Pennsylvania Railroad’s GG1 class has been widely recognized as one of most successful locomotive models ever built. The 80-foot long, 237-ton machines were capable of hauling trains at over 100 miles per hour, as they did between New York and Washington DC from the 1930s to the 1970s.
New Jersey’s GG1s, Nos. 4877 and 4879, were two of the last in service, serving in New York to South Amboy service until retirement in September 1983. To commemorate the GG1s’ history, No. 4877 was repainted from solid black to PRR’s “tuscan red” scheme in 1981 with cooperation between the Jersey Central Railway Historical Society and NJ Transit. Sister Locomotive 4879 was the last GG-1 to pull a revenue passenger train in New Jersey. Both were donated to the museum effort in 1991.
4877 is restored to its 1930s-era “5-stripe” paint scheme and 4879 is restored to its 1950s-era “single stripe” paint scheme. Both are stored at URHS’s Boonton Yard.
Erie Lackawanna 3372
The U34CH represented a landmark in passenger train operation. It is truly the “last of the first of its kind.” During the late 60’s and early 70’s, passenger trains were nearing the end of an era. Aging equipment, heated by steam, could not stand up to the demands of changing technology. Across the country, these older cars were being replaced with newer, electrically lit and heated cars, powered by car-mounted generators or individual power cars. At that same time, the Erie Lackwanna was dealing with an ever aging fleet of coaches and MU’s that dated back to the late teens and twenties. When the NJ Department of Transportation took over passenger service, they used an ingenious new idea to modernize the fleet.
The result was an order of new “Comet I” coaches from Pullman-Standard, and 32 U34CH locomotives from General Electric Co. This was the first time in the evolution of modern passenger equipment that locomotives and cars were ordered together to work in tandem. The new coaches would be powered by electricity delivered from a new type of generator in the U34CH. The drive shaft from the locomotive’s 16 cylinder motor would go entirely through its main generator, which powered its 6 traction motors, and go into a generator used exclusively for powering the train. This meant that, to power the cars, the engine always ran at a full 960 rpm, the equivalent of full power. This made for a locomotive that was not only powerful and efficient, but exceptionally distinctive, characterized by its consistent roar both stopped at stations and at speed.
The U34CH, and its corresponding passenger car fleet, pioneered “push-pull” operation of trains in New Jersey. Today, all commuter trains in NJ run in this manner. The U-boats represented the turning point in New Jersey railroad history, as they bridged the gap between the first generation diesels from the pre-Conrail era and the modern head end powered passenger equipment of today. The story of New Jersey railroading would not be complete without including the U34CH, which is why the URHS finds it imperative to save the last one in existence.
New York Central 4083
NYC 4083 is a one-of-a-kind locomotive that New York Central painted in the experimental “Century Green” paint scheme. It was one one of three units, in an A-B-A set which received the same treatment. In search of a new simplified paint scheme in 1960-61 to replace the “lightning stripe” scheme, the NYC commissioned three new test schemes which were black, gray, and “Century Green.” The decision was made to go with dark gray.
“Century Green” eventually became the standard color for the NYC’s freight equipment. According to NYC Chief Mechanical Officer John Reehling, “The dark grey gave the best appearance. There was not enough stenciling as on a boxcar to break up the wide expanse of just plain green.”
Later in life, it was the last E8 locomotive painted in the Penn Central black livery to run in New Jersey service and was the third and last E8 to be completely rebuilt at Conrail’s Elizabethport, NJ shop, completed in August 1981.
This engine also operated as NJDOT and NJ Transit 4326 for a significant portion of its operational career. It was donated to the museum collection in 1995 and is restored to the one-of-a-kind “Century Green” paint scheme in 2014.
4083’s restoration debut in URHS’s Boonton Yard. Photo by Carl Perelman
This SW9 is a switcher locomotive, one of a long line of similarly designed locomotives produced by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors (EMD) from the 1930’s through the 1960’s. Thousands of EMD end-cab switcher locomotives were rostered by nearly every railroad in the United States, with hundreds still in service today. These small 1,200 horsepower engines were well-suited to the branch lines and industrial parks of New Jersey, and every railroad in the state rostered a sizable fleet of these locomotives to effectively serve freight customers shipping an endless list of commodities by rail.
This particular unit, built for the Erie Railroad, was often used for local freight service on the railroad’s branches in northern New Jersey. Patterson, Hackensack, Suffern, and Jersey City were just some of the major service areas that Erie 436 called home through the 1950’s. On October 17, 1960, the Erie Railroad merged to form the Erie Lackawanna Railroad, and this locomotive became Erie Lackawanna 436.
Under the Erie Lackawanna, this locomotive was assigned to work the passenger coach yards in Hoboken, moving around cars to arrange trains before the passenger locomotives were attached. When the Erie Lackawanna was included in Conrail on April 1, 1976, 436 became Conrail 9012, where it remained in service in Hoboken, Elizabethport, and Kearny as a passenger car switcher. When NJ Transit was organized in 1983, ownership of the 9012 was transferred, and it was renumbered back to 436.
436 continued to serve NJ Transit into the early 1990’s, when it was donated to the United Railroad Historical Society of New Jersey (URHS). It was restored to its original 1952 Erie colors in 1998 and now resides in the URHS’s Boonton, NJ yard.
This E8 is a streamlined passenger-hauling diesel locomotive which was widely purchased by the country's major railroads. This E8 was built for the Pennsylvania Railroad and survived to be rebuilt in the 1970s for the New Jersey Department of Transportation. It's current NJDOT blue and silver paint job is a rare example of a vintage diesel resorted to a period late in its career.
Photo by Lester Zmudzinksi
“B&O 412” is former U.S. Navy switcher No. 19, which served Weapons Station Earle until its donation to the URHS. This is the only Baldwin owned by the URHS, and is painted to be representative of the many VO1000s which served the Baltimore & Ohio. B&O’s VO1000s often performed freight interchange duties between the Jersey Central, Reading and Baltimore & Ohio railroads, and were all scrapped after their retirement.
Several NJ railroads owned this model diesel locomotive: Baltimore & Ohio, Reading, New York Central, Pennsylvania, Jersey Central and Lehigh Valley. The U.S. Navy requested that the locomotive not be painted to represent its former Navy heritage, so URHS opted to use the No. 19 to represent the Baltimore & Ohio in its collection.
B&O 412 is currently leased to SMS Rail Lines and works in occasional freight service. The locomotive was leased to SMS as a non-operational unit, and was eventually restored to operation by the railroad’s mechanical team, which specializes in Baldwin diesel maintenance and repair.
Photo by Kevin Painter
New York Central 4076
In the late 40s, as steam locomotives began to disappear, streamlined EMD diesels often had the honor of pulling the railroads' finest passenger trains. This New York Centeal E8 pulled many of its owner's named trains, the most famous of which was the 20th Century Limited. The URHS also owns the tail car from this train and it is likely that at some point in its career, it rode at the tail of a train behind 4076.
4076 was transferred to Penn Central, Conrail, and then later to NJDOT in December 2, 1976, where it wore the number 4323. It was rebuilt in March 1980 and was the second of three E8s rebuilt at Conrail’s Elizabethport, NJ shop. It served until 1982 when it was retired from passenger service. It was modified in 1983 for use in the M&E re-electrification to provide layover power to the Dover yard passenger trains so that the stored U34CH’s could be shut down overnight. Since it was equipped with a generator set for HEP coaches in place of one of its prime mover diesel engines, it has half the horsepower of the other E8 locomotives.
In November 1990 it was repainted as “Erie 834” to haul excursions with “Erie 835” (PRR 5788) through funds from URHS and the Jersey Central Railway Historical Society. It is currently stored in URHS’s Boonton Yard.
No. 5788 in Chicago on March 15, 1962. Photo by John Dziobko Jr.
The E60 was the first predecessor to the Pennsylvania Railroad’s GG1. When Amtrak took over America’s long-distance passenger service in 1973, the GG1 fleet it inherited was in the twilight of its usefulness. As a replacement, Amtrak ordered 37 of GE’s passenger variant of the E60. Due to a poor truck design which made them prone to derailments, the E60s were restricted to 90 miles per hour, and never proved to be fully-capable replacements for the GG1.
In 1984, with the arrival of AEM-7 electrics on Amtrak, most of their E60 fleet went into storage. This unit was one of several E60’s that were sold to NJ Transit on January 13th, 1984. Amtrak 958 became NJT 958.
New Carrollton, MD - April 1979 - Photo by Dick Leonhardt
The RS-3 has been called the “definitive” Reading diesel during the steam to diesel transition. No. 492 two is typical of the very versatile “road-switcher” locomotives which served railroads all over New Jersey and the northeast.
No. 492 was delivered to Rutherford, PA in the summer of 1952, and went about replacing the Reading N-1 Mallet and I-9 Consolidation steam locomotives still operating there. Later, it frequently saw service on the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines in south Jersey. On October 26, 1973, it was sold to the United Railway Supply of Montreal, Quebec and subsequently acquired by the Roberval & Saguenay Railway as their No. 31. By the late 1970s, it was acquired by the Delaware Otsego System and renumbered as the Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville 103, but painted in the attractive maroon scheme of the DO System. The locomotive was acquired from the General Electric Company by the URHS in 1989. In the fall of 1991, the locomotive was restored into the original Reading Company livery by Tony Zisa with help from the members of the Bergen-Rockland Chapter of the NRHS. Today it is stored non-operational in URHS’s Boonton Yard.
Central Railroad of New Jersey’s fleet of GP7s were built in 1952. They were primarily utilized in passenger service between Jersey City and Bay Head, between Jersey City and Raritan, and between Matawan and Atlantic Highlands before delivery of the Budd built Rail Diesel Cars for that latter service.
When CNJ became part of Conrail, No. 1523 was renumbered to No. 5681, and No. 1524 became 5902. In December of 1976, both locomotives were transferred to NJDOT, predecessor to NJ Transit. NJT donated both locomotive to the URHS collection in 1993. Both engines were restored cosmetically. 1523 is leased to Cape May Seashore Lines, who maintains it in operational condition. 1524 is restored cosmetically and is stored non-operational in URHS Boonton Yard.
Pennsylvania Railroad 7000
PRR 7000 was the first EMD GP9 locomotive built for the Pennsylvania Railroad. It was maintained at Conway while serving the PRR. After the formation of Conrail, it was still maintained at Conway but regularly roamed east to haul freight in New Jersey. Its last Conrail duty was that of a yard switcher at the Elizabethport shops. This locomotive was transferred to NJ Transit in 1983 and continued in its same role even after NJ Transit opened the MMC and abandoned the use of Elizabethport. Upon its retirement in 1995, it was donated to the URHS collection. It has been leased to the Cape May Seashore Lines which maintains it in operational condition.
“Reading 284” is an EMD F7 painted to replicate those operated by the Reading Company in New Jersey. Reading’s F7 line was the last order of cab units the railroad received. Built in 1950, the fleet included 18 A units and 6 B units. In addition to hauling freight, Reading’s F7s were a common sight on their main line through northern New Jersey. In an effort to upgrade their fleet, the F7s were traded in to EMD in 1964 and scrapped shortly there after.
This F7 began its life as Chicago & Northwestern 4074A in 1949. In 1961, it was rebuilt for passenger service and given a head end power generator and a new number: 424. It was its ability to power coaches which drew New Jersey Transit to purchase it and its sister locomotives in 1983. Only two years later they were retired and 424 was donated to the URHS. To help represent one of NJ’s major railroads, the URHS chose to replicate the Reading F7s that were scrapped almost 4 decades earlier.
URHS volunteers restored 284 to turn it in to an interactive display, free of the hazards of an in-service locomotive. Visitors can go inside it, touch it, and learn about it and other diesel locomotives from a first-person perspective.
Reading 284 en route to Spencer, North Carolina to be a part of the North Carolina Transportation Museum’s “Streamliners at Spencer.” Photo by Ron Tilley
The 100-tonner is a small industrial diesel locomotive that many railroads and industrial sites used to move cars around their facilities. This locomotive was owned by the Public Service Electric & Gas Company and was used to move coal hoppers at the Bergen Generating Station in Ridgefield Park, NJ from the time it was built until it was donated to the URHS. It now serves as one of the yard switchers at the URHS Restoration Yard.
The 100-Tonner at the Bergen Generating Station in Ridgefield Park in March 1979. Photo by B. Gripp
The 45-tonner is URHS’s yard workhorse. Built in 1940, it is one of the oldest diesels in the collection, but has been repowered with more modern Cummins diesel engines. It was donated to URHS by Liberty Historic Railway, and currently wears the colors of the organization. LHRy purchased the locomotive from a facility in Michigan and had it trucked to Boonton and repainted. Its exact heritage is unknown at this time.