, that disappeared by the early 2000s; all that remains now is a collapsing storage shed.

The primary focus of my version of Lambertville will be the station, naturally, which is currently a fine restaurant—I've dined there countless times, and still do. Other landmarks I'll be featuring include J.B. Kline and Son, which used to be a hobby shop (with lots of model trains), a classic old Acme Market, the remains of a big rubber factory, a marvelous hardware store, a sprawling lumber yard, and many others. They should all be recognizable to those familiar with the town.

Given that my temporal setting is between 1975 and 1985, the Belvidere Branch will be operational as it was in the days of Penn Central/Conrail; they dropped off freight that the Black River would pick up and haul up to their customers in Flemington. The line north of town, however, was abandoned.

The yellow lines are the only remaining track, which has been abandoned since around 2000 and is now overgrown, although it may reopen in a few years from now.

Structures

When contrasted with Flemington, Lambertville is a tightly-packed community. I've cherry-picked the most significant and recognizable buildings to appear in a highly-condensed sampling clustered around the central part of town: Bridge Street near the Delaware & Raritan Canal. Since the river, canal and streets are almost all straight and oriented at right angles, Lambertville is best represented by keeping everything parallel with the layout edges, even though under normal circumstances this isn't an ideal arrangement.

Recently (28 January 2020), I totally reworked the south end of Lambertville. Originally I was doing my best to cram Lambertville Rubber Company—or some token portion thereof—into the plan, but it just wasn't working. So, I replaced it with a slew of little shops and homes, which is much closer to reality, and added an extension (below right) that folds down against the wall on the left behind the layout room door when it's open.

  1. Lambertville Water Treatment
  2. Lambertville Boat Launch
  3. Golden Nugget Flea Market new
  4. Lambertville Rubber Company
  5. D&R Canal Locks and Lock House
  6. Swan Creek Pump Station
  7. Swan Creek Aqueduct
  8. Duplex Homes
  9. Ferry Street Liquors
  10. DeAnna's Restaurant
  11. Acme Market
  12. Mobil Station
  13. Bridge House
  14. Lambertville Station
  15. Footbridge
  16. Pasha Rugs
  17. Full Moon Cafe
  18. Christie's Antiques
  19. Sotheby's Realtor
  20. Meta Cafe
  21. J.B. Kline & Son
  22. Row Shops
  23. Row Homes
  24. Goldsmith's Jewelry
  25. James D. Kingsley Fine Art
  26. Consign Shop
  27. Lambertville House
  28. St. John the Evangelist
  29. Niece Lumber
  30. Finkles Hardware
  31. Stephen A. Greene Machine Shop
  32. Bear Apothecary
  33. The Laundry Room
  34. El Tule Mexican Restaurant
  35. Lambertville Barber Shop
  36. 5 & Dime
  37. Coryell's Ferry Landing Apartments
  38. Homes
  39. Blue Raccoon
  40. The Boat House
  41. Fleetwing Fire Station
  42. Strand Theatre
  43. Cavallo Park Playground
  44. Lambertville City Hall
  45. Alexauken Aqueduct
  46. Hunterdon Drive-In (off map below right) under construction
  47. Bowne Station (off map below right)
  48. David's Yellow Brick Toad Restaurant (off map below right)

Scenic Features

Further Reading

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