NARCOA Susquehanna & Western On Sep 23 & 24 the Susquehanna turned over the track from Hawthorne, NJ to Warwick, NY to the North American Rail Car Owners Association(NARCOA) to run excursions. There were 35+ motor cars each day. VRA volunteers worked as teams to flag each grade crossing so that the cars would not have to stop at each crossing. SATURDAY After a safety meeting at Butler, the group headed toward Warwick. Stops were made at Rich’s Deli for refreshments, at the top of Sparta Mountain for the view and at Sparta station for a ceremonial sign hanging. After lunch at Vernon Crossing the group went to Baird’s farm at Warwick, NY. The cars were then turned around and backed to Pelton Road to get every inch of rail under their wheels before heading east toward Butler. It was decided not to enter the Limecrest Industrial because of the late hour, so a straight shot and great time got us back to Butler around 715PM. SUNDAYAfter the safety meeting, the group headed toward Hawthorne. There were no stops along the way. After a barbeque at Hawthorne, the cars continued east crossing the Passaic River to the first grade crossing in Paterson, NJ. The cars were then turned and headed back west stopping at Pompton Jct. and a run down the Pompton Industrial to just past Route 23. Returning to Pompton the group then headed west once more arriving at Butler at about 430PM. Many thanks to all the volunteers and participants for making this a memorable event. Special thanks to Mark Schmitt for his work getting the flaggers, K.C. Smith for all the work on directions and the little details, Bill Nelson for volunteering his time as our pilot and Joe Weber for putting together the BBQ lunch. Because of all the hard work put in by everyone involved I am sure we will be welcomed back to the NYS&W next year.
The M&NJRHS hosted a great picnic on Sunday August 13th at Slate hill, and we were invited to attend. The day started out with a group of our members meeting at Johnson to get the cars out of the barn or off their trailers for a run to Middletown to meet the train. Bill Smith, Bill Nelson, Charley Roseilus, Frank Eichenlaub, Ken Brown and his wife and Scott (?) along with 5 motor cars set off north at around 8:15am. They met K.C. Smith at Slate Hill and picked him up along with making contact with John Deserto of the M&NJRHS who had gotten the gates open and would help flag some of the crossings. It was a great run to Middletown where 3 more cars and the train awaited our arrival. Just after 10, M&NJ #2, a GE 44 Tonner, was fired up and after a little TLC by mebers Bill and K.C. Smith pulled the NYS&W #0117 caboose off the siding and headed south. A few photo stops were made enroute with an arrival at the picnic just a few minutes after 12, almost on time. A great spread was put out by the M&NJRHS guys and we filled up on all sorts of goodies. After lunch Harold , from the railroad, said it would be ok for us to give some short rides to the crowd and so we fired up the 8 cars and for the next few hours ran down the out of service track towards Johnson. It was great to listen to the people saying how much fun it was to get to ride the rails and we even gave them a little history lesson on motor car operations. Just after 5 the whole group got in place for the return North to Middletown behind the train. By the end of the day we had done 2 round trips to Middletown, given almost one hundred people the chance to see, learn about and ride in a motor car, met some old and new friends, had a great meal and had a fantastic time doing it all. We can’t wait for next year.
On Saturady, July 29, 2000 we made our initial assault on the Sparta station. On hand were (in alphabetical order) John Bazelwich, Dean Coupland, Jeff MacDuff, Charles Smith, K. C. Smith and Paul Trabert. First order of business was to mark the two monitoring wells and the open pit with bright orange stakes as hazards. Next we trimmed the brush around the trees closest to the station so we could get close enough to cut them down.We managed to remove enough trees from both ends of the station so that we can get a clear view of both ends as well as the front and back of the building. While we were out to lunch a local resident from Station Road came by and mowed the lawn with his riding mower. During the afternoon several people stopped by to inquire about our work and they were given a tour of the site and an explanation of our goals. Lunch was a barbeque at the house of Charles and Tina Smith in Lake Hopatcong. Many thanks to all who came to help out and a special thanks to the local resident with the riding mower.
The following are 4 new rules that we have instituted for the operation of motor cars on the M&NJ.
1. The operation of motor cars on the M&NJ will not start until after 8 AM and will not end later than 8 PM or one half hour before sunset, which ever is more restrictive. The only exception is in the case of break down.
2. When stopping at any location for more than a few minutes all cars must be shut down.
3. When returning to Johnson to put the cars away or back on a trailer, all cars must be shut down prior to crossing Rt. 22 or reaching the container siding switch, depending on which way you are headed. All cars are to be pushed into the container or onto a trailer.
4.The excessive use the horn is prohibited at any time. Special note: The use of air horns around homes or cattle is prohibited except in the case of emergency.
We are instituting these rules so we can continue to enjoy our time on the M&NJ. Remember, the best rule to keep in mind at all times is to be smart and to be a good neighbor.
The VRA will be hosting a NARCOA motor car meet on the NYS&W on September 23rd and 24th. The trips will be based out of Butler NJ and run west on Saturday to Warwick, with a side trip down the Limecrest Ind.. A lunch stop is planned enroute. Then on Sunday we will run to Hawthorne and include the Pompton Ind.. While at Hawthorne the VRA’s Hawthorne station will be open and a BBQ lunch will be served.
To be part of this 2 day trip you must be a member of the VRA or NARCOA. VRA members will be flagging crossings, serve as support staff and be cooking at the BBQ. NARCOA members with proper insurance will be able to bring their cars and run them over the 2 days for just $100.00. Lunch on both days will be offered at $7.50 per person per day.
Please visit the NARCOA web site at http://www.NARCOA.org for more information.
On June 24 th & 25th our Volunteer Railroaders opened the Y2K season by helping the URHS operate 4 round trips from Earle Naval Weapons Station to pier 3 at Leonardo, NJ. This was the first time the Navy has opened its tracks to the public since 1981. It gave us a chance to meet some of our friends from the URHS and fellow car hosts from the 614 trips. It was also the first time 8 restored URHS Heritage coaches made a public appearance together.There were 2 trips each day with 2 photo stops along the way and a chance for photos while the train was on the pier. The best trick was done by Frank Etzel, the man in charge of the photo lines. He timed a static photo stop on Sunday morning by the NJ Transit Coast Line underpass. This enabled photographers to get a picture of the Naval train with a NJ Transit train overhead. Many happy railfans that day. The worst time was the last trip when our time on the pier was cut short because we had to be off the pier before the USS Nassau docked. We could see the ship approaching as we were trying to get everybody on board as quickly as possible. The worst problem: people wandering out to the ends of the piers. We tried to sweep them back but some people still got left behind and had to take a Navy bus back to Earle. At the end of the last trip, all the volunteers gathered at the head of the train for a group photo. You can see a copy of the photo in our photo gallery. A good time was had by all. Many thanks to all those who helped.
On June 8, we resumed our weekday schedule of work on the M&NJ. Todays session was attended by K. C. Smith, Joe Weber, Charlie Roselius and Paul Trabert. We concentrated on clearing trees and brush near the newly built bridge south of Langlitz Road. We managed to clear enough brush to bring our motor cars to Waterloo Road. We have met Waterloo and it is ours! While inspecting the tracks south of Waterloo Road, we met Earl Smith of the Minisink Township Highway Department. He told us to contact the Town Clerk, Carol VanBuren who is a member of the Minisink Museum Commitee. Paul Trabert talked to her, and she will contact the museum historian and will try to determine the date of the last train ride on the tracks south of Slate Hill, NY. Earl Smith has also agreed to move a highway speed limit sign which is very close to the tracks at the Waterloo Road crossing. Our next goal is Dickison Road. This will probably be our final destination, since immediately south of Dickison Road is a missing rail. The gap can be seen just south of the crossing.
On Sunday, May 7th, 2000 a large group went up to Westown NY to help finish off the filling of the washout south of Westown. Included in the party were (alphabetically) Allen Alloco, Marie Bartiromo, Jim Conklin, Walter Conklin, Frank Eichenlaub, Scott Samuel, Mark Schmitt, Gregg Seuss, Bill Smith, Charles Smith, K. C. Smith and Paul Trabert. The Woodings & the Fairmont were pressed into service as well as Frank’s Fairmont. The dump truck on tool car was brought down from Johnson and rerailed at Westown.
We then shoveled dirt from a pile left over from the breakthrough which was piled alongside the track and ferried it down to the washout. On the first return trip the dump truck/tool car derailed at an out of gauge rail and had to be rerailed. After 4 or 5 trips, we managed to fill the washout completely. This added about 2 more non-revenue ton-miles to our VRA operating statistics. After that we took the three motor cars south of Langlitz Road to inspect another washout which was discovered recently. This one measures about 20 feet long just below the rails and is about seven feet deep in the middle. This one will most likely be fixed with a bridge constructed using tree trunks and ties. On our way back to Westown we spotted a large turtle in the middle of the tracks just south of Westown. We carefully picked it up and moved it outside the rails so we would not injure it. As the motor cars passed the turtle, it snapped at our wheels. All equipment was returned to Johnson NY.