February 1968: The Strasburg 90 On The Main Line

Following up on my previous post regarding Ross Rowland’s High Iron Company and the multitude of HICO steam excursions run throughout the east during the 60s and 70s, a very interesting operation took place on two weekends in February of ’68. HICO had advertised a series of doubleheaded trains to be run over the CNJ from Jersey City to Wilkes-Barre. The scheduled motive power was to be Mr. George Hart’s former CP G5 Pacifics, the 1238 and 1286. The region was in the grips of a positively brutal cold spell and Mr. Hart provided the 1238 and 1286 to a local hospital to help keep it warm. Reacting to this development, HICO promptly secured the use of trusty G5 sister Monadnock, Steamtown & Northern 127 (the ex-CP 1278). The 127 was perfectly capable of handling the train along the CNJ main (now NJ Transit’s Raritan Valley Line) across New Jersey; however, it was going to require assistance on the grades west of Jim Thorpe. HICO contacted the Strasburg Rail Road and CEO Mr. Huber Leath agreed to provide the 90 to assist the 127 over this part of the railroad. The 90 had been Strasburg property for only a short time at that point. Mr. Leath was justifiably concerned about operating his new locomotive on the main line but the 90 acquitted itself quite well. The cold weather presented formidable challenges to the smooth operation of these trips with an entire trainload of passengers having to be bussed back to New Jersey on the first weekend. Mr. Rowland recounts the events very well in his post.

 

http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=34431&sid=e14a3855227618a83da9c781ff326440

 

As you look at the pictures, note the 90 still had its extended smokebox which was later modified at Strasburg.

 

Bob

Original Post

CNJ3676...Those 2 February 1968 weekends were also my first weeks of CNJ employment as a towerman. I was at GW-Spring Street at west end of CNJ's Elizabethport, NJ yard and watched the lite engine moves from Jersey City to Cranford, NJ where the passenger car portion was assembled. A CNJ Trainmaster diesel powered the loaded passenger train from Newark, NJ Penn Station to Cranford.

 

The CNJ had already closed the Passenger Terminal in April, 1967 but Communipaw Engine Terminal was still open and that is where the engine crew started.

 

By the way, as I remember, a few passengers elected to stay with the train after the derailment in Wilkes-Barre, PA on the first trip and arrived quite late back to the Newark, NJ starting point.

 

Nice memories.

 

Thanks.

 

Walter M. Matuch

 

CNJ STRASgw90cnjexcurstight800

On CNJ PA Division.                                                                                 K.Bell photo

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#90, the ex-Great Western sugar beet road decapod, "acquitted itself quite well"...

its model is on my wish list.   I haven't seen 90 there the last couple of times I looked...Wonder if the Strasburg gift shop could sell all of a run of those from MTH or Lionel (after I get mine, of course)?

The 90 was put on the ground in the 1940's in a collision with an 18 wheeler that

did not look both ways.  It recovered from that, and I have seen it moving the

Strasburg tourist trains.  Hope it still is.

 

??Another one of THOSE!!??  What you want to sell is not what I want to buy!

Originally Posted by coloradohirailer:

#90, the ex-Great Western sugar beet road decapod, "acquitted itself quite well"...

its model is on my wish list.   I haven't seen 90 there the last couple of times I looked...Wonder if the Strasburg gift shop could sell all of a run of those from MTH or Lionel (after I get mine, of course)?

The 90 was put on the ground in the 1940's in a collision with an 18 wheeler that

did not look both ways.  It recovered from that, and I have seen it moving the

Strasburg tourist trains.  Hope it still is.

 

It came fresh out of a rebuild a year or two (maybe three or four, time flies) ago and hauled a few of their steam freights this year.

 

Jake is correct. I believe last spring it underwent a 1472. It has been rebuilt numerous times prior by Strasburg. I've ridden behind it and photographed it many times. I was unable to make it to Strasburg this year to ride the freight train but will make it a point this year to do so. 

 

Strasburg is also currently rebuilding their "original" steamer, ex CN 0-6-0 #31 on a time permitting basis. Strasburg will be hosting a "heritage days" event this year on their anniversary. The original #1 Plymouth will pull two of the original cars in the fleet, a total recreation of the trains SRC ran in their first years before steam. I'd like to get to that! Who knows if/when they would ever do that again!

Originally Posted by Hot Water:

Also note that the Strasburg Shop Removed the smoke box extension, that #90 originally had, as shown in the color photo from 1968, posted above. She looks a LOT nocer with that "normal " smoke box.

The "extendo-box" got pulled during a rebuild in the early 1990s. 1993 I believe. I recall an article about the smokebox and a SRC higher up, Linn M. or Kelly A. perhaps, describing the difficulty firing it, inability to get a clean stack when firing and other performance related points. Wish I could find that piece...

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