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The C&S - Forty Years Later
The C&S - Forty years later,some thoughts by Tom Rose
(Reprinted from the October 2012 issue of the PRRH Newsletter)
      Well, the day has finally come! 40 years of silence in Roseland, since that sad day September 4, 1972, when Gene Becker put his beloved 1501 back in the roundhouse and the little Centerville & Southwestern Railroad closed for good. Probably few remember or can recall what joy that whole operation provided to so many kids and adults as they rode through the farm on a quality built, fully functioning, accurate, signaled and scheduled railroad! I only wish I had been back there one last time on that day to hear the whistle and smell that coal smoke.
      Imagine what we could have done with todayís recording equipment and electronic cameras! But, even if we had, it still would only be a memory today, just as we remember it now! Some of Roselandís residents can see the town without the traffic and the high rise office buildings wishing for that quieter easy pace of so many years ago. How many today, as they went from office to office, looked across at the walking bridge across Fulerton Brook and imagined the proud steam locomotive pulling a loaded train of people taking their last ride down itís rails?
      As employees parked their cars on paved well marked spaces, how many envisioned the thrill of a kid, as dad drove the car and parked on the grass! Who today wondered how the road they turned on got the name Chocolate Way? The sadness of progress as it wipes away the past is amazing! It makes one try to think what was right here, where I am now, fifty years ago, a> hundred years ago? It is lost, forgotten never to be seen or heard again! We can only hope that the young people alive now have as much fondness of memory and interest in their own past thirty or more years from now as those who strive to recreate the magic of Beckerís farm. For Roseland, part of their past can still be seen, heard and felt at the Phillipsburg Railroad Historians (PRRH) site in Phillipsburg, NJ! There itís dedicated members strive to bring the past alive with the reconstruction of the Centerville & Southwestern RR. Of Beckerís mile of track, about 1/4 of it is again in service with two of the original fleet of four locomotives. Another restored locomotive has visited and operated on itís rails, hoping to return again someday for a reunion with itís brothers of long ago. Occasionally, someone from Roselandís past is directed or stumbles upon the work and love of this club. They buy their ticket at the original ticket booth, climb in one of the open topped cars, and carefully latch the door. The latch itself was made, designed and patented by Mr. Becker himself. Now as the conductor sits at the back of the train after explaining and repeating the rules of safety still enforced as they were all those years ago, with the toot of the horn the train begins itís excursion to the past.
      The passengers get to watch hand signals as we did as we rode to Peach Tree Junction at Beckerís Farm. We are fortunate that Mr. Becker planned for his railroad to be saved for everyone at some later date, and that PRRH is making his wish a reality. Sadly, the Henry Ford Museum did not keep their end of the bargain they made with Mr. Becker regarding the steam locomotive 1501. In their logic, they auctioned off what he wanted seen by all, resulting in it being seen by few. But time doesnít stop for correction of mistakes. But lessons are learned and some result in other history being saved for many to enjoy! I hope we can learn from what we have seen, supporting the not perfect efforts of some who strive to preserve in the way they think is best! While not being a real active member, I so am thankful for those who are and continue to make the C&SRR grow. It may never be as big or as grand as my memory can make it, but it is big and grand in the hearts of many!