FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 5, 2017
MORRISTOWN, NJ—The Tri-State Railway Historical Society, Inc. will announce on Wednesday, April 5 that it will be acquiring Morristown & Erie Railway C424 No. 19. This will be the first diesel locomotive preserved directly from its retirement in New Jersey since 1994.
Tri-State will also be launching a fundraiser via GoFundMe which will seek to raise $5,000 to cover the cost of initial repairs, maintenance, and transportation of the locomotive. The entire purchase price of the locomotive has been underwritten by the Liberty Historic Railway (www.lhry.org), a NJ-based non-profit. This public benefit organization has funded numerous preservation efforts in years past.
In late November, No. 19 was put out of service by the M&E as a result of a condemnable flat spot on its #2 wheel set. While still operable, the M&E chose to retire the engine permanently in early 2017, after the purchase of three new EMD locomotives. After receiving interest from a locomotive recycler and scrap dealer, Morristown & Erie reached out to Tri-State Railway Historical Society in hopes of coordinating the preservation of No. 19.
“We wanted to see the engine saved as much as anyone, so we were happy that Tri-State could work with us to preserve the engine and keep it running here in New Jersey,” said Chuck Jensen, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Morristown & Erie.
Mike Del Vecchio, 22-year president of Tri-State, was involved with the organization during the acquisition of the other pieces in the Tri-State collection. “Our group has seen our younger volunteers elected to top posts in the group, and we are extremely happy to see that they took on this tremendous project. No. 19 is an important engine to which we all have some attachment. Having been in New Jersey for more than 30 years, it pulled numerous excursions and caboose trips for our group and others. We’re fortunate that so many of our members have stepped up to make this a reality. We happened to be the right group at the right time.” said Del Vecchio.
Vice President Kevin Phalon and Treasurer Richie King, who spearheaded the project, are both current college students. Phalon, 22, is a senior television production student at Seton Hall University who also interns for CBS News. King, 23, is a senior accounting student at Ramapo College of New Jersey and is part-owner of an independent publishing company.
“It did not take long at all for Tri-State to find the resources to make this possible. That really speaks to the importance of this locomotive. People want to see it preserved,” said Treasurer Richie King.
“Nineteen checks off so many boxes for us. It is historically relevant to New Jersey, it is familiar to most railroaders and railfans in New Jersey, and it will come to us running. An opportunity like this hasn’t presented itself in my lifetime,” said Kevin Phalon, Vice President of Tri-State.
Not since 1994 has a running diesel been taken out of service and preserved in operation in New Jersey. The last example of that is Erie Lackawanna 3372, the last surviving U34CH which is owned by the United Railroad Historical Society of NJ.
No. 19 will be stored in Boonton, N.J., at the United Railroad Historical Society of NJ (URHS) rail yard, in serviceable condition. Before it leaves Morristown, it will have the condemned wheel set replaced so that it can be put back in service. This work will be paid for through Tri-State’s GoFundMe fundraising effort. Tri-State intends for No. 19 to leave Morristown as an in-service, blue-carded locomotive.
No. 19, and its twin, No. 18, were built side by side in 1964 by the American Locomotive Company (Alco) in Schenectady, NY for the Toledo, Peoria, & Western Railway. Nos. 18 and 19, built as 800 and 801 respectively, have operated together since there were built, having been purchased together by the M&E in 1983. The past three decades have seen No. 19 operating on M&E’s Whippany Line, Dover & Rockaway Branch, Chester Branch, and High Bridge Branch. It was also in dedicated service for nine years at the Bayway Refinery in Linden, NJ.
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 actively 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 http://www.tristaterail.org/