The Tri-State Railway Historical Society and Operation Toy Train of New York have partnered to acquire former Hoboken Manufacturers Railroad locomotive No. 700 and Middletown & New Jersey Railroad locomotive No. 2 for historic preservation. These locomotives are the last remaining examples of historic rail equipment from the heydays of their respective railroads.
Both are 44-ton diesel-electric locomotives constructed in 1947 by General Electric’s factory in Erie, Pennsylvania. Middletown & New Jersey No. 2 was acquired secondhand in 1963 by the 15-mile railroad, which was built from Middletown to Unionville, New York in 1868). Originally painted solid red, the No. 2 became the railroad’s only operating locomotive from 1981 to 2007 in a more vibrant yellow and blue paint scheme. It is the sole surviving piece of equipment from the first 139 years of the M&NJ’s history.
Hoboken Manufacturers Railroad No. 700 was built to operate along the mile-and-a-half railroad along the bustling waterfront of Hoboken, New Jersey. This line was built in 1897 with the backing of grandsons of John Stevens III, who had held the first charter for a railroad in the United States. The No. 700 wore Stevens Institute of Technology colors – red and grey – to signify the railroad’s connection to Hoboken’s founding family, but it was later repainted in a striking green and yellow scheme. The engine operated for the Hoboken Manufacturers Railroad and its successor, the Hoboken Shore Railroad, until the latter railroad’s closure in 1976. The No. 700 is the sole remaining piece of rail equipment from the Hoboken Manufacturers Railroad.
Regional Rail, LLC of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, now owns both locomotives and recognized their historic and regional significance. The company reached out to Operation Toy Train of New York and the Tri-State Railway Historical Society to pass them both into preservation upon their retirement. The sale price for both locomotives, which graciously included a supply of spare parts, was not disclosed.
M&NJ No. 2 will join the display of Operation Toy Train of New York’s rail equipment at the new Port Jervis Transportation History Center in Port Jervis, New York, while the HMRR No. 700 will be added to the Tri-State Railway Historical Society’s railroad collection at the United Railroad Historical Society of New Jersey’s restoration and storage facility in Boonton, New Jersey. Both engines are slated for full mechanical and cosmetic restorations once they have been trucked to their respective new homes.
“The Middletown & New Jersey Railroad operated from Middletown, NY to the New Jersey state line, with the whole 15-mile line running less than 20 miles away from Port Jervis,” said Rudy Garbely, a director of Operation Toy Train. “When No. 2 became available, it made perfect sense to preserve it at the Port Jervis Transportation History Center as a prime example of equipment from a local railroad.”
“We are returning No. 700 home to New Jersey after an absence of forty-five years,” said Richie King, treasurer of the Tri-State Railway Historical Society. “This locomotive is the last piece of equipment from a railroad with deep ties to Hoboken, the Stevens family, Stevens Institute, and New Jersey’s industrial heritage – it had to be saved, without question.” King will become Tri-State’s president on January 1st.
The two organizations have launched a joint campaign, called Operation 88, to fundraise $15,000 to complete the project. These funds will be used to cover the remaining transportation costs, mechanical upgrades, and repainting the locomotives into their historic liveries. Funding for the acquisition and initial transportation costs was secured from Liberty Historic Railway, Inc., a New Jersey-based non-profit that has funded numerous preservation efforts in years past, as well as contributions from private donors. To learn more about the project and to donate to the restorations of both locomotives, visit Operation 88 online.