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Princeton Dinky, Pine Creek RR, NJ

Adventurers in the Appalachia

My First trip on the Southwest Chief going to the 2018 NRHS Convention in Cumberland, Maryland

Chapter Thirteen

Princeton Dinky

Pine Creek Railroad

 August 3, 2018



Robin Bowers

Text and Photos by Author

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent.

Comments are appreciated

      After finishing my morning ablutions, Chris and I left for the short drive but long in duration due to the morning rush traffic for the Princeton Jct, New Jersey commuter station with fee parking. We then walked up to the south end of the east platform. We set up at the south end and waited for the trains to arrive on this first Friday morning in August.

Across the tracks to the west platform.

    A truck tamper heads out to work. The east track is out of service and a metal platform extends over the track so Princeton Jct has only the middle track for express trains. Therefore it has only three tracks instead of the normal four tracks.

New Jersey Transit 3821 arriving at Princeton Jct.

New Jersey Transit 3932 heads toward New York City.

Amtrak Northeast Regional 130 approaching the station.

Acela Express 2109 flew through Princeton Jct.

Amtrak Northeast Regional 185 came through Princeton Jct.

Boarding the Dinky at Princeton Jct.

     Chris and I walked over to, under and up to the west platform and he helped me operate the New Jersey Transit ticket machine. We then waited for the dinky to arrive and once it did, boarded the train for the 2.5 mile trip to Princeton. The New Jersey Transit dinky is a two-car set consisting of cars 1311 and 1319.

I was unable to get many photos as the turn around time was short.

Views of Princeton campus.

Who hasn't heard of Princeton, the Ivy League School.

Waiting at the Princeton platform. 

Inside our return car.

We returned to Princeton Jct, used the restrooms then left Princeton Jct at West Windsor for our next stop at Allaire State Park.

Pine Creek Railroad


New Jersey Museum of Transportation

    New Jersey Museum of Transportation is a museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, and operation of historic railroad equipment. The organization runs excursion trains on a 3 foot narrow gauge tourist railroad named the Pine Creek Railroad. The museum is independently operated along with the Allaire Village and is located in Allaire State Park in New Jersey. The museum runs Santa Special trains on the weekends in December.


    The origins of the New Jersey Museum of Transportation began with the purchase of a Baldwin 0-4-0T engine from the Raritan River Sand Company in 1952 by a pair of railroad enthusiasts. This first engine was named the Pine Creek No. 1 and was eventually sold to the Walt Disney company, where it was overhauled and renamed the 4 Ernest S. Marsh. The engine is still in use today at the California theme park.

    Initially a 2.5 acres plot of land on Route 9 in Marlboro was purchased where the railroad was run as a tourist attraction, but in 1952 when the organization was facing large property tax increases the not-for-profit Pine Creek Railroad Division of the New Jersey Museum of Transportation was formed and the operations were moved to its present-day location in Allaire State Park.

    While the Pine Creek railroad loop runs adjacent to the abandoned Freehold and Jamesburg Agricultural Railroad that skirts the park (now known as the Edgar Felix Bikeway), it was never part of that rail line right-of-way.

Sunken engines

    In 1985, two steam engines were found side by side and in an upright position by charter boat Captain Dan Lieb in 90 feet of water 5 miles off the coast of Long Branch. Further identification of these engines occurred in 2004 when a team of diving and railroad enthusiasts working along with the a History Channel production team investigated the engines. After viewing several digital images it was discovered, through the evidence of several artifacts on the engines, that they were Civil War-era Planet Class 2-2-2 locomotives from between 1850 and 1855.

    On September 25, 2004, the New Jersey Museum of Transportation was granted custody of the two engines by US District Judge Joseph Irenas. The museum hopes one day to raise the relics for display and interpretation at the museum.

The Collection

Raritan River Sand Company 0-4-0 10 Baldwin Locomotive Works
Hope Natural Gas Company 0-4-0T 3 H. K. Porter, Inc
Raritan Copper Works 0-4-0T 9 H. K. Porter, Inc
Ely-Thomas Lumber Company 6 Lima Locomotive Works
Chiriqui Land Company 2-6-0 6 H. K. Porter, Inc
Cavan and Leitrim Railway 4-4-0T 3 Robert Stephenson & Company
Lehigh Valley Coal Company 4-4-0T 117 Vulcan Iron Works

Our Visit

We walked towards the waiting train.

Chris standing near the Union News Stand with the Freneau Passenger Station in back.

United States Army Locomotive No. 7751.

    Locomotive 7751 was built for the US Army by General Electric Corporation in October 1942, a good year, in Schenectady, New York, serial number 15860. It was built as part of a batch of 25 engines, some of which were standard gauge and purchased by the US Army Transportation Corp. The locomotive saw service by the Army in Oahu, Hawaii (Pearl Harbor) during World War II for the movement of civilian base workers, sailors, soldiers, airmen and marines, on the tracks of the Oahu Railroad and Land Company both from Honolulu to their bases, or from those bases back to Honolulu for coveted rest and relaxation. After the war's end it was stored serviceable by Army and acquired by the New Jersey Museum of Transportation in 1977.

    Central Railroad of New Jersey (CRRNJ) Caboose #91155 Class NEa was built as a box car in 1874 for the New Jersey Southern Railroad (NJSR). It was renumbered to CRRNJ 31943 when the NJSR was acquired by the CRRNJ in 1888. The box car was converted to caboose #91155 in November, 1902 at a cost of $500. A steel under-frame was installed in October, 1921 at a cost of $1,000. Plywood siding was installed circa 1950. The caboose was purchased by the NJMT in 1972, restored and placed in service June 16, 1973. At this time we were introduced to the train crew, Richard the engineer and Kenny the conductor. Kenny gave us a private and excellent tour of the grounds and inside the buildings. 

Former NY & LB Ludlow Avenue Crossing Shanty (1885).

Lehigh Valley Coal 0-4-0  117 built by Vulcan Iron Works in 1925. It was later sold to Jeddo-Highland Coal Co. 117 at Jeddo, Pennsylvania.

East Broad Top gondola car 824 built by American Car and Foundry Company ib 1914.

    The Freneau Station was located at milepost 10.45 of the CRRNJ 12 mile long Freehold Branch. It was built in 1907 for the Freehold and Atlantic Highlands Railway (CRRNJ) at a cost of $2,118.60. The station was closed in April 1953 and retired by the CRRNJ on August 3, 1955 after the abandonment of passenger service on the the branch in 1954. The museum acquire the building in 1995.

Oschwald Brick Company model FLB type-2 4 and three foot gauge 7 ton switcher 4.

Passenger Car under restoration. We were taken into the shop building.

    Pine Creek Railroad Locomotive # 5 was built by Plymouth Locomotive Works, Plymouth, Ohio in April, 1930 as Model DL Type 2, serial number 3450.The locomotive was used by the Marcus Sand Company in Miltown, NJ to haul sand from the shovel in the pits to the washer plant. Formerly a gasoline engine, the locomotive was converted to diesel in 1954. It was acquired by the museum in 1966. The locomotive is currently operational and is utilized for movement of maintenance of way equipment.

US Steel Lorain Works 44 toner switcher 45.

Unknown Diesel 84.

Parts from Chiriqui Land Company 2--6-0 46 built bt Porter in 1914 for the Chiriqui Land Company in Almirante, Panama.

Pouch Terminal Inc yard engine Model BS 2 built by Mack Trucks in 1929.

Unknown diesel.

A steamer or maybe a smoker?

Wheels and a smoke stack.

Car trucks and turntables.

Central Railroad of New Jersey 40 foot box cars: 24343, 22866 and 23193. Next we went into the engine shop.

United Fruit 2-6-0 46.

A porter tender.

A engine house view.

So this is where those lost tourists end up.

Marcus S. Wright Sand Co./Pine Creek Railroad Plymouth model DL Type 2 #5 built 1942.

DuPont A-Line Model BHA-G3000 15 (Gasoline- 1969) built by Brookville in 1955.

Canadian National # 509 Coach (1907)

Cavan, Leitrim & Roscommon Light Railway & Tramway Company 4-4-0T 3 "Lady Edith" built by Robert Stephenson & Company in 1887 for the Baltimore, Ireland company.


East Broad Top combine 16, one of the EBT's earliest surviving passenger cars, retired in 1941.

Canadian National #509 coach.

View of the engine house.

Shaw engine block.

Surrey, Sussex & Southampton 2-6-2 26 built by Baldwin in 1920.

In side cab of 26.

Surrey, Sussex & Southampton 2-6-2 26 (1920).



Leaving here we went outside to see more items.

A flat car.

An open car and a Caboose 5 built from a Raritan River Sand Company side dump car in 1951.

Tidewater Tank Car 01332.

    Built in 1928, this single wall standard gauge tank car was one of three used at the former Pennsylvania Railroad/ Central Railroad of New Jersey joint Bay Head yard and current NJ Transit yard for fueling locomotives of all three railroads. The car was retired from service in 2005 and acquired by the museum when NJ Transit moved all locomotives fueling at the Bay Head Yard to a new high speed fueling in Hoboken, NJ. We walk around to the back side of the building and found something else.

Raritan Cooper Works 4-4-0T 9 built by Cagney by 1923 for a New Jersey beachfront amusement park.

Union Transportation Company 56 foot span Armstrong style turntable and narrow gauge wheel sets.

Part of a tiny-tot ride?

Rolling stock.

Break time at the station.

Pine Creek Railroad station and ticket office. We went inside and picked up our complimentary tickets to ride the train.

Industrial power from the past or something left behind by our outer space visitors.

Water tower built in 1980 and crossing shanty. From here we went to the gift shop

Former Pennsylvania RR Allenwood Station, 1940's. Was located on PRR Jamesburg Manasquan Line.

I looked for a T-shirt to buy but they had nothing in my size. Pete B. a trustee and today's cashier said they don't carry a lot of stock because of slow sales, but Chris was able to find one in his size. We pick-up our tickets and walked to the waiting train and our ride.

Water tower, 1980.

Now it was time to board the train with Chris riding near the rear door of the caboose sitting on the deck of the caboose and I was offered and accepted a ride in the cab by engineer Richard.

Props for festive parties held on the train for special events and holidays.

Richard checking the gauges before starting our trip.

The open air car. Gotta love the roof shade.

My view from the fireman's side.

View of the park.

    We took two laps around the Pine Creek Railroad and then the trip was over. I met Chris and then we walked by the ticket office and headed out of the park. A special thanks to the Pine Creek Railroad and to the engineer and our excellent conductor-tour guide for having us here today.

A Calm Drive to  Hagerstown, MD

    We took Interstate 125 to Howell for a late breakfast then drove through the worst rain storm of the trip, causing Chris to drive 45 mph through it because the wipers could not clear the water off the windshield. After about twenty miles, the rain let up and we took this road to Interstate 95 to the Tollway Interstate 276 and once in Pennsylvania, the next heavy rain shower lasted thirty minutes. After that there was no rain until we got south of Harrisburg( another capital city for me) but we did encounter heavy rain most of the rest of the way to Interstate 81. We drove through more rain showers until the freeway went bumper-to-bumper and we got off and slowly found our way to the Days Inn Hagerstown, MD where we checked in for the night. Bob and Elizabeth soon arrived and then went to Bob Evans for dinner running inside from another heavy rain shower. After a good dinner of Country Fried Steak, one of my favorites items in a family style restaurant, we dashed through the showers to the cars and then into the motel. This was the end to another busy day and time to rest up for tomorrow, promising to be just as busy, i.e. like two days rolled into one.  

Thanks for reading.

Next chapter 14: Hagerstown RR Park, Walkersville & Southern ride, B&O RR Museum and more >>

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Text and Photos by Author

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