Railroad historians raised $25,000 for the space to restore trains and eventually became a New Jersey Museum.
Historic trains from New Jersey’s past are slowly finding a place to restore them to their former glory. But first, this place needs some work.
Railroad historians have begun to raise funds to furnish a building in Boonton that will be the place United Railroad Historical Society It plans to restore some of the 65 historic trains that represent the state’s railroad history.
This is a step on the way toward New Jersey’s goal of owning its own state transportation museum, a dream that historians have pursued for 40 years.
Late last month, UHRS moved into a 6,600-square-foot building in the small storage yard it has leased from NJ Transit since 2007 that houses most of the company’s collections. Kevin Fallon, the company’s president, said that for the first time in 37 years of history, UHRS has an indoor space to work on its trains, rather than an outdoor space.
The latest acquisition, a locomotive that circulated the streets of Hoboken before replacing the waterfront industries with condos and homes, was kept last year and will be on display at UHRS facilities. este año.
Now the building is just an empty shell and far from the restoration workshop desired by the organization. He said UHRS launched a $25,000 fundraiser to outfit the building with the basics: lights, sidewalks, electricity, a compressed air system, internet, and security system.
“This $25,000 will cover all the necessities on this list,” he said. “We will need more than that to continue building other parts of the shop and buying equipment from the shop.”
Fallon said the building, which was recently vacated by a tenant, will allow UHRS members to work with the team inside as efficiently as possible. This will also allow them to stabilize droppers pending restoration against further deterioration from the elements.
“These old trains are deteriorating every day and they are waiting outside to fix it,” he said. “A simple paint job can add decades to the life of any car or locomotive on that job.”
Donations can be made to URHS online at UHRS.org/donate Or by mail to 104 Morris Ave. Boonton, NJ 07005. Future plans for the building include purchasing more shop machinery such as lathes, milling machine and other metalworking tools to outfit a “machine shop soon.” said Eric Stenzel, UHRS chief engineer.
“We gradually gathered the many pieces in our collection here,” Fallon said. “There are currently 50 locomotives and cars in the yard. We expect another 10 teams to finally return to Pontoon in 2022.”
Part of the building will also be used for UHRS offices and as a “welcome base” for the maintenance of Hickory Creek, the New York Central Railroad’s observation car, and the Tavern #43 saloon car, both artifacts from the Streamlined era train from the 1940s and 1950s.
Both cars are part of the UHRS Hudson River Rail Tours that concluded last year’s fall foliage tours on the Hudson River that were so popular that the first set of rides sold out in 8 minutes online.
UHRS’ ultimate goal is to build a transportation museum on 50 acres in the state, complete with an indoor exhibition building, an education center, and a path for people to ride on restored trains, he says. These operating railroad museums are located in other states, near Pennsylvania, which opened the State Railroad Museum in 1975.
“We can never get to that point without preserving the artifacts we have,” he said. “This is why this restoration building in Boonton is not only useful, but essential.”
The Museum of Permanent Transportation in New Jersey has been an elusive goal, studied since 1980, but never achieved. UHRS approached that goal in 2005, when it found a 35-acre site in Phillipsburg. But this site was used for waterfront development.
“NJ missed it, and it shouldn’t be like this,” Fallon said. “We have history and artifacts. We just need some space.
Meanwhile, UHRS and other railroad museums and historical societies stock vintage trains, many of which were donated by NJ Transit after replacing old equipment from former railroads. UHRS has done an impressive job, cosmetically restoring many locomotives and trains to their past glory.
People could see it again this summer when UHRS first opened its tourism facilities. In the past, I’ve hosted an open house in the fall.
“One of our top priorities is for the public to be able to see and enjoy the trains here in Pontoon,” Fallon said. “We are very excited to finally be able to do this. We will sell tickets on our site as soon as the dates are set.”
Sign up now and support the local press you trust and trust.
Larry Higgs can be contacted at [email protected].