From the Cranford Chronicle,
Stretching through Kenilworth and extending
for a short distance across the state is the Rahway Valley Railroad, one
of the most picturesque steel highways of its kind.
Responsible for keeping the line in repair
and all equipment in good running order is Charles William Nees, a former
resident of Kenilworth, now living at 601 Orange avenue, Cranford, who is
master mechanic of the road.
Nees secured his first job with the Rahway
Valley in June, 1910, as a brakeman. Between 1913 and 1915 he worked as a
brakeman for the Central Railroad of New Jersey, then returned to the
Rahway Valley as a fireman and later as an engineer running the day
freight out of Kenilworth. After five years of running the day and night
freights he became master mechanic in 1920, a position he has held ever
During the war Nees was an engineer handling
freight cars loaded with TNT and other shell materials in the American Can
Co. yards at Kenilworth. As many as eighty cars a day were
About this time the Rahway Valley was a
favorite line for the making of wild-and-wooley-west motion pictures. The
master mechanic recalls one time when the scripy of the producer called
for an explosion and the consequent demolition of a small building rather
hurriedly constructed about one hundred yards from Kenilworth Station. The
dynamite went off, destroyed the building, sent three men to the hospital
for treatment of painful burns and bruises and blew out all the windows in
the station. As late as 1920 a movie was made by the Fox Company using the
railroad as a background.
Nees married Miss Helen Dempke of Brooklyn,
N.Y. in 1923, and they have one son, John Sharon, 8 years old.
Nees working on the
lathe in the engine shed.
Nees' World War II Draft
A four-page story on the master mechanic and
the railroad, illustrated with ten pictures, is printed in the current
issue of Railroad Magazine. Richard Fullerton of Cranford took the
pictures used in the story.
are 11.73 miles of main track and 3.24 miles of sidings in the
Rahway Valley, giving a total of almost 15 miles of track. When it
was originally begun in 1898 the name was the New Orange Four
Junction Railroad. In 1904 the track was extended to Summit and the
present name chosen.
Carl Nees working
on one of the line's locomotives.
Collection of Patty
Before 1910 the road used to run as many as
fourteen passenger trains a day betweeen Kenilworth and Summit but by 1915
these has dwindled to a few mixed trains, and passenger service was soon
discontinued. The present freight traffic varies from 10 to 30 carloads
daily, mostly coal, oil, sand, cement, and stone, and the company has
nineteen employees. George A. Clark is general manager of the
Nees and the other men are always ready to
"double-up" in case of emergency. The forced lay off through illness or
the like of the regular engineer of foreman automatically drafts Nees into
service. He usually spends two weeks of each year running the engines
while the regular engineer takes a vacation. He and his assistant, Harry
Reifsnyder, are equipped to undertake any light repairs other than a
copmlete overhaul job in the well equipped ship the road
Each year he takes a vaction to rest up from
this arduous work. How does he spend it? Why, riding on some one else's