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Old Shops

The "Old" Engine Shed

#14 & #15 are receiving light repairs on 3/16/1948.
Photo taken by Edward Weber. Courtesy of Don Maxton.

Taking a look
into the boiler

#15 and either #13 or 14 sit in the shop. The engines were rotated in service on a monthly basis. One in regular service, one on standby, and one would receive repair work.

#13 and 11 sit in the shed. 11/1933. Collection of Jeff Jargosch.

#13 in the shop. From TRAINS Magazine 10/1950.

For many years this small, but adequate, two stall engine shed served as the Rahway Valley Railroad's shops. Here the Rahway Valley mechanics performed light repair work on the line's fleet of secondhand steam locomotive power.

Some sources indicate that the Rahway Valley Railroad, earlier, had a 'roundhouse' out on the Can Branch, but no concrete evidence has yet come to light to confirm that. In the New Orange Four Junction days, 1901-1905, it was mentioned in an official report of the Lehigh Valley's that there were no shop facilities.

This long, two-stall, engine shed must've been a welcomed improvement if the railroad had no earlier facilities. This wooden building could have dated to as early as 1919. In that year the Rahway Valley Railroad discontinued the bulk of its passenger operations, opting for mixed trains and motor cars. To further reduce costs, the railroad's general offices were moved into the Kenilworth Station. It is supposed that this is when the engine shed was constructed.

For most of the years of the shed's existence, this was Carl Nees' domain. Nees was the railroad's Master Mechanic, or the "Master Maniac" as some referred to him. Carl, and his assistants over the years, Harry Reifsnyder, Fred Grant, and even his son John Sharon Nees, could tackle just about any job in this two stall, time-worn, shed. All repair work on the railroads steamers were done here, except major overhauls and boiler washes which were done at either Elizabethport (CNJ) or Kingsland (DL&W).

By the late 1940's the engine shed was looking "worse for wear" with many wooden boards missing from its side-walls, which allowed the wind to whistle through. One source writes, "The repair shed at Kenilworth, a long wooden structure, was so rickety that one morning after a high wind the employees came to work to find it leaning on the engines." (Young)

Eventually, with the new diesel on the way, the decision was made to replace the old wooden shed with a new three stall masonry building that was constructed in circa 1950/1951.

Bill Young captioned this photo, "Let memories be refreshed by a single photograph and one is effortlessly carried back forty years, and engine 13 stands again before the shed at Kenilworth while Rahway Valley master mechanic Carl Nees and shopman Fred Grant apply paint to her smokebox and Carl's son John strikes a pose on the footboard. A scene like this usually meant that No. 13 was about to begin a calendar month as the only engine in service. Old 13, homely but rugged, went through many a month without a serious breakdown ------ while in use up to sixteen hours a day, continuously under steam, and always exposed to the weather. The 13 and sister 14 were small, stubby Baldwin 2-8-0's from the early roster of the Lehigh & New England. Photo taken by William S. Young.

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

Enginehosue & Shop. These are located at Kenilworth and consist of the following:

A wooden frame enginehouse, 30'x117'x15' high, covered with corrugated iron roof, and an extension attached to it, 20'x30'x12' high, covered with corrugated iron on the roof and sides. The enginehouse has two stalls, one equipped with a pit.

A machine shop built of steel frame end concrete slabs, measuring 25'x49'x13' high.

A wooden tool house, 12'4"x10'3"x10' high.

An oil house built of wood, 10'x26'x7'6" high.

A sand house, 8'x10'3"x7'6" high, built of wood.

The enginehouse and its extension are in a dilapidated condition; the machine shop and oil house are in good repair; but the tool house and sand house are badly in need of repair.

Shop machinery consists of the following:

1 - 24" lathe
1 - 22" shaper
1 - #2 grinding wheel
1 - Titlt table saw
1 - Drill press, small
1 - Buffalo forge

All of the machinery is old and its total value is approximately $1,000.

#13 and #11 in the house - #11 doesn't seem to have been out in a while. Weeds and a tie block the rails, which appear rusty. Box car at left of engine house is CNJ - possibly stores of bagged locomotive sand. 11/1933. Collection of Jeff Jargosch.

#15 and 14 await repairs and the skill of master mechanic Carl Nees. Carl's son, seen on the pilot of #14, John is fourteen years old and off of school for the summer. John spends his summers helping his dad work on the RVRR's old steamers.

Here we see the Rahway Valley Railroad's yards at Kenilworth, the water tower, Caboose 102 tucked away on the siding, the two-stall engine shed, and the Kenilworth Station. In the engine shed are #13 and 14, as well as the Northwestern motor car that was built in 1942. Seen between the station is a new masonry building and a gas pump. The new building is the railroad's new machine shop, which will eventually be attached to the three-stall masonry diesel shed to be constructed. The gas pump was used to fuel the railroad's pickup truck and possibly the motor cars as well. The kid striking a pose on the track car could be John Nees, Carl's son. Photo taken by William S. Young. Collection of Thomas T. Taber, III.


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