2015 Wharton Trolley / Rail Shuttle Initiative

This proposal is for the reuse of the available former Central RR of NJ right of way of the Mount Hope Mineral Railroad, which is on a shelf above and paralleling a watered section of the Morris Canal in Wharton’s Hugh Force Park.  This initiative would involve a partnership between the Borough and the Morris County Park Commission and the United Railroad Historical Society, relaying tracks and construction of a car barn - all of which Liberty Historic Railway has offered to fund.  We have developed a site plan, an executive summary, an orientation program for riders and visitors, as well as an extensive chronology of Transportation and Industry in the Morris County area.  We also have a Power Point Program of the initiative and a video of the area filmed during the 2016 annual Wharton Canal Day.  The initiative continues to advance, with Morris County Parks investigating the acquisition of additional properties to the south to enlarge the park.

2014 Perth Amboy Initiative

A Perth Amboy resident proposed that the Site Committee look into mostly vacant property on the east side of the NJ Transit North Jersey Coast Line between Perth Amboy Station and the Raritan River.  We investigated and found that the site indeed could be desirable for storage, display and operation of heritage transportation equipment.  The United Railroad Historical Society and Friends of the NJ Transportation Heritage Center have several items of rail and road equipment which operated through the area.  We developed a proposed site plan, a business plan, and an executive summary for the site.  Unfortunately, the city of Perth Amboy showed absolutely no enthusiasm for our proposal and developed a plan for a park for the area which excluded any references to or displays of transportation heritage.  In the end, NJ Transit declared that the land was needed for the construction of the replacement Raritan River bridge.  Our plan could and should be revisited in the future after the new bridge is completed.

2010-2014 Liberty State Park Initiatives

Shortly after beginning proposals for improvements to Liberty State Park (LSP) and the Central RR of NJ Jersey City Terminal we decided to incorporate Liberty Historic Railway (LHRy) as an IRS designated non-profit, public benefit, NJ corporation.  Our objectives were to (a) Provide a trolley - rail shuttle the one+ mile distance between the Hudson - Bergen Light Rail LSP station and the CNJ Terminal / Ferry Dock; (b) Provide alternate, environmentally friendly, transport for the auto-dominated / dependant LSP - emphasizing the rail mode which promotes more efficient land use by reducing parking demand within LSP; (c) Provide historically accurate railway / trolley ride experiences; (d) Promote restoration of the seriously deteriorated trainshed to be used as a terminus of the trolley shuttle and for display of rail equipment which formerly used the terminal.

LHRy spent nearly $100,000 to advance the above objectives, including our incorporation on January 29, 2010;  a Rutgers University, Bloustein School of Planning, Graduate Student Studio study of LSP transportation needs; an award-winning professional study of the transportation needs for LSP by Sam Schwartz Engineering, which concluded that our trolley shuttle proposal was viable.  (This $300,000 study was funded by a grant from the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority through Jersey City Planning.); an extensive website; a comprehensive transportation chronology for the area; promotional materials; Curtis & Ginsburg architectural consultants who updated their 2000 report on the trainshed restoration costs; fundraising consultants Ruotolo Associates who concluded that it would not be feasible or possible to raise the estimated $100,000,000 to restore the trainshed; three separate nominations (2012, 2013, and 2014 - click here to read) to get the trainshed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s most endangered structure list - which all failed.

As we progressed with our objectives the Friends of Liberty State Park organization became increasingly opposed to our trolley shuttle proposal to the point of fanaticism.  The final nails in the coffin were hammered in place by Super Storm Sandy, which inundated LSP with four feet of sea water, churned by near hurricane force winds.  Almost every first floor window and door of the CNJ Terminal building was blown out and the interior was made a wreck.  Unfortunately, the six interpretive panels of historic Terminal photos, installed a month earlier, were severely damaged.  The photo panels were framed by historic wooden rail passenger car window frames.  The storm would have fatally damaged any historic rail equipment displayed at LSP.  LHRy soon thereafter ceased all work on our initiatives to improve LSP.

Perhaps in the future LSP stakeholders may come to their senses and realize that the auto will increasingly clog park roads and parking lots, destroying what the public comes to the park to enjoy.  And, they may realize that moving people to and from the park by trolley could be the solution.  Note: There is a location on the north side of Liberty Science Center for a trolley carbarn which is above flood elevation.