The Old Station Museum
171 Old Station Lane
Mahwah, NJ 07430
*The Museum is currently closed for the season yet it was open for this event. It will reopen in late June. Admission to the museum is $3.00 per person over the age of 16 and is free for kids under 16 years of age.
As part of my tour on the Eighth Annual Northwest Bergen History Coalition Day, I visited the Old Station Museum, which is partnered with the Mahwah Museum (mentioned in this blog also) and its concentration is on the history of trains and the trains that serviced the area.
They had an interesting exhibition on the trains that used to run in the area before they consolidated years ago, the companies that ran them and a full train display (as well as there is a complete train set in the lower level of the Mahwah Museum that you should not miss. It will bring the kid out in you).
One of the displays that I really liked was the Pullman Car exhibition of menus, china and other things that were used on the car to make service the best it could be. Like they mentioned in the display, food was a loss leader to the company which was made up in the ticket itself but it is what made the experience for the passenger. It what was brought them to the train in the first place. All I could keep thinking of was Eve Marie Saint in ‘North by Northwest’ when she was dining with Cary Grant.
The best part of the museum is when you tour the museum’s caboose that is located in the back of the museum. There are displays of the men that worked the line and their role in the railroad as well as a display of their living conditions. With new technology the caboose went out of service and there are very few left now. You really see the caboose from inside out and its purpose on the train.
The Old Station Museum and Caboose:
The exhibition at the station this season features several models built by former Mahwah resident, Hollis C. Bachmann. Mr. Bachmann constructed a model of N.Y.C. #999 and several other trolleys. We are fortunate to receive a donation of this balance of Mr. Bachmann’s collection from his niece, Kay Doody. Mr. Bachmann had built out model of the North Jersey Rapid Transit interurban car (trolley) that ran from Suffern to Paterson. You may remember seeing that model in our main museum building. It was constructed of tin cars, was two feet in length and included a detailed interior, having taken Mr. Bachmann six months to build. Please come by and see these really nicely detailed creations that are the offspring of that trolley.
The Old Station Museum established in 1967 is located in a building that was the original station on the Erie Railroad in Mahwah. It was rescued from destruction, first by the Winters family and later by the Mahwah Historical Society. It contains many interesting artifacts given to the museum by collectors of railroad memorabilia. It also features a 1929 Erie cupola caboose which has been recently restored. There is a scale model of the Erie system and photos of the early days of railroading in Mahwah and along the rest of the mainline.
In 1848, the Paterson and Ramapo Railroad was built through Mahwah to carry passengers and freight from New York City via Paterson to the mainline of the Erie Railroad located in Suffern, New York. From there, connections could be made to upstate New York then Chicago and on to the west.
In 1871, the leaders of Mahwah petitioned the Erie to allow a stop at a new station in Mahwah. The 1871 station remained in service until 1904 when the Erie expanded to four tracks and raised the roadbed from the ground level. The second station remained until 1914 when it was destroyed by fire. The current station was built in 1914 and still serves commuters today.
Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from the museum’s website and I give them full credit for all of the work. The museum will be reopening in June so be on the lookout for more information on events at the museum. It is a great place for kids.