Raritan River Railroad
Ducks Nest Pond in Sayreville
Ducks Nest Pond was a swimming hole located on Sayreville, NJ. From at least 1910 to the 1970s Ducks Nest was a place where people could enjoy the water and a small picnic area. Located just north of Hercules, at the intersection of South Minnisink Road and the Raritan River Railroad.
View Ducks Nest Pond, Sayreville, in a larger map
Ducks Nest as a Station Stop
Read below to see how Ducks Nest was also an official passenger “Flag Stop” for 11 years
Ducks Nest Pond was an unofficial stop for many years on the Raritan River Railroad. It showed up as a note at the bottom of some of the time tables starting in 1926, although it was never listed as an official station.
Timetable 101 - 4/26/1926 first mentions Ducks Nest as a stop in the notes in the bottom of the timetable.
“No.1 will make “s” stop at Ducks Nest Road Crossing.” (about 6:01 AM)
“No.7 will make “f” stop at Ducks Nest Road Crossing.” (about 3:51 PM)
“No.2 & No.6 will make “f” stop at Ducks Nest Road Crossing.” (about 6:59 AM and 3:01 PM)
“s” is an official stop.
“f” is a flag stop where some one must flag the train or tell the conductor to get it to stop.
By Timetable 109 - 4/28/1930, the stop is now listed as Ducks Nest Siding instead of Ducks Nest Road Crossing.
The last official “s” (full stop) status was Timetable 115 - 5/1/1933.
Starting with Timetable 116, Ducks Nest was only listed as a f (flag stop).
After 1933, all stops to the Pond would have to be flagged, as the train would no longer automatically stop, but would stop if needed.
The end came in Timetable 123 - 4/26/1937 which has no mention of Ducks Nest as a flag stop. This is not surpirsing, as all passenger service would be discontinued next year, in April of 1938.
It can be said that Ducks Nest Pond was a noted stop from April 1926 to April 1937. Almost 11 years!
For the first 7 years it was an official stop, at least for train No.1, and for the next 4 years it was a flag stop.
Simply stated, in the late 1920s, if you left South Amboy on Train No.1 at 5:45 AM, you would get dropped off by the regular 6:01 AM stop at Ducks Nest. You get to spend all day at the pond; swimming, picnicking, enjoying the water and the shade. To get home, you would need to flag the passing train, No.6, at 3:01PM to get back home to South Amboy.
If coming from New Brunswick, you would need to tell the conductor to let you off at 6:59 AM, and if you were lucky, he might remember to pick you up at 3:51 PM to get back to New Brunswick!
Ducks Nest Siding
Now there is more to the story of Ducks Nest, as we know there was a siding there. This implies that they either delivered freight, or stored cars, possibly passenger cars for patrons at the lake?
According to this official RRRR map, the Ducks Nest siding was 429 feet long. This is quite long, able to hold at least 5 or 7 cars if needed.
Ducks Nest and the RRRR in the Movies 1914
We also know that Ducks Nest was in the Black and White Silent movies of the 1910s, so it was already established as a recreational area long before the 1920s.
In 1914 they filmed a crash at Duck’s Nest Pond, now part of Bailey Park in Sayreville. The Fort Lee-based Vitagraph company filmed a sequence for the film “The Juggernaut” there in which an engine and three cars filled with dummies plunged down a trestle.
It was reported that over 2000 residents came out to watch the crash.
“They built a stand (in the pond) for the cameraman to film the sequence,” said Mark Nonesteid, assistant curator of the Middlesex County Museum in Piscataway. “When the train went into the water, the waves from the impact almost knocked him off.”
The dummies were popping up around town for several months afterward, Nonesteid said. The train wasn’t retrieved until 1938 when a Perth Amboy company fetched the wreck for scrap.
Click this link below to read the story of the clean up and the old movies as published in the South Amboy Citizen in 1938:
Unbelievable that people were swimming in a lake with a train at the bottom of it for 24 years!
Here is a link to an article from Home News published in 1999:
Ultimately, Ducks Nest would stay a swimming hole long into the 1970s,when due to safety and security concerns swimming would no longer be allowed. Eventually, Ducks Nest Pond’s name would change to be known as Bailey’s Park.