Black River & Western to mark 50 years

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FLEMINGTON, N.J. – The Black River & Western Railroad will celebrate the 50th anniversary of operating tourist passenger trains this month. On May 16, a train for railroad employees and invited guests will commemorate the railroad’s inaugural run from Flemington, which occurred on May 16, 1965. New Jersey Assistant Secretary of State Carol Cronheim will crack a bottle of champagne on the drive wheels of ex-Great Western Railway 2-8-0 No. 60 to mark the occasion.

On May 17, the railroad is operating a series of sold out public excursions between Flemington and Ringoes, N.J. Passengers pay 1965 prices and will receive souvenir tickets, reproduced from the original 1965 tickets, for these trips.

The Black River & Western Railroad was conceived by a group of friends with an interest in steam railroading in Chester in the early 1960s. The group acquired a collection of historic railroad equipment and moved it to Flemington. A lease with the Pennsylvania Railroad permitted the newly formed railroad to operate passenger trains over the Flemington Branch on weekends, while PRR freight service continued during the week. The railroad grew and eventually purchased the line, becoming a common carrier railroad. Freight trains serve local businesses in Three Bridges, Flemington, and Ringoes.

Passenger service on the BR&W today is managed by the Black River Railroad Historical Trust Inc. a nonprofit corporation dedicated to preserving local railroad history and providing opportunities for the public to learn about the railroad’s role in local communities.

Restoration projects undertaken by the Trust include restoration of Central Railroad of New Jersey Coach No. 1009, and rehabilitation of Black River & Western Railroad’s Alexauken Division between Ringoes and Lambertville. The line was constructed in 1854 and last saw active service in 1997. The trust is also working on improvements to the Ringoes Station.

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