Oxford Tunnel

The Oxford railroad tunnel is part of the old Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Branch, and has been defunct for several decades. This line runs from the Muscontencong River to Washington where it joins an active Conrail Line. The northern part of this line will take you to the Manunka Chunk tunnel.

Most railroad tunnels are wet from leakage of groundwater. The Oxford tunnel isn’t just wet, it’s got a river inside it, typically anywhere from 3 to 9 inches deep. The water that drains from it empties into the Pohatcong Creek. Enterprising explorers established a series of tires as a dry form of access to the occasion islands of dry dirt amidst the unending water. Reminds me of the tires you have to quickly run thru in high school, except here the idea is walk *on* the tires, not *in* them. Midway thru the mile long tunnel there is a roof collapse and the debris creates a dam about 4 ft high. Behind it is water of considerable depth, and supposedly trout breed in it….

As we left the tunnel, my friend noticed a small crevice beside the mouth of the tunnel and decided to explore. He did his monkey impersonation and soon scuttled up and inside it. He emerged on top of the tunnel directly over the mouth as you can see below.

See all the pictures.

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by darin happe on November 24, 2012 at 2:31 AM

    grew up above the oxford end all through grammer school. between that and connollys farm was an awesome place to grow up.probably stacked those tires thirty years ago.lot of history and fun down there! happe

    Reply

  2. Posted by Ben on August 30, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    where is the oxford tunnel?

    Reply

    • Posted by Hank Senzer on September 23, 2013 at 2:49 AM

      In Oxford, Warren County, New Jersey. To get to the tunnel, Take Route 31 to Axford Avenue. a few hundred feet down Axford Avenue there will be a street to the right called Hill street. At the intersection of Axford Avenue and Hill Street, you’ll see some guard rails on either side of the road. The reason for the guard rails being there is because they filled up where the railroad was after they ripped up the tracks and you wouldn’t want a car to fall down, be there an accident. Find a place to park. Go down the south side of the road and follow the wide path south right up to the tunnel. It’s very muddy and there are lots of trees and pricker-bushes, so I would suggest dressing accordingly. Long pants, fishing boots, etc. Or whatever is comfortable. I hope this helps you.

      Reply

  3. Posted by Ye Olde Statistician on July 31, 2011 at 6:20 PM

    Heck, when my great-grandfather was 10, he used to hop the freight when it slowed through the “Patch” in Washington, and rode it through the tunnel to work in the iron mill in Oxford Furnace.

    Reply

  4. Posted by bob on October 15, 2010 at 9:49 AM

    I remember when i was a kid growing up in washington new jersey we used to walk the tracks to Oxford in the late 60s early 70s . We walked through the Oxford tunnel on the Oxford side there were a lot of old buildinds all run down. Does anyone know what those buildings where for thankyou.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Tim on March 22, 2009 at 5:42 PM

    The Manunka Chunk tunnels can’t compete with the under ground adventure of the Oxford Tunnel. It is much longer and you must walk nearly ½ mile before even seeing the other end. If there is one beauty the Manunka Chunk tunnels have over Oxford is the outside entrances – – a great photograph.

    I haven’t been through the Oxford Tunnel in 7 years, but I have no fear of entering the dark hole. It’s just that I haven’t had time to go through recently. This was a great play area in my childhood days. We used to go up to spot dubbed “the clover-field” from Bull Run (Mechanic Street) and come down the other side of the mountain to enter the passageway from the Washington side where it would send us back to Oxford. The magic it brought us unbelievable. Back then there was no fear, as we even took the watchman tower tunnel on different occasions atop the right side of the Washington entrance. The first time I took this entrance, I was fooled into it as once you jumped down from above Route 31 into the pit-like top, there was only one way in… or out. The watchman’s tunnel goes in about a quarter mile and you must jump down onto the abandoned track bed to continue within the main tunnel. The jump is maybe 8 feet which is extremely high as a child, but again there’s no turning back once inside the watchman’s tunnel. I recommend this entrance to no one, as it appeared pretty rough 30 years ago, per my memory.

    I do recommend if you enter the tunnel and bring a powerful lamp so the beautiful architecture can be appreciated within the tunnel boring beneath Route 31. However the curve in the tunnel makes it gloomy and dark until that point, but the light is never from your sight. Last week I drove my tracker back to the Washington side through privately owned access roads. It was nice to see no littering or dumping on the Washington side, which by the way isn’t the case on the Oxford side – – it’s a shame people used this side to dispose of junk. There is no access no cleared 4 wheel access to the Oxford Side anymore, as you end up walking back to the Lackawanna Depot Bar (Paulie D’s), where a tie bridge once humped Cat Swamp Road for the train to go under.

    Many of us are going through the tunnel in August of this summer for the 31st Anniversary of Tunnel Expo, an adventure started by a man from Bull Run in 1972. Being kids, we thought it was hilarious creating such a to-do over something we did daily during the summer months. Today, I can appreciate this journey much more as it brings back memories and nostalgia of days past. I hope the magic is still in the tunnel like it was 30 years ago. Light can be seen at both ends of the tunnel when in the middle. One last thought on the Oxford Tunnel’s safety vs. the Manunka Chunk Tunnels. The Oxford Tunnel needs to be safe as it underlies Route 31. If it weren’t, the automobiles passing over are in for some bumpy rides.

    Happy Trails…

    Reply

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