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Earle Baldwin

Trackside Around New Jersey 1968-1983 with Robert J. Yanosey

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[float=right]book%20nj%20track%20side%20-1.jpg[/float]The years between 1968 and 1983 were tumultuous for railroading within the State of New Jersey. Many industry landmark events took place during this time. In 1968, two railroads with a significant presence in the state, New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroad, merged to form Penn Central. Due to the rapidly deteriorating financial condition of participating roads, the New Jersey Department of Transportation assumed responsibility for the acquisition of new commuter equipment and eventual management of suburban passenger operations. Perhaps most significant development was the creation of the Consolidated Rail Corporation from seven Northeastern carriers, all of which operated within New Jersey's borders. Conrail was the federal government's attempt to revitalize the region's railroads following years of neglect. Consequently, Penn Central, Erie Lackawanna, Lehigh Valley, Central of New Jersey, Reading, Lehigh & Hudson River and Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines all became part of "Big Blue" on April 1, 1976.

 

Fortunately for today's railroading hobbyist, Morning Sun Books publisher Bob Yanosey was trackside to record events during this dynamic period. The result of this endeavor is the 128 page all color hardcover volume titled "Trackside Around New Jersey 1968-1983 with Robert J. Yanosey," the subject of this review. The period covered by the book represents the time Mr. Yanosey was employed in various capacities within the railroad industry. His positions ranged from Erie Lackawanna Tower Operator to serving as NJ Transit's first Director of Rail Transportation. Some of the photographs were made while on the job; however, the vast majority were taken during his personal time, providing a comprehensive review of the railroading scene in New Jersey during the designated time period.

 

Beginning in 1968, we are treated to views which clearly illustrate the progression taking place at the time. Erie Lackawanna F-units were giving way to more powerful second generation units including GP35's, SD45's and U25B's. E8's, GP7's and RS3's with their consists of aged Erie "Stillwell" and Lackawanna "Boonton" coaches were yielding to NJDOT financed U34CH's and aluminum push pull equipment built by Pullman-Standard. Pennsylvania Railroad's signature Tuscan color was slowly being pushed aside by Penn Central black. Jersey Central operations were undergoing a facelift as well. Fairbanks-Morse Train Masters and steam era rolling stock some of which dated back to the famous "Blue Comet" were replaced by the now legendary GP40P's and a variety of second hand equipment purchased from Midwestern and Western railroads. As with the U34CH powered consists operating on EL lines out of Hoboken, these locomotives and cars were financed by NJDOT. Many of CNJ's older freight diesels were retired as well, having been replaced by a group of new SD35's and former Baltimore & Ohio SD40's.

 

Moving into and throughout the 1970's, more changes are witnessed. Most notable were the creation of Conrail and freight service and the increasing role of NJDOT in commuter operations. Beginning in April of 1976, the identity of railroads absorbed into Conrail begin to fade. Prior to being repainted into Conrail's new blue scheme, many locomotives retained the faded colors of their former owners; however, lettering and numbers were patched over in favor of temporary white Conrail markings which sometimes clashed with the existing scheme. Conrail management had inherited a motive power roster consisting largely of aging locomotives, many of which were in various states of disrepair as a result of deferred maintenance. There wasn't time to be concerned with asthetics. Conrail had a job to do and keeping the railroad running was its first priority. A multiple page spread providing images of units wearing these interim schemes is included for the benefit of the reader.

 

Moving into the 1980's, the genesis of NJ Transit is granted a satisfactory amount of coverage. Many early NJT locomotives are pictured. These include E8's, F7's and E60's. The book includes an outstanding portrait of E8 4323 just minutes after emerging from the paint shop at Elizabethport. It is resplendent in NJT's initial white scheme which was worn by just it and the former Southern 4334 although the 4334's scheme did not feature lettering. NJT Mangement quickly realized white paint did not weather well and soon debuted its revised and more familiar silver scheme on a former CNJ GP40P.

 

While New Jersey railroading is best known for high density commuter operations of NJ Transit and long distance freight trains of CSX, NS, Conrail and its predecessors, the state is also home to a number of shortline and industrial operations. Black River and Western, Morristown and Erie, Hoboken Shore, Susquehanna, Rahway Valley and Raritan River have all called New Jersey home and a sample photograph of each of these roads is included for posterity. Perhaps the state's most fascinating rail operation is the NWS Earle Railroad which serves the naval weapons station of the same name in Monmouth County. For decades, the line was served by a fleet of Baldwin diesels and a picture of one of these units is included in the book. Your reviewer grew up along the right of way of the NWS Earle Railroad and therefore developed a strong affinity for its Baldwin locomotives. In fact, my NYCTF screen name was inspired by these locomotives!

 

The book's pages are brimming with high quality photography. The images are expertly composed and well lighted. Perhaps the most appealing feature of the book is its comprehensive coverage of action during the highlighted time period. I heartily recommend its purchase to anyone with an interest in New Jersey railroading. The book's list price is $59.95. An image of the book's dust jacket may be viewed at http://www.morningsunbooks.com. At the home page, click on "Full Catalogue" and then the "Northeast" tab. Th cover picture and a brief overview of "Trackside Around New Jersey 1968-1983 with Robert J. Yanosey" can be found on Page 9.

 

Happy railroading,

 

Earle

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