Trenton is a popular stop on the Northeast Corridor, but the city has a deep railroad history.
Lawmakers chartered the Philadelphia & Trenton Railroad (P&T) on February 23, 1832, to build between its two namesake cities. The company began construction in 1833 and opened eight miles of track between Morrisville and Bristol in Pennsylvania, initially operating horse-drawn trains.
The Camden & Amboy, wanting to maintain its dominance, gained a controlling stock interest in the P&T in 1836. Taking such action guaranteed the Camden & Amboy would build its line through New Brunswick and Trenton.
“By the connection of the Trenton and Philadelphia Railroad with the New Jersey Railroad, a complete line will be formed between New York and Philadelphia, capable of being traversed in 5 or 6 hours,” The United States Gazette newspaper of Philadelphia wrote. “Not only the citizens of New Jersey, but the whole traveling public, will rejoice in the consummation of this event.”
They completed a bridge over the Delaware and Raritan (D&R) Canal in 1839 in Trenton, allowing the Philadelphia & Trenton Railroad to connect with the Camden & Amboy’s Trenton Branch. This bridge allowed trains to run from Philadelphia to Jersey City.
However, the railroad continued to run most trains via Camden due to the location of the Philadelphia & Trenton terminal in Kensington and its proximity — or lack thereof — to the central Philadelphia business district.
When the Camden & Amboy brought train service to Trenton in 1837, it built a wooden depot.
The station moved to its current location in 1863 when the railroad realigned tracks. The Pennsylvania Railroad replaced the station in 1893. Successors overhauled the station in 1976 and 2008.
“For a number of years trains changed engines at Trenton and New Brunswick, and not unfrequently thirty or fifty minutes were consumed in ‘wooding-up’ the tenders at the wood sheds along the line,” historian J. Elfreth Watkins wrote. the Camden & Amboy Rail Road and Transportation Company laid tracks between New Brunswick, New Jersey, and Trenton, New Jersey, and the Philadelphia & Trenton Railroad forged the route between Trenton, New Jersey, and Philadelphia.