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.”

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Manville fisherman…

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Manville Fisherman • Click Photo to Enlarge

Ok everyone this is another collection of mystery photos. This is part of the Anne Sullivan photo archive (circa 1939-1941). I have a whole load of photos that are just of random people. I don’t really want to present them without context, but at the same time I would love to put some names to the faces. I think what I’ll do is try to group them into events and see if you guys can identify any of them. To start, here are a couple of great photos of some Manville fisherman… looks like the little guy cleaned up! Anyone know who they are?

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Mystery Manville Man…

8a01212aOk Manville, I’ve got another mystery photo for you… I found this photo of a Manville guy which was untitled and dated 1939. In the reflection of the window you can see a building with a Manville sign, and what appears to be railroad tracks. Still I could not confidently decide where this was taken… What a cool looking dude. Anyone know him?

Happy Labor Day Everyone!

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I hope everyone is having a great, work free, stress free Labor Day. I decided that today was going to be a light hearted fun post. One that is a nod to the social and economic achievements of American workers. We all work hard, and sometimes we need some good old fashioned fun, or at least the satisfaction of knowing we can provide that for our children. So I offer you this great photo of an unknown Manville girl flying a kite. This photo is so great, and it reminded me that I haven’t flown a kite in soo long. If you feel like working for it today, I welcome you to try and identify her. Using context clues I believe this photo was taken on the south side of Manville above 13th ave. I can only assume that a girl this adorable, that warrants a photo this amazing must have not flown under an entire towns radar. I’d love to know who she is. If you know her please leave a comment. The photo will enlarge if you click on it.

Oh and by the way, you probably notice that I have been moving things around on the site and such. I’m just trying to clean things up a bit. I like to keep a tidy house, even out here in cyberspace. I will be slowly tweaking things over the next few days… please be patient with me. Enjoy your day off everyone.

Johns Manville Shanty Town?

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One of the biggest Manville urban legends that has continued to escape me is one about a “shanty town” that had sprung up around the JM property. I think I have possibly tracked down some photos. I cannot confirm this is it, using context clues here is what I came up with. In the photo above on the left is what looks like the asbestos bays from JM that backed up to the tracks that run over Main street. It looks like the Watchung Mountains in the background there. On the right if you really look you can se the other train line that cuts through the Lost Valley. To be honest when I look at these photos it seems more like this whole site is on what would’ve been the Federal Creosote Factory land, which was nestled in between the two train lines right before what was then know as Port Reading Junction (or basically the Manville train yard).

From the lose hearsay and unreliable information I have gathered over the years, I’ve heard that this was essentially built by workers out of old train cars and scrap wood and that it had eventually burned down. If anyone has any stories of can confirm that this is actually the shanty town, please comment on this. Here are a few more shots. They will all expand if you click on them. Thanks Anne Sullivan for contributing these.

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Knopf Street 1938 / Bike Shop

1st download 4148Knopf Street 1938 • Click Photo to Enlarge

Ok, well I said I was going to need some help identifying places. In this case though I know where I am at geographically. This is The corner of Knopf and North 6th ave looking down towards Main St. Obviously it had not been paved yet. If you look real hard you can see Johns Manville at the end there. Most of the houses in this photo still exist… including that store on the right there, which most Manvillians will affectionately remember as Al’s Market. Obviously at some point in the late 30’s Al’s was a bike shop. I know Quigley’s was eventually located right down the street on Main and Knopf so here is the question I’m posing to you. Does anyone remember this bike shop? and was it in fact an early incarnation of Quigley’s? If you want to see a modern version of this view you can click HERE.

You can see the situation with Manville streets was still pretty terrible in 1938, when these photos were allegedly taken, except for maybe on a nice dry week… and if you had a fast car…. Thanks again to Anne Sullivan for contributing these…

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Something Incredible Just Happened…

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I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was contacted by a woman named Anne Sullivan, who had unearthed a cache of great Manville photos, which at the time I had not yet seen. Today I got a flash drive in the mail. It includes 789 photos from 1938-39. They are incredible. There is definitely a narrative behind the photos, and as soon as I figure out what it is I will explain it.

Meanwhile, I am going to be slowly rolling out the photos on this blog. They revolve around a family or a group of friends. I am going to need lots of help sorting out who the people are. Hell, who knows… one of em might even be you. Whoever took these was obviously a hell raiser, well to do, a passioned cyclist, and had a pretty sweet eye for photography and capturing emotion. If you know anyone in the photos please comment or contact me.

Out of the batch I’d say at least 60% of them are in the actual town of Manville. I’m actually not familiar with the person/place pictured above, so I’d just like to start with a mystery… can anyone identify the guy/place in the photo at the top of the page?

And just for good measure, here is a great, albeit damaged photo of the Manville Movie Theater…

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Thanks Anne for sending these. I’m very sure everyone will appreciate these photos… Manvillians past and present… wait until you see these.