From Pompeii to Newark

by Charles McGrath


My wife and I have visited Pompeii twice, the last time being around 15 years ago. The entrance to Pompeii is called Porta Marina. Prior to the eruption of Vesuvius this entrance was lapped by the waters from the Bay of Naples hence the name Porta Marina. The arched entrance on the left was for pedestrians while the one on the right was for the horse drawn chariots. The cobble stones in front of the chariot entrance has ruts 3" deep from the wheels of the chariots. The spacing between these ruts was 4' 8 1/2".

When I was a young boy in 1939 A.D. we lived in the Roseville section of Newark. At that time the trolley car could be boarded on Orange Street to travel to Down Town. To the best of my memory it entered Down Town on the right hand side of Raymond Boulevard. It then went into the bowels of a building that was the equivalent of a terminal.

We moved to Vailsburg in 1941 but the trolley didn't follow us. South Orange Avenue had evolved from the trolley car to the electric bus. The bus not unlike the trolley ran on D. C. electricity. On the back of the bus were power antennae. These two metal conductors would obtain power by contacting the overhead wires in the middle of the street.

After the W.W.II the bus evolved into what we know it as today. The tracks from its predecessor were retired in place. When I started driving in 1952 I and others would use these tracks. The cobble stones ( Belgium blocks ) were terrible to ride on. It was bumpy and our old junks would rattle like mad. Riding on the trolley rails would give a smooth straight unstoppable ride. Especially on a rainy day.

Most of these tracks were removed or paved over. The last of them to my memory were on Clinton Avenue in Irvington near Springfield Avenue. The very last of them was at the entrance to Olympic Park where it made a complete circle in front of the Park's entrance.

The railroad gauge ( distance between rails ) for trains is the same as trolley cars. The width of trolley car wheels and automobile wheels are approximately the same. One might wonder how come? Way back in Pompeii one of the main modes of transportation was by chariot. The distance was kept constant so the wheels of all wagons would ride in the ruts less they get broken. The width of the chariot wheels was determined by the width of the two horses pulling it. The width of two horses is 4' 8 1/2".

From Pompeii to Newark


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