LHRy’s preservation efforts in Boonton, NJ were recently featured in Skylands. "One Track Mind" is a 6-page descriptive article, with photos and illustrations about the status of our initiative to establish a Transportation Heritage Center and to operate vintage trolley cars in Boonton's Grace Lord Park. It appears in the Summer, 2019 issue of Skylands Visitor magazine. Read the article here:
Today, Tuesday, 30 April, the PKB Engineering crew inspected the Grace Lord Park / Rockaway River RR bridge. LHRy is funding the work which will produce an evaluation of current condition, current load rating analysis and recommendations for upgrades. They did a thorough inspection of the two 1897 truss sections and the two 1890 deck girder sections.
A vicious vandalism attack occurred at the fenced URHS Boonton Rail Yard. Major damage was inflicted to the rare Lackawanna Railroad parlor / commuter car No. 2454, owned by the Whippany Railway Museum (pictured). The car had just completed a multi-year restoration costing hundreds of thousands of grant and donated dollars. In addition, several restored locomotives and other cars also suffered damage. The rail preservation / restoration community is devastated. LHRy provided significant funding for 2454. Chairman Bill McKelvey and the Whippany Railway Museum have jointly offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to arrest and conviction of the perpetrators.
LHRy has been working with the Town of Boonton and various stakeholder groups to promote our proposal for a Transportation and Industry Heritage Center in Grace Lord Park. It would include operating a vintage trolley shuttle between Morris Avenue and the foot of the Boonton Falls of the Rockaway River and would compliment the plans of the Boonton Trails Committee. We have signed a contract and will fund an engineering inspection and a load carrying analysis of the railroad bridge over the Rockaway River in the Park. Half of the needed track is in place and the other half would replicate historic tracks which were in the Park. The shuttle would provide ADA access to the Park interior without impacting the natural beauty of the Park. A building will be needed in which to store the trolley cars and to house museum artifacts and exhibits covering the Iron Industry, Morris Canal, railways, trolleys, and road vehicles. We think our Vision Plan would be an excellent tourist and visitor attraction for downtown Boonton.
From the book Life in Boonton, USA by Joe Marcello (1995):
“I still say that the only thing that will bring Boonton back to its proper perspective would be to bring back the old trolley car. I don’t mean to run it up Main Street like it once did, but maybe through Grace Lord Park. It would be a scenic ride on a part of the old canal bed. It would just be used as a tourist attraction and would be the only trolley ride on the East Coast.* The Chamber of Commerce, along with the town officials, or some young entrepreneurs should get behind such a project. Our future is to go backwards, and that would bring us forward.”
*Actually there were six trolley museums or heritage trolley operations on the East Coast in 1995 and there are presently over a dozen – but still none in New Jersey!
Note: Joe Marcello, loved Boonton – he started a replica trolleybus route in town and bought and restored the Boonton Railroad station.
Liberty Historic Railway is pleased to announce that they have received an anonymous donation of $300,000. The donor requests that their funds be applied to the restoration of the Wildwood open trolley car No. 20, and toward the LHRy effort to establish an operating Transportation Heritage Center in Boonton's Grace Lord Park. Specifically, the donor would like to see the Rockaway River Bridge restored for rail and trail use; track restored in the Park for operation of historic trolley cars; and the acquisition and adaptive reuse of the abandoned warehouse in the Park to showcase the trolley cars and other transportation related exhibits, including canal, bus, truck, military vehicle, fire truck, taxi, etc.
Four days work by a crew of four were required to stabilize and strengthen Wildwood open trolley No. 20 for its long road trip to Gomaco Trolley Co. in Iowa for restoration. The entire car was sheathed in plywood before it was shrink film wrapped for the journey. It is sitting on an old bus chassis and will remain so until weather in the midwest is satisfactory for highway movement by tractor-trailer. Work was done by CPS Marine (Capt. Phil Swetsky) under direction of Michael Venezia. The body of the trolley has been donated to LHRy by the Wildwood Historical Society.
Liberty Historic Railway Chairman, Bill McKelvey has acquired this 1983 Mack fire engine for the NJ Transportation Heritage Center.
It can be configured to carry 20+ children of all ages on short demonstration rides at the Heritage Center.
In 2012 StarTrak put up the Boonton shop building. The essential funding for construction was provided by LHRy Chair, Bill McKelvey. The interest-free, penalty-free $100,000 loan was repaid in October 2018.
Bill McKelvey’s new book, The Transportation History of Boonton, NJ, was released on September 30, 2018 to much fanfare. The book is available for purchase by clicking here. A reader’s review is reprinted below.
I received the copy of your new book, The Transportation History of Boonton, NJ, that you left for me at the CSNJ table at Boonton Day on Sunday. Thank you, not only for the copy, but the magnificent work you have done, in word and photo, telling the story of Boonton's human and structural development, using the evolution of how we convey our people and wares within and without our community. Bill, we are truly fortunate to have this detailed history of this fundamental aspect of life and enterprise in Boonton, NJ. And not only is it an excellent work of research, but it suggests the compelling story that a New Jersey Museum of Transportation in Boonton can reveal to us in an awe-inspiring institution. In fact, you have convinced me to become a supporter in any way I can be useful.
Thanks and best regards,
Photo taken at the September 13th presentation of the Tom Taber award by Mike DelVeccio (on left), long time president of Tri-State, to Capt. Bill McKelvey.
Tom Taber Award
Tri-State Railway Historical Society's extraordinary service award was created in 1975 after the passing of Thomas Townsend Taber II, a member and one the club's founding fathers. A former Mayor of Madison, he worked with the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders to create the Morris County Board of Public Transportation in 1961 to champion public transportation within the County. Mr. Taber's office was the former Railway Express portion of the Madison station, where Tri-State's first membership meetings were held. The award is presented as needed, and it remains exclusive. In 43 years where several hundred people have been members, only sixteen have received it. The idea for the service award came from Bob Bahrs just after his term as president, who also procured the section of rail and spikes and had it manufactured.
1975 Don Dorflinger
1976 Homer R. Hill
1977 Don Dorflinger
1978 Tom Nemeth
1979 Bill Chaplik
1980 John K. Fiorilla
1981 Robert Rose
1982 Vince Stagnitto
1991 Dave Dutcher
1992 Dave Dutcher
1993 John Hemmings
1995 Chris Mazzei
1998 Mike Finfer
2008 John & Gisela Drennan
2010 Rich Wisneski
2014 Don Oberding
2018 William J. "Capt. Bill" McKelvey
On Saturday, September 8 this locomotive, (with special artwork designed by Rudy Garbely), was dedicated to Honor NJ Veterans at a ceremony at Roxbury on the Chester Branch. Participants in the ceremony included the US Marine Corps Reserve (with vehicles and honor guard from Picatinny Arsenal); Military Transport Assn. of No. Jersey (with several vintage military vehicles on display); Tri-State Railway Historical Society (which staffed the trains giving free public rides); and Operation Toy Train (the coordinator of the annual Toys For Tots collection trains). Chesapeake & Delaware LLC is the parent company of the Dover & Rockaway River RR which operates the three freight lines owned by Morris County. Liberty Historic Railway has been a sponsor of MTA and OTT for some time and has provided grants for special projects.
The first start, and subsequent runs, of the triple expansion steam engine in the Phillipsburg, NJ pump house. This is now the largest running stationary steam engine in North America.
Years ago, Jersey Central Chapter members discovered this steel frame wood box car in a back yard in Metuchen.
Volunteers emptied it, donated it to URHS, and it was moved to the Morristown & Erie Ry. It was later stripped of rotten wood and moved by road to Bivalve for the Bayshore Project (Home Port of the 1927 wooden Oyster Schooner A. J. MEERWALD). They totally rebuilt it and it now contains high quality rest rooms for their visitors.
Photo by Steve Falco of Rockaway River falls in Boonton's Grace Lord Park on Capt. Bill's tour on Saturday, 7 July. In the past the DL&W Iron Works branch extended to this point and this very same view could be repeated from a trolley or railcar if we get permission to re-install tracks to this point.
In the past, we have contributed toward the fireboat Harvey. Here's the new / current visually-arresting paint scheme in vibrant red and contrasting white - they are the original colors of the vessel, but with an artist's twist...