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The Kittatinny Mountain Railroad

Shawn Viggiano

The Kittatinny Mountain Railroad is a garden railroad located in the Kittatinny Mountains of Sussex County

History of the Kittatinny Mountains The Kittatinny Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountains, is Native American for "Endless Mountains". The Kittatinny Mountains are actually a long ridge extending north into New York and to the south into Pennsylvania. When the ridge crosses into New York it is referred to as the Shawangunk Mountains and to the south in Pennsylvania the ridge is known as the Blue Mountains. In New Jersey the average elevation is 1500ft. The highest point, High point is 1803 ft. Along the Kittatinny Mountains there are a few gaps. The biggest and most popular is the Delaware Water Gap. The second largest is Culvers Gap. These gaps played an important role for the area because they were the easiest ways for man to get into the Kittatinny Mountains, especially via railroad, as the grades were minimal.

In the mid 1800s the Kittatinny Mountains had very few industries. Farming was poor due to the rocky terrain and harsh conditions along the ridge tops. Because farming was not successful in the Kittatinny Mountains, the area remained heavily forested. This lead to the charcoal burning and timber industries. The construction of canals and the railroad lead to intensive cutting of the kittatinny Mountains by providing cheap access to markets. (Railroads were never used to gain access into the Kittatinny Mountains. For logging operations, wood was transported via sleds/horses during the winter). The local railroads were used to transport passengers and dairy.
Since the Kittatinny Mountains played an important role in the logging industry, there was a need for sawmills. Throughout the Kittatinny Mountains sawmills sprung up mainly along the area streams like the Flatbrook and Stony Brook. Today the Kittatinny Mountains have recovered from all the deforestation and is now all publicly owned land, (Stokes State Forest, High Point State Park and the Delaware Water Gap National Park)
The Kittatinny Mountain Railroad focuses loosely on the logging industry of the area. 
The Kittatinny Mountain Railroad is mainly a logging/mining railroad with limited freight and passenger service. I was looking to model a local railroad but found it would be very time consuming and expensive to build everything that was prototype to the local railroads. After doing research on my local railroads I discovered that there was the Sussex Railroad. The last stop for this railroad ended in the town of Branchville, not far from the Kittatinny Mountains. I also read that there was a proposed extension of the Branchville line that would pass through the Kittatinny Mountains and end at the Delaware River. The line was surveyed but the plans never left paper. The Kittatinny Mountain RR is a an extension of the Branchville line. This allowed me to be more flexible when building my layout. I now was able to create my own structures and use my own engines/rolling stock. To read more about the Sussex Railroad: http://www.newtonnj.net/Pages/railroad.htm

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