Browsing Tag: amtrak

    Railroad Trespassing – Find a Different Way: Cody Paugel’s Story
    Articles, Blog

    Railroad Trespassing – Find a Different Way: Cody Paugel’s Story

    August 15, 2019


    It was October 12th, 2012. I was 16 years old. I was walking on the tracks. I had headphones in, music blaring, walking
    the same way I do every single day. I heard a noise in the background and I turned
    around and I saw the Amtrak train right behind me. All I could think of doing at that point was
    just jump, try to get away from it, and unfortunately it still got me. I remember seeing my shoe fly off and then
    hitting the ground. You know when I got to the hospital I was
    in pretty rough shape. The initial impact broke my pelvis, my hip,
    four cracked ribs. I remember waking up, my leg was in traction. All in all, I had 31 surgeries, a lot of physical
    therapy. I had to relearn how to walk, how to use the
    bathroom, but I did survive. I was lucky. It doesn’t always happen that way. All in all, I just wasn’t thinking about what
    I was doing. Don’t go on the train tracks. Don’t take that shortcut. There’s different ways to get to where you
    need to go.

    Lackawanna Cut Off – Part 15: Saving the Cut-Off (1985-2001)
    Articles, Blog

    Lackawanna Cut Off – Part 15: Saving the Cut-Off (1985-2001)

    August 15, 2019


    Hi. Welcome to Part 15 on the Lackawanna
    Cut-Off, Saving the Cut-Off. Hi, I’m Chuck Walsh and I’m president of the North
    Jersey Rail Commuter Association and I’m here in Andover, New Jersey,
    next to the Lehigh and Hudson River Railway. We’re about five miles north of
    the Cut-Off here. Now you’re probably wondering, why are we here? What does this
    have to do with the Cut-Off? And I’ll explain that as we go along. But actually
    this spot really determines the destiny of the Cut-Off once we get to 1985. Now, to
    refresh your memory, over the past, well, this would be the third episode where
    we’re moving sequentially in time from the time of the end of passenger service
    on the Cut-Off in 1970; the end of freight service at the end of 1978; the long and
    protracted effort to try to save the Cut-Off–save it in the sense of saving
    the tracks–that effort ends in 1984 with the removal of the last track at Port
    Morris on October 5th of 1984. But it begs the question: why is this
    particular Episode 15 called Saving the Cut-Off when we were trying to save the
    Cut-Off during the timeframe of Part 14? Well, that’ll become apparent as we go
    through this episode, because as we go into 1985 as bad as we thought as the
    circumstances were for the Cut-Off–in other words, the tracks have been removed
    how much worse can it get possibly than that?–well it actually will get worse.
    Now in the end, there’s no doubt that almost, in a sense, something
    resembling a miracle will actually occur. But before we can get to that we will
    actually enter a period where it almost looks as if this is really basically a nightmare. And all of that starts here. But I’m
    going to keep you in suspense for that. Because before we begin talking about
    that we’re going to go to Part 2 of the interview with Larry Malski,
    president of the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority. And during
    the interview we will concentrate on that period of time, 1985 to 2001,
    although primarily talking about what’s going on in Pennsylvania. When we
    return after that interview, part 2 in a four-part interview, I will go
    into not only what happens here but what will happen during that period of
    time between 1985 and 2001. So stay tuned for that. First, here’s the interview with
    Larry Malski. CHUCK: Here we are back in Bridge 60 Tower in Scranton where we are talking to Larry Malski, who is the president of the
    Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority. And in this segment we’re going to
    concentrate on the time period between the abandonment of the Cut-Off, which
    would be the end of 1984, all the way up to the time that the Cut-Off is acquired
    by the State of New Jersey in 2001. That’s a wide swath of time and in my
    subsequent segment to our interview here I will go over much of the activities
    that took place during that time in New Jersey. But we’re going to talk to Larry
    about what was going on here in Pennsylvania during that time because
    a lot of key developments took place during that time which led to
    further development of the rail line now in the modern time, in the “modern” time
    meaning at this time 2017, 2018. But it’s good to look back to where
    we came from, not only in New Jersey, but also in Pennsylvania. So, welcome back,
    Larry. When we get to the the mid-1980s, we’re looking at a rail line here in
    Pennsylvania which either you have or are in the process of acquiring from
    Conrail, but which Conrail has basically let wither on the vine. And you are
    almost starting from scratch. I don’t know if that’s a adequate or an apt term but
    you weren’t handed off a line that Conrail had been doing their best to try
    to invigorate. It really was quite the opposite it seems, based on our
    discussion. So when you–
    you meaning I guess the rail authorities–maybe you can explain how
    this works: the rail authorities, the the operators, and so forth, how
    during this, what, 16-17 year period, how –how this all works,
    basically–how do you grow a railroad that has been handed off and
    really hasn’t really been nourished as it could have been? LARRY: Well, again, you’re right.
    This was very much a case of a railroad that was so close to annihilation,
    basically. Buying it was tough enough; getting all the
    things in place to get Conrail to convey it to us was one major step. The bigger
    step, quite honestly, was rebuilding it because it was in such dire straits. Like
    I said, in many of the sections the one especially it was again legally
    abandoned between Mount Pocono and Analmink; it’s a nineteen mile stretch. There were trees growing between the ties. I mean there was no maintenance, there was no nothing. Nature was literally reclaiming it. Again,
    thank God, we at least saved the rail in place. So it was a huge effort to bring
    it back. All the shippers were gone; there were no industries; there are no customers basically on the
    line to run trains on. It was a case, again, where there was no private
    interests that wanted it because there was nothing there; it was gone. We
    basically were able with the good graces of the state, the governor, PENNDOT, the
    PENNDOT Bureau of Rail Freight, which was very helpful in attempting to come up
    with some grants to at least bring it back to service, put it in service.
    Because, again, you even really couldn’t run on the line, to be honest with you, when we were able to take it over. We then again went through an
    RFP process–or a request for proposal process–to try to find a private
    operator because that was the intent. The intent was never for the authority
    itself, as a local government entity, to run it, although we could because we
    are, the local rail authorities are, actually certified common carriers under
    federal law under the ICC, the way we purchased it. So we’re considered common
    carriers from a federal law perspective. But the
    intent was to bring in a private rail operator to our RFP process which
    many other communities, counties, and other entities across the United States
    have used as a very successful means of returning a rail line to service. So we
    did that. We went through RFPs; we put the line out. You know, it was a tough
    RFP because you’re basically asking for someone to come in to run a rail line with
    no customers, and no traffic on it. But we were successful in doing that. We brought
    in a private rail operator. The first years were very, very difficult. That
    private operator was able to get state funding to rehab the line and bring it
    up at least to FRA Class 1 standards, and then higher standards.
    And the good news is that this was during the period of deregulation where that
    was the turning point in the rail industry. That was really the start of the rail
    renaissance of the rail industry. And without getting into too much
    detail, it was basically a change in federal regulation which allowed the railroads
    to compete on a more even playing field with the trucking industries, the water
    carriers, the large interest people, all the other people who hauled freight.
    And it started to really open doors in the rail industry because we were able
    to compete and go after some of the traffic that was lost. When we got the
    line open we had the ability to start marketing it. Our private operators
    basically went out, hired marketing people and groups to go and market the
    line saying, hey, there’s a rail line; it’s back to life; it’s running; it’s able to run. We’ve got industrial sites and those
    private rail operators were able to work with us, collectively, and the local
    economic development groups–the industrial development authorities, all
    the other economic development groups, the governor’s action committee, entities
    like that–to find leads to bring industries back in. We brought some small
    ones back in, which were great, but I have to say the home run was the location and
    siting of the Amber Mills flour mill at Mount Pocono. That was probably the
    keystone of bringing the Scranton-Water Gap rail line back to life. You
    know without rail customers, without rail cars, without car loadings,
    you really don’t have a viable railroad. And that was the home run. It took three
    years because there was some local property owners who didn’t want an “industry” in that area of the Poconos. They felt that wasn’t a good idea. Again, this was a flour mill; it made
    flour; that’s food. But they didn’t think that was a good thing. So, we were held up
    for three years. But, you know, luckily the industry, which is a multi-billion dollar
    industry out of Minneapolis, did their research, did their homework, and thought
    that Mount Pocono was the perfect place to produce flour for the entire Northeast Coast, especially the Northeast Corridor, because it’s so close to the
    market. And, again, you know, you’ve got the largest consumer market in the country in that 100 to 150 mile radius of Mount Pocono. So they picked the spot
    based on a logistical analysis that they did and they stuck with us. And
    after three to four years of struggles and getting the permitting and all the other
    things we had to do. So again, I could remember at that time people saying
    what’s taking so long? Why is this taking so long? Well, anything you do in this day and age be prepared to have
    obstacles or critics or whatever placed in your face. And we had them. So
    it took three to four to five years to get that thing finally to the point of
    being built. It took a year and a half to get it constructed because it was such a
    major, major facility. It was a 40 million dollar investment which still is big, but
    back then was a lot of money. And that really was the thing that got us going
    on the economic road to the success we’re at, at a level were at now. I
    mean that entity basically was designed to bring in unit trains of wheat from
    North Dakota, South Dakota, the entire Midwest, bring the wheat
    here. They mill the wheat; they turn it into flour, and the flour is distributed
    to every bakery and pizza parlor and you name it that you could think of, in the
    northeast section of Pennsylvania, in Northern New Jersey, New York City,
    Philadelphia, the entire market. So, it was meant to serve one of the
    largest markets in the country and that’s what it’s been doing now for–it’s
    hard to believe but it’s going on 20 years anniversary–but what that
    brought, of course, was unit trains on our lines. CHUCK: You say unit train… LARRY: Unit trains, or trains of 50, 75 up to 100 cars of wheat that would come as a
    unit from North Dakota, South Dakota or the Midwest to Mount Pocono. CHUCK: Do they have the storage space for all that? LARRY: Oh yeah, the silos up at the mill that again were all concrete construction. It’s amazing to watch the
    construction phase; it’s all concrete. It can hold 260 cars. And, of course, they
    grind on a daily basis; it’s a 24/7 operation, 365, so they’re making flour
    constantly, and you have to keep that supply chain open,
    and you got to make sure they have the wheat there on time…the right type of
    wheat, because there’s different varieties of wheat. So it’s a fairly complex
    logistical process but it brings a lot of car loads and that’s really what kind of
    put us on the map. That came along. Then we were able to locate a propane terminal in Mount Pocono. We were able to locate a very much lumber treating industry in
    Cresco. One just followed the other. Each one was a calling card for the next one
    because when we had the main card at the flour mill and somebody came along and
    said, well, what is this line? You know we understand you just brought this back to
    life. Is that really gonna be here? We usually would just take them to the
    flour mill and they would say, I guess it’s gonna be here for a while. Because they saw
    that investment. So it was just, it kind of fed on itself
    and really brought it back. And our private rail operators were
    instrumental in doing marketing and bringing a lot of this in and we obviously worked
    with them on that. And again all these other entities that are out there–economic development entities, the governor’s resources team, people
    of that ilk. So it was a collective effort and worked out to the point
    that we have now. So it was what we needed to prove to the critics
    when we bought–and again there were critics when we bought–the line, saying, you know, this is a white elephant; why are you buying this
    thing? The private industry, the private sector, abandoned it.
    What are you doing this for? Again, the flour mill, I think, and the other
    shippers–all the other shippers and the over 8,000 cars now that’ve run over
    this line–are a testament to taking the risk, taking the gamble, but for the
    good of future generations and economic development. If we hadn’t done this, none of these new industries in the Poconos in Monroe County would be
    there; so that’s why you take the risk. Fortunately, like I said, it usually takes
    much longer than anyone hopes for. But you have to persevere. I guess the key
    word is perseverance. Not to beat to death, but we had critics
    with the flour mill saying: you’ll never build that thing; don’t ever locate there;
    that’s not going to happen; it’s a short line; they’re not going to do that; it’s
    just not going to happen. And that went on for years to be honest
    with you. Again the proof is in the pudding. But you just have to persevere
    with these things and, you know, you’re not going to win everyone, but
    perseverance is going to get you in the game to win most of them. CHUCK: Now in terms of
    bringing customers to the line, I’m thinking the flour mill, was that what was the
    Chrysler facility? LARRY: Right, it was the Chrysler facility which Conrail
    basically encouraged Chrysler to leave that facility and move to northern New
    Jersey when they were getting ready to abandon the line.
    And that was the facility that was put back to use. Quite honestly, a flour mill
    in railroad parlance is probably one of the best industries you could locate.
    Because, like I said, when a private milling company invests forty million
    dollars, it’s not the type of thing you could pick up and leave. We’ve had some
    people saying you should have gotten another auto industry in there. Well, we
    tried, to be honest with you. We had auto interests look at it. But you got to
    remember back then, as is the case even now, auto contracts and auto distribution
    contracts usually are three-year, four-year, five- year contracts. And they can pick up and
    leave very easily. The key with the flour mill is it’s about the most substantial
    type of industry, manufacturing industry, which is really needed in
    Northeast Pennsylvania. It’s the most substantial type of manufacturing
    facility you could imagine, because of the large investment.
    Once you build a flour mill it’s not the type of thing you can say, well, we’re
    gonna move it– well, first you can’t move it–but even
    you’re gonna leave. But it’s been highly successful. And like I said they’d
    the work that they did– Amber Milling did to locate it there–has
    paid off tremendously because they could reach all these markets in the largest
    market in the United States. CHUCK: Now do you have–
    that would be jumping ahead–but I’m just curious as we speak about locating
    customers on the line, we talked about like the Cut-Off, one of the problems with
    the Cut-Off, if you were going to look at it from a perspective of
    operating it as a freight line, would be that because the way the line was constructed
    there really are no places, with the exception of maybe the station at
    Blairstown, where you could put the siding back… at the three stations, Greendell and
    Johnsonburg. But the rest of the line just isn’t conducive to having a
    place where you could build an industry and have a siding or some kind of
    connection to the mainline. I’m wondering, are there still places where you can
    foresee and here in Pennsylvania where there’s still availability? In other
    words, not every spot is going to be conducive if the rail line is
    well below where your site is it may be almost logistically impossible to make a
    connection. But you would think that if you have a flat area–Chrysler would have
    been, of course, an ideal almost spot– do you have others that are
    identified? LARRY: Sure, and our private rail operator, the Delaware-Lackawanna, right
    now is working as we speak with entities, marketing entities and
    other organizations, to locate new industries. This past year the Delaware-Lackawanna located two new industries on our system.
    So, yes, that’s a constant thing.That’s what you hope your private rail designated operator will do and that they are doing
    that and that they are very successful at that. The Cut-Off, you really go to the
    heart of it, just because of its physical characteristics is not a rail line–it’s
    28 miles of unbelievably built railroad; it’s an engineering marvel as far
    as railroad construction, but because of that is not conducive to industrial
    economic development as far as bringing new industries and locating them along it
    just because of its physical characteristics. It’s basically either
    cuts and fills, some extremely long fills. So, that 28 miles, quite honestly, is
    you have to be honest and you have to be upfront, is not a
    piece of railroad that’s going to be conducive to bringing freight rail to.
    CHUCK: Certainly local freight. I mean I know that once you open a rail line you can
    never say that there will never be any kind of freight on it, but certainly anything
    from what you’re doing over here would basically be impossible. LARRY: It would be. Again, you just have to be upfront and state it as it is: it doesn’t have the physical
    characteristics that are conducive to locating industries, and if you don’t
    have that you’re not going to get them. You know even on sites that we
    have, if one little thing is wrong they’re not interested,
    You’ve got to have everything pretty much in place. The physical
    characteristics of the Cut-Off are not going to lead to industries
    locating on it. Just, bluntly, there’s no land next to it that
    you can use basically for rail service, freight rail service.
    CHUCK: I have one final question for this segment, and we’ve touched on it in our
    previous segment, and that has to do with the rail authorities. At some point the two rail authorities–the Lackawanna County Railroad Authority and the
    Monroe County Railroad Authority–become joined as one. Presumably that was to
    consolidate, in a sense, to give you a bigger critical mass. Or how would you characterize that? LARRY: Well, the genesis of that…all along both rail authorities worked very closely together because, hey, we own the same
    rail line. It was that vital and if we didn’t work together… CHUCK: And not just the main line; there’s actually more railroad than just the section between Slateford and
    Scranton here. There’s actually, what, the Carbondale… LARRY: Carbondale Line, and other branches here in Scranton. But the genesis of it was
    regionalism. But much more importantly it was quite honestly put to us that to pursue the passenger project you need to get organized in Pennsylvania
    from the passenger project perspective. And what I mean by that is in New
    Jersey you have one entity; it’s New Jersey Transit. They are the passenger
    service provider in New Jersey, period. You know it was looked upon in
    Pennsylvania that, well, you have this authority, that, you have this–you need to
    get some unity here. So we were highly encouraged from a federal perspective and a state perspective to regionalize so
    there’s one voice speaking for the passenger project, not two or three or
    whatever, and to bring it to the point where you’d have two partners in this
    project, the passenger project: you’d have New Jersey Transit and you’d have this
    entity in Pennsylvania, one entity in Pennsylvania, talking and working
    together like you do in other services. The example that has been given–and
    we’ve given and we followed–is the Port Jervis service. If you look at the
    passenger service between Hoboken and New York City and Port Jervis, it’s
    in two states; it involves two states; it involves entities involved in two states.
    So it is a pretty good model to follow for the service to Scranton. CHUCK: And it’s roughly about the same distance. LARRY: That’s, I think 93 miles and
    we’re about 133 miles, so we’re a little longer. But the concepts, the organization,
    the working components, are so similar we don’t want to reinvent the
    wheel here, we want to use and work off the successes of other services.
    So this service is going to be very, very similar to that. To get back, though, to
    the authorities, that was the reason, that was the genesis, of putting the
    authorities together. And actually just to explain what happened, because we do get
    asked how exactly did that work here. Well, what happened was the Lackawanna
    County Railroad Authority, its assets were joined into the Monroe County Rail
    Authority. So it went away and its assets went into the Monroe County Railroad
    Authority. So what actually exists right now is the Monroe County Railroad
    Authority. The reason it’s called Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad
    Authority is by means of just a minor name change the name of the Monroe
    County Railroad Authority was changed to Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad
    Authority. So you actually have the Monroe County Railroad Authority as the
    entity, with a name change to Pennsylvania Northeast Regional
    Railroad Authority, and that’s how basically it was put
    together. CHUCK: OK. LARRY: And again, the Monroe County Railroad Authority was organized and came into being in 1982. CHUCK: So with the creation of a larger, I’ll say, a larger entity or maybe one which
    consolidates what was previously there– two rail authorities–is sort of like
    the end point of this particular section that we’re talking about in time.
    But I’m thinking that in at least in parallel during this time–we’re talking
    about in 1985 to 2001–while New Jersey is in the long drawn-out process of
    trying to acquire the Cut-Off through the use of eminent domain, and so
    forth, clearly what is happening over here is far from static. So it gives,
    in a sense, you folks time to start putting your ducks in a row, building up
    your railroad into something that I think is not necessarily appreciated
    because you’re not during this time trying to build a passenger
    railroad; I mean, clearly you aren’t. We have Steamtown, which we
    haven’t really talked about which does occasionally run an excursion service
    nowadays. Formerly they were a little bit more regular, but they
    have they have been here for quite sometime as well right and they have…so
    there is a certain visibility from the passenger perspective… LARRY: Right. CHUCK: …that you may just want to comment on. LARRY: Yeah, well, and that’s a very good point you put
    it in perspective, Chuck. It is a case where, you know again, the constant
    question of why is it taking so much time. All these
    little steps were pieces of the puzzle to put together to get to the point of
    getting the first money spent on the Cut-Off. You know the feds, the states, everyone wanted to see all these little things
    put in place, you know, things like the condemnation, things like putting the
    two authorities together, things like all of these components that people wanted
    to see in place before they started spending money on this project;
    they took time. The National Park Service, of course, Steamtown owns the core
    complex and the parts of the yard down here in Scranton. We own trackage easements through the park, so we own certain tracks in the
    park for freight service. Because, ironically,
    just to digress back a little bit as a little point of history, one last,
    another last piece that took years to accomplish on our end was to buy
    Bridge 60, which we’re sitting right outside of, which is the largest bridge
    structure in Pennsylvania from Scranton toward the Water Gap in Pennsylvania. And Conrail was still
    providing service over it right up to the end to Chamberlain, General
    Dynamics, and a plastics plant here in Scranton. They wanted to get out. The bridge, Bridge 60, was in major need
    of repairs; they knew that; we knew that. It was it was evident to all of us. It could
    have been a major factor in Conrail wanting to get out because they knew
    they were looking at one to three million dollars in repairs just to make
    Bridge 60 refurbished. So, that negotiation took some time with Conrail too. But we
    negotiated a deal where we would have to pay Conrail for it. We purchased Bridge
    60 and these tracks in the Steamtown yard that we own. And the bigger tab was
    not to purchase, the bigger tab was coming up with two and a half million dollars
    in grants that were necessary to rehab and refurbish Bridge 60. And it
    wasn’t just track rehab, it was major structural, substantive work to the
    structure of the bridge. And we were fortunate, again, working with our partners to get the funding to do that and to bring it up to standards. And we
    completely changed the trackage on it. We did a lot of structural steel work on it. It was a major undertaking, but it made it safe
    and efficient for the future. So that was another area, just that transaction alone, the purchase of this trackage, and the
    rehabilitation of Bridge 60 took about four to five years on our part–all pieces of
    the puzzle that have to be done before you can even get into thinking about passenger service. And again, as you mention, the entire line to the
    Delaware Water Gap, between Scranton and Delaware Water Gap, you couldn’t run on it. You literally couldn’t run on it. It was out of service and it had to be
    rehabbed; that took years to bring back to that case. It finally got to the point
    where actually two of our private rail operators,
    our designated operators, they were able to get the funding to bring it up to FRA
    Class 2 and Class 3, in some cases, speed. So there there are portions that
    are FRA Class 3, which allows freight operations at 40 miles an hour and
    passenger operations at 60. We don’t usually run at those speeds. The
    freight can operate at 40 in sections and that just shows, though,
    that to the level that the line has been brought up in terms of standards. As far
    as Steamtown, the major focus that Steamtown wanted
    was the ability at some point in the future to run excursions on our tracks. A long-standing dream going back many
    years, when the Park Service first came on the scene, was to have the ability to
    run excursions from the Steamtown National Historic Site to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area historic site. As the line was brought up for freight,
    basically, it was freight that paid the way, to be quite honest about it, and the
    flour mill was by far the biggest component of bringing it back up to good
    standards, it came to be that we were able to
    enter into an operating contract that allowed Steamtown to run on our tracks, and to run their excursions between Scranton and the Water Gap. And those are
    very popular excursions. They happen certain times sporadically throughout
    the year, but Steamtown has also run excursions to many of the other
    station sites: East Stroudsburg, Cresco, Tobyhanna, Gouldsboro, etc., Moscow. And we talked about historic preservation. Again, another area where,
    you know, we’re in it to save the rail line but we were very attuned to the
    historic preservation aspects of everything along the rail line. The Rail
    Authority entered into agreements with local historical societies along the way
    to preserve the remaining stations, which are amazingly still there when we
    bought the line. They were decrepit; literally, there were birds living inside
    them; the roof was caved in; it was amazing they were still standing,
    but they were. They’re all old historic Lackawanna stations. We
    were very fortunate to be able to work with local historical societies along
    the way in which we still own them but we lease them to them. And they’ve
    done their own grassroots efforts in each community to get local funding, and if you’ve ever ridden the line recently or have seen these stations, they did a
    magnificent job in restoring them, in most cases to original Lackawanna standards in terms of design, paint, etc. So it’s another aspect that we do take to heart
    and that is the tourism industry, that is the recreation industry. We’re thrilled to work with groups like Steamtown. Another group has just come
    into fruition here in the last five years or so it’s been the area
    Lackawanna Dining Car Society, a group of individuals who have been very
    successful in going out and saving the last Phoebe Snow
    cars that ran on these tracks for all those years–particularly, the diners. The
    last two Phoebe Snow diners now are here in Scranton, and one it’s fully, pretty
    much fully operational. I mean it’s out being used for dinner trains and dining
    car service. And their hope is to really recreate a train of the 60s and
    70s, and 50s actually, of Lackawanna using these actual authentic cars that
    ran on this railroad during the Lackawanna years and the Erie Lackawanna years. That’s a major tourism recreational aspect and it’s working out
    very well. Of course, we’re working with them and we have an agreement with them
    to allow them to run for recreation and tourism reasons. CHUCK: One final thought would be that even though freight in a sense pays the
    way–and that’s actually been the story for a number of years in the industry
    that freight has been profitable whereas passenger service–which basically
    led to the creation of Amtrak–for a very long time has been viewed as something
    that loses money. But even in the days where–let’s go back even to almost
    the beginning of the 20th Century–that railroads even then viewed passenger
    service as a means, almost like a public relations type of tool, that even it was profitable, maybe certainly never as profitable
    as freight was, and is, but it played a different role. And maybe to
    some extent that’s what the role it is still playing on this railroad in that
    freight can be quite almost invisible. Whereas if you have a passenger train it
    actually brings families, kids, you know, people of all ages, in direct contact
    with the railroad that they wouldn’t typically have and it maybe gives them a
    stronger, more personal, feel to the railroad that they wouldn’t necessarily
    have any other way. LARRY: Sure. I mean if you look at the
    history of the railroad industry, again, it’s one of the most amazing industries
    in the country because of its longevity. And it’s still basically the same
    technology that started it: a flanged wheel on a steel rail is basically
    still the technology that’s allowed the movement of mass amount of quantities
    and commodities at the most efficient prices basically. But going back over all
    the years, there were years that passenger service was probably was
    profitable, but it was still freight that was paying the way. That’s what kept the
    tracks in place; that’s what kept them in the shape there were in and everything
    else. Passenger service you know before the interstate highway system and
    everything else was able to break even or make money. You had the mail
    contracts. You had all kind of parcel services that were
    carried by passenger trains, so it was a whole different world.
    With the institution of the interstate highway system, with the institution, which most people kind of gloss over, with the institution of the massive
    amounts of federal, state, and local tax money that’s been put into our air
    system, our airports. I mean I’ve nothing against that, those are
    good uses of funding; all of our transportation assets should be funded.
    Well, when people say, well, why do we have a passenger train? None of them make
    money. Well without local taxpayer money funding our airports, without local
    state and federal taxpayer money funding our interstate highway system, you
    wouldn’t have airlines and you wouldn’t have our interstate highway system. The
    point being, our transportation assets are our arteries and veins of our entire
    economy, without all of them–not just one or two–you wouldn’t have the economy we have in this country. So, unfortunately, this
    concept that passenger trains lose money and why should we fund them is the same
    argument that exists with our airports and with our interstate highway
    system: they don’t make money. If the airlines didn’t
    have publicly-funded airports and air control systems and everything else that
    is paid for by federal, state, and local taxpayer money you wouldn’t have
    airlines. So it’s unfortunate, but that’s one of the things that we’ve always
    struggled with in the industry in getting the word out there that all
    our forms of transportation–whether it’s highway, air, water or rail, as far as
    passenger service–are funded, and have to be funded, by local, state, and
    federal taxpayer money. But what you’re getting for that, like I said, is the
    arteries and veins of our entire economy and if you don’t fund them properly,
    when your arteries and veins close up it’s not a good thing. It’s very
    detrimental to our economy. And all of those forms of
    transportation should be funded by local, state, and federal taxpayer dollars
    because they’re so important to every person who lives in this country. OK, here we are back at Andover. The
    Lehigh and Hudson River Railway, down in a small cut here. I won’t venture down
    there, but I will come back here. Now you’re probably waiting for an
    explanation as to why we’re here. I think I’ve probably kept you in suspense long
    enough. OK…this is about the end of 1984, the beginning of 1985. The owner of
    this property who owned the nursing home here wanted to expand the facilities
    further out towards the perimeter of the property. It so happens that part of that
    property was owned by what was previously the Lehigh and Hudson River
    Railway, part of that right-of-way, which as of 1976 had been conveyed into
    Conrail. So the owner approaches Conrail and asked whether that he can buy about
    a thousand feet from a grade crossing in the back here, over by the road, maybe a
    couple hundred feet in this direction… …and then all the way to the end of the
    property–I’m going to turn around again– a total of about a thousand feet of
    property. And Conrail says no, we’re not going to sell you an isolated piece of
    the right-of-way. At that time there’s still tracks, the tracks have not been
    removed from the Lehigh and Hudson River Railway. So…a little bit of time goes
    past, and Conrail comes back to the owner and says, well, we’ll sell you the whole 32
    miles of right-of-way from Sparta Junction all the way down to Belvidere. And the
    owner doesn’t give an answer at that point. There was a price attached to that.
    And then, before that final decision is made, Conrail says, oh, by the way, we have
    this other right-of-way which is available. We’ll give you both for–roughly 60 miles of right-of-way–for two point some odd million dollars. And after
    contemplating that, eventually the owner says yes, I’ll buy it. I’ll buy both of them. Now the tracks won’t be included with the Lehigh and Hudson
    River Railway; they’ll be taken up at a later time. And the tracks on the other
    right-of-way at that point have already been taken up. We know which one
    that is, that’s the Lackawanna Cut-Off. And the owner, the owner of this property
    here, five miles north of the Cut-Off, is a name that’s probably familiar to
    many of you. His name was Gerald Turco, or Jerry Turco as he was referred to as.
    Now, Jerry Turco had in his mind that he was going to do
    something with the Cut-Off–and, well, this. He wanted to expand his nursing home
    property, but he must have something else in mind with the Cut-Off. We’re not really sure about this beyond just this as
    property enabling him to expand his nursing home property. But the Cut-Off is
    a real poser. What did he really have in mind with that? In 1985,
    the Westway project is still a viable project in downtown Manhattan and that
    particular project would require enormous amounts of fill material. So, it
    was announced, or at least became, I’ll say, common knowledge, that that particular
    project would possibly be able to accept fill from the Cut-Off. So there becomes
    the nightmare scenario of whether Mr. Turco now–and he certainly didn’t deny
    this and it was in the press saying that– he would actually initiate removal of
    the fill from the Cut-Off, where there was fill–you would think the Pequest
    Fill and other fills on the Cut-Off–and that would be somehow transported to
    downtown Manhattan and become part of the Westway project. Now in September
    1985 that project, the Westway project, in New York is killed. So now Mr. Turco
    is stuck with a white elephant, if in fact he had essentially bet the farm, if
    you will, on using the Cut-Off as fill. Probably could have made a lot of money if he could have done that. We don’t really know if that was a serious proposal or
    not. It seemed like it was; it’s plausible, certainly. It would have destroyed the Cut-Off, would have destroyed any possibility of using the right-of-way again. It
    was bad enough that the tracks were gone, but at least if the right-of-way were
    there, oh, then there’s a possibility. But remove the fill–and later on as we
    go on, Mr. Turco actually proposed to fill in the cuts when he couldn’t remove
    the fills from the Cut-Off; so either way he was proposing to destroy the
    right-of-way. So there starts the nightmare. As bad as everyone thought it was bad enough that the tracks were gone. So when the tracks are removed, and I’ve
    talked to a few folks who were involved with that effort, it was really for
    everyone involved it was an enormously emotional and very difficult time,
    frustrating to say the least. But the folks who were involved with the effort to try to save the line, try to save the tracks and maybe even initiate
    freight or passenger service afterwards, for the most part those people were
    really burnt out and actually almost to the person there very
    few that would continue on. A few would, I should say there were a few, but not many. But then a new group, I’ll say, of people become involved, myself included as a
    matter of fact. I mean I can speak to the Jerry Turco story because he told me–JerryTurco told me–that story twice, two different occasions, and this
    organization, North Jersey Rail Commuter Association–I wasn’t the president at
    that point Fred Wertz was president at the time
    when I joined in 1985–and one of the first things we did was to meet with Mr.
    Turco. Now Mr. Turco was proposing different
    things. One was the Westway project. And after that one away that what he would
    call the Rebar Landfill project, which would have been the filling of the cuts with construction material. But there were a
    couple of other projects that he also, I don’t know he was looking at them
    seriously, but he at least entertained them. One of them which he actually
    brought up himself was to put a string of dining cars on top of the Delaware
    River Viaduct. Now exactly how people were going to get back and forth to that,
    to a restaurant that would have been literally over the river, I’m not really
    clear. At that time, the tracks are still on the Cut-Off when we were talking about.
    This is now maybe 1986 or so. It’s not really clear as to how that would have
    been accomplished. But nevertheless that was something he was talking about and
    really logistically we were not really sure how that would have worked, but we
    were at least talking. We wanted to make sure that while talking to him that
    there was at least we’re planting the seed that ultimately we wanted the State
    of New Jersey to acquire the Cut-Off; that was our ultimate goal. The question
    is how to accomplish that? So as we go through that period of time, there were a
    couple of different things we try. It’s I have to say, it was trial and error. You
    know trying different things. This was uncharted territory in terms of trying
    to preserve a rail right-of-way. Now this is the Lehigh & Hudson River; it’s not the
    Cut-Off. We will be going to the Cut-Off in this episode. But as we go through the
    chronology with Mr. Turco, and I shall also add there was one other
    owner of the Cut-Off who owned a small section by Port Morris, Burton
    Goldmeier. But Mr. Turco literally owned everything west of that, roughly
    around the 602 grade crossing–what would be a great crossing–Mr. Turco owned
    everything west of that, so he owned 27 point something miles of the Cut-Off. That in his mind, Turco, there must have
    been some plan that he had. Maybe it evolved over time as to how he was going
    to make money out of this, out of purchasing the Cut-Off. He didn’t purchase
    it just for the sake of purchasing it. Can’t believe that this alone was the
    reason why he would spend two million dollars in cash to build a few out- buildings, which are now gone by the way.
    They used to be here. We haven’t been here in a couple of years,
    but up until a couple years ago there were buildings out here. They were
    abandoned, they were not used, but there is this entrance driveway, so Turco definitely went through at least with
    that part of the plan. But to have acquired the Cut-Off there must have
    been something more to that than just buying 27 miles of right-of-way and all
    the acreage that would have gone along with that. So as time goes on, as we go
    through the 80s–and I can speak from my perspective, North Jersey Rail Commuter
    Association and there are others who were involved with that–that the
    thinking evolves towards a way of trying to figure out to get the State of New
    Jersey to acquire the Cut-Off. So how do we do that? Well, early on I’d say
    1985-86 we approached then-senator Dumont, who was the senator from Warren
    County. And both Sussex and Warren and Morris County were all involved in the effort to try
    to save the Cut-Off originally, before the tracks were removed. And they would
    become involved afterwards as a matter of fact as well. But we approached
    Senator Dumont. He did introduce a resolution into the state legislature in
    New Jersey supporting the Cut-Off. It really was only symbolic. So that was
    essentially a dead end. And then by ’86, ’87 we are put in contact with Assemblyman
    Chuck Haytaian who represented Warren County in the Assembly–Dumont
    represented Warren County in the Senate, the state Senate–and at that point we
    basically strike a deal with Chuck Haytaian. And I say “we”, I mean North Jersey Rail. And he agrees that he will support the performance of an Urban Mass Transit
    Administration (UMTA) study on the Cut-Off if we’ll support–meaning us,
    North Jersey Rail–will support the extension of service by New Jersey
    Transit into Hackettstown. This is before the Hackettstown service will
    actually happen; it won’t happen until 1994 that it will start. But that’s leading
    up to that. Now the Urban Mass Transit Administration is the forerunner of, or the
    precursor to, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) which is essentially the same entity that exists today, but in those days it was UMTA. So that
    study would be a springboard–people cringe at studies–but that study would
    be a springboard to bigger and better things. Now for Assemblyman Haytaian to support us in our effort to support the Cut-Off, he asks…requests…I’m not going to say demands…but he basically tells us that we need to go to each of the towns along
    the Cut-Off and get a resolution of support, which is done. It took several
    months–three, four months at least–going to each of the towns. I went to each of
    the towns with the exception of Green Township; they adopted a resolution
    without us having to come in. And that was done. So the UMTA study is done and
    is ready by 1989, I guess it would be. In the meantime, the idea springs upon us
    that, well, what about if we could possibly get a bond issue? In other words,
    we have a right-of-way. It doesn’t seem that we can get a direct
    appropriation of money from the state legislature in New Jersey. The money
    isn’t available from the New Jersey DOT or New Jersey Transit to acquire
    the right-of-way, but what about if we were to get a bond issue? So in
    communication, once again, with Assemblyman Chuck Haytaian, I have the honor of
    writing or drafting the first version of that particular legislation, what would
    become known as the bridge bond bill. And the philosophy behind that was to set
    aside ultimately, when the bill was created, a hundred and fifty million
    dollars for the rehabilitation of bridges in New Jersey and 50 million
    dollars for the acquisition of railroad rights-of-way. That will be pared down to a
    total of 90 million for bridges and 25 for railroad rights-of-way ultimately as
    presented to the voters in New Jersey, who will approve that particular bond
    issue overwhelmingly. And so that money will become available. It’s in 1989 they
    vote, November of 1989, so that money becomes available presumably almost
    immediately but however the bureaucratic type of machinations work,
    sometime in 1990. And that basically opens the door to the New Jersey
    Department of Transportation going forward with a pot of money–25 million
    dollars–which you know you have to hope that that’s going to be enough to
    acquire the Cut-Off. We’re hoping that would maybe even acquire other
    rights-of-way, but certainly it was primarily put to the voters with the
    intent that it was going, if nothing else, acquired the Cut-Off. And so that starts
    the process of condemnation, eminent domain, by New Jersey Department of
    Transportation, and that process will take a little bit over a decade to
    accomplish…1990-2001, the Lackawanna Cut-Off is finally put into state hands
    and during that time–it’s a long process, so when people say, well, how
    long it’s taking taking, we were thinking the same thing back in those days. How long
    is it taking and it seemed like it was taking forever. What Mr. Turco had
    had done is basically broken up the Cut- Off into different sections in each town,
    each of the viaducts were different corporations, he had an umbrella corporation for that and he had a whole bunch of different corporations, which
    made it much more difficult, more complicated, more complex, for the state
    to acquire the land because you’re acquiring land, the right-of-way. And so after that protracted period of time,
    finally the right-of-way is acquired. And then that opens the door, which will
    go into our next episode to talk about the effort to start getting the
    rebuilding of the Cut-Off. But we’re not we’re not going to go there in this
    particular episode. Now what we’re going to do is we’re going to switch venue.
    We’re going to go down to the Cut-Off, and I have a whole list of people I’ll call
    it, whatever you want to call it, the Hall of Fame of those who people who through
    the years, concentrating primarily during this period of time, 1985 to
    2001 period, but also those who even beyond that time who have helped save
    the Cut-Off. And we’re going to go through that list; it’s quite a list.
    Maybe your name is on it, maybe your name isn’t. But it’s a list of over 50 names,
    actually we’ll go through, and I will explain the role that each person had.
    Some had minor roles; some had absolutely crucial roles. One person in particular had a 30-second conversation, that if that conversation
    had not happened chances are the Cut- Off would never been ended up in state
    hands. So sometimes a short conversation can have an enormous
    impact to say the least. So our next stop will be down on the Lackawanna Cut-Off and we’ll go where the Lehigh & Hudson River meets the Cut-Off and we’ll
    pick up there with the list of the people who if there was a Hall of Fame of
    people who helped save the Cut-Off, I think most of those names should be on it. Here we are on the Lehigh and Hudson
    River Railway right-of-way where it goes underneath the Lackawanna Cut-Off.
    This is considered Huntsville and this is the Pequest Fill. Imagine this fill
    being removed, basically returning this area to what it looked like before the
    Cut-Off was built. Once again, whether that was Mr. Turco’s plan or not, we’ll really
    never ever know what was in his head but we have to assume that it was certainly
    a possibility. But this was the meeting point of the two rights-of-way. So he owned
    that right-of-way, everything in it literally. And this right-of-way…60 miles
    of railroad right-of-way, over a thousand acres. I don’t remember the exact amount
    but it was quite a bit of a property, which the State of New Jersey purchased that. Bits and pieces of this have been acquired and there’s no plans for this
    being anything other than a trail at best. But the Cut-Off? Well, we will see.
    But in 2001, the Cut-Off is officially acquired via eminent domain and becomes
    the property of the New Jersey Department of Transportation. So that was
    really the end of that particular fight: the saving of the Cut-Off, literally
    saving the right-of-way as opposed to saving the tracks, which is the effort
    that occurred during the 1979 through ’84 timeframe. Now as I mentioned before the break for the interview with Larry Malski, Part
    2 of his interview, I said I was going to read a list of people who had contributed
    in one way or another to the saving of the Cut-Off. There’s one
    caveat: I don’t know every single person who was involved, or has been
    involved, over the years. I’ve met the vast majority of those people and
    interacted with them. And clearly Larry Malski could come up with a similar
    lists for people who acted similarly in Pennsylvania. He did mention a few. I
    didn’t ask him specifically to give us names, but he did mention a few. But I’m
    sure he could come up with a sizeable list himself. And there’s no doubt that there will be some people who would be on
    both lists; in other words, both in Pennsylvania and in New Jersey. Just
    to orient you, we are north of the Cut-Off. So this is east on the Cut-Off;
    that’s west on the Cut-Off; this is south towards Belvidere on the Lehigh & Hudson
    River Railway; and that will be north towards Sparta Junction. But this
    list, and it’s quite sizable, contains names of folks who in some
    cases had relatively, I’ll say, relatively minor contributions; some had
    major contributions; and some had absolutely critical or crucial
    contributions. I’ve prepared the list in alphabetical order, so I haven’t tried to
    prioritize people. In other words, oh, this person had a greater contribution than
    that person. I really didn’t think that was fair, but there are a few people
    who I’ll call out as obviously having very key contributions. But once again
    this is not an exhaustive list because I personally don’t know of everyone
    who was involved although, once again, I think this is a fairly
    comprehensive list. But let’s go at it and some of these folks, once again, I
    think they really need to be thanked if nothing else for their contribution. So,
    first name on the list is David Peter Alan, and he has headed the
    Lackawanna Coalition for a number of years, and he has certainly supported us,
    supported the Lackawanna Cut-Off effort, and I certainly just want to thank him.
    And he’s still the head of that organization, he has been for a number of
    years. We both date back to the same town as a matter of fact, South Orange. So
    we’ve known each other for quite some time. Next person is Fred Aun, who wrote a number of articles when he worked for
    the Newark Star-Ledger on the Cut-Off. He now does some work with a website
    that covers Roxbury Township. Roxbury is the beginning point; Port Morris is in
    Roxbury Township, so like to call out and thank him. Guy Baehr, another reporter from the Newark Star-Ledger. Guy wrote a number of articles. I think he was the
    one that wrote the article that really brought me into this effort directly.
    I’d been watching it from a distance and I think it was was he who wrote that
    article where he quoted Fred Wertz, speaking in Green Township. Why isn’t
    there anyone helping with this effort? Well, I took that as a personal
    invitation to start. So I think that was Guy that who wrote that
    article. Don Barnickel. Don came into the North Jersey Rail Commuter Association about a year or so after me and he helped
    with a number of presentations. He helped put them together. In fact he
    was the one who really did all of the legwork in terms of preparing slide
    presentations. Back in those days we actually used slides when we did the
    presentations to the various towns. So Don played a key role there. He
    also helped out with efforts having to do with the state railroad museum
    efforts both in the late-80s and the mid- to late-90s. And Don’s a very good
    friend. I’m leaving out so much of what Don has done, but that
    is at least the Cliff Notes version,
    certainly, of what his contribution has been. Frank Barry. Frank was a member of the
    Monroe County Railroad Authority and in the installment of Larry Malski’s
    interview that we just listened to he talks about the combining of the two
    railroad authorities. Well, before that combining took place, Frank was one of
    the members of the Monroe County Railroad Authority and I’d just like to thank him
    for all his effort. Ray Baxter. Ray was involved with North Jersey Rail
    at the very beginning, long before I started with North Jersey Rail, and he was
    also involved with the effort to try to save the tracks here on the Cut-Off and
    also in Pennsylvania as well. Doug Bowen. Doug for a number of years was
    the president of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers and
    his lobbyist, who I’ll talk about in a few minutes, played a key role in
    saving the Cut-Off. But Doug actually went on an excursion or trek, if you will,
    from Blairstown all the way to Slateford Junction, and we went across the
    Paulinskill Viaduct. I guess he didn’t know what the Paulinskill Viaduct
    looked like and he was a little concerned about us going over it. I said
    don’t worry about it, Doug, it’s one of those bridges that’s not a
    problem at all walking across it. Because anyone has walked across a bridge where
    you have just ties and then you look down X number
    of feet below you, I could see where someone would be nervous about that. The
    Paulinskill Viaduct is not like that. And we also went across the Delaware River Viaduct. Doug played a key role, certainly. Finn
    Caspersen. I never met Finn and, unfortunately, he died under tragic
    circumstances a few years ago. But Finn was really the impetus behind the
    Andover station stop. And had he not passed away we might very well at this
    point be talking about a little bit of a transit village across from the Andover
    station stop, because he actually was willing to contribute land because
    he owned the property which is now Hudson Farm. And we will talk about
    Hudson Farm and the issues that have come from Hudson Farm in our next
    episode. But Finn was really very helpful. I did not interact with and I never met
    Finn. Fred Wertz interacted with his people and
    worked on the Andover station stop and Finn was also heavily involved with Waterloo Village as a matter of fact as well. A great loss, that’s all I can say.
    Art Charlton who’s now with the the DEP as a spokesperson. I believe he’s still
    there. Well he was at least until the the changeover in administrations. I
    don’t know if he’s still there as of now but Art Charlton wrote a number
    of articles on the Cut-Off working out of the Warren County Bureau for the
    Newark Star-Ledger. So I’ll just mention him. Mike DelVecchio who now heads the
    Tri-State Railroad Historical Society, but Mike I know he spoke at one
    hearing, certainly I remember him speaking. But he’s he’s always been very
    interested in the Cut-Off and I just want to recognize him. Tom Downs. Tom was
    the Commissioner of the Department of Transportation in New Jersey, DOT, at
    the time, at the very beginning of the initiation of eminent domain. And I know
    we had at least one meeting with him and he was helpful in expediting, to the
    extent that it could be expedited, the internal workings of DOT to support the
    eminent domain process which is a very lengthy process. And as we’ve discussed
    Mr. Turco did not help in terms of the way he set up the Cut-Off into
    different corporations that enormously complicated that process. And Tom
    actually went on to head Amtrak for a little bit as a matter of fact. Tom
    Drabek. I met Tom back in the 80s. He’s been with Sussex County Planning all
    that time and he’s been one of those constants that’s been in the effort,
    one of the people that’s been there, who has that history that few of us
    have. And Tom is still there and I want to certainly compliment his effort. I
    actually got to speak in his place and I considered it a great honor. There was a
    meeting a couple of years ago up in Mount Pocono where the head of the FTA,
    talking about FTA–the Federal Transit Administration–was there, and Tom was supposed to
    have spoken there, and because of a scheduling conflict he had to be somewhere else and
    I ended up speaking in his place, which, once again, it was a very great honor I
    was able to do that. I happened to be there and I was asked on very short
    notice, was asked literally when I walked in there, to fill in for him.
    So I did that. But Tom, he’s been great and I certainly
    want to thank him for all his contributions. Over the years. I mean 30
    years literally when I first met him. Phyllis Elston. Phyllis was a lobbyist for the New Jersey
    Association of Railroad Passengers which Doug Bowen, higher in the list I
    mentioned earlier on, was the head at that time. Phyllis had what was probably
    not more than a 30-second conversation with Larry Haines, who was the Senate
    Transportation Committee chairman in New Jersey in June of 1989, and Larry was about to remove the
    railroad rights-of-way provision in the bond issue, in the legislation for the
    bond issue, that was going to be put before the voters later
    that year. And she talked him out of it. Had she not talked him out of it, had
    she not had that conversation, what would have happened? We don’t know. Was that the
    one possibility of ever acquiring the Cut-Off, where we get the money–
    25 million–21 million of which would be used for acquiring the Cut-Off? We don’t
    know. It’s unimaginable that if that conversation had not taken place if the railroad rights-of-way provision have been taken out of that
    legislation, what would have happened? I don’t even want to think about it.
    So Phyllis Elston had we’ll say a very short but, in terms of its
    importance, probably one of the most important conversations that has ever
    taken place having to do with the Cut-Off. Absolutely, positively, that’s the case.
    The next person on the list, oh boy, we could we could spend a whole hour
    talking about his contribution. Rod or Rodney Frelinghuysen, Congressman Rodney
    Frelinghuysen. He sponsored legislation, the money to reactivate to Andover, including Roseville Tunnel, to basically to rebuild or restart what we’ll talk about in the next episode, start
    rebuilding the railroad literally. Something that in 1984 very few people
    would think that would ever happen. But he has been so key I don’t know what possibly you could say that if he were not involved in this,
    had not been a supporter, I don’t know where we would be. He’s one of those key
    persons that without him I don’t know where this whole effort would
    be. I remember he visited the company I work for and I was in the audience. It
    was dark in the audience but he was up front with all those spotlights on him
    and I asked a question and said, well, I have a question but I
    also I want to thank you and I thanked him. I said thank you for your contribution with
    helping with the Lackawanna Cut-Off and he interjected “21 miles to go!” and then I
    asked him a question after on something unrelated. Bt he’s been a
    great supporter. So, once again, I could talk about Rod Frelinghuysen
    for quite some time. Bill Gearhart. I only met Bill once he’s
    part of the Venturail group and I know that they’re folks who when that
    name is brought up pretty much shudder with anger. I’m not really sure. The
    jury is really out with me in terms of where Venturail sits because we don’t
    want to go into it in any great detail, but Venturail ended up being at least
    at the end of the effort to try to save the tracks and actually operate a
    railroad, Venturail ended up being like what would have been the designated
    operator. And it didn’t work out. We know that it didn’t happen and there
    are a lot of folks who feel that Venturail is really to blame for that. I’m not
    totally convinced of that but I don’t want to turn this into the forum of talking about that because I
    think that there’s probably legitimate arguments on both sides. But the story
    I’ve heard I want to say vindicates them. But without getting all the different
    parties together, including CSX and so forth who was also involved, you wouldn’t
    really know exactly what the stories are, and so as a result I know people have asked, well, why didn’t you include that in the
    discussion in the last segment in Part 14. That’s the reason why. I’m not really sure how to really present that when you don’t know the
    whole story. So, but I’ll leave him in because in talking to him and Tucker
    Lamkin, who is also on the list, I think they did try. They’re often characterized as bogeymen or bad guys. I’m not really
    convinced that’s the case. It didn’t work out, though, and that’s all I can say.
    Whether they’re to blame or not, I mean sometimes you need a scapegoat and I guess maybe they’re the scapegoats for that effort. But I don’t know if they really
    deserve that or not. Burton Goldmeier. You might say why is he on there? Well, he was an owner of the Cut-Off for sixteen years such as was Jerry Turco.
    Incidentally, just parenthetically, sixteen years. This particular right-of-way, the
    Cut-Off, was in private ownership, meaning Mr. Turco and Mr. Goldmeier, as long as was the line operated by Erie Lackawanna. Erie Lackawanna operated the Cut-Off for sixteen years as well. Obviously Mr. Goldmeier
    and Mr. Turco didn’t operate the railroad, but they owned it. And the Erie Lackawanna
    owned it for sixteen years, but from 1960 to 1976, when Conrail took over. But I
    mentioned him maybe not in the same sense that he was part of the saving the
    Cut-Off but certainly he didn’t destroy it. He wanted to use it for a
    driveway to a project that he was talking about, but that never happened, so. And the
    line was acquired from him as well as Mr. Turco in 2001. Larry Haines. I just
    talked about him with his interaction with Phyllis Elston. I don’t think I
    have to say too much more about that. But if he hadn’t given in, shall we say, he hadn’t agreed to keeping the provision
    in, 25 million, I don’t know where would be. John Hart. John Hart
    was the head of Steamtown Foundation, Steamtown USA, at the time when it moved
    down from Bellows Falls (VT) to Scranton and it was in Scranton. Well, it’s still there
    but now it’s part of the National Park Service. That transition took place in
    1986. But I had meeting with him and Mr. Turco and Mr. Turco’s lawyer, I want to say it was David Biederman I believe it was. And that was one thing that was being
    pursued. Turco was open to these these different
    ideas. I don’t know how seriously Turco took talking to John Hart about
    Steamtown–Turco called it “Steamtrain”–and possibly running trains over the Cut-Off, which was a kind of a
    crazy idea because there were no tracks on the Cut-Off at that time but, hey, I give
    Turco credit. I don’t know what to make of it, but he was willing to meet.
    I ended up driving the two of them up there to what later was called the Dansbury
    Depot and then was a restaurant that was in the East Stroudsburg train
    station. It was the four of us who met together. Paul Hart, no relation to John
    Hart. Paul Hart was involved with the Lackawanna County Railroad Authority.
    Paul, a big supporter, he was involved with the earlier effort to save the
    line and he also headed the Penn- Jersey Rail Coalition later on. That was created back in I must say around 1990 or so
    and was an advocacy group for both states for this particular project.
    Amos Hawkins, the head of the Delaware Water Gap
    National Recreation Area, and for one day was the head of Steamtown on the
    very first day and then he retired. Amos, I’ll tell this story because I
    there’s a certain comic aspect to it. I won’t mention his name but he had
    someone who worked for him and I met with Amos Hawkins and this
    other person, I’ll call him Mr. Jones, at the headquarters of the National
    Recreation Area. I’m trying to think where that was. It was north of Stroudsburg. But
    we had a meeting to talk about what were the possibilities of saving the line
    and in Pennsylvania and with New Jersey and so forth. And Mr. Jones,
    once again not his name, once he heard that I had met with Turco, or had some
    relationship to Turco, he went absolutely ballistic on me. And Amos Hawkins calmed
    him down. Amos was a very adroit and even-tempered person, very politically
    astute, and I wish he had spent more time at Steamtown. I think he really could–
    not that the successors there didn’t really work on making it a success at
    Steamtown, but I would have really liked to have seen Amos to have stayed there,
    but he moved on and he retired. But the story I wanted to tell which has somewhat of a
    comic aspect to it: ten years later. This is not related to the Cut-Off
    directly. I’m on a flight from Washington DC to Florida. I got a connecting flight, went
    into Washington and then I’m going down to Fort
    Lauderdale. I’m seated next to two gentlemen who are obviously aides of a
    congressman from Florida and they’re going back home from Washington and they’re having this conversation, and now we’re one, two, three. I have the window
    seat and they’re occupied in the two seats next to me, and it becomes apparent
    they’re talking about Mr. Jones who had yelled and screamed at
    me about Mr. Turco in that meeting with Amos Halkins–ten years earlier, in Pennsylvania. And so they’re talking and there’s a break and I said, ah, excuse me, is it possible that you’re talking about Mr. Jones–not his name
    of course–and the young aide, he must been in his mid- to late-20s looks at me
    as if he had seen a ghost, basically, and he said, yeah….how do you?–and I explained how I knew, that there was something going on
    in their particular district and they were having problems with this person and
    it was pretty clear because I knew with a little bit of background as to where
    “Mr. Jones” had moved to after where he had been with Amos Hawkins. And, anyway, but
    for that moment what are the chances of a person like me sitting next
    to them, picking up on a conversation that had absolutely nothing to do with
    anything other than the fact that I picked up a couple of different facts
    that it was clear who was they were talking about? I’m not sure if that’s the
    only person who’s ever yelled at me while I’ve been involved with the Cut-Off. Not everyone is on your side, let’s put
    it that way, for different reasons. Not that Mr. Jones was against me per se but
    he misunderstood that I had this relationship with Mr. Turco. I was not a
    supporter of Mr. Turco. I was working with Turco because I wanted to save this
    thing. I didn’t want Turco to tear this up. But it necessitated having to deal with Mr. Turco, having to meet with him, try to come up with alternate ideas. That was where I was coming from. I
    wasn’t getting paid by him. He did pay for us, Fred Wertz and myself, to go up
    and look at some rail cars up in Canada for the restaurant on the Delaware River Viaduct. He gave us a couple hundred dollars. It
    didn’t cover our costs but it paid for something. But I never received
    any direct payment for anything, so it wasn’t like I was on Turco’s payroll. But,
    anyway, be that as it may, our next person is Larry Higgs. He’s more
    in the present day. Larry writes for nj.com. He’s written a number of articles
    on the Cut-Off. I’ll put him on this list. I think he’s part of that
    current effort which is still, in a sense, saving the Cut-Off, although reactivating is different than saving the right-of-way from being
    torn out. But you know collectively he should be on this list. Bob Hay.
    Absolutely, Bob Hay became the chairman of the Monroe County Railroad
    Authority, and he’s now the chairman of the board of the Pennsylvania Northeast
    Regional Railroad Authority. And Bob, he’s been involved with this effort for 30
    years, so we could spend a lot of time talk about Bob’s contribution, in
    Pennsylvania primarily, certainly, but he’s also had some interactions over
    here in New Jersey. So, you know, my hat’s off to Bob. Chuck Haytaian. I’ve
    talked about him his support before the interview with Larry Malski, so I
    don’t think I have to say too much more about Chuck. But he really, really,
    really, really, without him if there’s a group of key individuals without whom
    this effort would have never gotten were it is today, Chuck would certainly be on
    that short list. Bill Herkner. Bill was and I point this out in a previous
    episode, it was the one about Sidings on the Cut-Off, but Bill worked for the
    Lackawanna, and he worked for New Jersey Transit, he worked for, I want to say, he worked for Conrail as well. But he was instrumental in getting
    the Amtrak run on November 13, 1979. And so the visibility of that
    particular run I think you can never underestimate and I just want
    to thank him. Bill passed away a few years ago but his
    contribution was not insignificant. Tom Kean. Well, that’s Governor Tom Kean or Tom Kean. Some people pronounce it ‘keen”, some people pronounce it “cane”. I believe “cane” is the correct pronunciation.
    He signed the legislation for the bridge bond bill, which included the 25 million…
    I have to thank him. Tucker Lamkin was actually part of the North
    Jersey Rail Commuter Association effort early on. He was meeting with Turco
    along with us trying to come up with something that Turco would be willing to
    do. We were actually even proposing putting tracks back on the Cut-Off. But, hey, we
    were pulling anything out we could possibly come up with the try to come up
    with something that Mr. Turco would do in lieu of maybe not tearing out the
    fill because at some point he couldn’t really do that. The soil ordinance
    removal, the ordinances that prevent that or regulate that in the towns
    and the counties, those really prohibited him from doing that. And to
    the extent that as time went on, the cat was out of the bag and by that time
    with Westway going away, he was limited to what he could even propose. So he went
    on to the Rebar Landfill project that he was proposing to fill in cuts, as opposed
    to removing fills. But that didn’t go anywhere either. But we
    were meeting with Turco to try to just keep him from doing anything what we
    thought was really stupid. But it turned out well; they got 21 million out
    of it so he did very well in terms of sticking it out and not doing
    anything that would destroy the right-of- way. Jim Lockwood also worked for the Newark Star-Ledger. He wrote a few articles to say the least.
    Maurice and Bea Lewis. They’re two of the founding members of Penn-Jersey
    Rail Coalition and just want to thank them for their contribution. The two of
    them, they moved out to Arizona a number years ago I think. But then when they
    were in Northeast Pennsylvania they played a key role in the creation of
    that organization. Bob Littell. Assemblyman Bob Littell. Well, later,
    Senator Bob Littell, state senator in New Jersey. Bob certainly was in involved in the effort to try to preserve the line back
    in the day with Sussex County. Once again, not successful but you know there
    was a lot of people who really tried and just because that particular effort
    wasn’t successful doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a contribution that in toto
    didn’t lead to where we are now. Granted, tracks aren’t back yet on this section
    here but given how things have turned out maybe we’re dealing with the best-case scenario, even though I know a lot of people don’t think that way and think
    the best-case scenario would have been that the tracks would have been retained
    on the Cut-Off. And, yes, it would have been if they could have been. But the question
    is was there any scenario which would have allowed for that? Don’t know. It
    doesn’t seem like that was going to be in the cards. But aside from that
    possible scenario maybe the scenario we have now is the
    best we could hope for. I can’t say but Bob was certainly a big help at
    least in fighting in the early days. Larry Malski, well I don’t
    think we need to talk too much about Larry. I mean we’re doing the four-part
    interview. I met Larry 30 years ago and he, well, we know what he’s done. I mean we’re documenting that in this video. And Larry’s a key person.
    Without him I don’t know. All I can say is that I don’t know where we would be. He’s one of those folks on a very, very short list of folks. I know I have
    50 people here but he would be on that very, very short list of people that if
    they were not involved, or had not been involved, with this project I don’t know
    where it would be. Ted Mathews. He was a key person at the
    DOT, New Jersey DOT, helping during the eminent domain condemnation days. He was a point person so he helped a lot and then certainly he was our conduit,
    our liaison if you will, to the DOT. Don Maxton. He wrote an article in Tel-News, which was the article that appeared in I’ll say July of ’90, I believe it was off
    the top of my head, about the Cut-Off and that would have been mailed out to
    somewhere around three plus million individual houses, residences in the
    State of New Jersey back in the day when there was a New Jersey Bell and they
    actually did a monthly article and that article would be attached, or enclosed
    with your monthly phone bill, back in those days. And still in contact with
    Don. We also did an interview with him with Walter Smith which we
    included in the Pequest Fill episode where we talked to Walter Smith,
    with the rocks coming down off of the Pequest Fill and hitting his schoolhouse
    that he was in in Huntsville, not too far from here as a matter of fact. Not too
    far at all really. Ken Miller. Ken Miller was at that
    meeting with Tom Downs with DOT. Ken Miller was a freeholder in Warren County. A big supporter of the Cut-Off. We’ll thank him for his contribution. Steve Oroho, current state senator
    in the district I’m in in Warren County. He’s a big proponent. He took a lot of
    flack for spearheading the effort to increase the gas tax in New Jersey. But
    that money, that revenue was very badly needed and I certainly give
    him a lot of credit for having the courage to do that. Don’t necessarily want to get into the politics of it. He’s a Republican and I think he took a lot of
    heat from his own party for that. But I want to certainly reach
    out to him and say thank you. And I’ll just say the
    Republicans in general, and the Democrats too; this is a nonpartisan effort. This is not about whether we’re dealing with a Republican
    or Democrats. We’ve dealt with both sides of the aisle, in both states, and so I
    can’t bring myself to criticize either party except to say that where it’s been possible it seems like we’ve gotten the support we needed. Maybe not always but it has not had anything really to do with party. So, I
    just want to say that that’s what we’re about. We try to keep
    this out of the political realm, even though we deal in the political realm. We
    know that, but not to do it from a partisan perspective because I think
    that would be not in the best interest of this entire effort. And
    I urge people who are part of this effort, or who support the effort, to think in
    those terms. This is not really about that. We’re just looking for support,
    whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican it doesn’t matter to us really, at all. Gail Phoebus, former assemblywoman covering the district
    in Warren and Sussex County. Gail, a big supporter. She’s no longer in the assembly
    but certainly a big supporter. I want to thank her for all her help in the later
    years having to do with Hudson Farm which, once again,
    we’ll get into but trying to get the Andover Extension restarted with New Jersey
    Transit, working with Rod Frelinghuysen. Really, so I thank her certainly. Frank Reilly. Wow. Frank. I don’t even know where to begin with Frank. He spearheaded the UMTA study. He
    was trying to save the Cut-Off in the beginning, back in the days and
    before the tracks were removed. He headed the Board of Transportation in Morris
    County for a number of years. He led the TransAction
    meeting which is the really big transportation meeting in New Jersey
    every year, and he always mentioned the Cut-Off and people used to laugh about it.
    But aside from the sort of the jocular or making a joke about a type of thing
    that people kind of laughed on–so there he is talking about the Cut-Off again–but
    people knew what the Cut-Off was and I can tell you this from my own experience
    that that is half the battle in this that if people know what it is you’re
    talking about that is half the battle. Even if they maybe laugh it off at least
    superficially. But knowledge and education of the people, anybody, either
    whether directly or indirectly involved that is a key component of success and
    certainly no one was better at doing that than Frank Reilly. I think that’s all
    I can say. And Frank has since retired and he’s still involved with rail
    preservation. So he’s still around. Norm Ressler. Norm passed away a few years ago. He was the New Jersey equivalent of Paul Hart, who was the
    co-chair in Pennsylvania. Norm was the co-chair of Penn-Jersey in New Jersey. I had a number of conversations with Norm over the years. He was in
    charge of that group during the 2000s I guess I say, late 90s and the
    2000s. And he kept things to the best he could and and he would be a point
    person for newspapers to call up and talk to. So he was like almost really a de facto spokesperson for that particular effort, this effort. I miss Norm, he was a really good guy.
    Jerry Rohsler. He followed Frank Reilly in that position of the board of
    transportation in Morris County. So I mentioned Jerry’s name because he
    carried on after Frank had retired.
    Ross Rowland. Ross is quite a sales person himself with the 614 and High
    Iron Company and the American Freedom Train. Probably one of the most iconic pictures of the Cut-Off was taken of the American Freedom Train in Roseville Tunnel and Ross would
    have been at the throttle of the locomotive. So, indirectly but I mentioned
    Ross because, yeah, I think it’s at some level he really needs to be
    associated with the Cut-Off because he has been at different times.
    Charlie Rydell, mayor of Frelinghuysen for 30 some odd years. Talked about him
    extensively in the segment about Johnsonburg and where we’re at that
    spot, looked a little bit like this, but different with the Cut-Off, where we talked about where his farmhouse was on fire and the train
    stopped there and basically that the engineer and fireman actually saved not only just the barn but also the
    family. When I told the story in that segment I had
    forgotten and I was contacted by Charlie Rydell’s daughter and I got a little bit more detail on that and that in those days
    the barn was right next to the farmhouse. So that the farmhouse could have very
    easily gone up as well and the family could have been trapped and that
    explained Charlie’s deep almost devotion to supporting the Cut-Off
    because that hadn’t been for them who knows what might have happened to his family. Nancy Shukaitis, who was a
    commissioner in Monroe County. She would have part of the effort to create the Monroe County Rairoadl Authority. So I want to shout out to her. She’s still around. She’s in her 90s but
    she also had involvement with the Tocks Island project, trying to stop it
    actually as a matter of fact, and was successful in that respect.
    Fred Suljik, who was Tom Drabik’s boss when I met him back in the Planning Department in Sussex County. A call out to him. Seth Taylor. He was
    involved with Penn-Jersey. He maintained the website for a number of years. Jerry
    Turco is on this list. Don’t know what would have happened if Jerry Turco had not purchased the Cut-Off and if we didn’t have that thing
    to fight against. We don’t know what would have happened. What if we didn’t have the proposals for the Cut-Off to be destroyed, would there have been the
    same impetus to try to save it? Don’t know. So he’s on that list. I’ll put him
    on the list. Not that we’re congratulating Mr. Turco. But he did play
    a role and he didn’t destroy the Cut-Off either. His attorney at that time,
    Dennis Joy, after a meeting where I pretty much excoriated Turco
    and everything that he was proposing. This was actually in Johnsonburg and Dennis Joy walked up to me after this I thought he was going to punch
    me in the nose. But he walked up and shook my hand he said we’ll ride your
    railroad any day. So I don’t know if that meant that they will ride it if you
    give us the money or find the money for us. But, hey, it worked out at least as best it could have under the circumstances. There
    are three guys named Walsh on this list. I’m one of them. I’m not gonna really
    talk about my contribution, at least not in this episode. Maybe in a future episode we’ll talk about what I did in all of this but we’ll talk
    about the other two Walsh’s. Larry Walsh. No relation. He used to call me Brother
    Walsh as a matter of fact. Larry was a member of the Monroe County Railroad
    Authority for a number of years. I remember I told Larry one time–we were
    talking after meeting–and I said you know by the way I think of all the
    different sections on the Cut-Off–this is before the Cut-Off had been acquired from
    Mr. Turco and Conrail. Don’t forget Turco owned part of the section in Pennsylvania. So I’m just telling you Larry, I think this is going to be the section that is probably gonna cause the most problems. I
    just mentioned that after this as well if like one was off-the-cuff type of
    remarks. Well about five years later when I go to a meeting and he
    pulls me aside–he said Brother Walsh, the old thing–by the way you were
    absolutely right about that this was going to be the most difficult piece of
    the Cut-Off to acquire. He asked me how did you know that? I don’t know. I
    mean it was just a thought, I mean just based on what I thought based on having a bridge involved, two states, the river, but it
    was it wasn’t really a thought that I had any kind of scientific type of or
    you know deep-seated type of information. It was just a gut feeling and he said well
    you’re absolutely right. It was tough. They had
    a tough time with that. Tom Walsh. Once again not related, maybe somewhere we’re distant
    cousins from the old country. Tom, the current mayor of Andover, he’s
    fighting really hard to get the culvert which we’ll talk about in the next
    segment. It’s been a big problem to get that culvert taken care in Andover and basically jumpstart the entire project to Andover. Get
    that off of, stuck on the dime there where really has been
    nothing happening for now five years. Fred Wertz. Fred passed away a couple years
    ago. He got me into this effort. Fred was a real good salesman. There was probably
    nobody better than Fred at getting in to see a politician, a Jerry Turco, you
    name it. Fred and I had our differences over the years but he
    played a key role there’s no doubt it. And he also had a lot to do with, as I
    mentioned, talking to Finn Caspersen’s people and Rod Frelinghuysen’s people
    and getting them together to agree on Andover as a designated place to have
    the station for at least the initial phase, phase one, of the Cut-Off
    reactivation. John Willever. John passed away at the end of August, 2017. John worked
    for the Lackawanna. He was a huge advocate, especially after he left the
    DOT. He was retired for 25 years and he wrote countless letters over the years and was actually part of the team that was did the initial condemnation at
    DOT. John he was also involved
    when we talked about the freight trains over the Cut-Off, we talked about Garrett
    Mountain. He was also involved with that condemnation of the right-of-way
    originally adjacent to Route 80. You know we talked about that, the severing of the line there in and near Paterson. But John a huge
    contributor and a great loss and but I mention him because he
    deserves to be really be mentioned. And then finally as we get to the end that
    there’s no Xs, Ys, or Zs. The end of the Ws is Larry Wills, he was chairman of the Monroe County Railroad Authority for a number of years when I first started
    going out to they met in Stroudsburg and then they met in East Stroudsburg, if memory serves, so Larry kept the flame burning. That was a key thing that needed to be done during the dark days. This effort never died and there are a few
    people who managed to keep it alive and Larry’s one of them. Then finally the last two I’m mentioning is all the the towns along the Cut-Off, the
    freeholder boards in Morris, Sussex and Warren County. All the people who supported us… …names just too numerous to
    mention, but I just want to say collectively they made a huge contribution and kept the flame burning. And then finally all the people in New
    Jersey, how many millions of people that would have been, who voted
    for the bridge bond bill. If they hadn’t voted for it–I voted for
    it, certainly, but I was only one vote–if they hadn’t voted for it and
    approved that 115 million, 25 million of which was set aside for railroad
    rights-of-way, what would have happened? So you know that list would be, of
    course, well, we don’t know who voted for it, they’d have to tell us. But it passed overwhelmingly and that’s the most important
    thing to know. So that’s the end of the list of all the people at least I know.
    And once again the caveat is that I didn’t know everybody and I
    apologize to the people who I omitted unwittingly. But that’s a pretty comprehensive list. I have to think you have to admit all the
    people who have over the years, and especially concentrating on the time
    that we’re concentrating on this particular effort between ’85 and 2001.
    But there are a few I mentioned here whose contribution goes beyond that
    and so though that’s a mentioning of that Hall of Fame if
    you will. Finally the one thing I do want to mention and this this has to do with
    the videos in general. I just want to say thank you to everyone who’s been
    watching these, and there’s more to come. But I want to mention the enhancements
    we’ve been trying to make because we get feedback. People write us on YouTube
    and they let us know, often sometime very often to complement us and sometimes
    to tell us we don’t like this and that kind of thing. A couple of
    things we wanted to take care of was that one, first of all, closed
    captioning which we’ve added to all of the videos. And they’re handcrafted so
    they’re not just relying on the voice recognition program that YouTube has,
    which is not the best. You have to correct it, otherwise you
    get gibberish. If I had to rely on what they provide when you
    just press a button and it populates into your video it, I personally
    would be lost. So I’ve had to go in–it’s a lot work–but I’ve had to go in and
    actually tweak the verbage and correct sometimes where the words are
    absolutely wrong, like Johnsonburg usually is Johnson Berg or Johnson burg. You know what it is. But in some case you don’t, like
    Greendell is Greendale and there are other words which Pequest comes out
    all sorts of different ways “Peak West Phil”, you wouldn’t even know what the
    heck it was that that was coming out off the voice recognition
    programming. So that’s one enhancement we’ve had. The other thing, lapel mic. Now it’s not windy today but we’ve had some days where it’s really been windy
    and we’ve gotten complaints about that. The earlier videos we can’t do
    anything about, but now the lapel mic, the wireless mic, hopefully is
    taking care of that as an issue. We’ve had people who have asked us about
    whether we’re going to put anything out on a DVD. No, we’re not going to do that.
    We’re going to stick with YouTube. I think that is the most appropriate forum
    for this and don’t want to have to, quite frankly, create another thing that needs
    to be done, creating DVDs. I don’t want to do that. But I wanted to say
    this is, and I mentioned this a little bit earlier, that this effort has not
    been about making money. Not that we would sell DVDs to make money, but I
    don’t want any kind of perception that somehow this effort is about
    that. This is a labor of love, as difficult as it may be to sometimes
    believe that. But the purpose… and I want to make sure that everyone understands that that’s what we’re about and that
    this is done as a means to communicate information, to try to keep you up-to-date
    because at some point we expect that there’s going to be activity finally
    on the Cut-Off in terms of construction. But also to tell you about the past. This is going to be about the present, and in
    our next episode we will be talking about the present, which we haven’t done a
    lot about. And next segment will be about New Jersey Transit, that project. We’ll go
    into that in great detail. And then we’re going to get to the future. And so want
    you to look at this as not as a historical video but as one that is covering
    the whole spectrum. But you have to understand the past to understand the
    present and perhaps to also understand the future. So, that is the end of Part 15.
    So I hope you’ve enjoyed this. The next video which will also include
    part three of Larry Malski’s interview, but that’ll
    be Part 16 on the Cut-Off. So until then thank you for watching and hope you look
    forward to our next episode on the Lackawanna Cut-Off.

    Railroad Crossing Gates Removed Before Hurricane Irma
    Articles, Blog

    Railroad Crossing Gates Removed Before Hurricane Irma

    August 14, 2019


    Hello ladies and gentlemen today is the
    Friday before hurricane Irma strikes and I wanted to show you guys uh some
    preparations that the FEC took here on northeast 17th court on milepost
    338.8 in Wilton Manors. They decided to bring them the crossing gates that are in
    danger of flying with the tropical storm or hurricane force winds so let me go
    ahead and show you the first one here As you can see, they left it in the down position got a progress Signal base WC Hayes gate
    mechanism right WC Hayes lights all around And may I add that those are not LED lights I like those So yeah we got WC Hayes lights all around 2 tracks and there we see the emergency contact info see FEC Railway so this would be track view South and then that would be where they left the crossing gate they used tie-wraps Here we got the pedestrian crossing I guess they figuered that this they might be LED lights I’m sorry
    take that back pedestrian crosing gate so since its small its it not gonna pose
    as much as dangerous that one would so they left decided to leave this one on
    this is a WC Hayes signal base here WC Hayes gate mechanism and we got
    WC Hayes lights all around also those are my favorite visors by the way we got an
    e bell up top you built up over there too so as soon as this car passes I’m
    gonna go ahead and show you This is the North side of the crossing see the signal there so here we see that
    this one was removed and here we have a progress signal base as well
    WC Hayes arm WC Hayes gate mechanism WC Hayes lights all around the top emergency
    contact info two tracks and then here we have track view North here we have
    crossing gate was put temporarily for the duration of a
    hurricane Irma you know where we got the relay case and I think this might be the
    control point Wilton Manors on the FEC line I think this is might be the work
    that they’re doing a double track for the bright line and then here we have
    another WC Hayes signal base WC Hayes arm WC Hayes gate mechanism and WC Hayes
    lights all around as well up top and we have a WC Hayes mechanical Bell look at
    that! beautiful, beautiful, beautiful alright guys let me introduce you guys to one of my most favorite, I was going to say
    people on the planet boy to me he’s like a person it’s my dog Happy, Happy say
    hello to the camera My boy Happy Alright guys Give you a shot of the crossing again see the trees? That’s the very outer bands of Hurricane Irma which is 450 something Miles from South Florida
    alrighty guys please subscribe or like thank you very much for viewing, please follow me on instagram railrol82 over and out

    2 Amtrak Trains 1 Railroad Crossing
    Articles, Blog

    2 Amtrak Trains 1 Railroad Crossing

    August 14, 2019


    Railroad Crossing Bell train horn I’ll show you guys while I’m here the
    railroad crossing as you can see this is our Hallandale
    Beach Boulevard and you got the mp 1021.58 on the S Line maintained by the SFRTA it’s pretty busy crossing me you
    got a safe tran bases I see safetran gate mechanism over there we got WC hayes gate mechanism
    Harmon signal base and MI lights and E dinger up top give you track view south and track view
    north yeah we got that big cantilever up top too which the big cantilever is
    MI also all right guys please subscribe or like
    thank you for viewing over and out

    August 2019 News From Jim Zim:  1/4 BILLION VIEWS!
    Articles, Blog

    August 2019 News From Jim Zim: 1/4 BILLION VIEWS!

    August 14, 2019


    Well hello there, from my backyard. I thought I would take some time to give you
    an update on some things going on
    with my YouTube channel right now. And the big news is that I just passed 250
    million views to my videos on YouTube. That’s a lot! As I like to say… a quarter billion served! (laughing) Not bad! And about a week ago I passed 300,000 subscribers to
    my channel, so it’s a double bit of good news there. Things are going very very well. I’ve got 17 videos with over a million views. And the biggest one, you might have seen it… It’s the Green Thunder waterslide video
    that I shot on a Carnival cruise ship. It kind of started the whole thing off for me on YouTube. 94 million views on that one. And I’ve got a model train video
    that has 62 million views. So, between those two…
    that’s a whole lot of views! And then 250 million total between all my videos, combined. I’m pretty happy about that, as you might imagine! No puppies with me in the backyard this weekend.
    We’re in between litters right now. As you might know,
    from time to time my wife and I foster litters of puppies
    for woods Humane Society. And our most recent litter was
    a pair of Scottish Terrier mixes. They were a lot of fun.
    Full of energy! Its kind of quiet without them here, but… It’s just a matter of time
    before we have another litter of puppies. I didn’t make any videos for YouTube
    about the Scottish Terrier puppies… Because the previous videos that I
    made about our foster puppies… Didn’t get a whole lot of views, so I interpret that as… My audience telling me that you’re not really interested in the videos about the foster puppies. So, we’ll do videos about things you are interested in. And I’ll tell you one new thing I’m gonna be trying a little more often… Based on the success of
    the Rocky Mountaineer video that I did… I think I’m going to be doing more train trips
    and making videos about that. You may have seen my most recent video
    is about a short trip I did, a day trip,
    on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner… Down the coast of California. And I think you’re probably going to see
    some more videos like that in the coming months. I’ll give you an update on the group cruise
    that we’re gonna do to Alaska, about a year from now
    on the Royal Princess. That is going very well.
    We’ve got 44 people in the group already. And the cruise is just a little less than a year away. So, plenty of time for people to still sign up. I’m noticing that the cabins on the left side of the ship are booking up faster than the cabins
    on the right side of the ship… Which makes sense because it’s a southbound cruise… So there will be certain points during that cruise
    when the views will be better on the left side. So, if you’re thinking about coming with us
    on the Alaska cruise… Book soon,
    so you can get a cabin on the left side of the ship. I’ve got something new that
    I added to my arsenal of… Audio/video equipment for making YouTube videos.
    A new toy. It’s a gimbal so that I can use
    my big DSLR camera to shoot videos… And still get smooth, stable videos
    without a bunch of shakiness. I noticed on some of my recent videos
    which I shot with my GoPro… That there were a few shots where
    the picture quality wasn’t quite as good
    as what I would have liked. So, I’m gonna do a little experiment
    and shoot some of my next few videos… With my big DSLR on a gimbal… And see if that works out better
    than using a GoPro on a smaller gimbal. And I’ll wrap up this video with news of
    probably the most fun thing I’ve ever bought off of eBay.
    (laughing) You’ve gotta check this out! (sound of a train horn) Yes, it’s a train horn.
    (laughing) And when it arrived,
    I didn’t tell Kellyn what was in the box. I kind of took it in the other room
    and opened it up without her watching. Here’s her reaction
    when I demonstrated what I had bought… (Sound of a train horn) (She laughs) (A longer blast from the train horn) (laughs) So, that’s what’s happening in my world. If you keep an eye on my YouTube channel
    in the coming weeks… I hope, if everything goes according to plan… You’ll see a video about a steam train
    that I’m going to be riding soon. And also about a month from now we’re going on another cruise… This time to Coco Cay… Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas
    that they spent a ton of money refurbishing… And adding a bunch of water slides, too. So, there’ll probably be several videos about that
    in September. Thanks for watching!

    Railroad Crossing Malfunction Ghost Train
    Articles, Blog

    Railroad Crossing Malfunction Ghost Train

    August 14, 2019


    Ladies and gentlemen what else is new?
    Another crossing gate malfunction here on the RTA this time we’re waiting for a
    ghost train see, that guy’s already starting to
    make a u-turn over there and then here you have this guy and
    there’s some goes back that way. I’m inside the car because outside it’s
    like 99 degrees you know how that Miami weather is. Okay let’s see if these there
    you go right down came up then came down? Yep, yet again. There you go! Come back down now. It was too good to last! gate runner right there If it keeps like this, somebody’s going to break it. like we saw that time remember over
    there in 20th Street? Yeah another ghost train coming through here This is incredible. This happens here it seems like
    everyday. I have three three cases of this happening already oh yeah three
    this is the fourth on the same line maintained by the SFRTA look at that. Wow! truly amazing North West 71st Street and
    they go back up and let’s see how long it is until they come back down again They’re behaving themselves! Wow, it appears the malfunction might
    be over. Give it a few more. the other guys stopping on the tracks
    right there yeah Yeah I think this one’s over guys so
    thank you for viewing please subscribe or like, take care over and out

    The Iowa Divide:  Railroads of America 1
    Articles, Blog

    The Iowa Divide: Railroads of America 1

    August 13, 2019


    Well, we have a bright sunny early April
    morning here, starting out right at dawn so we can get a good start on the day here. Go out and do
    a day of train chasing and photographing. We’re starting here in Omaha,
    Nebraska. And our itinerary today should take
    us across the river into Iowa to see some of the Chicago
    Northwestern, as well as see some of the operation in the Omaha area with the
    Union Pacific and Burlington Northern as well. First thing we’re going to do is go by and
    pick up a copy of the train line up to see what trains are going to be
    operating on the Union Pacific today, and interchanging with the Chicago Northwestern. That will give us a good idea of where to be and when to
    see the action. We also have with us today our radio
    scanner so we can listen to the radio chatter between the
    dispatcher an the train crews, and that will also give us a good clue where to
    be and when so we will maximize our photo
    opportunities today. We’re spending the first part over
    morning here down at the the old Burlington and Union Station here in Omaha where the
    platform heel Burlington station which is used by the new Amtrak station that’s the first thing that we were able
    to catch today was an OK number six the California Zephyr coming
    into town that dream comes in spent more than a time here while they
    we feel it and water in the car take up some male line of today we have to an unusual situation
    that there’s a problem with one of the had
    every card this particular car was wet and catcalls the and a material handling car contains a sealed carpool US Mail heading for
    Chicago the speaker car had a mechanical problem
    and we set out you can see it behind me here and the station track and wallet they were am paper setting
    out that one card we saw Burlington Northern local heading west past protest the people
    here heading out to do some work probably for their from the brass cap
    with the west about the same time the Union Pacific
    local came out with some card at the Bagram
    pitches across the way here the Pacific you build me a station
    platform cracks to set up their feedback operation they
    load and unload truck trailers for rail cars as well as
    international shipping containers from there double stack railcars wanting to see a lot of here at omaha RK line double stacked containers we have a special arrangement union
    pacific the ship’s KY in containers for Nebraska be for the
    west coast for export to Japan to Lodos a out of the rail cars use a special Peter
    heavy equipment just nickname The Pink Panther with simply
    dries up picks up the container of the top of the
    stack and got guys over with the doctor casita to haul away to
    over the next go to be shortly after those trains went by we
    saw Burlington Northern coltrane heading on down the hill across the river toward iowa loader full call for over there those those Beatles
    cars and they’re praying cares about a hundred times call a
    put-together 110 card be about 14,000 train including the way the card pretty
    Happy Tree next train we Sollers a Burlington Northern local
    which is still off to my left over here it the way the Burlington Northern gets
    to Council Bluffs interchange card union
    pacific first step to back out of their yard down along the river in Omaha back out
    there ya right up next to them Amtrak station and then wait for
    clearance to cross the bridge over the Union Pacific yard Council
    Bluffs Iowa about the time they were backing up to
    Bro northern local the Union Pacific train came across the
    river with the a long string of the won’t have a car grain heading south
    this particular train it was called the Holiday Train contains
    cars for the Kansas City southern which we deliver to them Kansas City and they will handle and
    output to go hopefully from here will be able to
    continue our trek across this season the action over an hour we’re standing now at the east and a
    Missouri Valley Iowa this is the location the Chicago
    Northwestern where the line from Chicago split into
    two lines one line is down and I’ll to counsel us in Omaha the other line
    heads on West interchange with the union pacific at Fremont
    Nebraska heading out Easter here we hope to see a a lot of action on skyre northwestern
    right now there’s one train which is working its way into town from the East
    that we saw it before he set up our camera here
    which is a a double stack train coming from Chicago
    heading toward the Pacific Coast hope we will see it come through here a
    little while we were just came from the other end it down there is a a mixed freight train on the east and
    the West End it down rather that is a Billy switching in the yard
    and looks like our double-deck trains almost here never mind is a killer train is switching that was on the other
    end handed down here comes and okay looks like he’s backed up to pick
    up there and restrain and continue on westward as soon as he
    clears town like expect that our double stack train will be right behind him by by the well are manifest rain is the connected here and the brakeman put up
    the road to they made their task we have a little
    bit of a wait you gotta walk back to the phone and it rains they don’t have
    computers anymore and as soon as he finishes the the hike
    can know it will be ready to to move on out here and fancier are
    stacker come through just karmic strain on the sky northwestern
    that to mix manifest with alright everything
    is finished watching their cars in Missouri Valley backed up got the
    rest their train made their test they had to back up some
    more to head south or dome towards Council
    Bluffs the line along the river because the
    switch is right in the middle the yard so once
    he put his train together in the back all the way up in itself well you have an interesting situation
    on the Chicago Northwestern today they’re doing so track or western
    Missouri Valley here on the line to Fremont and that has everything kinda
    bottled up all the trains are trying to figure out
    where they’re gonna go and the dispatchers are pulling their hair out this particular train behind me right
    here is double stack train which normally would energy into the universe
    in a good pre-war and keep on going west to the west coast for these international containers which these
    containers get loan on ships for the Far East for Japan taiwan et cetera at the moment to the dispatcher told them that they’re
    going to have to wait a while because all the other trains are their
    bottled up with the track work so they just got out their welcome or go
    to Kentucky Fried Chicken & have some lunch so instead of waiting
    for them to get back with with that with the birds were going to get our car and keep growing he says
    he’ll be fine bomb but ball right after I left Missouri Valley the
    the first rain that we saw was a westbound coltrane amply trainers heading back for Powder River Basin Wyoming another black
    diamonds that was just a few miles east of town from there we went too long in Iowa they
    were hoping to Kathy westbound train based on what we
    saw on the singles but they changed the the lineup on a sin while we’re waiting for westbound
    eastbound snuck up on us we would get a really good picture of it was a eastbound on the
    stack train but more containers in the Far East End the heart ca from there we proceeded on past the town
    dunlap iowan got a nice nice shot have a westbound merchandise
    train wide writing to put on it getting in probably fourth Council Bluffs do switchover Argentina areas where are there in for standing now few miles west the town of Denison Iowa we’ve got about
    40 miles east from Missouri Valley following the Chicago
    Northwestern Railroad this airline which eventually makes it
    all the way east chicago very heavily traveled mainline and as a
    client eastern Missouri Valley its following the Boyer River which
    across a several times including on this one read right behind us the
    parents tend to follow rivers when they have to climb a grade
    gonna give you a you have any easier grade them to follow
    as they work their way over the ups and downs in the terrain a
    few miles the other side of Denison we reach a point called the iowa divide at their point any rain that falls
    Easter their drains into the Mississippi River Valley
    quality range of old west to their dreams in the Missouri River Valley also
    following the boy a river through this same area
    is another rail line called the Chicago Central
    Pacific it is basically a small regional where road
    goes from Chicago to Omaha in Sioux City Iowa he attends a
    parallel is going on at work to do this area but we don’t expect to see any
    trains on it today since you doing some maintenance work while we’re waiting for some action in
    the sky with Northwestern we have a good opportunity here to watch the maintenance crew do some work on the
    Chicago Central Pacific this particular gang that we see behind
    us here working is doing a process known as servicing
    and whining they have a low spot the track on the approach to the bridge here they come through with %uh three-step
    process first thing they do is come through the
    ballot II new rock ballad track got a low spot the next part of the process is to come
    through with the ballast regulator to distribute the ballast evenly a along
    the track finally coaching call it amber is
    brought in which lists the track to the right and drop small metal fingers down
    between the tide to push balance underneath the ties to
    support it the cracka wines no on on but but ok yeah we’re now standing on the grass today I
    would divide just east of Arcadia Iowa we have not gone about sit little over
    sixty miles east to Missouri Valley in the relative quiet about 300dpi from here we good drop east down towards the Ohio River Valley Canada Richard Boone Iowa go out there today yes same here now down great the train before it by the hot be back
    train with truck trailers on placard and if you were tri-level %ah to react
    to the front and hearing on mobile we follow that up from the town of
    Denison Iowa just a few miles to the west here where it met coltrane was heading
    westbound another MP heading back to Powder River Basin in by the way back to Omaha this afternoon we had some good luck in her saying
    we’ve got done it then I’ll Plaza unusual operate quiet guy who was
    an empty or crane and iron ore train on its way
    back to you this is the longest that went viral in
    the country we got the VM people Becky next year got fifty always eastern Missouri Valley down double Dec great K with that one internetworld shipping line with great
    containers from the party to the United States this
    taking the train started out go to Washington level the ship them out
    on his way to Chicago now we find ourselves back where we
    started the day behind me here union pacific CVS yard behind you Union Station and the other side it is
    the old Burlington station and were impact stop this morning what’s going on right now is they’re
    putting together the the victory was gonna hit Wes Brown for norplant away go with all the trailers containers are
    here a lot today 102 long exciting and fun-filled day

    Articles

    Safety improvements planned for Longmeadow railroad crossing

    August 12, 2019


    NEW AT 10 ANC: SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS WILL BE MADE TO A LONGMEADOW RAILROAD CROSSING WHERE A DPW WORKER WAS KILLED LAST YEAR.. MASSDOT HAS COMMITTED $700- THOUSAND DOLLARS TO HELP AMTRAK MAKE SAFETY UPGRADES AT THE BIRNIE ROAD RAILROAD CROSSING. FIVE PEOPLE HAVE DIED IN SEVEN COLLISIONS INVOLVING TRAINS AT THE BIRNIE ROAD CROSSING SINCE 1975. MOST RECENTLY, LONGMEADOW DPW WORKER WARREN COWLES WAS KILLED IN MARCH OF LAST YEAR WHEN AN AMTRAK TRAIN HIT HIS PLOW TRUCK.

    The Tech Model Railroad Club of MIT
    Articles, Blog

    The Tech Model Railroad Club of MIT

    August 12, 2019


    [MUSIC PLAYING] [TRAIN CROSSING BELLS] [TRACKS RATTLING] It was founded in 1947. The Tech Model Railroad Club–
    or “Tuh-merk”, as we call it– started, for the first 50 years
    of its life, in Building 20, which was a place they called
    “the magical incubator”. It was basically
    built for the war, as a temporary war building. So it was wooden. It was the kind of thing that
    no one really cared about. Which was great,
    because it meant that all of these students
    could move in and do things to that building that
    they couldn’t really do to any other
    Institute buildings. If you cut a hole in the
    floor– who cared, right? So the Institute was
    very willing to let students do unauthorized things
    in Building 20, basically. So the Tech Model Railroad
    Club got its start in that culture of–
    well, we can do anything. Many years ago, when there
    were more members to the club, we used to have work
    sessions, essentially every night of the week. And we’d have very formal
    business meetings on Saturdays. Now we very rarely
    have formal meetings. Mostly we have work sessions. And everybody has their
    own little projects, their favorite things to do. And they generally
    do those things. [SOFT RATTLING] I really like the way you
    have to think about scale. Especially when it comes to
    modeling natural objects. It’s really amazing that you
    can get a piece of a branch to look like a full tree. And it’s all a question
    of context and scale. It’s a question of
    how you position it. A lot of the things here
    that are vines, and bushes, and grass, and brush, are really
    pieces of much larger types of foliage. And it’s amazing
    how well that works. And you have to adjust
    your thinking a little bit. And think about,
    how can this shape work at a very small scale? Like most model railroads,
    we supply power to the train through the rails. So the rails are metal,
    and they’re electrically conductive. But that is where we break apart
    from traditional model trains. So traditionally, you’d
    get your little Lionel set under the Christmas tree. You’d put together all
    of this pre-made rail, and you’d put together
    a big oval or something. You’d put your train on it,
    you’d turn the throttle, and it would just go. And that works great when
    you have 10 feet of track and you have one train. We don’t have 10 feet of track. We have miles and
    miles of track. And we have successfully run
    10 or 15 trains at a time. We have what we call System 3. This is the third generation
    of control system for TMRC. It’s totally built from the
    ground up by MIT students. It operates very similar
    to real railroads, and especially
    similar to subways. And basically,
    the idea is, there are sections of
    track called blocks. And every time you hit
    the end of a block, we just cut the
    rails, and there’s a little gap in the rails. And basically, each
    block is a unit of train. So there can be a
    train on the block, or there can’t be a
    train on the block. And basically, what we
    do is, we have a bunch of complicated electronics
    that can provide power to this block. And say I know this
    train is moving along the rails
    in that direction. Then we put power
    on the next block. And then, we
    actually have sensors that we built that can say, is
    there a train on this block? And if there is, we can follow
    this train around the layout. So we know exactly
    where trains are. We can give them names. We can track them as
    they’re moving around. Before I came to
    graduate school, I was living in a little
    town in California, which was a beach town. And there were train tracks
    that came along the pier. People would be at the
    beach, surfing, doing all kinds of things. And the train would come by, and
    everybody would stop and look. And it’s amazing. It’s like, you’re at the beach. You’re doing all
    these amazing things. But the train still
    fascinates people, you know? It’s this piece of engineering. It’s part of a system. It’s like a system made visible. There are little jokes. Like, Pessim Steel
    here– the title says, the Allen Pessim Company. Well, there was a fellow named
    Larry Allen who was always very pessimistic about everything. So that’s where the Allen
    Pessim Steel comes from. [GENTLE RATTLING] Modeling things has been
    around since forever. Since the beginning of,
    I think, human thinking, people have been making
    models of things. So it’s part of a long,
    long tradition of that. But it’s also part of MIT’s
    history in a very special way. [TRAIN CROSSING BELLS]