3325+MCC_4039_Ridgewood_Jct_NJ-12-16-1973.jpg - Next Image
From: "Paul R DOT Tupaczewski" paultup AT comcast DOT net
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2013 07:12:49 -0500
Subject: 40th anniversary of the Morris County Central move to Newfoundland (over the EL!)
"3325+MCC_4039_MCC_move_with_passing_EL_train-Suffern_NY-12-16-73-Steve_Hepler.jpg" - image/jpeg, 1536x1020 (24bit)
As today is the 40th anniversary of the "Great Ordeal" (as MCC employees ended up calling it), when the Morris County Central left
their home on the Morristown & Erie in Whippany for greener pastures on the former NYS&W in Newfoundland, NJ, utilizing the
assistance of the Erie Lackawanna, I'll be posting a great selection of photos by and from the collection of Steve Hepler, who was
involved in this rather torturous event!
Here is Steve's write-up:
"It was Forty Years Ago Today (jeeze, some of us are gettin' old !)... December 16, 1973, that the Morris County Central Railroad
began the big Move from Whippany to Newfoundland, NJ.
At the close of the 1973 operating season, the MCC prepared to move to its new location at Newfoundland, NJ in Northern New Jersey.
All of the rolling stock belonging to the MCC was put into operating condition. All equipment, including the Restroom Caboose and
the oil storage and tool cars, which had not rolled in years, had to be acceptable to the Erie Lackawanna Railway and the Lehigh &
Hudson River Railway over whose rails the MCC would be moved.
On December 15, 1973, MCC No. 4039 made two spectacular, late afternoon trips to the Essex Fells yard of the Morristown & Erie RR to
stage the MCC equipment for the big move the following day. It was quite a show as the 138-ton machine dragged the heavy equipment
out of town in a wild display of smoke and steam.
The Great Move of the Morris County Central would begin the next day.
December 16, 1973... a Sunday. The Morris County Central Railroad began its move from Whippany to Newfoundland, NJ on this day, and
the "event" (if it can be called that) will come to be known as "The Great Ordeal" by all those involved. The 100-mile rail journey
takes place during the Christmas holiday season, and is planned to take only two or three days at the most to complete. But due to
terrible weather and the worst luck imaginable, the entire process is destined to drag out over four long, agonizing months.
At a little past 7 AM on December 16th, Locomotives Number 4039 and 385 couple together for one final journey over the Morristown &
Erie Railroad (M&E) to Essex Fells, NJ. No. 385 is wreathed in steam as a leak had developed in her dry pipe that feeds steam to the
cylinders. As the two steam engines, a caboose and an oil-supply tank car make their last trip over the M&E on that cold, grey
morning, the whistles wail mournfully in a final parting salute to all the people who came out to see them one more time.
Upon arrival at Essex Fells, the steam engines took on water and coupled onto the waiting Erie Lackawanna (EL) GP-7 No. 1235, which
was sent to guide and pull the steam train for the day. The sight of all the MCC's rolling stock coupled together end-to-end in a
single train was impressive under that overcast and threatening sky. A few ominous white flakes of snow started to fall as the
problems of the situation began to accumulate. Some water was found to be in No. 385's fuel tank which kept putting the fire out on
occasion, and the blown patch in 385's dry pipe would eventually render the engine useless.
At last it was time to leave Essex Fells yard and begin "The Great Ordeal". The engineer on the Erie Lackawanna diesel slowly opened
his throttle and the wheels began to turn...but nothing else moved. So it was up to No. 4039 and 385 to help the train get going,
and soon the whining and straining of the diesel mixed with the steady "stack talk" of No. 4039 and 385. Finally, the train began to
travel East over the old Erie RR Caldwell Branch (now abandoned).
The combination of steam assisting diesel continued until the train arrived at Great Notch Jct., where the special was switched onto
the EL's Greenwood Lake Line and paused for an inspection stop. Underway again, the train moved down the line to Croxton Yard. All
along the tracks people stopped to wave and watch the train move on by... the whistling let everyone know that a "Steam Train Was A
Croxton Yard was reached in time for lunch on December 16th, and at this point, in wind-whipped snow, the Erie Lackawanna switched
the small GP-7 diesel for U-33C No. 3325, one of the largest diesel locomotives on the EL system; now there was more than enough
power to handle the train. After coupling up, the EL "U-Boat" literally towered over the steam locomotives. After the steamers were
serviced at Croxton, the special train continued on its journey , this time over the former Erie RR mainline to Greycourt, NY where
it will be handed over to the Lehigh & Hudson River Railway.
As the MCC continued its Move on the afternoon of December 16, 1973, the weather became increasingly hazardous for the gathering of
railroad fans who were out in their automobiles chasing the train. As the unusual collection of vintage rail equipment made its way
along the Erie Lackawanna's former Erie RR mainline to Suffern, NY, great numbers of photographers could be seen out along the
right-of-way, making once-in-a-lifetime images that have rarely been seen in the 40 years since this unique event took place.
The snow was falling more steadily when the train pulled into Suffern, NY. The steam engines took on water from a fire hydrant and
the crew refueled at a local pizzeria. Water was pouring into the tender of No. 4039 as a man who presented himself as a local
official stormed up to the engine. He demanded to know why the water was being taken, and who was in charge. No one on the engine
was in charge, so he was directed toward the center of the train. When he walked to that point he was told that no one there was in
charge; but if he would walk to the caboose at the very end of the train, he would surely find the person in charge of the
operation. By the time the red-faced official reached the end of the train, the watering had been completed; and with two blasts of
the whistle, the train was moved out of the station, leaving the man standing on the platform fussing and fuming.
As nightfall descended, the day's run on the Erie Lackawanna was completed. The stop for the night was at the interchange yard with
the Lehigh & Hudson River Railway at Greycourt, NY. The snow that had been following the train all day changed, shortly after
arriving at Greycourt, into a full scale, raging blizzard. Now, in that bitter cold began the job of trying to keep everything from
freezing. The rails of the yard are soon covered with a thick coat of ice and snow. The extreme weather and cold made conditions
miserable for the volunteer MCC crews who huddled in the warmth of the cabooses.
Locomotive No. 385's fire had to be shut down, as she had become a hopeless mass of leaking steam, water and soot. Soon, she turned
into a solid block of ice and snow, her cab no longer warm and inviting. She would not be in steam again until the Spring of 1974.
The night dragged on and on, while the strong wind whipped snow and ice around No. 4039's snug, warm cab...with only one very tired
locomotive fireman (me) to tend to the needs of the engine throughout the dreadful night and into the sunrise hours.
Enjoy the memories...
If anyone else got shots of this event, please post them! Thanks!