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Carl Nees


Name: Charles William Nees, Jr. (Carl)
Birth: September 13, 1889, Charlottesville, Va.
Death: February 22, 1950, Ablemarle Co., Va.
Residence(s): Charlottesville, Va.; Kenilworth, NJ;
Cranford, NJ
Spouse: Helen Elizabeth Dempke
Parents: Charles William Nees, Sr. & Arabella Omohundro
Date of Hire: June, 1910
End of Employment: 1948, retired
Positions Held: Brakeman (1910-1913), Fireman & Engineer (1915-1920);
Master Mechanic (1920-1948), Superintendent (?)

Carl Nees


From the Cranford Chronicle, 1940:

Carl Nees

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 since.

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 moved.

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 working on the lathe in the engine shed.

Nees' World War II Draft Card, 1942.

Nees married Miss Helen Dempke of Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1923, and they have one son, John Sharon, 8 years old.

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.

Carl Nees working on one of the line's locomotives.

Collection of Patty Clark Gilbride.

There 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.

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 line.

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 maintans.

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 railroad!



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