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Engine 15

Rahway Valley Railroad #15

Type: 2-8-0 Consolidation
Builder: Baldwin Locomotive Works
Construction #: 43529
Year Built: 06/1916
Drivers: 50"
Cylinders: 20" x 26"
Notes: Ex-Oneida & Western RR #20
Sold to Birmingham Rail & Locomotive 07/1937
Purchased 07/28/1937 for $8,159.00
Last operated over RV 11/28/1953 
Sold 05/1959 to F. Nelson Blount
Currently at Steamtown in Scranton, PA


Engine #15 in Kenilworth. 5/9/1948.
Collection of Jeffrey J. Jargosch.

#15 of the Rahway Valley Railroad began its life working for the Oneida & Western Railroad (O&W) in Tennessee as their #20. The O&W ordered the locomotive new from Baldwin and the engine was built in June, 1916. The locomotive served faithfully until in 1926 a neglectful hostler let the locomotive freeze overnight and ice broke the locomotive's bridges. The O&W sent the engine back to Baldwin for repairs and Baldwin fitted the locomotive with outside piston valves, a new steel pilot, a new reverse mechanism, a lubricator, and also superheated the engine with new cylinders. The locomotive went back to work in the hills of Tennessee for another eleven years before it was deemed surplus by the O&W. The engine was sold to Birmingham Rail & Locomotive in July, 1937.

#15's Baldwin Builder's Photo. She was built for the Oneida & Western RR as their #20.

Up on the Rahway Valley Railroad in New Jersey, business had picked up to a point where it was thought to have a third engine held in reserve. The RVRR had its faithful workhorses, #13 and 14, and #12 which had been held onto for years on a siding in the Kenilworth Yards, but had not been used in years.

Master Mechanic Carl Nees was sent south to look over the locomotive and immediately took a liking to it. Nees had George Clark make the purchase and the old Southern Gal made its way north to work for the Rahway Valley Railroad where it was given the number 15. The first day it was in service on the RVRR was in September, 1937.

In crew preference, #15 fell in third place, losing out to #13 and 14, "Matched against these twins, No. 15 came off third in performance. Everybody agreed that she was a well-fitted engine. But when it came to crew preferences, the older deckless engines were more powerful and had semi-wide fireboxes--and their closed cabs were wanner in winter. For a long time No. 15 was used sparingly during the cold months."  (Cite:

What #15 lacked in brute strength and mechanical attributes, it made up for in appearances, "Matched against these twins, No. 15 came off third in performance. Everybody agreed that she was a well-fitted engine. But when it came to crew preferences, the older deckless engines were more powerful and had semi-wide fireboxes--and their closed cabs were warmer in winter. For a long time No. 15 was used sparingly during the cold months.

Not everyone could stoke the new arrival successfully. Her design called for a clean but light fire, something never achieved without care.

Even so, the handsome Consolidation remained the master mechanic's pet and the favorite of most observers. Her charms were even audible, in a clean exhaust and a melodious whistle on which Engineer Frank Froat could sound either muted, low tones or higher, louder notes of urgency. The admirers of that whistle are many, and Carl Nees, a man not given to oversentiment, always liked to tell how beautifully its notes echoed among the mountains of Tennessee." (Cite:


Engine #15 in Kenilworth.

Mechanical problems with the railroad's three steamers, surrmounting complaints from residents along the line about the smoky engines, along with the pressure to modernize, the decision was made to switch to diesel power. George A. Clark, the railroad's President and General Manager, gave his opinion of the coming diesel power, "Gosh, I hate to see those diesels come. Railroading won't be railroading without those big black babies puffing and blowing their black smoke. I don't like it, but things are tough." ("New Jersey's Streak 'o Rust," TRAINS Magazine, by John T. Cunningham, October 1950)

Wm. Wyer & Co.
Report on Rahway Valley Railroad
August 1944


Builder Baldwin
Date Built 1916
Tractive Power, lbs. 33,600
Steam Pressure190 lbs.
Cylinders 20" x 26"
Driving Wheels 44" C, 3" tire
Engine Truck Wheels29"
Reverse Gear Ragonnet
Tender Capacity, Water 5,000 gals.
Tender Capacity,Coal 10 tons
Total Weight of Locomotive 146,000 lbs.
Former OwnerOneida &
Date Acquired by Rahway Valley 1929

Diesel power arrived on January 29, 1951, in the form of bright red and yellow #16, a 70 ton locomotive built by General Electric. #14 was soon scrapped, and #13 and 15 were put on standby to the diesel for the day it would be in the shop, or when traffic was heavy enough to warrant the use of two locomotives. #15 lost it's longtime steam stablemate, #13 when it was clobbered by an excavator and subsequently put out to pasture, but #15 was retained for the same purpose it had always had on the RV, backup. #15 operated for the last time on the RV on November 28, 1953, when #16 was down for repairs. Three months later a second diesel, #17 arrived, and steam was permanently retired on the RV. George Clark did not want to see #15 go up for scrap, and he contemplated putting it on display in Kenilworth, but space was limited.

F. Nelson Blount, the eccentric seafood connoisseur with a passion for steam locomotives, became interested in #15. Blount ended up purchasing the engine in May, 1959, and it was shipped on June 5, to Wakefield, Massachusetts.

Once in Massachusetts the locomotive was put on display, but then Blount had his steam locomotive collection moved to Keene, NH, then to North Walpole, NH, and finally to Bellows Falls, VT. While in North Walpole, #15 was overhauled and put into service for Blount's tourist line, the Monadnock Northern. In 1962-1963 the engine starred in a movie titled, "The Cardinal" and ran to Boston for the picture. After Blount's death in 1968 the locomotive was put into service on the Green Mountain Railroad of Vermont. In January, 1973, Steamtown obtained a flue extension and installed a new piston and piston rod, and the locomotive was then leased out for a couple days for a wealthy couple's wedding in Boston.

In August, 1973, the locomotive's front was modified, when its headlight was center mounted and the number plate was placed underneath the headlight. It only operated shortly with this appearance for on August 12, 1973, during "Friends of Steamtown Day" while the locomotive was triple-heading, broke a flue, and badly scalded veteran engineer, Andy Barbera. That was the last time #15 operated. In 1987, the locomotive moved to Steamtown's new location in Scranton, PA and has remained there ever since, and it's headlight was high mounted again. Not much work is needed to restore the locomotive to operation.

See also: The Story of Number 15

#20 of the Oneida & Western Railroad of Tennessee, still with her original compound cylinders and wood pilot.

#15, still numbered O&W #20, sometime after she was rebuilt by Baldwin in 1926.

#15's first day in service on the Rahway Valley Railroad, August 28, 1937.Photo by T.A. Gay, Dave Keller archive

A second view of #15 on her first day in service on the RV. August 28, 1937. Collection of Joseph A. Smith.

#15 in Kenilworth

#15 and her crew, Carl Nees, George Davis, Paul Albright, Thomas Mangini, and Frank J. Froat. 
Collection of Jeffrey J. Jargosch.

#15 in Kenilworth.Collection of Jeffrey J. Jargosch

A view of #15's tender in Kenilworth.Collection of Jeffrey J. Jargosch.

#15 backs down towards S. Michigan Ave.Collection of Patty Clark Gilbride.

#15 steams up grade to Summit

#15 has just crossed Rt. 29 and is heading towards Newark Heights.

#15 sits in front of the Kenilworth Station

In this still frame, #15 chugs along through Springfield.Collection of Jeff Jargosch.

Harry Davis and Paul Albright offload L.C.L. from #15's pilot in Kenilworth. Collection of Jef Jargosch.

#15 makes her way along the embankment through Summit and is heading towards the Lackawanna.

#15 at Aldene.

It's October 12, 1941. The attacks on Pearl Harbor are less than two months away and a violent war is being waged in Europe by Nazi-Germany. The United States has managed to remain neutral so far, but President Roosevelt warns of impending American involvement in the war that would become known as World War II. But on the Rahway Valley Railroad, it's just another day. #15 is under steam, Frank Froat is at the throttle and drilling cars with the crew out along the line. Master Mechanic Carl Nees and one of his helpers, perhaps Harry Reifsnyder or even his son John Nees, are tinkering around in the shops with one of the steamers. Over in the Kenilworth Station, George Clark works on financial statements and chats to customers on the candlestick phone as his personal secretary, Pauline Beirach, types letters to be signed by Clark-ey. It was just another day on the RVRR.

#15 sits in front of the Kenilworth Station .

#15 at Kenilworth.Collection of Thomas T. Taber, III

#15 meets the Lehigh Valley at the interchange in Roselle Park.Collection of Jeff Jargosch.

A side profile view of #15 working in Kenilworth. Collection of Joseph A. Smith.

#15 at Kenilworth.Steamtown National Historic Site

#15, with Caboose 102, at the DL&W interchange in Summit. April 1947. Photo taken by Edward Weber.

#14 and 15 await repairs in Kenilworth. 3/16/1948. Photo taken by Edward Weber.

#15 and Caboose 102 head across the Rahway River Trestle and make their ways towards Springfield.

A side profile view of #15 in Aldene. 1/19/1951. Collection of Thurlow C. Haunton, Jr.

Side profile view of #15 in Kenilworth

#15 works the LV interchange in Roselle Park

#15 and Caboose 102 at Springfield.

#15 steaming in Aldene

#15 meets the Corson Brothers. 1/30/1951.Collection of Jeff Jargosch.

#15 meets the Corson Brothers. 1/30/1951.Collection of Jeff Jargosch.

#15, not under steam, is shuffled around the Kenilworth Yards by #13. 2/8/1951.

#15 heads north towards the Route 29 crossing.Collection of Jeffrey J. Jargosch.

#15 heads towards Baltusrol.Collection of Jeffrey J. Jargosch.

#15 steaming in Aldene. November, 1953.Collection of Jeff Jargosch.

It's a crisp autumn day on the Rahway Valley Railroad. Good ol' Frank Froat, at the throttle, eases #15 across S. Michigan Ave. in Kenilworth, as Frank Amoroso and his trusty red flag protect the crossing from motor traffic. From the looks of things, it's just a typical day on the RVRR, but it's just the opposite. The date is November 28, 1953, a little more than two years after the first diesel, #16, had arrived on the line. #15, bumped from regular duty, was pulled out of the shop on Thanksgiving as the diesel was down with a bad turbocharger. George Clark, who said in 1950, "Gosh, I hate to see those diesels come. Railroading won't be railroading without those big black babies puffing and blowing their black smoke. I don't like it, but things are tough," personally steamed up the old girl. #15, and her crew, went about their business, as usual, for four days while George Davis was in the shops making repairs to the diesel.  On November 28, 1953, #15 pulled into Kenilworth, under steam, for the last time. The fire was dropped and the engine tucked away, less than three months later, a second diesel arrived, #17. Photo taken by William S. Young.

Languishing in retirement, #15 is seen here tucked away in the new "diesel" engine shed. One of her replacements, can be seen at the far left amongst all the motor and track cars. It is April, 1958 and George Clark is pondering putting the old girl on display in Kenilworth, but space around the Rahway Valley Railroad is limited. In less than a year the wealthy seafood-millionaire, F. Nelson Blount, would purchase the Rahway Valley's last steamer for his Steamtown Collection. Used with permission of Gene Collora.

#15 on her way to Wakefield, MA after being purchased by F. Nelson Blount.



  • Steamtown NHS Rahway Valley Railroad No.15
  • Oneida & Western 2-8-0 "Consolidation" Type Locomotives
  • Roster Information provided byAllen Stanley of Railroad Data Exchange, courtesy of Michael Kaplonski.

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