The Garden Spot of the Garden State
From colonial times, New Jersey was noted for its truck gardens. With the advent of railroads, local home gardening developed into commercial production for burgeoning urban markets. As early as 1838, the Camden and Amboy Railroad ran a “Pea Line” to carry agricultural products to market. In the 1840s, “peach trains” were dedicated to the shipment of the luscious fruit. Special ventilated cars were designed to facilitate transportation of the perishable crop. The “peach boom” peaked in the 1880s: on one day in September 1882, sixty-four carloads of peaches were shipped from Hunterdon County alone. Peaches were transported to New York, Philadelphia, and even to New England and Canada. After 1850, “strawberry fever” also flourished as a result of rail connections with cities. Similarly, cranberry production was stimulated by the railroads. In 1881, for instance, two South Jersey railroads carried more than 34,000 bushels of cranberries to Philadelphia. Railroads that hauled produce to market often returned with loads of fertilizer for farmers’ fields. An offshoot of the development of resorts such as Atlantic City was the sale of farm plots along the railroad right-of-way by railroad-affiliated land companies. Agricultural communities such as Hammonton and Egg Harbor (“The Garden Spot of the Garden State”) owe their growth directly to railroads. Some land promotions failed, however. In the early 20th century, several railroads sponsored “Agricultural Trains” that carried exhibits and lecturers to numerous rural stops. Ironically, faster and cheaper rail service with other states, along with the introduction of refrigerated cars, hurt the market for New Jersey products such as beef and pork. Railroads were indeed “the machine in the garden” of the Garden State.
Peach circular of the Monmouth Nursery.
Peach Circular of the Monmouth Nursery … Little Silver, Monmouth Co., N.J. “As both the soil and climate of New Jersey conspire in the best development and growth of the peach, we grow them in vast numbers.” More than fifty varieties of peaches are advertised. As early as the 1840s, special “peach trains” transported the popular fruit to market.