August 2014: The official homecoming move for 3372 is under contract with the Morristown & Erie. Upon successful brake inspection, the railroad will establish a date on which one of their two Alco C-424 will make the trek from Morristown to Passaic. The engine will be taken down the Dundee Spur to the Bergen County Line to make the trip to Boonton Yard. We will bring you more details on the move when they become available!
March 2014: We have reached our $2,500 goal for phase 1 of Project U-Boat! We received many generous donations ranging from a few dollars to a few hundred… and even one that was $1,000! The URHS’s U34CH will be moved to Boonton NJ as soon as we conduct the proper tests and explore our pricing options. Phase 2 means it is time to raise funds to make the locomotive operational! That also means incentives and rewards for those who have donated, and those who plan to. Stay tuned, and as always, we sincerely thank you for your support!
What is Project U-Boat?
Project U-Boat is the URHS’s mission to restore Erie Lackawanna 3372 to operation. 3372 that the last servicable U34CH left in existence, and it is owned by the URHS of NJ. A recent review of the organization’s motive power revealed that 3372 is the locomotive closest to potential operation. However, that disposition could change quickly. The 3372 is stored on a former lessor’s property, prone to vandalism and damage. Although it has been untouched for several years, vandals recently broke into the yard and stripped the locomotive of many of the copper cables from the electric motors. That damage may cost a significant amount of money, and more damage may render 3372 inoperable forever. The URHS needs your help to save the last U-boat, before restoring it to operation becomes out of the question.
OUR GOAL: is to bring our U34CH back to a safe location to restore it to operating condition.
Everyone wins by supporting the URHS. Here is what you can receive for supporting Project U-Boat!
Free Project U-Boat T-shirt
All of the above plus
your choice of one of the URHS’s several NJ Railroad prints
See the URHS store for choices
All of the above plus
a personal tour of Boonton yard
This includes an experience which will not be open to the general public: a tour of the inside and outside of 3372.
T-shirt, print, yard tour, and…
a free ticket aboard the NYC 43 on the next URHS excursion
T-shirt, print, yard tour, and…
a free ticket aboard the Hickory Creek on the next URHS excursion
About the U34CH:
The U34CH represented a landmark in passenger train operation. It is truly the “last of the first of its kind.” During the late 60’s and early 70’s, passenger trains were nearing the end of an era. Aging equipment, heated by steam, could not stand up to the demands of changing technology. Across the country, these older cars were being replaced with newer, electrically lit and heated cars, powered by car-mounted generators or individual power cars. At that same time, the Erie Lackwanna was dealing with an ever aging fleet of coaches and MU’s that dated back to the late teens and twenties. When the NJ Department of Transportation took over passenger service, they used an ingenious new idea to modernize the fleet.
The result was an order of new “Comet I” coaches from Pullman-Standard, and 32 U34CH locomotives from General Electric Co. This was the first time in the evolution of modern passenger equipment that locomotives and cars were ordered together to work in tandem. The new coaches would be powered by electricity delivered from a new type of generator in the U34CH. The drive shaft from the locomotive’s 16 cylinder motor would go entirely through its main generator, which powered its 6 traction motors, and go into a generator used exclusively for powering the train. This meant that, to power the cars, the engine always ran at a full 960 rpm, the equivalent of full power. This made for a locomotive that was not only powerful and efficient, but exceptionally distinctive, characterized by its consistent roar both stopped at stations and at speed.
The U34CH, and its corresponding passenger car fleet, pioneered “push-pull” operation of trains in New Jersey. Today, all commuter trains in NJ run in this manner. The U-boats represented the turning point in New Jersey railroad history, as they bridged the gap between the first generation diesels from the pre-Conrail era and the modern head end powered passenger equipment of today. The story of New Jersey railroading would not be complete without including the U34CH, which is why the URHS finds it imperative to save the last one in existence.
About the restoration:
The URHS knows the U34CH has a dedicated following of railroad enthusiasts who remember seeing these locomotives first-hand. This is why we have called upon you to help us. Many have asked the URHS why this locomotive has not been restored and this is your chance to help make that happen! Please donate whatever you can to help 3372. It has been said that “many hands make light work” and if many contribute what they can, the U-Boat fan-base can make quick work of seeing 3372 in action!
The URHS sincerely thanks you for your support.
Click the Pay Pal link above to donate!
If you prefer donations by mail, they can be sent to our Boonton Yard office at:
United Railroad Historical Society of NJ Inc.
104 Morris Avenue, Boonton, NJ 07005-1314
C/O Project U-Boat
You can also reach our office phone at (862) 345-6642
The URHS is a 501(c)(3) not for profit educational organization
From the point of view of one of the many dedicated URHS volunteers, I can say that the 2013 URHS Transportation Heritage Festival was just as successful as we had all hoped it would be. The event brought just shy of 2000 people to see our collection at Boonton yard and helped the URHS to raise over $5000. From much of the testimony I received, we had exceeded expectations of the quality and improvement of our exhibits. We had 5 of our best pieces of cosmetic restoration on display: NJDOT E8 4253, CNJ GP7 1524, “Reading” F7 284, and PRR GG1 4877. In addition to those, we had Bill McKelvey’s newly restored GE 45 tonner on display, as well as GG1 4879, which is currently being worked on by Star Trak in the shop. The hit of the day however, was the visiting Norfolk Southern heritage locomotive 1074. The replica Lackawanna paint scheme contrasted beautifully next to the GG1’s Brunswick Green, and the two made for a great photo opportunity. It also provided visitors an exceptionally rare opportunity to see a heritage locomotive up close and personal.
In addition to our visiting locomotive, we were lucky enough to have a visit from Tri State Chapter’s Lackwanna caboose. It was delivered behind 1074 and was left open for tours throughout the day. Also open for tours were our CNJ GP7 and our “display train,” an idea that was brought to the open house by the VRA’s own Frank Ball. This was a hit among guests as they had the opportunity to see inside the PRR coach and baggage car, the NJT 1 (Blue Comet’s “DeVico”) and the cab and engine room of Reading 284—a rare opportunity for most guests.
On the night before the open house, we held a night photo session in Boonton yard with the five displayed locomotives.This was well attended, and we sold out the 30 tickets well before the event. This shoot gave us the opportunity replicate a scene the DL&W’s Phoebe Snow (played by the VRA’s Carolyn Hoffman), which made a headline in Railfan & Railroad magazine. The photo shoot, and the open house to follow also provided for a two-page spread in Railpace as well as many submissions to Railpictues.net.
After countless hours of hard work, I was relieved to stop and relax on the day of the event to enjoy our hard work and listen to what visitors had to say. The most common comment I received was praise to the hard work of our volunteers. This trend also continued in comments online after the event. Many were wowed, not by just the appearance of our exhibits, but the improvement over years past. The fact that we, as an organization, received such high praise from such a typically critical audience is something that we can all be proud of. Our hard work, and our correspondence online before the even helped to grow our reach far beyond where it had been months earlier. The event, the buildup beforehand, and the sharing of guests’ experiences afterwards helped to garner support that will be very valuable to the URHS. We hope to continue the Transportation Heritage Festival as an annual event and we hope to continue to continue the trend of improvement and growing support well in to the future.
The URHS has decided to take on a number of projects that will certainly make a big splash in the railfan world. The first is the moving of the last remaining U34CH from where it has been stored in Passaic NJ to the restoration yard at Boonton. The engine began life at Erie Lackawanna 3372 and ended its day to day service life at NJT 4172. The engine will be evaluated for possible return to service although this time in excursion service. If you would like to donate to help restore the engine you can visit www.urhs.org and click on the donate button.
The other big project for the spring is to get Reading F-7, #284 ready to be moved to Spencer NC and the Streamliners at Spencer event being planned for May 29 th through June 1 st by the NC Transportation Museum. For more information you can visit: http://www.nctrans.org/Events/Streamliners-at-Spencer-%281%29.aspx
The URHS will also begin selling T-shirts depicting EL 3372 and Reading 284, plus we will be reissuing their very popular PRR 4877 GG-1 shirt that sold out in one day at last year NJ Transportation Heritage Festival. In the future they will be releasing a brand new shirt featuring the NYC Hickory Creek. Watch the URHS web site or www.vratrips.org for links to order any of these shirts.
Future plans for this summer call for the repainting of NYC 4083 back into its unique NYC Century Green colors. This is one of only 3 engines ever to wear that color scheme and is the only remaining one of those 3 to exist. Once this engine is completed it will certainly be one of the most talked about engines in the rail preservation world and will be sure to draw lots of people to see it at the next Heritage Festival.
Speaking of that, the next NJ Transportation Heritage Festival is scheduled to be held on September 21 st and will feature not only the 4083, but also the other restored equipment in Boonton and maybe a surprise visitor. Add to that the antique trucks, buses, military equipment, fire trucks and numerous historic presentations by area rd historians and the 3 annual Heritage Festival is sure to be a hit.
Plans are in the works to run the Hickory Creek and NYC 43 on more public excursions with the feature trip being planned to go to the Train Expo 2014 in Owosso Michigan in late June. For more info about the event visit: http://michigansteamtrain.com/expo-2014/ Other trips will likely be day trips to Albany and maybe even Washington DC. Please watch the regular web and social media site for more details as they become available.
The last bit of big news is the donation of DLW 3453 to the Walkersville Southern in Maryland. The 3453 is a 1912 club car that the URHS got from NJT with intentions to at least cosmetically restore it. Years of sitting out and the lack on restoration funds had taken its toll on the car and so when the WS asked if they could acquire the car and restore it to operating service the decision was made to donate the car to them. It was loaded on a trailer and bogey and left Boonton Yard on Friday February 7 th .It was quite a sight watching the car roll on rubber tires up Morris Ave on its way to its new home and will be an even better site when we see it operating once again, this time in Maryland and in a dinner train consist.
I cannot wait to buy my ticket. Visit www.wsrr.org for more on the WSRR and its operations.