URHS of NJ Report – Spring 2014

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.

URHS-report-spring-14-Reading284The 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.

URHS-report-spring-14-DLW-3453-traileredThe 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.

URHS & WSRR Save Lackawanna History: MU 3453 Hits the Road

Article & Photographs by Kevin Phalon


On the frigid Friday morning of February 7, 2014, Delaware, Lackawanna & Western MU 3453 spent its last day in New Jersey. After a full day of painstaking work trading its steel wheels for rubber tires, this rare 1912 parlor car was ready to hit the road to be delivered to the Walkersville Southern Railroad in Maryland.

The 3453 is one of the only two Lackawanna MU Parlor Cars left in existence. Built in 1912 as Lackawanna club cars, they were converted to MU trailers in the 1930s for operation on the DL&W’s electrified Morristown Line. After spending almost the entirety of its career in New Jersey, it is natural for one to ask why the car might be leaving.

To many, this car may look like scrap metal. To the URHS, it looked like a restoration project that was completely out of financial reach. To Walkersville Southern, it looked like exactly what they were looking for. Walkersville Southern Railroad is a 7-mile non-profit excursion railroad located in central Maryland. Because that the railroad is not physically connected to the national rail network, the WSRR has become quite adept at delivering rail cars and locomotives by road.

In addition to their weekend excursions and special events, WSRR operates a dinner train, which has become a hit with riders. In order to expand this service their only option was to add more equipment, and that need launched the search that led them to the United Railroad Historical Society of NJ.

Lackawanna-3454-Bay-Street-Montclair-8-19-84-Rich-TaylorAmong the dozens of historic railcars in Boonton Yard were the Lackawanna MUs. Both cars had been subject to years of neglect and deterioration. A tap on the side sill of the cars caused rust to rain down much like the very water that cause the damage in the first place. Stairs, doors, and windows were missing, but what was left allowed the dedicated Walkersville volunteers to view what it had in store. Inside, their car’s high ceilings still echoed sounds of its glory days, while the items strewn about the floor showed evidence of an overwhelming restoration project that had long been forgotten. Broken glass dotted the dusty carpet just below the intricate inlaid wood, which had once made the walls and interior so luxurious in the first half of the century.

photo_4Many years earlier, the URHS was given a quote to restore the car that was far out of financial reach for the organization, and would offer little return on the investment. That unfortunately put the cars at the end of a long list of projects, leaving their future in limbo. For one of those two cars however, luck was about to change. After a tour of the cars, WSRR chose 3453 as the car they would like to acquire. In the interest of historic preservation, the URHS agree to donate the car to Walkersville Southern, with the agreement that it would be restored at their railroad and put in to operation. With the agreement in place, it was Walkersville Southern’s obligation to get the car out of the yard, and down to their railroad in Maryland.


This was no simple task, but it was one for which the WSRR could not be more prepared. The railroad hired Daily Express, a heavy haul trucking company that specializes in many types of over-sized loads. In the past, they had moved six other cars for the railroad, even one move for which a road needed to be built to reach its location. On moving day, they brought two tractor-trailers: one to move everything from the frame up, and the other to haul the wheel sets from underneath. Their slogan is “We have a different notion of OVERSIZED,” and they proved it.

On moving day, step one was to attach one end of the car to the tractor-trailer. Inside the URHS restoration shop, one wheel set was removed, and the front end of the trailer was backed underneath. The car was then secured to a rotating plate and was able to pivot back and forth like a typical tractor-trailer. This portion of the move went smoothly but once the car was moved outside, that good fortune changed.

photo_1The scheduled move date happened to be during a harsh winter snowstorm. During the course of the day, the storm dumped about 8 inches of snow and freezing rain on the cars and on the volunteers. Moving the 18-wheeler on the ice meant hauling it from ahead or behind with a truck, tractor, and even a locomotive! With the car in place, a 150-ton crane from Hegarty Crane service lifted the rear end of the car off of its second wheel set and onto the rear set of tires, or the “bogie.” The first wheel set was then lifted up over the fence and placed onto the second trailer. Trouble reared its ugly head when it came time to move the second wheel set. With the car in the way, the crane could not reach the wheels sitting on the rails. With the help of a tractor and forklift, the wheels were derailed, and rolled to where they could be lifted up 20 feet, over the car, and onto the trailer. The two wheel sets were then secured by the driver from Daily Express and sent off to Maryland. Several hours of towing and shoving well into darkness finally got the now asphalt-bound MU out of the gate and ready for shipment.

photo_2Several days later, the MU was readied during for its final day in New Jersey. Daily Express, along with two escort cars, arrived at Boonton Yard in the early morning to prepare the car to leave. Through the generosity of the URHS and the determination of Walkersville Southern Railroad, hours of gruelling work and skilled labor had led to this day, which could only be considered a win for rail preservation. Together, the URHS and WSRR ensured that this car not only survived over 100 years, but that it was also given another 100 years. While the car might only hold dust and broken glass now, it will someday hold dozens of passengers enjoying a four-course dinner, riding through the Maryland countryside. That is an achievement that all parties involved can be proud of, and the URHS is honored to have been a part of it.

This story is far from over. Find the United Railroad Historical Society of New Jersey and the Walkersville Southern Railroad and Museum on facebook to keep track of the progress!

Why Restore the CRR of NJ Train Shed at Liberty State Park?

    By Bill McKelvey, Delegate to URHS, North Jersey Electric Railway Historical Society and site owner of Liberty Historic Railway

Because, Liberty State Park was formerly a commuter rail Terminal, future use as a Park rail shuttle Terminal and rail display location would be most appropriate, advantageous and in keeping with the historic use of the structure.

Because, the size and scale of the Central Railroad of New Jersey (CRR of NJ) Train Shed gives visitors a sense of the amount of traffic that passed through the terminal in its heyday.

Because, the historic CRR of NJ Train Shed and Terminal was a grand setting for much of New Jersey's transportation history.

Because, large numbers of daily commuters and long distance travelers used the facility.

Because, the Train Shed is an integral part of the interpretive history of Liberty State Park.

Because, the restoration of the Train Shed could provide a weather and security-protected shelter for display of appropriate rail equipment (CRR of NJ, Reading, Baltimore & Ohio, and Lehigh Valley Railroads).

Because, a vision for transportation within the Park with connections to New Jersey and New York mass transit is important for the future of the Park and Train Shed.  It is the best way to open the Park's resources to more people without the detrimental side-affects of car access.

Because, there is clearly a missing link between the Hudson Bergen Light Rail stop near the Liberty Science Center and the Train Shed/Head House/Ferry Dock complex.  With a transportation connection here, New Jersey residents and tourists would have easy access to the Train Shed and ferries leaving for the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Manhattan; and residents and tourists from New York would have easier access to such attractions as Liberty Science Center…*

Because, the mission statement of Liberty State Park includes: "…provide public access to New York Harbor, provide an appreciation and understanding of its estuarine ecosystem, related transportation, and immigration history, and provide the opportunity to enjoy outdoor recreation activities." The Train Shed provides an excellent opportunity to implement and further these goals.  At present the Park is weak in providing an appreciation and under-standing of the transportation and immigration history of the Park.  The Train Shed's original use and history is an obvious way to remedy this. *

Because, the adaptive reuse of the Train Shed for rail equipment display and rail transfer point would be most appropriate for this former passenger rail Terminal.  The importance of the intermodal nature of the Train Shed should be kept in mind in developing re-use plans. *

Because, the NJ State Historic Preservation Office favors the restoration and transportation related reuse of the Train Shed.

Because, the Friends of Liberty State Park support the restoration of the Train Shed.

Because, use of the presently unused area under the Train Shed as a park rail shuttle terminal will eliminate the need to occupy other park land near the Train Shed for this purpose.

Because, the CRR of NJ Jersey City Terminal Train Shed, designed by Abraham L. Bush, was the largest of its type ever built. *

Because, the CRR of NJ, Jersey City Terminal complex is significant as an early intermodal transportation center as clearly described in the National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form. *

Because, the proposed future use of the Train Shed for the display rail equipment which was common to the area and as a Terminal for the Park rail shuttle service may help facilitate the long-overdue restoration of the Train Shed.

Because, the Train Shed is an eyesore problem with safety concerns which must eventually be addressed and the longer action is procrastinated the worse the problem will get.

Because, the 7.5 acre roof area of the restored Train Shed could support enough solar panels to provide most, if not all of the energy needs of Liberty State Park, thus making the "People's Park" an outstanding "Green", clean, and renewable energy-using operation.  This would be a profound achievement and example for the New Jersey State Park System and Liberty State Park.

Because, renewable and solar energy is being emphasized by both government and power utilities it would be most appropriate and timely for the State Park Department to implement this money saving and carbon emissions reduction technology for Liberty State Park.

Because, the Train Shed could provide the highly desirable weather-protected area in which to load and unload rail vehicle passengers utilizing the proposed Liberty State Park trolley and rail shuttles.  The present arrangement requires visitors to walk, exposed to the weather, up to 1,000 feet and more to get from parking lots to the Ferry Terminal.

Because, the 2001 Train Shed Historic Preservation Master Plan by Curtis and Ginsberg has been completed.  This was an important first step in the process of restoration.

Because, the stabilization of the Train Shed would cost not much more than demolition it is the recommended action.  The stabilized ruin would allow for safe access to the Train Shed area by the public. *

Because, Programming/Ideas for the Train Shed could include:  Use of historic rail cars such as dining cars and lounge cars for interpretive experiences; Use of rail cars for exhibit venues, snack bar, gift shop, a small audio-visual theater, and/or public information; An exhibit on Railroad Terminals of the New Jersey – New York Harbor area; Use as a circulation corridor between the pay parking lot and the Ferry Terminal; Use as a Terminal for the in-Park rail transportation circulator; Use for exhibits related to the nearby Morris Canal; ferry development in the New Jersey – New York Harbor area; The railroads which used the Jersey City Terminal; Transportation technology and safety; and, Use of appropriate historic rail equipment for vintage ride experiences within the Park. *

Because, there is a great need for public transportation in the Park and this need will only grow in the future.  The Train Shed is a natural place to terminate such a service since it would connect the ferry service to other attractions and would continue the original historic intermodal purpose of the Shed. *

Because, appropriate historic rail equipment (CRR of NJ, Reading Railroad, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and Lehigh Valley Railroad) which used the Train Shed and the Jersey City Terminal area is available for display from the collections of the United Railroad Historical Society of New Jersey.

Because, the Train Shed has the potential to create a memorable, enjoyable, public place that contributes to the exceptional collection of New Jersey / New York Harbor sites and monuments. *

Because, the true tourism and economic impact potential, both locally and regionally, at Liberty State Park will only be realized upon the complete restoration of the CRR of NJ Terminal & the Train Shed.

Because, if nothing is done to stabilize the Train Shed the continued deterioration will eventually result in collapse or will leave no alternative but to destroy the entire structure.

Because, the NJ Division of Parks considers the Central RR of New Jersey Terminal and Train Shed, standing along with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Station "The Historic Trilogy", marking an important era in American history.

Because, commuter auto parking in the Park should not be permitted, the trolley shuttle could be utilized to move people from the light rail and perimeter parking, closest to the Ferry dock by terminating under the restored Train Shed.

Because, the guidelines for Transportation Enhancements Program (TEP) Eligibility Principle state that "an historic preservation project must demonstrate a relationship to surface transportation and result in the historic preservation of a site, building, structure or significant element of a historic district consistent with the Secretary of Interior's Standards for Preservation Projects".  The Train Shed eminently qualifies for the above.

Because, the Train Shed preservation meets the two requirements for TEP funding: 1. It had a significant transportation-related function in the past and 2. It will serve a transportation function after the project is completed.

Because, the Train Shed can be "restored" by returning the property to a condition that makes a contemporary use possible while preserving the significant historic features of the property.

Because, the proposed Train Shed restoration work could be performed so as not to jeopardize the eligibility of the facility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Because, the Train Shed restoration would meet the TEP funding requirement that the project "must be for a building, structure or facility historically used for a surface transportation purpose or function and must provide for public access and use".

Because, the Train Shed restoration would include reconstruction and track rehabilitation needed to accommodate strictly non-commercial uses.

Because, the restored Train Shed, per TEP requirements, would benefit the public interest and would grant access and use to the general public and be targeted to a broad segment of the general public.  No fees would be charged to enter the structure.  A nominal fare would probably have be charged, to cover operating expenses, to ride the rail shuttle vehicles operating to and from the Train Shed.

Because, the CRR of NJ Terminal & Train Shed is a metaphor for the wide distribution of the great wave of nineteenth century European immigrants that formed the blue-collar foundation on which America's industrial affluence is based.  Barry Howard

Because, it was the local and regional rail systems, such as the Central RR of NJ, the Baltimore & Ohio and the Reading Railroad departing from the Jersey City Terminal/Train Shed that conveyed these new Americans to the small towns and rural byways of western New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and elsewhere.  There they established new lives and contributed their unique heritages to the cultural diversity of a young nation that was and remains the basis of the American dream.  Barry Howard

Because, in this time of an even greater wave of immigration, perhaps more subtle and longer lasting than the first, radically altering deeply rooted national political and social agendas, it is critical that we optimize historical icons like the CRR of NJ Terminal and Train Shed and the New Jersey side of Ellis Island to illustrate, explain and lend perspective to the multi-cultural fabric of the American experience.  Barry Howard

Because, as global issues become increasingly complex and polarization of thought challenges the very foundations of our formative beliefs, we must strive to reinvigorate the principles of liberty, industry and compassion implicit in the acculturation that permeated the early years of the American century, and by which Americans have long been defined.  Barry Howard

Because, the Train Shed restoration work would be an economic stimulus and creator of many jobs for the local Jersey City and Hudson County area.

Because, restoration of the Train Shed and its use as a terminal for inter-park rail shuttles would aid the objective of moving people, not motor vehicles in, out, and around the Park.


* Liberty State Park Train Shed Historic Preservation Master Plan of 2001 by Curtis and Ginsburg

Hickory Creek Restoration


Builder: Pullman Standard Car Mfg. Co.
Type: 5 Bedroom, Lookout Observation Lounge
Built: August 1948
Original Owner: Pullman Company
Storage Location: Boonton, NJ
History: This car was christened on September 15, 1948 in Grand Central Terminal, New York City. General Dwight D. Eisenhower officiated the celebration of the New York Central Railroad’s rebuilt 20th Century Limited train entering service between New York and Chicago. During it’s 20 years of service, the Hickory Creek graced the rear end of the “most famous train in the world” and was used in advertisements, promotions, and Hollywood’s finest movies to reflect a standard of excellence in premier rail travel. In 1968, it was retired and sold to Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus. URHS of NJ obtained the car in 1991 and contracted Star Trak. to rebuild the car to Amtrak standards. Its inaugural trip was run on June 26,2005 between New York and Niagara Falls. It is currently available for charter through Luxury Rail Vacations, Inc.

Detailed history of the Hickory Creek

Below is a copy of the slide presentation that summarized the restoration of this car. Click to enlarge!
























NJ Transportation Heritage Center railroad rolling stock collection

As most know, the transportation heritage center will not be located in Phillipsburg for reasons already published in "Transport Heritage" and enumerated at the "Friends of The New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center" website.  Those reasons will not be listed here.  We (both organizations) are currenty exploring sites in Boonton, NJ and Buena Vista NJ as North and South locations for portions of our collections.

The United Railroad Historical Society exists to collect and restore railroad rolling stock for a future railroad or transportation museum within New Jersey.  Over the years the URHS has collected almost 90 items in anticipation of having sufficient equipment on hand to be displayed or to provide parts for those items being restored for display or operation.

Our efforts are redirected toward obtaining help from private sources.

After twenty-one years we see most of the equipment that was saved from the scrap yard, turning into scrap.  It is being subjected to weather and vandalism.  Currently there are 28 pieces of equipment stored at the new Boonton NJ yard.  This location has been partially fenced, paved and the worksite of a large group of volunteers.  Our PRR Flatcar and Reading caboose are under restoration at this time.  We have a fence fund which, with continued support, will be ready to be installed at the end of this summer.  See our advertisement for the Boonton open house on the home page.

While the "Friends of The New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center" searches for a new heritage center site, the URHS has determined it needs to divest itself of duplicative rolling stock.  When the rolling stock collection is pared down, it might be possible to keep it in one or two locations – thus saving expenses.  Today, there are four areas serving as storage facilities.

Below is a list of rolling stock equipment being offered to interested parties for restoration or for other use.  These items are located on the properties of others and would need to be relocated by flatcar or truck.

  • DL&W 2200 MU low roof coach
  • DL&W 2453 MU Parlor (spoken for, transfer in progress)
  • DL&W 2454 MU Parlor
  • PRR 427
  • PRR 437
  • PRR 453 – three MU MP-54 coaches
  • ERIE 2620 Coach-Stillwell
  • PRR 1734 Coach-P-70

So much of New Jersey's transportation history has been saved.  We hope to continue what was started – having a first rate heritage center in the State of New Jersey.  Thank you for your continued support.