Stepping stones into history: Camden & Amboy Railroad Right of Way Site named to National Register of Historic Places


The Camden & Amboy Railroad Right-of-Way Site contains 22 undisturbed sleeper stones

The Camden & Amboy Railroad Right of Way Site, at Rogers Avenue in Hightstown, was entered into the National Register of Historic Places on June 16, 2016. Hightstown Borough officials received a letter July 28 informing them of the designation.
The National Register is the nation’s official list of cultural resources significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, or culture. As a result of the listing, the site is qualified for grants and eligible for certain tax provisions. Furthermore, the site is now taken into consideration in planning for federal projects required by Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.
The Camden and Amboy Railroad ROW Site was signed by Assistant Commissioner Rich Boornazian, listing it in the New Jersey Register of Historic Places, on March 17, 2016. The site is now protected by the review process for public projects established by the New Jersey Register of Historic Places Act (N.J.A.C. 7:4).
The Camden & Amboy Railroad Right-of-Way Site is a small, preserved portion of the first roadbed laid for the Camden & Amboy Railroad in 1832. It contains 22 undisturbed sleeper stones that have been deliberately exposed for the purpose of interpretation and public viewing. They were installed to support the iron rails of the first construction of the railroad.
The Camden & Amboy was the first railroad to operate in New Jersey and only the third in the nation, and was the first railroad to connect major American cities. It transformed the New Jersey economy permanently and its politics for more than a generation.
Luckily, the roadbed was preserved for more than 125 years since it was buried beneath a foot or more of fill. The site was discovered after operations of the Penn-Central Railroad ceased in 1983. Today, the Hightstown site is one of the only places where remnants of the original Camden & Amboy line are preserved.
The importance of the site is underscored by the fact that in 1984 historians from the Smithsonian Institute visited Hightstown to inspect the site and negotiate the acquisition of a portion of it. Hightstown Borough donated 18 sleeper stones from the line just to the north of this property to the Smithsonian to accompany its Transportation Museum’s centerpiece, the original John Bull steam locomotive.
Hightstown Mayor Larry Quattrone commended Katherine Patten, Robert Patten, Pierre Lacombe, and Christian Kirkpatrick, who played a critical role in recognizing the unique historical significance of the sleeper stones and worked diligently to acquire its place in the State and National Register of Historic Places.
“I am gratified that the historic elements of Hightstown are being recognized,” said Mayor Quattrone. “Our town has a long and interesting past. I hope that this designation will lead more of people to take the time learn about our unique heritage.”