Food Heritage Site: Pittstown, NJ Peach Exchange
In 2000, Julian posted the following report and memory.
“I discovered an interesting place in Franklin Township while on a Scout hike. We were hiking along the Capoolong Creek from Pittstown to Kingtown Road on the old train right of way. As we started our hike we passed an old building that used to be the Pittstown Peach Exchange. I asked my Dad about it and he told me it used to be a train station where the local peach farmers would bring their crops to be shipped to outside markets or cities.
I looked it up in the Facts and Fantasies of Franklin written by a man named J. E. Stout. In the book it told the story of the local peach industry. An 1879 quote from the Hunterdon County Democrat said Franklin Township is the peach yielding township of the county and there are a large number of fine and large orchards in it that promise a big yield. This industry grew so much it needed a train to carry the crops to the cities. The Pittstown Railroad Company opened a rail line on July 4, 1891 after a lot of hard work and negotiation! The train went from Pittstown to Landsdowne and then to Flemington, the county seat. From Flemington, you could connect to New York City and then anywhere! I imagine the train station was great way for the farmers, local merchants and people to gather, start a trip or pass along news as well as ship their crops. As time went on the local dairy farmers profited from the train as well.
At the turn of the century a disease destroyed the peach trees. The train was less necessary as trucks and cars became more popular. With the loss of commuter traffic it became mostly a freight line until it was too expensive to maintain. They closed down the line in 1968. My mom still remembers the train going by her house and putting pennies on the tracks to be squished! Later the tracks became a popular hiking trail.
I think the Pittstown Peach Exchange was a very historical place because it was the center of Franklin’s shipping, commerce and travel for almost 80 years! The building is in poor shape now. Members of the town council have talked about fixing it up but it hasn’t happened yet! I think it is important for our township to save this historical place.”