I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the chance to be President of the VRA. It’s a great privilege to serve this organization in this capacity. With the help of the new executive committee and the Board of Directors we will be able to do a lot of fun activities and accomplish many projects.
Easter Train 2012 tickets sales floundered in the beginning weeks, but after a hard push towards the day of the train, we were able to have a terrific turnout. Many thanks go out to Carolyn Hoffman, Justin Kerstner and Betsy Newbury for their outstanding effort to make this year’s train possible, as well as all of our Volunteers that came out for the weekend. Through everyone’s efforts we put on a great show and gave all of our riders a nice day out.
Special thanks go out to KC Smith and Charles Smith for showing us the ropes and all the planning that goes into making these trains a reality.
On March 4th, the VRA once again participated in the Jersey Central Historical Society’s train show in Clark, NJ. We brought what remains of the JKW collection. The show was very well attended, better than previous years, and we were able to sell a good amount of the collection. We still have many lanterns to sell and more models, so we look forward to doing another show.
This year we will continue to maintain and improve upon our motor cars. At the end of last year we had purchased two motorcars from the Middletown & New Jersey Railroad, which we will try to get running this year. The Sheffield 40B restoration will be completed this year as well.
Keep your eyes on the Yahoo group for work sessions at Boonton yard. Any time that you can come down and lend a hand is always appreciated and it would be great to see some old faces that we haven’t seen in a while.
by Steve Gerritsen and Justin Kerstner
Work continues on Hawthorne Station. The gable ends will be completed this spring, and our first order of pavers is in and laid out for the public to see when they walk by. We were able to participate in Hawthorne’s Great American Garage Sale on the weekend of May 5th – 6th which netted us $460 in sale proceeds.
This is the second year we’ve participated in the event and it has turned out to be a good fundraiser. All proceeds will enefit the continued upkeep of the station.
Justin has been in contact with Dell’s Landscaping of Hawthorne and has discussed options for getting the garden finished. They have agreed to take a look at our garden and give us some more ideas and recommendations. Dell’s might even be able to use some of our volunteers to help with the garden, so keep a watch on your emails for potential work sessions.
Frank Ball has picked up the materials to finish the roof, and has started painting the pieces in the basement. That way when the time comes to install them it’ll be quick and easy. He has also picked up new fire extinguishers for the station. They are located at each exit door, and inside the basement door. New exit/emergency lights have also been installed to replace the old ones that had begun leaking battery acid.
Along with the personalized bricks we offered benches, which turned out to be a huge pain to make. None of the bench ends we poured came out well, so it was decided to order pre-cast concrete bench ends. The person who ordered the first bench was consulted about this decision and he was fine with the idea. We should have the benches within the next few weeks. The wood for the benches will be stained a dark green to match the station, and a bronze plaque with the donor’s name will be affixed to them.
With the station pretty much completed, efforts will be working towards displays for open houses. We’re looking for member photos to put on display in the station. The idea is to rotate them throughout the year, so seasonally correct photos would be great. Drop them at the station with a description and your name, and we’ll frame them if necessary and put them up. If anyone is interested in being at the station to host open houses please contact me. We hope to set up a schedule very soon. As always, look for posted work sessions at the station and come out and help.
Please keep an eye on your emails as well as the Yahoo group for future work days and other planned events.
by Joe Mele
I would like to update the VRA members on the URHS activity. Below are a couple of newsworthy items:
The Boonton Yard shop building construction has begun; hopefully the building will be completed in the next couple of months.
Star Trak is continuing to work on our equipment at Boonton yard.
URHS signed a lease agreement with the Black River Historical Trust for the Erie SW-9 #436. The locomotive was picked up by Norfolk Southern RR from the NY&GL Railway and interchanged in Garfield, NJ at the end of April. The BRHT will be using this locomotive for the 2012 operating season for their passenger trains on the Black River & Western Railroad.
The Liberty Historic Railway (LHRy) will host an open meeting on Sunday, June 10, 2012 at Liberty State Park, in the Central RR of NJ, Jersey City Terminal, Blue Comet room. All members of the URHS member groups are invited to attend. Please see the meeting flyer in this issue.
The following supplement was provided by Steve Gerritsen – Ed.
A shop has been erected in the URHS Boonton Yard over the past few months. At this time it is nearing completion, with only some roofing work and doors to be hung. Once completed, Star Trak can resume work on the URHS equipment, but in the mean time they are painting an engine for the Black River & Western. Since the last newsletter, the URHS has leased out Erie 436 to the Black River Historical Society. They will be making minor repairs and placing it into service on their passenger trips. Work continues in the yard to clear more brush and trees, to allow us better access to equipment. Brush is a never ending battle, but is necessary so we can get to the fun stuff: working on trains.
Although with a shaky and questionable start, the 2012 Easter Bunny train turned out to be a great success. This year’s trains ran out of Wayne-Route 23 on Saturday, March 31 and Glen Rock-Boro Hall on Sunday, April 1 with three trips each day at 9:30, 12 noon, and 2:30. This year’s Glen Rock trip differed from years prior in that the all three trains ran east to Secaucus Junction Station and back which came with a positive response from riders viewing the Jersey Meadows and the New York City skyline. The only hitch on any of the six trains was a communication breakdown between NJT and the VRA on the scheduling of the 9:30 train. This issue has already been resolved for future trips, should we decide to run east again.
This year’s committee consisted of Carolyn Hoffman and myself as cochairpersons, along with Betsy Newbury as crew caller and Andrea Rebner as character coordinator. Steve Gerritsen, Ally Smith, KC Smith, Charles Smith, Jennifer Ball, Frank Ball, Andrew Murphy and Kevin Phalon assisted in various tasks and a huge thanks goes out to them as well. Also very big thanks to Justin Kerstner for his tireless efforts in being at the station every night and weekend to answer the phone calls and emails of our passengers, and dealing with customer service during the day of the train as well.
Planning for the Santa train will begin in September. As usual the more hands, the better! Thanks again to everyone who made this train a success!
We’ve come a long way since 1998! Our main site was established right before the new millennium in 1998, and in 2004 was moved to vratrips.org. How many of you know all of the VRA’s sites? Well here’s a quick summary: VRATrips.org, EasterBunnyTrain.com, SantaTrainRide.com and HawthorneStation.info. Then there’s the Yahoo Group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Volunteerrailroaders/ and the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Volunteer-Railroaders-Association/38523424986
Why make these changes? Our train ride customers, AKA today’s parents, AKA ‘Generation Y’ are very mobile device-oriented (cell phone, iPad, etc), with a single-purpose site focus compared to us ‘Baby Boomers’ and our newer members, aka ‘Generation X’ (born 1960-79). We’ve added several Twitter accounts to the mix too in 2010. Why this ‘old’ Twitter news? Well, our three Twitter accounts haven’t been pushed but they are slowly growing. When Jon Berkemeyer made our Facebook page two years ago it took a while to grow too. Now we have 138 Fans on Facebook and see weekly growth upticks.
When the 2010 Santa Train ran, we saw a significant growth in mobile device use. In reaction to that, the 2011 Easter Bunny Train website was made even more mobile friendly. Seeing the huge usage shift to mobile during both (2011’s Easter train site saw 400% as much mobile traffic as the 2010 Santa train), I’ve decided for 2012 the Santa Train Ride site needed to be ‘taken to the next level’ so to speak. Yes, December 1st, 2012 Santa Claus Train Ride – mark that date! SantaTrainRide.Com is our first site that will look markedly different on a cell phone compared to a PC/Mac.
Some of you thought there were more sites? Well, SantaTrain.Net is a joint VRA / Tri-State / Whippany / JCRHS website covering northern/central New Jersey for the big fellas’ trains.