M&E C424 LOCOMOTIVE #19
The first running diesel preserved in New Jersey in over 20 years.
Morristown & Erie Railway (M&E) C-424 No. 19 is Tri-State’s latest acquisition and one of only two operable ALCo diesels in New Jersey. The locomotive is currently stored at the United Railroad Historical Society of NJ’s yard in Boonton, NJ where it is kept operational. An integral part of New Jersey railroading for the past three decades, Tri-State’s No. 19 represents the struggle for dominance among the three big locomotive builders of diesel power’s second generation.
The American Locomotive Company (ALCo) of Schenectady, NY had once been the premier builder and developer of steam locomotive power in the United States. With the switch to diesel power, however, the locomotive builder was struggling to keep up. EMD and General Electric had gained a significant foothold in the industry, and ALCo was desperate to retain market share. In order to compete, ALCo released its “Century Series” of completely redesigned road switchers in 1963. Among them was the C-424 (Century series, 4-axle, 2,400 horsepower) model which soon developed a reputation for being able to out-pull any other locomotive in its class. ALCo constructed 190 of these units between 1963 and 1967 for various railroads across North America.
Tri-State’s locomotive was built for the Toledo, Peoria, & Western Railway (TP&W) as their No. 801 in September of 1964. The 200-mile Midwestern railroad hauled freight across Indiana and Illinois, mainly consisting of agricultural products and chemicals. No. 801 was part of a two-locomotive order which also included twin No. 800. Both locomotives were involved in a significant wreck several months after their delivery, damaging both engines so severely that they were both sent back to ALCo for a complete rebuild. Some of the damage sustained by the engine can still be discerned on the engine today.
The Morristown & Erie Railway purchased Nos. 800 and 801, renumbering them Nos. 18 and 19, in December 1983. Nos. 18 and 19 were the mainstay of power on the M&E system for over thirty years. No. 19 saw constant service on the M&E’s Whippany Line, Dover & Rockaway Branch, Chester Branch, and High Bridge Branch, hauling plastics, chemicals, lumber, and other goods for small local businesses and sharing rails with commuters on NJ Transit. No. 19 also served a brief stint on the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad in Pennsylvania and spent nine years in dedicated service at Bayway Refinery in Linden, NJ, never missing a day of service while employed there.
A railfan favorite of recent years, No. 19 has been the subject of countless photographs, has been modeled in various scales, and has played a role in several films. The locomotive has also played an integral role in the very rail preservation movement which has now preserved it. No. 19 has hauled numerous excursions for museums and historical societies (including several for Tri-State) and has partaken in the movement and preservation of other historically significant rail equipment.
After the purchase of three EMD MP15DC’s rendered it obsolete, the M&E retired No. 19 in November 2016 when it developed a flat spot on its #2 wheel set. Realizing the historical significance of No. 19, Tri-State decided to purchase the locomotive in March 2017 in order to save it from scrap. The entire cost of the acquisition has been underwritten by the Liberty Historic Railway, ensuring that No. 19 will continue to operate in New Jersey for years to come.