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Kenilworth Station

Station: Kenilworth
(Earlier New Orange)



The Kenilworth Station, some time after 1907. Collection of Scott Schnipper.

 

The Kenilworth Station. December 22, 1971

Collection of Tom Piccirillo

 

The Kenilworth Station was originally called the "New Orange Station," as that was the original name of the town. c. 1902.

This hand drawn image shows the station, circa 1899, with a train pulling in from Aldene. This image was featured on a commemorative plate produced by the Kenilworth Historical Society.

Carl Nees, Pauline Beirach, and George Clark share a good laugh in the Boss's Office - Clark's.

Bob Clark sits at his desk, on the second floor of the Kenilworth Station, to tackle the work at hand. Collection of Corinne Clark.

 

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

Kenilworth, station and office building: one story and part two story, frame, 16' x 76'.

 

The station as it appeared after the fire. August, 1978.
Photos taken by Tom Piccirillo.

The Kenilworth Station (MP 1.72) was constructed in c.1898 by the New York & New Orange Railroad, but back in those days it was called New Orange Station for the town of New Orange which was being developed by the New Orange Industrial Association. The Victorian-style structure was designed by J. Wallace Higgins, who had also engineered the railroad and planned the town of New Orange.

The name on the building did not change to "Kenilworth" until 1907, when the Borough of Kenilworth was created.

Even in those early days, the Kenilworth Station served a variety of purposes. Although the railroad's main offices were on Broadway in New York City, the railroad's General Manager (Horatio F. Dankel until 1914, James S. Caldwell 1914-1919) had office space here, where they could manage the day to day operations of the railroad. A General Freight Agent was posted here as well, for the entire life of the station (ex. Matthias O. Mitchell, Anthony Glutting, Charles Hunter, etc.).

The railroad's annual stockholder's meeting, at least in the earlier days, was held at the Kenilworth Station in February.

The building served as a passenger station until just after the end of World War I. There was an waiting room inside, where passengers could escape the weather and rest their feet while awaiting the train. Baggage was kept in the breezeway as well as in the designated "baggage room" on the far end of the building.

The drawing to the right was inspired by this postcard.
Collection of Don Maxton

With the end of passenger service, the death of Louis Keller, and the coming of Robert H. England and Roger A. Clark, the railroad began to look to cut corners. The railroad ditched the its plush offices on Broadway in Manhattan and had the station remodeled to serve as its headquarters. The second floor was expanded and the breezeway was enclosed, allowing for more working space.

The enclosed breezeway eventually became living quarters for George A. Clark and, later on, his son Robert G. Clark lived here for some time as well, to keep a watchful eye over the railroad (the RVRR did experience some trouble with vandals over the years). The area above the breezeway was attic space that the railroad used to store all its old files, payroll books, bills of lading, etc. The larger part of the building, closest to the Boulevard, was where the offices were. On the first floor was the Freight Agent's office, and upstairs is where the Clarks worked. In George Clark's day, he worked on the second floor in his pine panelled office and also had his own personal secretary, Pauline Beirach. A news article from 1959 reveals what George Clark's working quarters were like, "Besides a large desk and a couple of easy chairs the president's office contained a diavan (occupied by two nondescript dogs) a refrigerator with open cartons of dog food on top, and a two ring electric range with jars of instant coffee on a shelf underneath. The walls were covered by a collection of vintage calenders---all bearing pictures of locomotives." (The Daily Times, April 8, 1959) During Bob Clark's term as President and General Manager, there were three people working in the office, him, Charles Hunter the Freight Agent, and Corinne Clark (Bob's wife and secretary).

The Clarks were dog people, and a gaggle of mutts were always hanging around the station. "We always had railroad dogs," as Patty Clark put it. Bill Young in his article, "Short-Line Man," reveals more, "The progenitor of all the dogs that hung around the Rahway Valley must have been the dirty black-and-white stray that showed up at Kenilworth in the early 1940ís. Lady belonged to nobody, begged lunch from the train crew, hunted rabbits, presented the railroad with two litters of pups, and had a habit of running onto the greens of a nearby golf course and stealing balls. The police finally traced her to the Rahway Valley, and took her away at the end of a rope. The next day she was back" (Young). At other times, there was George Clark's dog "Klondike," and later on Bob Clark went to a breeder and came home with a large Newfoundland named "Bolivar."

Over the years, the station wore a number of paint schemes. A dull blue with yellow trim, bright yellow with dark green trim, a quaint cream with a faded green trim, a dark mahogany color with white trim, and even blue with pink trim! Why so many? If you were a cash strapped railroad, wouldn't you buy off the clearance rack at the hardware store? Or could it be that some at the RVRR thought themselves artists? Whatever the cause, the Kenilworth Station changed colors manys times as the years went on.

The old wooden building nobly served in its many capacities until one fateful day in August of 1974. In an attempt to remove some bee hives from the eaves of the station, the station inadvertently caught fire and suffered some damage in the attic area (see The Kenilworth Station Fire). The Kenilworth Historical Society attempted to save the building. The plan was to move the building and restore it as a museum. Unfortunately the funding to accomplish this worthy goal was never found. The station was demolished in 1979.

After the fire, the railroad's general offices were moved into a work trailer for a short period. After Bernie Cahill became President and General Manager of the railroad in 1975, the offices were moved into a Passenger Coach and Boxcar placed opposite of the old station site.

 

 

The Kenilworth Station in the early 1900's. Note the horse drawn wagon to the right of the station. The General Manager's offices may have been on the second floor.

Here a large group gathers at the Kenilworth Station, before heading up the tracks a little ways to Upsala College for a Church Conference.

The Rahway Valley's Yards in Kenilworth. The Station looms to keep watch over a seemingly quiet rail yard. Circa1945.

#15 sits in the Kenilworth Yards with Tom Mangini on the tender. George Davis is seen on the right walking towards the station. Collection of Jeff Jargosch

A great look at the station from up above and #15 steaming out front.

#15 sits on the main with plumes of coal smoke rising high above the station. Collection of Jeff Jargosch.

The Kenilworth Station wore many colors in its lifetime. Here it wears a yellow coat of paint with green trim. 10/1971.

This 1970 view shows a quiet Kenilworth Yard. The ex-Jersey Central Caboose and O. Winston Link's combine sit on the side track.

The Kenilworth Station. 12/22/1971.

 

 

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