For years, the onset of winter weather put an end to restoration work on the dozen of trains parked at the United Railroad Historical Society station in Boonton, New Jersey. At least until the crocuses returned.
Now in the rain, snow, or gloomy night, you can find members of the group and its sister group, the Tri-State Railway Historical Society, welding and repairing a conga line of railcars and locomotives in dire need of some TLC.
“This is a real turning point for us,” said Richie King, President of Tri-State, of the 6,600 square foot building, which is the first indoor workspace owned by URHS in its 37-year history.
“We have been working with an old freight car for more than a decade. This upgrade couldn’t be a bigger deal for our volunteers, ”said URHS President Kevin Phalon.
The 66 by 100 foot building is made up mostly of recycled shipping containers. It offers two car lengths of roofed workspace, plus 3,200 square meters of indoor storage space and workspace in the containers themselves.
The building was built in 2012 and was previously rented to a for-profit organization until the end of the lease in October.
The United Railroad Historical Society took this opportunity to move their own operations into the building and is looking to raise $ 25,000 to spruce up the workplace. Individuals can donate directly to URHS online at URHS.org/donate or by mail at 104 Morris Ave., Boonton NJ 07005.
“We still have a long way to go to turn this building into a full-fledged restoration workshop,” said Phalon.
Volunteers want to equip each of the four containers on the ground floor as workshops for tools, welding and machines, paint and bodywork and parts stores.
“Now that we have an indoor area, we can do work that we could never do before,” said the chief mechanic Erik Stenzel. “We are looking for further workshop machines such as lathes, milling machines and other tools for metalworking to equip our future machine shop.”
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There are a total of about 60 locomotives and railcars at the shipyard, including New York Central Hickory Creek and Tavern Lounge No. 43. The former was once the leading car on the 20th Century Limited train. It was inaugurated in 1948 by the then general. Dwight Eisenhower and provided luxury service between New York and Chicago.
The Hickory Creek car will be used for an important fundraiser for the group that goes on trips between Manhattan and Albany this fall.
Last year, “The $ 300 tickets sold out in minutes,” said King.
The group’s plan is initially to promote operations through events to showcase the working cars and engines to the public in their new digs. Ultimately, the plan is to encourage a movement to create a museum to properly celebrate New Jersey’s role in railroad history.
Too many don’t know that New Jersey was the birthplace of locomotives and railroads, Phalon said.
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New Jersey and Railroad History
It began with the patenting of a practical steam engine by John Stevens shortly after the country was founded.
Then. In 1812, Stevens, a veteran and colonel of the Revolutionary War, published a pamphlet entitled “Documents Tending to Prove the Superior Advantages of Railways and Steam Cars over Canal Navigation”.
To prove the feasibility of the trains, Stevens built the first American steam locomotive on a 0.8-kilometer circuit on his property in Hoboken.
In 1815, the New Jersey Legislature granted Stevens the country’s first charter for a railroad. This led to the establishment of Camden & Amboy Railroad and Transportation Co. in 1830.
One day, the goal of the historical groups is to prepare cars for display and use for a New Jersey Rail Museum.
Matt Fagan is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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