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)

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.


Winterizing No. 19

With 19's first summer with Tri-State over, it is time to store it for the winter. Locomotives, like your car, are liquid cooled. Unlike your car however, which does not hold over a hundred gallons of coolant, diesels use water, rather than antifreeze. Because of this, water can freeze inside the block in the winter without a block heater, which 19 has never had.

To keep 19 safe for the cold seasons, volunteers drained the several hundred gallons of water from the block, removing drain plugs, draining the cab heaters, opening drain cocks, and shifting the locomotive to make sure water made it out of the low spots and crevices.

In addition, Tri-State member Ron Thrum custom-built a stack cap to fit No. 19, and any upward-facing vents were covered to keep out leaves and snow.

Come spring, volunteers will continue to make improvements, make electrical repairs, and refill and inspect the engine to put it back in service for several planned public appearances in the summer of 2018.

Repairs for RRRR No. 10

Progress on Erie C330 was put on the back burner when Tri-State volunteers discovered some significant damage that needed immediate repairs in the Raritan River 10.

The 10 has been a part of the Tri-State collection since 1986. The caboose was restored by volunteers in 2013. However, insufficient repairs made by Conrail have recently warranted further repair to the caboose. After its last excursion, volunteers found minor evidence of water leaking through the roof. In late October, volunteers found that minor evidence was a result of a major problem. Water entering the roof had caused significant rot between the roof and ceiling.

Several factors contributed to this. The caboose was built with a lap seam roof, meaning each panel overlaps the one next to it, leaving a seam through which water can enter. The caboose's original construction had fabric and fiberglass insulation which was pinned to the inside of the roof. This meant moisture could get trapped against the ceiling. Such a design would be a code violation in a residential home for that reason. Also, several patched (and leaking) holes were also found, which were presumably repaired by Conrail — during an era where longevity of repairs was far from a priority.

Tri-State volunteers made quick work of removing the old ceiling and fiberglass insulation. The plan will be to replace the ceiling with original construction and like materials, modifying the insulation so the same issues do not come about again. This work will be done over the winter so the caboose can be ready to roll in the Spring.