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.