Photo archiving update…


Hello everyone. I just wanted to pop on and say I’m still here! I have been super busy digitally archiving a lot of photos, which will be coming to the site soon. Meanwhile, here’s a cookie. It’s an odd photo that was taken by Neal Ranauro from the opening ceremony of the Main St. Underpass. The photo was taken off of the top of the underpass, facing the sunset, creating some eerie color and cool shadows. This photo is most enjoyable if you click on it a couple times to enlarge… it zooms in pretty close! You guys will be hearing a lot more from me soon so stay tuned… the posts will be glorious.


8th Ave. Railroad Crossing?

8th ave train gate operator

Above Photo by Neal Ranauro • Click Photos to Enlarge

So something interesting happened to me this morning. I was sorting through some photos and came across this one I’ve been ignoring. It was really crazy because I had this labeled as 13th ave crossing, but when I took a good look at it, it didn’t make any sense at all! The water tower is on the wrong side of the photo, and is facing the wrong way. In fact… after some careful examination I came upon a new Manville mystery. The 8th Ave railroad crossing.

The old water tower you see in the photo there was formerly located on the north side between 9th and 10th aves, which would seem to put this crossing on South 8th. This was all pretty crazy to me, since I was completely unaware that this existed so I popped open a google maps street view to investigate…

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.38.58 AMThat is a shot of the end of South 8th next to the tracks looking from South Street (behind the VFW) Sure as hell looks like there used to be a crossing there huh?

UPDATE: According to some Manville folk testimony this crossing did exist on 8th Ave.

“Fred Sopko confirmed that there was indeed a temporary railroad crossing at 8th Ave in the late 1940s. It was a detour for traffic traveling through Manville while the underpass on Main St. was being built.”

Police cars under the old Weston underpass

cop cars weston underpassDate unknown • Click photo to enlarge

I was just cataloging some photos in my external hard drive and found this excellent photo of 2 Manville police cars passing / sharing a moment under the old Weston Underpass. This would be before the road and bridge were rerouted, so this is the underpass that is currently filled in with dirt. (you can see my old post about it HERE) I’m not even sure who to credit for this photo, because I frankly forgot who sent it to me. I can’t believe I haven’t posted this one earlier given how cool it is. You can see the Esso station way back in the distance… love these old police cruisers too! So cool.

Manville News, December 12, 1941


Ok, that last post was kind of thin for following up a few month hiatus. So I decided to digitize another issue of the Old Manville News. This one is from the week of December 12th, 1941. There are a number of great articles in here including a debate to put in the underpass on Main Street (you know the one the trucks alway crash into). Previously it had just been a regular crossing just like the one over on 13th, which started to cause a major traffic jam every time a train came through, which if you think about it… back then, right next to a major factory, would have been a LOT. Back in the early days of this blog I did a big huge post about it… you can see it HERE

Here is a link to the digital issue Manville News 12-12-41 OCR

In the meantime I’ll remind you that the text in these issues are mostly searchable if you are looking for names or specific information. You can download them, and I recently realized that on most phones you can actually view the pages right on your phone. I’m working on a system to make these actual posts searchable as well… it’s proving to be a challenge. In the meantime enjoy.

Carl Mydans photos of Manville c.1930s

Photo by Carl Mydans • Click to Enlarge

It seems like a life time since I put up some good impactful photos on here… and I apologize about that. It seems like I get busier and busier by the hour lately. In a desperate attempt to keep something consistent going here without spending hours warming up a library chair, I checked out the Library of Congress website… and wouldn’t you know it was fruitful. I found these great photos that were Taken by Carl Mydans. All of these are from the mid 1930’s. The photo above of Main Street has actually appeared on this site before, but the quality this time around is a lot better. Also, it’s just a great photo and worthy of a rerun since we have a lot of new folks on here. Here are some more…

This real estate hut was on Finderne Ave. heading out of town. I believe this one was from 1936, you can expand the photo by clicking on it.

I believe this photo is the Federal Creosote Factory, which famously polluted the entire former Rustic Mall and East Camplain Rd section of Manville, leaving “rivers of creosote” under the ground and prompting the closing of the entire mall and a major federal clean up to happen. You can see Main St. and The Manville National Bank in the background.

The old Finderne Ave bridge driving Main street out of town towards Bound Brook. I’m not sure what year the covered part of the bridge was torn down.

I’m not sure where in Manville this exactly is, but this is just a great photo.

This photo is just entitled “inhabitant of Manville” can anyone out there identify this man?

Another old homestead photo, which seems to be related to the photo above. What a great looking well.

This photo is definitely the same barn as the one above with the gentleman standing in front. Again if anyone can identify the man or the address, please educate us.

This last great photo is obviously standing underneath some sort of water tower. My initial instinct tells me its the one on the North side by the High School, but I can not positively identify it. All of these photos were found in the Library of Congress digital archive. I’d love to hear any of your thoughts or additional information, so as always leave em in the comments section. Enjoy!

The Old Weston Underpass

Photo from the collection of Art Shandor • Click to enlarge

At some point in the 1970’s, the need arose to widen the underpass at Kennedy Blvd & Main St. This is a point of mystery and a fact of life for  Manville folk, especially since the original bridge was just filled up with dirt, and is literally still there. You can see the new construction in the background of this photo or just off to the left of the current bridge when entering Manville from the south. The original underpass was really similar to the one on Kyle St. that goes into “Lost Valley”. I love that Lost Valley bridge, but it’s dangerous as all hell. Two cars cannot fit through it at once, it’s also built at a weird angle. You have to veer into the oncoming lane to see into it. I’m assuming a lot of the same problems existed with the old Main St. underpass. Take a look at this 1953 Historic Areal map… If you click on it, it will expand in a new window.

So, you can see compared to what we have now, this setup was not optimal. If you wanted to make a left onto Main, you couldn’t see through the bridge on your right to find out if there were any cars coming. Plus if you were leaving town, you were basically doing a u turn, merging, and going through a bridge all at the same time. The bridge was set up at an angle that was impossible to navigate safely, and with the growing population, it was becoming a real problem. So they totally reconstructed it. Take a look at this photo from 1979…

In this photo you can see that they actually took Main St. and kind of moved further away from Kennedy Blvd. to straighten it out. They also made the jug handle to get rid of people making left hand turns off of Main St. onto Kennedy. If you look closely at this photo you can see a black curve right where Kennedy starts to bend… that’s literally the old road, so you can see how dramatic the landscape changed. They sort of bent Kennedy out away from the tracks and extended it to meet up with Main St way before the bridge. All of these changes were made just a few years before I was born, so I do not remember the old set up, but my family tells me it was really dangerous. I’d love to hear some comments or horror stories on this bridge, as most of what I know is just hear say or speculation. Also, I noticed on the ’53 map that a pretty big building was removed when Main St. was moved over. Anyone know what it was? It would’ve been right in front of where the modern underpass now stands.

Larry thanks again for getting me these great photos!

Van Nest’s Mills


Awhile back I did a post on The Van Nest’s Mills. If you were in or around in Manville in the early 80’s or before, you probably remember it just over the Will Smith bridge. The famous mill collapsed into the Millstone River in 1982, and the rest of the debris was destroyed by a fire a year later. In my earlier post I mentioned that it was a key figure in the Revolution having allegedly been burglarized by the British for flour to feed the troops. This fact, however been disputed by some folks on this blog as possibly being inaccurate or the “wrong mill” I suppose it’s possible. I’m not going to go into the history all over again, as it was all covered HERE. The mill was important to me as a point of childhood interest, as my grandfather used to bring me there back when the bridge still had a huge metal frame covering it. He used to try and explain to me how water could generate electricity to run the mill, and later showed me the turbine after the building collapsed… fascinating stuff. Even then  at a young age I remember being so bummed that we lost a piece of our  history.  It was also the first time I remember seeing a real collapsed building up close and personal. These great photos came to me through Larry, a member of the blog, and are from the collection of Art Shandor, who was a teacher and Little Weston resident. These are just awesome. Thanks Larry.


Above is a photo of the same building from the other side. It was still proud and fully standing. The foundation is where the the turbine was housed to draw power form the flowing water, which helped to power the mill. In 1982 this happened… leaving nothing but a cement foundation after they removed the burned building.