The railroad tunnel beneath Fairview Cemetery

The Fairview railroad tunnel is the end of the line for one particular route on the Susquehanna & Western railroad. The line traveled N/S thru Bergen County, and this particular section diverts off the main line in Little Ferry and heads east to Fairview. It ducks underneath Fairview cemetery and travels 1.5 miles before exiting the cliffs in Edgewater, near the old Hills Brother coffee plant. I surmise when the plant closed, that spelled the end for this spur of the railroad.

Regardless, the tunnel and the rail line closed. The tracks in the tunnel were removed, although most of the railroad ties were left behind. A fence was put up over both entrances and the tunnel was largely forgotten. But as is the case with many things forgotten, stories begin circulating, rumors begin to grow, and eventually, urban youth seeks it out to confirm the stories, as well as their own manliness and courage. The stories in Weird NJ are mostly true, although I found no evidence of wild dogs or cult activity.

Upon arriving at the entrance, I found myself walking amongst the trees and scrub brush, as the walls of the cliff grew higher & higher around me. I half-expected a cemetery worker to yell at me from above, but nothing happened. I made it to the entrance where I encountered a fence, but it was opened up (of course) by previous explorers. The passageway was relatively dark, but I still had light from the entrance, and thankfully the other end was always visible. As is the case with almost all old railroad tunnels, it was very very wet. There was a waterfall near the entrance and runoff water had left about 2-4 inches of water thru most of the first few hundred yards. I eventually realized there was a concrete path on the opposite side and I quickly switched to it.

The walk thru was relatively uneventful. I used my two flashlights to keep an eye ahead of me but also to keep an eye on the shadows. I wasn’t worried about cultists or wild dogs, but homeless people. I think that’s always a valid concern when dealing with abandoned places. Thankfully I encountered no one during my exploration. I did encounter a shaft that went straight up thru the ceiling. It looked like a natural opening in the rock and was perhaps 10 feet wide. According to some letters to the magazine it ends up in someone’s backyard, which is a frightening prospect if you ask me. I couldn’t get a GPS signal lock so I couldn’t figure out where I was, despite a search along the way when I walked back above ground. I eventually reached the opposite end after perhaps 20-30 minutes of walking. Although I had a solid path to walk on I went slowly for fear of the unknown. I slowed as I approached the end because I could hear construction equipment. It turns out the passage exits right near the center of town where the mall and movie theatre are.

As of 2003 when I visited here, there was a proposal to create a ferry in Edgewater. If this plan goes thru, there is a possibility that this rail line will be reactivated, and connect to a park/ride lot or other rail lines so people can get to the ferry without having to drive. This idea is only in the discussion stage, but if it happens then the days of walking thru this abandoned rail line will be over. Also around this time, a developer was looking to make a 177 condo tower above near the exit of the tunnel into edgewater. Damage to the railroad tunnel was cited as one of the concerns of the local residents.

tunnelend

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32 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Daniel Burgos on October 15, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    Notify me.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Daniel Burgos on October 15, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    I plan on going out there on Saturday, October 26 to explore this place… can anyone tell me what’s the best way to get to the tunnel? I think I read there may be construction going on in that tunnel… I heard there’s a point near Beyer Brothers off Tonnele Avenue where the tunnel can be entered…

    Reply

  3. I live in Fairview, and this is interesting and scary to me. I am intrigue by it, but, concern that anyone can explore it and may be in danger. I hear a train at night where I live and in the afternoon and always wonder if it is that RR tunnel….with imaginary trains….or real ones???

    Reply

    • I do too! I am thinking it is around Tonnelly Ave,(a Train, that may still be in service) where there is a road going under a tunnel…but not sure or it is a Ghost Train…

      Reply

  4. Posted by Royce on October 17, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    Anybody know the way down there in Edgewater?

    Reply

    • Posted by Barney Gaffney on November 11, 2012 at 7:49 AM

      I walked this tunnel with some friends when I was maybe 12 years old, from the Fairview side to Edgewater. The tunnel comes out below river road, where these is a sharp bend in the road from the cliff to the river, that about all I can remember about where it came out. It’s been a while since I walked it. Lets say 47 years ago. And a train came thru then also.Talk about panic, but we just moved to the side and played like statues. No sweat.

      Reply

  5. Posted by Daniel Burgos on August 19, 2012 at 11:38 PM

    I plan on exploring this tunnel in October. Anybody know the way down there in Fairview? I plan on going with two others at the most… anyone else who wants to come is welcome.

    Reply

    • Daniel,I walked the tunnel a couple of weeks ago.Come October you might not be able to.There is on going construction to rehab the tunnel for the Bergen/Hudson light rail.
      I came on a weekend and posted about it here.
      Good Luck

      Reply

      • Posted by Daniel Burgos on August 20, 2012 at 2:08 PM

        Hmm… is that so? This is new to me… I didn’t know NJT what planning to extend the light rail through there… haven’t read about it, though there’s been talk about extending it to Bergen County and the Vince Lombardi service area, from the last stop at 51st Street and Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen… keep me posted.

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        • Well,I asked one of the workers that were there during the week.I pulled in and he said they were rehabbing the tunnel for commuter use.I assume the light rail is what will be comming through. If you are still planning on walking the line,I would try a Sunday.

          Reply

  6. I just walked the line the other day,7/11/12
    The tunnel is being worked on to exstened the light rail from No.Bergen and Tonnelle ave.So,walking thru was easier than when I did it 20yrs ago.
    There are a string of lights and fans blowing for circulation.I dont know where the crew was,but no one was working.
    All that was there was a medallion board,like the kind miners use to chk in and out of the tunnel.I guess the air wasnt safe,but that didnt stop me from re living a part of childhood.I may never get the chance to do it again,so I made a round trip from Edgewater to Fairview and back.
    That shaft you saw in the middle was a air vent.It does come up in a backyard and is quite the structure.Having been built in 1883,nothing was done cheep.
    In Weehawken you will find its sister,made a yr before.That tunnel has already been converted for light rail use,over 10 yrs.That tunnel also has vent shafts,more than one.Again the construction impressive,they look outta place in a Union City backyard today.
    I walked that line as a kid too,but that line was a busy one.We were stuck in the middle more than once.The tunnel had plenty of room.but still very scary.We even rode thru on trains comming out at the trailer park.
    A professional group of hijakers used the line for years.You van catch the story on a tv show called master minds.
    Anyway,boys grow into men,but the adventures of a boy are still appealing to this man.

    Reply

    • Posted by Rick J on June 4, 2013 at 10:34 PM

      The vent shaft is still present between Kennedy Drive and McKinley Street in Fairview and the shaft vent is still active and open. It is shared between I think four properties there in four back yards……………. it is very cool. Looks like a very short and wide silo.
      I have walked that tunnel both when it was active and out of service. When it was active and an engine entered one end it was a long run to get away from getting hurt!!
      As kids we were very crazy!!
      All the best,
      Rick…….Still in Fairview NJ

      Reply

      • Posted by Rick J on June 4, 2013 at 10:42 PM

        P/S…..in the beginning and In later years there was a repair yard in Edgewater with repair sheds and even a turntable that is why a lot of engines passed through the tunnel…………. Both Steam and Diesel!! Even when the freight stopped some repairs were still done in Edgewater. Few people also know that Ford had a car factory in Edgwater to build and ship cars all over the country.

        Reply

  7. Posted by jim on June 25, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    The vent in this tunnel is on 381 McKinley Street in Fairview. it is a red brick structure in the back yard of a home there .

    Reply

  8. Posted by James on September 28, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    Is this tunnel still explorable? and can someone please tell me the exact location for the edgewater entrance

    Reply

    • Posted by anthony on November 2, 2011 at 12:26 PM

      ive been in this tunnel twice before. I entered it from the North Bergen end, in between the cemetery. im sure everyone whose visited it has been at least a little freaked out, but has dismissed their fears.
      Yes, it is still explorable. If you really wish to see it… its located between that cemetary in North Bergen, right by Fairview. Dont get confuse with another cemetery…theres a much nicer and newer one about 10 minutes away and its built on a hill and has huge fancy gates. to get to the tunnel you want to find the cemetery thats located right on the local highway pass. (use a gps to locate the cemeteries in north bergen) its a much older cemetery. The easiest way to get to it is to walk to the highway pass and past the cemetary entrance. across the street should be a waste management building. Go toward it and there should be a street path that goes left. youl come across a house and then a huge parking lot for storage. On the left side youl see a grassy path with train track remains beneath the concrete structure holding the highway pass up. There, youl find a freaky path through a wooded brush type crevice. just go down it.
      But be warned. I am a totally normal college kid but i have a keen focus on energy. I do a lot of meditation and i am very spiritual in my own sense. Ive got good “instinctual” senses. If you’ve ever closed your eyes and felt as though someone was in front of you, and you opened your eyes to find someone actually there…uve felt that person’s energy. that’s kind of what i mean wen i say i can sense energy. But thats not the only type of energy that i can sense. This tunnel is between and under a large cemetery and there is a supposed older cemetery beneath it. When i was there, I sensed the presence of many wondering spirits, and many floating energies. If you walk down the path to the tunnel, you might find yourself walking through drastic temperature changes until you reach a dead cold temperature with thick air. Something inside you will not feel right. Listen to that feeling because it means something. When you get to the tunnel, the brush will open up and the air will be a little less thick. You’l have a sense of comfort. It’s deception. The tunnel will give you a scared feeling and youl think it’s just because its a dark scary tunnel and that’s it. but it’s not. wen you walk inside, youl find yourself getting intrigued and walking maybe a little faster. you might feel more excited and a little more comfortable. Your will power is being played with. most people will call me stupid or crazy or something. But i trust my senses very deeply. That tunnel is a cage of dark energy. And i suspect that other energies may roam the tunnel. these energies do not have a good agenda. I strongly advise you to not overstay your welcome. It is my suspicion that the tunnel has been used many times for ritual purposes. People who like to gather dark energy often arent satisfied with their own dark energies and seek the dark energies of the afterlife. It couldnt be hard to extract that energy from a tunnel thats surrounded by a cemetery. People cant handle such great power and energy so they need a way to “cage” it. The tunnel is the cage. I also have my suspicions that terrible acts have been committed in this tunnel apart from rituals. The edgewater tunnel has a great power about it and if you stay too long, you risk the chance of that power manipulating your own energies. on my way out, i was visited by a woman who lived at that house in the lot. I could tell she had been exposed to its dark energies a lot. Her eyes were empty and dark and they looked right into mine, penetrating my energetic defenses. She spoke spanish so i couldnt understand her, but i sensed something terribly wrong about her energy.

      I hope you dont write off my warning as some bullshit hocus pocus or watever. After visiting it you might see where im coming from. All i can say is good luck, and dont over stay your welcome. when your stomache begins to feel very empty and it tells you to leave…listen to it.

      OH and if you happen to come by a white or grey cat near the entrance of the wooded path, its a good little critter that will watch you walk down. it will not follow. You might want to follow its example…cuz its trying to tell you something.

      Reply

      • Posted by A Larmo on March 18, 2012 at 11:41 PM

        I totally know what you mean. One time I came across this rabbit in my friend’s yard that had an incredibly weird energy. I could tell that it was very dark because you could tell the rabbit just wanted to die, but whatever energy had infused it made it keep on going. I waited to see if it would finally let go, but it kept going and going. Crazy stuff.

        Reply

  9. Posted by James C. on May 19, 2010 at 3:57 PM

    I’m not sure if this is the same tunnel I explored with my friends when we were preteens (almost 20 years ago). We heard the same stories of wild packs of dogs and rail workers with shotguns full of rocksalt, but we had explored just about every inch of the Palisades from Weehawken to North Bergen and never encountered anyone. The entrance we went into was on River Road, approximately right below 48th St. in Weehawken. The first excursion was cut short since no one had a flash light, but we managed to go pretty far in before quitting. The next day we went “prepared” with a flashlight. That’s right, One flashlight for about six kids. We stayed primarily to the side walkways because in some areas there were huge puddles on the tracks. We saw a big beam of light coming from the top of the tunnel. We all took a break to contemplate where or what this chimney led to and to laugh at the sight of our dirty faces. As we continued past the ceiling opening our flashlight gave out. Luckily we could see the light coming from the other end of the tunnel so we made our way towards it, sticking to the sides of the tunnel to avoid stepping into a huge puddle. About 100 yards from exiting we could hear a distant rumble…you guessed it. “TRAIN!” We all tried outrunning it at first but we could see it was gaining fast…so we all hid in the alcoves every 10 or so feet along the walls. One of my friends claimed to have seen the train conductor laughing at the sight of us. Once the train passed we took a verbal headcount. All of us were accounted for ..except Jorge. After a few panicked moments we saw him waving to us from the exit. He actually made it out of the train tunnel by running out (being on the track team came in handy). He had a good laugh seeing us all covered in even more soot. Once on the other side we were in a small valley surrounded by trees and could only see the train tracks heading off into the distance. Trying to get our bearing I remember seeing the remnants of a brick wall. As i walked towards it an rusted iron fence overgrown with vines came into view. We walked towards it up an incline and realized we were right behind a cemetery. Grove Cemetery if memory serves me right. Many years later I found the smoke stack that brought in light in the tunnel recessed between two buildings near the intersection of 48th St and New York Ave in Union City. I had always thought it was the back of another building since it was about 2 stories high and made of brick. There were two doors on either side that were all bricked up as well. The tunnel is now part of the NJ Light Rail connecting the Tonnelle Blvd. stop and Port Imperial. Sorry if I was bit long winded with the story but it all came back to me while typing. Thanks to this site for doing this and good luck and be safe to all you explorers!

    Reply

    • Posted by lostinjersey on May 23, 2010 at 11:23 AM

      this is the same cemetery I’ve posted about here. I went up to the tunnel last summer and the Fairview side now has this nice big fence across it. It’s not too secure though. If you’re not fat you can slip between the sections of fence. Unfortunately, I am fat so I couldn’t get in.

      Reply

      • Posted by James C. on May 27, 2010 at 5:45 PM

        I realized the tunnel I was talking about is a bit more to the south. The cemetery is Grove Church Cemetery in North Bergen. I didn’t see that one mentioned on the site. Anyway it was fun to remember and share the story. Kudos on your site. I will be checking out more :)

        Reply

        • James….your post is 2 yrs old,so I dont know if you will read this.
          That was creative writing for sure.
          Your facts are a little out of whack,so I only believe the first part,when you turn around.
          The tunnel was built in the 1830’s and the only section with alcoves is the East exit.A North East exit was added in 1885 to compete with NY Central West Shore commuter line that runs today.
          The West exit left you in the middle of a trailer park,how can you forget that?
          Today the tunnel is nice and smooth for the 2sets of rail.Back then it was all rocky bluestone,left as is after the blast.
          I could go on,but wont…I recently left a post about walking the line im EdgewatetThat will clue you to why I know so much.
          Not only walked but rode trains thru the 48th st tunnel off Blvd East,not River rd as you say,
          My family were railroad people going back 4 generations my Great great grand dad and his bros were part of the crew who dug out the tunnels.The family stayed with the line till my grand dad retired in the 60’s
          Never the less your story brought attention

          Reply

  10. Posted by tifanny on October 19, 2009 at 1:07 AM

    - i went in this tunnel.
    i had to climb down a moutain just to go in this. it’s almst in front of starbucks and stuff . it wasnt scary and the only problem is that at the end of the tunnel the gates are closed and you have to sqeeze threw just to get out. and you will deff. come out dirty. i came in clean and came out mad disgusting . dont touch the walls and in the middle you findd a light on above which is my friends backyard :) . and it looks like its raining but really its like black inkkk . have funn. & good luck finding tht passage door. ___

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  11. Posted by Orin on September 8, 2009 at 1:34 AM

    Hey!
    I walked through this tunnel with my friends when we were kids and the trains were still running.
    We were half way through when a train came in the other end!
    We ran for our lives!
    The light and roar of the engine getting closer and closer behind us.
    It was awesome!
    We made it to the end (barely)and hide in the big old blowers (disabled) that used to be there for the coal burning locos. As the diesel engine passed big clods of dirt in the blowers rained down and pelted the hell out of us.
    Thanks for the memories!

    Reply

  12. [...] but not least is the exit of the Fairview Tunnel. it originates under the Fairview cemetery, and travels straight for almost a mile before exiting [...]

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  13. Posted by Soriano on March 18, 2009 at 5:14 PM

    I just discovered your site and saw your discussion of the Fairview railroad tunnel. I saw some comments about the shaft in the middle. FYI, that shaft can be seen in Fairview, between McKinley Street and Kennedy Drive, about halfway between Anderson Avenue and Sixth Street. It is in someone’s backyard (the building used to be a stair building plant but was converted into residential.) The railroad has an easement off of McKinley Street for emergency access and there is a small path. I grew up a few houses away. As a kid, we always used to try to peek inside it, but the door at ground level was sealed pretty tight. Neat site! –Chris

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  14. Posted by Ron on March 18, 2009 at 3:34 PM

    he train tunnel vent is on Kennedy dr in Fairview half way between Anderson Av and Sixth St on the south side.

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  15. Posted by russell on March 18, 2009 at 3:33 PM

    The vertical opening in the tunnel was a vent for the steam engines that used the tunnel.

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  16. Posted by Johnny on March 18, 2009 at 3:32 PM

    the hole you’re referring to is at the center of the tunnel. It surfaces on kennedy drive in fairview. If you start at lincoln school on anderson avenue and travel up kennedy drive you will see it on your right behind houses about a couple hundred feet up the road. We used to through rocks down it when we were young to try to get an idea how deep it was. peace

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  17. Posted by Ken on March 18, 2009 at 3:29 PM

    William, I saw the top of the opening in the middle of the Fairview tunnel about 8 years ago. It is a giant brick chimney that looks like a three story building with no windows. Its in the middle of four backyards set at an angle to the street. I don’t know exactly where it is. I went looking for it about a month ago and could not find it.

    Reply

  18. Posted by John on March 18, 2009 at 3:28 PM

    Interesting. My only comments on your account of the railroad tunnel are: foolish to go exploring alone (injury, harassment, arrest, etc.), sometimes oblivious and overt is the best camouflage. If you had approached the tunnel dressed properly (hard hat, safety vest, large visible lantern), looking like you belonged there (engineer, surveyor, railroad worker), you would attract less attention. Most people draw instant conclusion (usually incorrect), based upon appearance and actions. If you look like you have the authority to be someplace, most people will conclude that you do. Cops are the obvious exception.

    All in all an interesting site! I used to check out the weird NJ on Yahoo Groups frequently, but the coverage and photography leaves a lot to be desired. I had been exploring Newark and the surrounding town for years, long before “Weird NJ” or any website documenting abandoned/unusual places existed. Only one time were my friend and I “approached” while exploring, the person had a length of pipe and thought we were stripping the building. Another time a run-in with the cops resulted in a warning and having our names taken down. The preponderance of cell phones really bothers me though, it makes it possible for everyone and anyone to call the police with anything they observe. No matter how harmless.

    Reply

  19. Posted by Mark on March 18, 2009 at 3:27 PM

    My friends and I visited the tunnels last night. That is a really cool place. We went all of the way through it. We went in on the Edgewater side because the Edgewater side is very easy to get in (not counting the massive amount of mud and the attack dog at the construction site.) While in the tunnels we saw graffiti all over the place. People put their names and the date; some of the dates were very old. We also saw 2 or 3 spots with multiple candles… One of them was on the rock sides with about 5 candles. At one point in the tunnel there was some sort of animal making noise in the ceiling. It sounded like a bat, but I don’t know if that is even possible at this point in time. Overall this place was very very cool. I will probably going there again soon because one of my friends didn’t get to go last night. I couldn’t take any pictures because no one has a camera.

    Reply

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