Tag: Small Museums of NJ

Whippany Railway Museum                                    1 Railroad Plaza                                         Whippany, NJ 07981

Whippany Railway Museum 1 Railroad Plaza Whippany, NJ 07981

Whippany Railway Museum

1 Railroad Plaza

Whippany, NJ 07981

(973) 887-8177

http://www.whippanyrailwaymuseum.net/

https://www.facebook.com/WhippanyRailwayMuseum/

Open: Sunday 12:00pm-4:00pm/Monday-Saturday Closed/Seasonal

Admission: Please check the website for seasonality

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g46925-d3395271-Reviews-Whippany_Railway_Museum-Whippany_Morris_County_New_Jersey.html

Video on the Whippany Railway Museum

I have to say that I was very impressed by the Whippany Railway Museum. It was not one of those usual train museums with bric-a-brac and posters and a uniform here and there. The museum building itself is a highly organized history of the rail system not just in New Jersey but all over the country. It showcases how New Jersey played a big role in the growth of the rail system and how transportation has changed over the last 100 years.

The museum displays were highly organized and well documented with all sorts of equipment of how a train functions, lighting equipment for the outdoors, and indoor dining, menus and manners for a time when rail was a form of luxury travel. It shows the progression from just transportation for the movement of product to a sleek way to travel from destination to destination.

The Whippany Railway Museum at 1 Railroad Plaza

There are all sorts of everyday items that show how maintenance of the trains have changed over the years and the modernization of the railcars. They have a display on lighting that has changed over the years and the way that communication was done between the trains and the staff. Even the uniforms have not really changed too much over the years.

Race is touched on with the advancement of Blacks in the Pullman coaches as porters and later supervisors. There was even a discussion on the strikes for better pay and working conditions. I thought it was interesting about the discussion of being called a “George”, which was a term for George Pullman, the owner and developer of the luxury cars. It might have been meant as a compliment but came off as a slur. It showed a progression in the field that in some ways has not changed.

The museum also showed that rail life could be lonely and not the best in working conditions for anyone which is why the unions became so powerful in later years. It also showed the ingenuity of how the rails conquered the West and opened the country up for development. With each stop, towns developed, and populations have changed. You see how this has been affected even today as rail is not as popular as it once was, and these small towns are dying off.

Where the museum really shines and where I saw the most pride is in the rail cars that have come to the yard over the years and have been carefully restored. The Southern Railway No. 385 built in 1907 for faster freight service, the Texaco Fireless Cooker No. 7240 built in 1937 for industrial switching duty and one of the newest steam locomotives still surviving, the U.S. Army No. 4039 built in 1942 for WWII service are just some of the cars on display (Whippany Railway Museum pamphlet).

The Lackawanna Railroad Subscription Club Car No. 2454

The railcar that most impressed me was the Lackawanna Railroad Subscription Club Car No. 2454 that was once known as the “Millionaires Express” (Whippany Railway Museum). The mahogany paneled car carried businessmen from New York City through towns in the middle of New Jersey. What I thought was interesting was the people who rode it (Christie Todd Whitman’s father was a member) and the fact that you had to ‘buy’ the seat, which meant that no one could ever sit in ‘your chair’ if you were not there. This car ran for 72 years finally retiring out in 1984 (probably due to the recession and changing times).

I ended up spending about three hours at the museum due to a very detailed tour by one of the volunteers named Mike. He gave the most interesting hour-long tour of each car and how they were renovating it and carefully restoring each one to its historical integrity. He was so detailed and when the other volunteers chimed in with their stories as well, made it a fascinating tour of the whole yard.

When you are visiting the museum, allow time to take this every intensive and detailed tour of the museum grounds and just don’t concentrate on what’s inside the building. The museum spreads out all over the yards and take the time to explore each car and learn its history. It is an educating and fascinating way to spend the afternoon.

The museum modernizes:

The Whippany Museum under new directions

The History of the Whippany Museum:

(From the museum website)

The story of the Whippany Railway Museum began many years ago when the Morris County Central Railroad (MCC) first opened to the public on May 9th, 1965, at Whippany, NJ. On that exciting day a half-century ago, former Southern Railway steam locomotive No. 385 departed Whippany for Morristown, NJ with the MCC’s first trainload of over 400 passengers. At the end of the day over 1,500 people had traveled on a nostalgic trip into railroading’s colorful past. For the next 15 years until it ceased operations in 1980, the MCC would carry on this excellent tradition, leaving memories for untold hundreds of thousands of visitors that would last a lifetime.

The Morris County Central was founded by a New Jersey aerospace technician, the late Earle H. Gil, Sr. of Parsippany. His idea of running steam excursion trains was formed in the late 1950’s when conventional steam railroad operations were fading fast. Gil hoped that a financially successful heritage railroad would justify the great expense involved in keeping one of these magnificent machines alive.

Having acquired No. 385 in 1963 from the 16-mile-long Virginia Blue Ridge Railway (VBR) in rural Piney River, VA, the MCC ran an outstanding operation through the woodlands of suburban New Jersey. In 1966, Gil acquired another VBR steam locomotive, No. 4039 a former US Army 0-6-0 switcher that was soon added to the MCC’s roster of vintage steam-era equipment.

Threatened by development of the property alongside the Whippany Station, the Morris County Central RR saved the Whippany Freight House from demolition in June 1967 by having it moved across four sets of tracks to a site opposite the station building. Originally used by our predecessor organization, Morris County Central Railroad Museum, this classic railroad freight house is now the headquarters of the Whippany Railway Museum.

The Morris County Central was a fine example of what a conscientious group was able to accomplish, with moderate resources and good taste in the preservation of operating steam. It proved that trains, steam locomotives and haunting whistles continue to linger in the minds of the American public.

Fifty years on, the Whippany Railway Museum continues the tradition and proves that it is indeed possible to have a quality operation through much hard work by its dedicated group of volunteers and the tremendous support of the visiting public.

(From the Museum Pamphlet):

Here you can visit the restored, 1904 freight house with its outstanding collection of rail and transportation artifacts and memorabilia. There are dozens of historic railcars and exhibits on view. We are proud to feature the largest collection of American-built standard gauge steam locomotives displayed in New Jersey.

Marvel at one of the oldest steam locomotives in America, the Southern Railway No. 385 built in 1907 for fast freight service, Texaco Fireless Cooker No. 7240, built in 1937 for industrial switching duty and one of the newest stream locomotives still surviving, the U.S. Army No. 4039, built in 1942 for World War II service.

Avalon History Center                                                              215 39th Street                                                                     Avalon, NJ 08202

Avalon History Center 215 39th Street Avalon, NJ 08202

Avalon History Center

215 39th Street

Avalon, NJ 08202

(609) 967-0090

Open: Sunday Closed/ Monday-Friday 10:00am-4:00pm/Saturday 10:00am-3:00pm

http://www.avalonhistoricalsociety.org/

https://www.facebook.com/avalonhistorycenter/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g29754-d8096123-Reviews-Avalon_History_Center-Avalon_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html

The Avalon History Center is at 215 39th Street in Downtown Avalon, NJ

Recently I took a tour of small Jersey shore towns and their historical societies. These interesting little museums are packed with information on the history and development of these towns. The progress of these towns from fishing and hunting villages for the Native Americans to the modern day resorts and permanent residence’s have a fascinating history.

The Avalon History Center was the last museum on my visit to the shore that day and it had become very gloomy outside. The town was relatively quiet when I got there on a late Thursday night. I ended up having the whole museum to myself to tour. The curator came out and greeted me nicely and said that they were working in the back and if I had any questions to come get them. Outside that, I was the only one touring the exhibitions.

When you enter the building, the rooms are broken down in section by display. The Avalon Police Department has a wonderful exhibition of the history of the department. There are all sorts of police gear, mannequins with old uniforms and all sorts of police gear and pictures of the department through the ages. Near that is the Brendan Borek High Tide Memorial Fund.

The Early Avalon Room contains the history of the many hotels that used to dot the town during the Victorian era that have either burned down or succumbed to the ocean currents. Of all the hotels that existed only the Sea Lark B &B (See my review on TripAdvisor) still greeting guests. There are all sorts of dishware from the old hotels, menus and silverware that show the opulence of the time when pleasure travel lasted longer than present day.

The Sealark B &B at 3018 First Avenue in Avalon, NJ

http://www.sealark.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g29754-d79340-Reviews-Sealark_Bed_and_Breakfast-Avalon_Cape_May_County_New_Jersey.html?m=19905

There was a section on the Founding of the town and its development over time. The town used to be Native American place to fish and hunt to the Victorian resort it became with the railroads. There was extensive history of the Railroad system that was so important to the growth of these shore towns. This was until 1937 when the rail system became obsolete with the advent of the automobile. There was a nice display of the old Avalon Pier.

The back of the building was dedicated to local businesses that have since closed, This shows old signs, pictures and menus of watering holes that were popular for generations. There was an interesting display from the Avalon Hotel’s ‘Phil’s Bongo Room’, a popular place for bands.

On the other side of the front of the museum is an interesting display on the Avalon Shore Patrol, a much dedicated group of men and women that play such an important role in a shore community. The museum displayed an restored patrol boat surrounded by other artifacts. Pictures of generations of Beach Patrol members proudly line the walls.

The Beach Patrol display

The museum also has landscaped grounds to walk outside either to some of the smaller historical buildings or to the gazebo to relax on a nice day and just enjoy the breezes. It is nice to walk along the flowering beds and just enjoy the sunshine.

History of the Avalon History Center:

(from a recent AHMS Newsletter)

The current facility opened its doors in September of 2001 to the public and began to share Avalon’s past, historical photographs, artifacts, memories and recollections lovingly collected and recorded by members of the Avalon Museum and Historical Society.

After several years of discussion, 1997 saw a historical society being formed at last in Avalon, supported by the enthusiastic endorsement of Mayor Marty Pagliughi and Borough Council President Nancy Hudanich, Doris Hanna and Jean Losch even secured a $10,000 donation from the Avalon Women’s Civic Club, as seed money for a building. Borough Council agreed to provide a location at 39th Street as well as a modular building-the old Public Works Headquarters, which did not prove suitable. The Avalon Museum and Historical Society got to work.

In June 1997, the first election of the Avalon Museum and Historical Society officers occured, along with the adoption of a constitution and bylaws. Among those first officers were Robert Jaggard, President, Lucille (Sue) Jacobson, Vice-President, Jan Jaggard, Secretary and Gordon Smith, Treasurer. Among thefirst Trustees were Jean Losch, Doris Hanna, Betty Shoemaker, Marvin Wells Jr., Joseph Koen and Robert Penrose Jr.

In early 1998, as the AMHS held its first fund drive, Doctors John and Elizabeth Ruskey agreed to honor the previous owner’s wish to donate their recently purchased house (location on 111st Street in Stone Harbor) to the effort. The Avalon Museum and Historical Society had support, money, a location and a building. Now all they had to do was move the house from Stone Harbor to Avalon, which is exactly what happened on November 6th, 1998. The groundbreaking took place on January 22nd, 1999.

Once in place, work on putting the building back together and creating a museum space continued, inside and out. Items had been donated, collected and stored in the homes of the officers and trustees. It was the work of the AMHS to organize fundraising events to finance the project.

In mid-September 2001, the officers opening day arrived at last and AMHS President Pary Woehlcke, together with Mayor Marty Pagliughi cut the ribbon on Avalon’s very own local history museum.

Since then, there have been many changes at 215 39th Street, including the merger and incorporation of the Avalon Museum and Historical Society into the Avalon Free Public Library. We are now the Avalon History Center.

One thing that remains constant is the commitment, enthusiasm and passion from History Center staff and the Historical Society Board and members. Our mission remains to bring Avalon’s past alive and make it accessible for all. This year has been a challenge but one we hope we have met as we continue to keep the doors open, broaden our outreach online, entertain, educate and amuse our patrons.

Mission of the Avalon History Center:

The Mission of the Avalon History Center is to collect, chronical and preserve the history of the Borough of Avalon in the County of Cape May, New Jersey.

Peermont Self-Guided Walking Tour:

This self-guided tour of a section of Peermont (25th to 42nd Streets) will lead you from the Avalon Post Office at 33rd and Dune Drive through to 30th Street and ending at the Boardwalk and Beach Patrol on 32nd Street. It should take about one hour of gentle walking.

History of the Area:

(from the Avalon History Center pamphlet)

In October of 1888, Philadelphia entrepreneur George Rummel and the Avalon Beach Improvement Co. (ABICO) purchased from Joseph Wells at 17 block area of Seven Mile Island from 25th to 42nd Streets. The tract excluded the vast beachfront but included large areas of boggy meadowlands west of Third Avenue. This section of Seven Mile Island became known as the ABICO tract.

Rummel’s first priority was to build a hotel, which he named “The Peermont”. The railroad station which went up at the same time also became known as Peermont and so the ABICO tract followed suit. Peermont was on the map.

The Hotel Peermont in Avalon, NJ

Building lots were very quickly offered for sale so many that those in the Avalon section began to feel somewhat behind. Lots were also sold and bought in the meadowlands between Third and Forth Avenues on the assumption that they would be drained, filled, graded and curbed. Unfortunately 25th Street to Gravens Thoroughfare was the only roadway made passable. Rummel did however tear down the dunes, fill in and grade the ponds and marsh areas along the beachfront section of the ABICO tract, in order to build a seawall and then a boardwalk.