The Erie Railroad's Pier "D" in Weehawken, NJ was where my late father worked before the merger with the Lackawanna in 1960. Many times I had the opportunity to visit this site when I was a youngster and was fascinated at how a railroad was more than just trains and tracks, but also piers, tugs and barges. I can remember the the bustle of activity that surrounded this area, as I watched my Uncle Al direct the cranes moving crates of auto parts and was in awe as the giant machines moved these heavy loads so gracefully. After the merger, it was not long before the property here was abandoned by the EL and sold to Sea Land/Sea Train. It has since been renovated and is used as a yacht basin. The following is some information taken in part from the April, 1957 Erie Railroad Magazine, a publication sent to my father and all other Erie Railroad employees. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
On the New Jersey Shore in Weehawken, NJ was where the Erie Railroad's New York Division Tracks ended and it's Marine Division began. Here is where the "farm" was located. A farm that could store 850 cars of freight on the ground, a farm where the "hands" were six diesel locomotive cranes. These six self-propelled cranes were able to lift over five tons out of gondolas as easily as if the crates were matchboxes, and carry them along as gently as if they were eggs. But that was only the part of the wonders of Weehawken.
There were six Erie piers there, three open and three covered. Across the covered piers moved freight that would arrive or leave in box cars; and gondola and flat car freight would be moved across the open piers. "move across" is a relative term. Some of the shipments were ordered stored to await the demands of the consignees or consignors. So the closed piers were actually vast warehouses, holding everything from flour milled in Minnesota destined for India to rubber sheets grown in Malaysia and destined for the rubber mills in Akron.
All of this freight was in vast quantities. At one point in the mid 1950's, 75% of New York's export freight moved in lighters and about a fifth of that was moved through the Erie's stations. Shown below are pictures of the Erie's piers that once occupied the waterfront at Weehawken, they are from left to right, A, an open pier, 580 feet long, 71 feet wide with 2 tracks with a capacity of 45 railway cars, and 40,000 square feet of storage space. B, open, 839 by 82 feet, 4 tracks, 48 cars, 20,000 square feet. C, covered, 820 by 96 feet, 2 tracks, 33 cars, 136,000 square feet on two floors. D, the pier where my father worked, covered, 738 by 98 feet, two tracks, 28 cars, 195,000 square feet on 3 floors. F, covered, 845 by 96 feet, one track, 17 cars, 153,000 square feet. And H, open, 975 by 91 feet, 4 tracks, 80 cars and 70,000 square feet.