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, although 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. There's nothing left of
any of this—it's all trees now.
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 factory, a marvelous hardware store, a sprawling lumber yard, and many others. They should
all be recognizable to those familiar with the town.
My only regret, aside from having to omit a number of items I'd like to have modeled, is that I'm forced to
juxtapose buildings that are otherwise blocks or even miles apart, but such is the limitation of modeling. I can only hope that my
"artist's rendering" of Lambertville will work, and not look goofy.
Given that my temporal setting is anywhere from the 70s to the 90s, the Belvidere Branch will be operational as it was in the days of Conrail; they
dropped off freight that the Black River would pick up and haul up to their customers in Flemington.
The yellow lines are the only remaining track, which has been abandoned since around 2000, and is now overgrown.
Select Featured 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 at the Delaware
- Lambertville Station and Inn
- Lambertville House
- Lambertville Rubber Company
- J.B. Kline & Son
- Acme Market
- Finkles Hardware
- Strand Theatre
- Fleetwing Fire Station
- Blue Raccoon
- St. John the Evangelist
- Mobil Station
- Lambertville City Hall
- Niece Lumber
Copyright © 2017-2019 by David K. Smith. All Rights Reserved.