Nice thought, but untrue. Believe it or not, the name originates from a battle: the Frog War.
|The historic Hopewell train station, no frogs in sight.|
As major corporations will, the Pennsy Railroad responded by creating a separate subsidiary to compete with the upstart. The Mercer and Somerset Railroad was designed primarily to block the D&BB by intersecting its path with a common crossing at a point northwest of Hopewell. In railroad parlance, the intersection they used is called a frog. See how the amphibians get involved?
The D&BB, to its credit, didn't simply concede its right of way to the larger Pennsy system. With the country's centennial approaching, the route to Philadelphia was far too lucrative and the upstarts wanted their share of the potential profits. They kept laying rails on their planned path, no doubt expecting a confrontation. Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania railroad stationed a locomotive at the disputed stretch of track, yielding the section only for its own oncoming traffic.
This simmering dispute was bound to heat up, and it did in January 1876. As the blocking locomotive moved to let an approaching Pennsylvania train through, a mass of D&BB laborers jumped out of the brush to block the engine with heavy ties. A D&BB locomotive then chugged up to further assert the young railroad's right of way. Hostilities grew when the Pennsy railroad sent their own host of men to defend its perceived right. The situation got so heated that the governor sent a militia at the request of the Mercer County sheriff.
It wasn't unusual for corporations of the day to use muscle to quash competition, but the great Frog War was ultimately settled in a more modern venue: the courts. With the law and popular opinion on their side, the little guys won, and D&BB finished its route while the Pennsy disbanded the M&S.
Today the track is still in use as part of Conrail's Trenton freight line, and local explorers routinely go on a search for the frog in contention. Any of you Hidden New Jersey readers ever find it?