Tri-State Railway Historical Society ACQUIRES Rahway Valley 70-tonners from URHS

January 12, 2018


 RV 16 and 17 pose for a professional photograph at Kenilworth, NJ, site of the railraod's headquarters, on January 19, 1956.  (Michael Caputo photo, Richard J. King collection)

RV 16 and 17 pose for a professional photograph at Kenilworth, NJ, site of the railraod's headquarters, on January 19, 1956. (Michael Caputo photo, Richard J. King collection)

MORRISTOWN, NJ – The Tri-State Railway Historical Society, Inc. announced Friday that it will be acquiring Rahway Valley Railroad (RV) GE 70-tonners Nos. 16 and 17. The United Railroad Historical Society of NJ (URHS), owner of the locomotives, voted to transfer title to Tri-State after the latter organization pledged funds and resources to make immediately-needed repairs, and to explore options to make one of the two units operational.

Learn more about Rahway Valley 16 and Rahway Valley 17.

In the summer of 2017, it was found that No. 16 has four severely damaged axles which prevent it from moving any sizable distance. In recognition of its historic significance to New Jersey, Tri-State adopted the project of repairing the locomotive to permit its movement to Boonton. The group’s equipment committee has developed a formal plan to repair the locomotive and, after culling resources and funds, Tri-State’s Board of Directors expressed interest in formally acquiring the locomotives.

Richard King, Tri-State’s Treasurer, has tirelessly researched the RV and authored two books on the subject. “The Rahway Valley was a small railroad which meant much to many. The stories of its operations tell of characters larger than life, from the three generations of the Clark family which managed it to the countless men and women that worked there in its 95-years” said King.

The locomotives will be stored in Boonton, NJ at the URHS rail yard. No. 17 is currently in Boonton, but No. 16 needs heavy repair before it can be moved. In early Spring, the locomotive will be lifted and will have its trucks disassembled. Three axles will have the journals turned at UTC/RAS in Morton, PA and the brasses for the corresponding axles will be re-poured to accommodate the new journal dimensions.

 RV 16 and 17 on display at the Whippany Railway Museum in 2014.  (Richard J. King photo)

RV 16 and 17 on display at the Whippany Railway Museum in 2014. (Richard J. King photo)

This will enable the locomotive to move over NJ Transit’s Morristown and Montclair/Boonton Lines without issue. This work is funded by generous grants from private donors. Tri-State has allocated funds to have both locomotives professionally evaluated for a potential return to service.

Nos. 16 and 17 were constructed, respectively, in 1951 and 1954 by General Electric in Erie, PA for the Rahway Valley Railroad. The RV was an 11.8-mile long short-line railroad which operated between Roselle Park and Summit, NJ, with a branch line to Maplewood, in Union and Essex Counties. The railroad operated a succession of 15 steam locomotives during its lifetime until purchasing No. 16. One steam locomotive was kept operational until the arrival of No. 17 three years later. The RV’s last steam locomotive, No. 15, is on display at the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, PA. The railroad hauled a variety of freight, including cement, lumber, coal, plastic, and steel, and operated passenger service until 1919. In 1986, the RV was acquired by the NYS&W and Nos. 16 and 17 were removed from the property in favor of EMD power. The railroad was abandoned in 1992.

 Nos. 16 and 17 are moved into storage at the Troy Hills Bulk Transload Facility, pending shipment to Boonton, NJ.  (Kevin Phalon photo)

Nos. 16 and 17 are moved into storage at the Troy Hills Bulk Transload Facility, pending shipment to Boonton, NJ. (Kevin Phalon photo)

Nos. 16 and 17 were donated to URHS by the New York, Susquehanna, & Western Railway (NYS&W) in 1995. They were moved to the Morristown & Erie Railway (M&E) in Whippany, NJ in the early 2000s. Nos. 16 and 17 were cosmetically restored by the Whippany Railway Museum and displayed there for the past decade. Neither locomotive is operational. In 2016, the Morristown & Erie Railway entered into a car storage agreement and requested that all surplus equipment be removed from the property. The URHS arranged to have both locomotives, along with an old wrecking crane and idler car, moved to its yard in Boonton, NJ in April 2017. Unfortunately, No. 16 developed hot journals and could not complete the move.

The Tri-State Railway Historical Society, Inc. was formed in 1964 as a non-profit educational organization dedicated to the preservation of New Jersey's rich railroad heritage. The group restores and operates historic rail equipment, publishes The Block Line magazine and other railroad books, and holds railroad events to involve the public in New Jersey railroad history. Learn more at


Fundraising Campaign for Lackawanna 663

Become an "Injector Collector"

As the proactive caretaker of the world's oldest, unaltered, operating F-unit, the Tri-State Railway Historical Society will be replacing all 16 fuel injectors in Lackawanna 663. The locomotive will turn 70 years old in 2018. To ensure long term operation, Tri-State is looking to raise $2,000 to support the purchase and professional installation of the injectors. Interested in purchasing an injector for 663? Learn more by clicking here.

 DL&W 663 at  Railfest 2017. (Michael L. Kaplonski photo)

DL&W 663 at Railfest 2017. (Michael L. Kaplonski photo)

Record Setting Success at 25th Annual Santa Train

Tri-State operated its twenty-fifth Santa Train out of Wayne, NJ on December 9, 2017. Over 2,000 people, including parents and children, were treated to a 45-minute ride with Santa, elves, carolers, and a host of characters over NJ Transit’s Montclair Boonton Line. The Santa Train is Tri-State’s largest annual fundraiser, enabling the organization to fund operations, equipment restorations and maintenance, and events. 2017’s train was the most successful one of the last five years.

A light snowfall throughout the day blanketed the scenery and framed a most joyous, happy day. Each child received a special gift from Santa, a candy cane, and coloring book. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the Grinch, Snoopy, and Olaf the Snowman greeted families and posed for pictures.

Our train was staffed by a team of over fifty volunteers. Who are these folks? They are from all walks of life, including: a nurse, a pipe fitter, a hairdresser, a news cameraman, a painter, a professional ballet dancer, accountants, lawyers, and railroaders. Some of them were with us for the first time and some have been with Tri-State for decades. A great abundance of thanks is owed to all of them.

Tri-State's Holds First Year-End Dinner

Tri-State celebrated the successes of 2017 by holding its first "Year-in-Review Dinner" at Boonton Station 1904 on December 14. More than 50 of Tri-State's members filled the restored Lackawanna train station, now a restaurant and bar, to enjoy dinner, to look back on the last year's major projects and events, and to honor members and volunteers who were most instrumental to Tri-State's success in 2017.

Certificates of Appreciation were awarded to top donors to the organization. Those members included Eugene Graber, Andrew Dick, Leon Moreau, John Quinlan, and Brian Alesin. An award was also presented to Liberty Historic Railway, for their generous grant gifted to Tri-State which was used to purchase Morristown & Erie 19. 

The organization's first "Youth Volunteer of the Year Award" was presented to newcomer Matthew Herman, who had the highest number of volunteer hours of any Tri-State volunteer under the age of 18.

Lifetime Membership awards, inscribed with, "In recognition of your meritorious service to Tri-State Railway Historical Society and your enduring effect on the organization," were given to two long-time members and supporters of Tri-State. The awards were presented to Mark Krisanda, who donated his Erie C330 bay window caboose to Tri-State, and to William McKelvey, who's generosity was instrumental is Tri-State's acquisition of M&E 19.

View the gallery below for pictures of the event and this year's award recipients!


Tri-State Works with College Students

Part of Tri-State's mission is to be an active part of the community and provide educational experiences. Tri-State, in partnership with Alpha Kappa Psi Fraternity, the world's oldest and largest professional business fraternity, sponsored the case competition for the new AKPsi members at the Ramapo College of New Jersey. The case was to develop a marketing plan for an upcoming project for Tri-State.

Richard King, Tri-State's Treasurer, is a brother of the fraternity and served as educator for the new AKPsi members. King detailed Tri-State's operations and mission, and served as a liaison between Tri-State and the fraternity. It was the job of the students to conduct research and analysis into Tri-State's industry. Four different teams, comprising a total of thirteen students, gave detailed and comprehensive proposals. 

  • The M. J. Partnership
    • Michael Ward '19
    • Jason Spencer '19
  • Simple Ricks
    • Kenneth Rieske '18
    • Amirjon Hirojidinov '19
    • Michael Tuazon '19
    • Haley Ames '20
  • And Then There Were Two (Winners!)
    • Jessica Torres '18
    • Edwin O'Connor '20
  • The Cows
    • Alex Osowiecky '20
    • Gabriella Rosana '20
    • Jose Carrillo '19
    • Matthew Levin '20
    • Nicholas Juenemann '20

The teams delivered their presentations to King and Kevin Phalon, Tri-State's Vice President, on November 9, 2017 at Ramapo College of New Jersey. Each team did an excellent job of researching, developing their ideas, and articulating them to Tri-State's officers.

Tri-State thanks Alpha Kappa Psi, the Anisfield School of Business, and Ramapo College of New Jersey for partnering with Tri-State to provide this opportunity to educate young business students.