Newton--An appeal to the Sussex County Board
of Freeholders to "encourage" the retention of the rail lines in Sussex
County of the abandoned Erie Lackawanna Railroad was made by one of the
directors of a private corporation which has kept such a line going in
William Whitehead, the spokesman for the Black River
and Western Railroad, told the Freeholders on Tuesday that it requires
an interest at the county level by the highest officials before any
railroad will listen to a lease deal or cooperate in the sale of the
abandoned lines as a whole.
Whitehead had appeared in Sussex County four years
ago when the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railroad line between
Stillwater Junction and Sparta Junction was up for sale or lease. He
made several unsuccessful attempts then to have the county or the townships
involved purchase the rights-of-way from the railroad and then lease
the lines on a long term basis to the promoters of the private railroad.
The private owners proposed to operate the a steam locomotive driven
train over a scenic course between the two points. Whitehead pointed
out then and now that such a plan would retain the rails in the county
for any and all freight uses by coordination with the railroad.
The Freeholders said they were interested in finding
a way to save the rails in the county and took it under study Whitehead's
Meanwhile, Whitehead said that after being rejected
in his idea in Sussex County in 1962, and in Morris County in the Chester
area prior to that, he finally succeeded in Hunterdon County, with the
help of a group of interested railroad enthusiasts, to purchase the
Flemington Railroad between Ringoes and Flemington. He said it has been
successfully run since that time as a tourist attraction and it enables
freight to continue to come into the area.