by Bernie Rieck

Over the years Camden people have moved here and there, across the country and around the world. No matter how far many have gone, many retain a great love for our town, decades after leaving. 

Bernie Rieck was born and raised in Camden, spending his early years on Westfield and Lemuel Avenues. He took many photos as a teenager in the 1950s and again while visiting in the 1990s, and has made them available to this website. Enjoy!

Phil Cohen

Railroad Days 1951-1955

Being that I lived practically across the street from the Pavonia yards, I spent a lot of my early teen life around the tracks there. often sitting on the bench with the car brakemen who would ride a cut of cars down the tracks from the hump, that was just beyond the 27th Street bridge...  I suppose I had railroading in my blood, since my maternal grandfather, Robert Veatch, had worked in the yards when he was younger. Here are a couple of pictures of him (he is in the center in both pics).


Another favorite hangout of mine was at the 36th Street grade crossing (now bridged) where I could watch the 100+ car freights come in after crossing the Delair bridge.  Like these: 

   Or watching the arrival of the Trenton freight

Or sometimes catching an ABA diesel. This one standing outside Kostamm's factory, known as the "starch works" to the locals.

This was the local switching engine

But the best view was off the 27th Street bridge.


Railroading in Camden (continued)  

I'll start with a picture that should properly have been in the first railroad section, which is a view of the Pavonia Yards looking toward the State St. crossing. Again, this is in the early 1950s.  

   The arrival of the diesel switch engines in the early 1950s was cheered by the housewives who lived near the yard, as soot no longer blackened their hanging laundry and homes, but for me the slow removal of steam was the end of an era.  Diesel switchers first appeared only on Sundays at Pavonia, but within months I noted long lines of dead steam engines, their fires gone and drive rods removed, being hauled unceremoniously to their fate.  I felt (at age 15) that I had to record the great roundhouse and yard in the south section of Camden before it too was gone forever.  The pictures I took follow:


Railroading in Camden (continued)  

This is a little switcher belonging to the R.M. Hollingshead factory in the rear. 

Here is an odd diesel at the gas plant in South Camden. Note the odd drive.

A Pennsylvania Reading & Seashore Line diesel doing duty pushing freight cars onto a barge at the Kaighn Avenue Pier. Note the dummy flatcar used so that the engine weight does not go onto the loading ramp.

 A light diesel switcher with crew, resting at New York Ship.

A little out-of-town, in Haddonfield another Pennsylvania Reading & Seashore Line diesel pulls freight eastward. To the right of the picture is South Jersey's own "big dig" for the high speed line extension through Haddonfield. 


The picture below shows an unusual engine taking the Pemberton run, sometime in the mid 1950s. It is a Baldwin "shark nose" A unit.

Usually, the trains on this line were "Doodlebugs" like the one below, passing along the far edge of the Pavonia tracks in this shot:

Note the Nice Paint factory in the background.


Many Thanks to Bernie Rieck for his help in creating this page.