June:  A Thank You From the Steamboat Crew!

Dear Liberty Historic Railway Board;
Bill, Martin, Jack, Larry, Ted, George & Greg -

Many thanks for your extremely generous support of the Steamboat Floating Classroom.

With our boiler re-tubing complete, and your help, SPLASH is providing many trips this Summer season to groups from Hunterdon, Mercer, Bucks, and other counties.

Gratefully, Eric and SPLASH Board: Cody, Brad, Gary, Kim, Liz, Pete, & Ray

Photo on card: The late SPLASH founder, Dr. Bart Hoebel with students

Good News from the UK

New-build 4-6-2 Tornado reached 101 miles per hour on a test run, setting a new heritage steam era record in the UK.

A unique spectacle saw four trains - one headed by vintage steamer Flying Scotsman - run in staggered formation in parallel on 10 miles of main line to promote Virgin Trains’ new Azuma units due to enter service in 2018.  The Flying Scotsman toured NJ and the US in 1969.

A phenomenal response to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway’s £1.25 million Broadway extension stock offering means that trains will be running into the tourist honeypot next year.

Three vintage steam traction engines hauled the Isle of Man Steam Railway’s 2-4-0T Fenella up the 1,800 foot road climb of Snaefell Mountain.

The second Great North Steam Fair took place at Beamish Museum in April with a line-up of over 100 vehicles in action and on display, including a 15" gauge 2-8-2 carried on a trailer drawn by a steam traction engine.  New-build locomotives Samson and Steam Elephant operated on the Pockerly wagonway and 1871-built Coffee Pot, hauling chaldron wagons was joined by Puffing Billy, making a rare working visit to the colliery railway.  Beamish regularly operates vintage trams, steam locomotives, electric trolley buses, motor buses, and horse-drawn vehicles.

Military Technology Museum of NJ

On Saturday, June 10th, members of the Military Transport Association of North Jersey set out for a special guided tour of the Military Technology Museum of New Jersey, housed within the InfoAge Science History Learning Center, 2201 Marconi Road, Camp Evans (formerly Fort Monmouth’s Top Secret radio testing facility), Wall, NJ.  Gary Shultz was the driver of the comfortable Ford Transit 350 12-passenger van that the group rented.

This museum has amassed one of the largest and rarest collections of both static and operating military vehicles and equipment in the world.  Their extensive collections include some of the rarest military and non-military vehicles such as prototypes and concept vehicles, including the war-born Jeep’s history from start to finish.  Many of their some 80 vehicles are in their original condition, and others have undergone various stages of restoration.  There are not only Jeeps, but Seaps, a DUKW, Weasels, tanks, a 1940 VC Carryall, an Aqua Cheetah prototype (one of the world’s first amphibious vehicles), a Clark military bulldozer, and a WWII German military vehicle collection, including a motorcycle-like half-track.  Bolstering the outstanding exhibits are hundreds of vintage military artifacts, equipment, models, uniforms, illustrations, etc.

At the rear of their museum facility, the Military Technology Museum has a restoration shop area and thousands of spare parts.  They plan to upgrade and add additional exhibits and displays in the future, including more of their popular, interactive, video programs.  This reporter (Capt. Bill McKelvey, Chairman, Liberty Historic Railway) was especially intrigued by the MTM’s plan to install a panel of railroad track for display of a Jeep equipped with railroad wheels.  Now, that’s a project LHRy could be interested in funding!  In fact, we can source the 36 feet of light-weight rail which would be appropriate for their exhibit.

The MTM Mission Statement: Educate school children and the general public through both static and interactive displays depicting past military technological changes and inventions that affect our daily lives today.  Open Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday 1pm - 5pm. www.militartytechnj.wix.com

M&E #19 Last Run

On June 3rd and 4th, M&E C-424 #19 made its last runs on the Morristown & Erie. Acquired by the Tri-State Railway Historical Society through funding secured from Liberty Historic Railway, this locomotive will be relocated to the URHS's Boonton Yard in the near future.

Bill McKelvey cuts the ribbon (photo by Larry Gross):

Drone video by Jon Berkemeyer below:

Whitcomb Restoration Progress

This 1927 locomotive, donated to LHRy by Public Service Electric & Gas is shown in the photo below hard at work moving a transformer at the Athenia (Clifton) Substation.  It was trucked from Branchburg, NJ to Boonton in 2016 and restoration work began: remains of the deteriorated windows, wood floor and roof, were removed as were three steel cab side panels.  The Caterpillar diesel engine was found to rotate freely and fuel tank was removed and repainted.  A deteriorated key steel structural member under the rear of cab was replaced.  Replacement windows were acquired and new treated wood structural members were acquired and roof “bows” were cut.  Primary volunteers have been Alan Bird, David Lemmo and McKelvey.  We are happy to report that LHRy delegate to URHS and retired PSE&G employee, Dave Lindstrom has joined our effort.  Work, suspended for winter, has resumed:  New logos and names have been acquired.  New grease fittings have been installed on side-rods and all grease points have been recharged.  Many dozens of old rivets have been removed in preparation for replacing the new steel side sheets (on hand); deteriorated steel air piping has been replaced, shop air charged storage tanks on locomotive tested and got working the air brake system, clogged drain valves on both air reservoirs, both sanders and whistle.  A vintage photo of our Whitcomb shows it fitted with a typical skinny, 12″ tall trolley whistle – like the one currently on the GE 45 ton loco “CAPT. BILL” / “WILLIAM” at Boonton.  We tried and rejected an original peanut whistle from a steam crane at the PS Marion generating station as being far too shrill.  We will use a small four-note air whistle from a Hudson & Manhattan RR black car, donated to Capt. Bill by the late Phil Craig.  It is our intention to install McKelvey’s 2/3 size locomotive bell which was mounted on the counter in the Phillipsburg Union Station.  However, it was removed by Friends volunteers when the counter was discarded and they can not now find it.


Canal Boat Moved

The Canal Society of NJ was alerted to the discovery of the remains of a bow section of a Morris Canal boat.  It was found to have been used as the foundation of a residential structure in Highlands, NJ when the building was being elevated above flood zone following Super Storm Sand damage.  The boat remains were donated by the owner to the Canal Society of NJ.  The coordination of the move of the boat remains and trucking to Waterloo Village were arranged by McKelvey.  Capt. Phil Francis (owner-operator of Shadyside Trucking) brought his tractor trailer rig and big fork lift to Highlands to load the bow and floor sections of the boat.  Phil, climbing into his cab on the left, has made many dozens of discounted cost moves over the years for Friends of the NJ Transportation Heritage Center, United RR Historical Society, Liberty Historic Railway, Phillipsburg RR Historians, Whippany Railway Museum, StarTrak, and other organizations.   Francis retired as Capt. from the Ridgewood Fire Dept., NJ National Guard, and finally, from the trucking business on April 1st, 2017.  A big thank-you to Capt. Phil for all his trucking helpover the years!  The Morris Canal boat remains are now an excellent hands-on interpretive exhibit in the barn behind the CS of NJ museum at Waterloo Village.


October 2016 updates


LHRy coordinated and funded the move of remains of a Morris Canal boat from Highlands, NJ to Waterloo Village for preservation and display. The 100+ year boat remnants were found to be the foundation of a residential structure which was raised above the flood plane. The artifacts were donated to the Canal Society of NJ by the Scanlon Family and moved on 7 October by the tractor-trailer & fork lift of Shadyside Trucking - Capt. Phil Francis owner/driver.


LHRy has renewed their sponsorship of the annual Toys for Tots collection trains organized by the Military Transport Association of North Jersey.


At the LHRy board meeting of 26 September, funding for the repair and restoration of the 1946 Ford Transit bus owned by Friends of the NJ Transportation Heritage Center was approved. It will be repainted into the original Somerset Bus Co. colors and moved to the Lakewood garage to join the balance of the restored bus fleet.


LHRy is in discussions with the Delaware & Raritan Canal Watch on funding for construction of a replica canalboat to provide educational ride experiences on the D & R Canal for the disabled and the general public.

Wharton NJ 'CANAL DAY' 2016 video

This very successful annual event gave us the opportunity to show the operation of the Canal Society of NJ’s pontoon boat, a canoe, and a horse drawn wagon along the watered section of the Morris Canal in Wharton. The views of the canal, the restored lock and the basin above the lock is what passengers on our planned trolley shuttle would see from the elevated former Central RR of NJ right-of-way. Views of our public displays are also shown. Videography by Mitch Dakelman. The link to the video is: https://www.facebook.com/LibertyHistoricRailway/videos/959275300866270/


Mid-day on June 22, a reopening ceremony of the 1889 CRR of NJ Jersey City Terminal was held at Liberty State Park. It marked the completion of a nearly $20 million restoration of the historic terminal which was devastated by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. It was the largest Atlantic event on record which struck New Jersey / New York Harbor with a storm surge of 13.88 feet, the highest ever recorded. The wind driven waves blew in doors and windows on the north, east and south sides of the first floor of the Terminal building and blew them out on the west side. Contents were inundated by four feet of water inside the building and the surge and wave action destroyed furniture, exhibits and contents. Highlights of the ceremony were the moving National Anthem and Performance by Liberty: The Monumental New Musical performers. The mail / baggage wagon which was restored by Bill McKelvey before Sandy has been returned to the Terminal waiting room but minus the historic canvass mail bags which we donated in 2012. A gift bag was given to all invitees that included a pair of tumblers with an etched view of the iconic terminal building.

Ralph Shelhamer and Bill McKelvey attended the ceremony and were most impressed with the installation of the full set of track / train announcement curtains / signs on all 20 tracks of the concourse. They represented the 1938 to 1941 period of the peak of name train operation at the terminal as researched with much help from CRR of NJ Veterans members, especially the late Bob Hoeft. Burt Sempier, reporter for WMBC-TV interviewed Bill McKelvey.

Liberty State Park is again host for NJ’s Tall Ship A. J. MEERWALD on its annual 11 day June / July visit with public sails. For schedule and tickets visit: www.bayshorecenter.org The Jersey City car pound on the west side of the park, along Phillip Drive, has been vacated, most likely in preparation for development.


On June 13 Bob Hooper and Bill McKelvey made a PowerPoint presentation to the Wharton Mayor and Borough Council. We also gave them our business plan, copies of letters of support and or pledges from LHRy, Friends of the NJ Transportation Heritage Center, URHS and the Canal Society of NJ, as well as postcard views of the trolley cars we plan to use. We were favorably received.

Next step: to meet with Morris County decision makers.

WHARTON CANAL DAY, Saturday, August 20th

A date for your calendar: Wharton Canal Day Music & Craft Festival, Saturday, August 20, 10 am - 5 pm @ Hugh Force Canal Park, 180 West Central Avenue, Wharton. This is an old time country fair that celebrates the Morris Canal and its contributions to the development of the communities along its banks. Will include free narrated boat rides, craft & art show, traveling zoo, black smith demonstrations, Civil War encampment, food, fireworks, & more. We will also be there with exhibits and sales tables. Free Admission. Off-street parking available - $5. Info: Canalday.org

We were wrong!

We confess that we jumped to conclusions about the history / origin of the little railroad building at the corner of N. Main Street and E. Dewey Avenue in Wharton. Here’s why: The above building is 16.5' x 12.5'. The former CNJ Hopatcong Junction Station, built in 1889, was 26' x 16'. The former CNJ Wharton passenger station, built in 1876, was 51' x 18'. We now think that the surviving much smaller building may have been a railroad section house located near the passenger station, where the CNJ crossed Main Street. It certainly has CNJ architecture and it would have been relatively easy to move it the few blocks north to its present location. However, we have been unable to locate the structure on old Sanborn Fire maps or find any photos which document it. Nor are there any local people who can remember where it was moved from. We would be pleased to gain any information that might help us verify the history of the building for which LHRy recently funded a replacement slate roof.

CNJ Jersey City Terminal Reopens!

We are pleased to report that the CNJ Jersey City Terminal building at Liberty State Park has finally reopened. The structure as well as the Park itself suffered extensive damage during Superstorm Sandy on October 29 and 30, 2012. Unfortunately, the six historic photo panels which LHRy installed on the concourse gates in September, 2012 will not be present. They were damaged by the storm water which rose to four feet above the floor level. However, all the new train - track announcement curtains are now in place. LHRy worked with former CNJ employees and Liberty State Park to make sure that the signs and their placement accurately represent the peak era of name train usage, eg: The Blue Comet, The Williamsporter, The Queen of the Valley, Monmouth Park Race Train, The Royal Blue, The National Limited, The Crusader, and The Wall Street.

Goals of LHRy to be revised

Liberty Historic Railway was formed in January 2010. Our efforts up to 2013 were specifically aimed at providing historic trolley shuttle service in Liberty State Park to enhance park-user mobility, improve visitor access, and reduce motor vehicle traffic and parking demand, as well as to provide displays of heritage rail equipment under a restored Jersey Central Jersey City Terminal Train Shed. Late in 2013 the directors of LHRy found that a moratorium on continued efforts to these ends was warranted. This is due to continued adamant and fanatical opposition to a trolley shuttle by Friends of Liberty State Park, in spite of an expert independent study which validated the trolley shuttle concept. What a shame that ignorant parochial interests prevailed that will not fulfill a more visionary role and need for Liberty State Park. LHRy feels that their organizational priorities and goals need to be revised, updated, and broadened. Director Ted Brewer is leading this effort.

April 2016 update

A Boost for Wharton Trolley Initiative

For many months we have been working diligently on an initiative to re-install track and build a car barn on the former Central Railroad of New Jersey right-of-way on the hillside above the watered section of the Morris Canal in Hugh Force Park on the west side of the Borough of Wharton. Local and county officials have been supportive. We have received letters of support with pledges of materials, equipment and funding from the following:

  • Friends of NJ Transportation Heritage Center - rail and track parts.
  • North Jersey Electric Railway Historical Society - trolley car(s) and volunteer operators.
  • United Railroad Historical Society - passenger car(s) and a locomotive (if needed).
  • Liberty Historic Railway - funding to construct a car barn, purchase ties, install track and transport supplies & equipment.


New Roof for the former CNJ Hopatcong Junction Station

LHRy has funded a replacement slate roof for the former CNJ Hopatcong Junction station which was relocated decades ago to the corner of N. Main Street and E. Dewey Avenue in Wharton. The following is a link to a time-lapse video of the re-roofing work in progress: