Metuchen Edison History Features

Recollections of

Boyhood Days

In Old Metuchen


David Trumbull Marshall

Published by The Case Publishing Co., Flushing NY 1930

(Second Edition)- (c) 1930


Edison Electric Railroad.

In 1880 Mr. Edison built his first electric railroad.

The ties were laid over some pretty rough ground.

The track ran down a slope in or near Mine Gully.

The motor was made of one of the ordinary dynamos such as Mr. Edison used in his first electric light installation at the Laboratory.

Edison Electric Railroad

A dynamo, by the way, may be used as a motor. If electricity be fed into it, power which will turn a pulley and drive a belt is generated.

This first crude electric engine consisted of one of these dynamos laid on its side and belted to the wheels of the truck.

It went but required a deal of tinkering and changing before it was practical.

The current which actuated this motor was fed into one rail, crossed over through the motor and returned through the other rail.

Mr. Edison later in 1881 built another electric railroad which ran about two miles out to Dark Lane, northwest of the Laboratory. The track was laid more carefully.

The ties consisted of square-sawed lumber about five inches by five. Each tie had to be dipped in asphalt to render it non-conducting when wet.

I shall never forget the poor guy whose job it was to dip these ties. This lad was a red-headed, freckled-faced Irish boy with a face like a hop-toad.

Day after day I used to see him out in the hot sun down by the Pennsylvania Railroad working at his melancholy job of dipping first one end and then the other of these ties in hot asphalt.

It takes brains and brawn to perfect inventions. Frog face furnished some of the brawn.

One day Harry Moss and I and some lads tried the experiment of joining hands across the rails of this electric track.

Once was enough. The yank that electric shock gave us was demonstration enough. The other lads did not care to try the experiment.

Edison Electric Railroad car

Some time in 1926 I was browsing over the site of the old electric track way out where it crossed Dark Lane.

A young woman out there told me proudly that "her father leased land to Mr. Edison on which to build his tracks."

Thus all who come in contact with the Great acquire a measure of distinction.



Boyhood Days in Old Metuchen Title page

Thomas Alva Edison in Menlo Park page

Metuchen Edison History Features index page

Metuchen Edison Historical Society page

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Lasted updated 6/8/99 by Jim Halpin.