The town of Phillipsburg, New Jersey, like so many other American communities, is in the process of redefining itself as it struggles to carve out a place in the new globalized economy. This once significant eastern transportation hub. located at the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware rivers, had established itself as a thriving manufacturing center during the nineteenth and twentieth century. Today what remains of that past prosperity can be seen in the town’s collection of stately Victorian homes, the ornate facades of the recently restored downtown buildings, and those imposing railroad bridges and trestles that once serviced the rolling stock of five major railroads.
These days one can still hear the occasional horn from a passing freight train of the Norfolk Southern, and there has been talk by the state of bringing back passenger service to Phillipsburg–but as is more often the case, the economic revitalization and resilience of the community has mainly been fostered by a few dedicated individuals.
So now on most weekends from late spring through the end of October, one can board the handsomely restored vintage Long Island Railroad commuter coaches being pulled by the 2-8-2 “Mikado” Type Steam Locomotive on a journey downriver to sample the offerings of a local vineyard. This is just one of several day trips and family outings offered by Delaware River Railroad Excursion.
For those, like myself, who much prefer the juice of the grain over the nectar of the grape, I highly recommend an afternoon of pints and train spotting from the deck at Delahanty’s. This Phillipsburg favorite established in 2001 by Jim and Carole Diee, is quickly becoming the preferred trackside perch for the staff of American Public House Review.
Posted by: Chris Poh