Black River & Western Story By Virginia Smith SC
Black River & Western Story By Virginia Smith SC
Black River & Western Story By Virginia Smith SC

Black River & Western Story By Virginia Smith SC

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Black River & Western Story By Virginia Smith SC
 
The Black River And Western Story By Virginia Smith
Soft Cover
Copyright 1973  
44 Pages
The dream had its start with one man: William R. Whitehead, a sales engineer in Oldwick, N. J. An old railroad right of way ran through his property, a part of the long gone Rockaway Valley line. This was a peach-hauling road that met its demise around the turn of the century when the San Jose peach blight destroyed most of the county's orchards. In the late 1950's Whitehead and his sons began laying track and collecting rolling stock "to give the family something to do." As the idea of a tourist line began to take shape, other spare-time railroaders joined in. Rolling stock included Lackawanna Mogul No. 565 from the Dansville & Mt. Morris Railroad and four or five coaches, notably Canadian Northern business car No. 105, Seafalls.
When the state gave notice that the backyard railroad was in the path of then-projected Route 78, the group moved its equipment to the Chester Hill branch of the Jersey Central Railroad (CNJ) between Chester and Long Valley. The Black River & Western Railroad was incorporated in 1960 and chartered in 1961, taking its name from the Black River near Chester. The "Western" part of the title is simply classic railroad tradition.
Permanent location on the Chester Hill branch was prevented by various complications, however, and No. 565 and the coaches went on display in Flemington on a CNJ siding near the Flemington Cut Glass Company, while the would-be railroaders considered sites as far away as Connecticut. But local authorities were not unaware of the potential tourist attraction of a steam railroad, and a suggestion from the Hunterdon County planning board eventually developed into an arrangement with the Pennsylvania Railroad. The Black River & Western leased the Pennsy's Flemington-Lambertville branch for tourist operations, paying a yearly rental of $5,000 and agreeing to repair the rather deteriorated track. The PRR still handled freight service on the branch.

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