New Jersey Herald
- July 2, 2003 issue
Company Adds Space and a Touch of History
By Jamie Goldenbaum
Herald Staff Writer
"I think Branchville is on its way to a renaissance," said
Tom Meyer as he watched a crane lower his newly acquired 55-foot-long
Pullman baggage car onto tracks behind his borough business.
An avid history
buff, Meyer saw his antique train car as an example of strategic planning
initiatives being developed throughout Sussex County to create more
aesthetically pleasing development.
So, he decided
to revamp the antiquated piece of machinery for a modern purpose.
Instead of of building
an addition onto his business -- Montague
tool & Supply Co., Inc. Meyer intends to have the Pullman baggage
car serve as the new showroom for tools or construction equipment.
Meyer, who also
chairs the county Shade Tree Commission, came across the antique, turn-of-the-century
railroad car on the internet about six months ago when it went on the
But, the project
has been on Meyer's mind for about three years, said wife, Sue Stark.
Meyer thought about
bidding on the baggage car, but he was busy when bidding commenced.
The car was purchased by another group.
When that project
was scrapped, Stark said, the baggage car became available again. So,
the couple bought the vehicle for $30,000.
It's not cheap,
but it's less expensive than adding on to the building," Meyer
Two cranes, their
operators and about a half-dozen men on the ground maneuvered Meyer's
1905 Pullman baggage car onto a 150-foot length of track specifically
constructed to accommodate one or two railroad cars behind the business.
"If ever I
need more office space, I'll just buy another railroad car," Meyer
The Henry Ford
Museum in Greenfield Village, Mich., got rid of two antique railroad
cars to make room for a new collection, said Meyer, who described the
lush features and large windows of the observation railroad car that
also went on the auction block.
baggage car from Detroit to Branchville cost Meyer another $12,000,
Last week, Vealey
Excavating of Branchville laid down the 132 lb. railroad track behind
Montague Tool & Supply in preparation for the baggage car's arrival,
Stark said. Industrial Process & Equipment of Wantage organized
crane operators and the ground crew to put the railroad car on the track.
Not much renovation
to the car is needed--the inside wood paneling and yellow-stained glass
windows are still intact -- but Meyer said the roof needs to be tarred
black and one wooden panel inside needs to be fixed.
Having the railroad
car behind the building could be considered a step back in time.
The Sussex Railroad,
which passed through Branchville, became the Sussex
Branch of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad after
the company purchased the line, said David E. Rutan, a historian of
the DL&W Sussex Branch.
than 21 miles through Sussex and Morris counties, the railroad line
had stations in Mount Olive, Netcong, Andover Borough, Andover Twp.,
Byram, Newton, Lafayette, and Branchville. The tracks leading into the
Branchville station passed behind the old Agway location, which is now
the location of Montague Tool & Supply.
The rail car has
been placed about 15 feet from the old railroad bed, which is to be
developed as a rail trail for hikers. Meyer anticipates people on the
trail will feel as if they have entered a time warp when passing by
the antique rail car.
Pointing to a barn-type
door on the back of his business, Meyer said the train would stop at
the building and drop off feed at the rear of the structure before docking
at the adjacent Branchville station.
Rutan said the
borough railroad station played an intricate role in the borough a century
ago for three reasons: Railroad was the primary mode of transportation
for moving agriculture products out of the area; the train was widely
used by city people, who vacationed on nearby Culver Lake, and businessmen
made use of train travel to visit families and conduct business.
The last train
pulled out of Branchville on July
10, 1966, according to Rutan. The Branchville station stood for
125 years and was used for 97 years.
a lot of the information attributed to me is not in quotes. The
reporter apparently visited my website and did not quite digest
the information completely.--DR]