An important notice for friends and patrons of the Whippany Railway Museum

Due to the continuing public health concerns and the spread of COVID-19, the Whippany Railway Museum remains CLOSED and has suspended all of its excursion trains until further notice. We are evaluating our options for the 2021 season, and will make those announcements as soon as they become available


No. 3454 (ex-DL&W No. 2454) MU Parlor Car at Gladstone, NJ Aug. 19, 1984
No. 3454 (ex-DL&W 2454) MU Subscription Club Car at Gladstone, NJ - Aug. 19, 1984.
Photo: Steve Hepler

The Whippany Railway Museum (WRyM) has acquired former Delaware Lackawanna & Western (DL&W) MU Subscription Club Car No. 2454 (ex-Erie Lackawanna / NJ Transit No. 3454). The acquisition was arranged with the cooperation and donation of the car to WRyM by the United Railroad Historical Society of New Jersey (URHS).

Through the efforts of long-time WRyM supporter Frank Reilly, a very substantial grant has been gifted to the Museum which is being directed towards the complete restoration-to-operation of this historically significant railcar that comes to us with an abundance of NJ transportation history.

The DL&W club cars dated from 1912, and operated in steam locomotive-hauled service before being rebuilt for New Jersey suburban electric MU (Multiple Unit) service in 1930. Also known as "Subscription Cars" on the DL&W, they catered to the "gentlemen's club" set. In order to ride in the car, an individual had to be sponsored and voted in by the other members, so the membership would have had a air of exclusivity. Members paid an extra fare each month, which was turned over to the railroad to pay the expenses of operating the car. DLW Club Car 1900
DLW Club Car D

DLW Club Car 3454 0 2451 at Hoboken c-1930 - 1931 MU w-stained glass windows
DL&W MU Club Car #2451 at Hoboken c-1930. Photo shows how #2454 would have appeared at the same time. Note original 1912-era stained-glass upper windows still in place at this late date
The five original DL&W MU subscription / club cars (Nos. 480 - 484) were built new for the Lackawanna by Barney & Smith in 1912 as steel body, open platform subscription cars. They were not rebuilds from earlier main-line parlor cars. No. 2454 was originally DL&W No. 484. Throughout 1930, American Car & Foundry Co. converted the original open platform club cars into vestibule-equipped club cars and fitted them out for electric MU service, the same as all the other high-roof MU trailers that started life with open platforms.
DL&W No. 2454 was assigned to the Hoboken to Gladstone Branch run... on a train known as The Millionaire's Express . The Gladstone club car was the only one that had a porter, and it was the only Lackawanna MU car that received air conditioning. It was cool air vented out of the ceiling via ducts from ice bunkers filled with huge blocks of ice. DLW Club Car 2454 3454 Hoboken c-1966
EL MU Parlor 3454 at Hoboken 12-24-1973 Dan McFadden
Erie Lackawanna MU Subscription Club Car #3454 at Hoboken, Christmas Eve, 1973.
Photo: Dan McFadden
After the October 1960 merger of the DL&W and the Erie Railroad, which created the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad, No. 2454 was renumbered as 3454, the number which it carried until the end of its operating career in 1984.

Some memories of riding onboard the 2454 / 3454 are provided below by New Jersey commodities broker-turned-steam-excursion-entrepreneur Ross Rowland:

EL Conrail MU interior repainted Dec
Erie Lackawanna standard MU commuter coach interior.
Photo: Bill Young
“When my family and I first moved to Bernardsville in the spring of 1968 I noticed that one car on the 7:45 am train had air conditioning while the entire rest of the fleet depended upon little fans near the ceiling to move the hot air around and provide at least a little relief from the heat. The cars all sat in the Hoboken yard all day in the hot summer sun and were plenty hot each evening for the commute home.
I asked around about how one could avail themselves of joining the one subscription car that had the A/C and was told that it was a private commuters club whose members were a " whose-who" of Wall Street senior leaders and heavy duty political figures from the NJ "establishment" and that one could only join if sponsored by 2 members and that there was a 3 year waiting list. EL Conrail MU Parlor 3454 interior B Hoboken 1 13 1978 Dan McFadden
EL Subscription Club Car #3454 interior showing A/C duct at ceiling.
Photo: Dan McFadden
EL MU Parlor 3454 Door Gladstone 9 17 1972 Dan McFadden
Entry door to EL Subscription Club Car #3454, Gladstone, NJ Sept. 17, 1972.
Photo: Dan McFadden
A few weeks later I discovered that one of my largest commodity futures customers (at Merrill Lynch) was a long standing member of the car and he agreed to " sponsor" me and find the 2nd. sponsor. I was soon elected to membership and began enjoying the commute home a lot more all summer.

If I recall correctly I was the first new member in the previous 7 years, and from my memory I was (at age 28) at least 25 years younger than the next youngest member. I was rather used to being the "kid" in the crowd as all the members of the futures exchange where I worked were in their 60's-70's.

The car was divided near the middle with one end being non-smoking and reserved for members guests. The rules allowed us to bring a total of 4 guests aboard per year (one at a time) and guests were required to ride in the non-smoking/guest end. There were no women members. EL Conrail MU Parlor 3453 interior E Hoboken 12 16 1977 Dan McFadden
Interior photo of companion EL Subscription Club Car #3453 showing the non-smoking end of the car.
Photo: Dan McFadden
EL Conrail MU Parlor 3454 interior A Hoboken 1 13 1978 Dan McFadden
Interior of EL Subscription Club Car #3454, showing card tables.
Photo: Dan McFadden
The other end was set-up with rattan seats and 2 card tables. Every day there were 2 bridge games on the way into Hoboken and each night there were 2 gin-rummy games on the way home. Both games had regular players and scores were kept and everyone settled up on the money Friday nights coming into Basking Ridge. The players were in fact a "whose-who" of Wall Street and included Mr. Percy Chubb, II - CEO of Chubb Insurance Webster Todd, Director - Metropolitan Life Insurance Company; Cyrus Vance, Deputy Secretary of Defense under President Lyndon Johnson and later Secretary of State for President Jimmy Carter; C. Douglas Dillon, Wall Street financier and former Treasury Secretary under President John F. Kennedy; etc.,etc. I never tired of enjoying some of the squabbles that would develop between them on settlement night when they'd frequently argue strongly over pennies when during their average workday they dealt in millions!!!
Percy Chubb II
Percy Chubb, II
Cyrus Vance
Cyrus Vance
C. Douglas Dillon with JFK
Douglas Dillion with President Kennedy
I recall one day Webb Todd brought his daughter Christie aboard for the ride into Hoboken and she sat next to me (I rode in the non-smoking end mornings to read the paper in library silence, and this end was the only space females were permitted) and I remember being very impressed with her. It did not surprise me in the least when she went on to become New Jersey's Governor years later. Gov. Whitman
Former NJ Governor Christine Todd Whitman

We were blessed to have as a faithful attendant , Mr. Bob White who worked the car for many years. Each member kept a bottle of his favorite hooch in Mr. White's galley and he knew just how each member liked his drink prepared for the journey home. Mornings he served coffee / tea and crumpets. Each year at Christmas a generous collection was taken and Mr. White did quite well. He was a total professional in every sense and added a great deal to the pleasure of the car.

My memories of riding the club car are extensive, fond and lasting. I always enjoyed the sounds of the mahogany wood paneling creaking as we'd go through the turnouts in Hoboken and the wonderful conversations overheard during the serious card games between those titans of Wall Street on all manner of topics.

The ability to enjoy a scotch & soda along with a good cigar, served by a true professional in the comfort of an air conditioned car in the blazing heat of summer, was truly wonderful and will always be remembered as such

Each morning during the summer the car's ice lockers (slung underneath) would be filled with large blocks of ice to keep the A/C going strong all day as the car sat in the summer heat in the yard. Mr. White would draw all the window shades to keep out the sun's rays and not lift them until he was on his way into the shed to receive guests. The car was always nice and chilly when we left Hoboken no matter how hot the day.

And all this for the incredible price of $120. a year !!!
Great memories....sadly never to be repeated!!”
Ross Rowland
Ross Rowland 4
Ross Rowland

EL 3454 NJT MU parlor at Maplewood 8 11 1984 SPH
#3454 Subscription Club Car at NJT Retirement Celebration, Maplewood, NJ Aug. 11, 1984
Photo: Steve Hepler
No. 3454 was the featured lead car during NJ Transit's "Lackawanna Electrics Retirement Celebration" in August 1984 at Maplewood, NJ, and once again during the Tri-State Railway Historical Society's "Farewell to the DL&W MU's" excursion on August 19, 1984. The 3454 "closed the show" so to speak by being placed at the head-end of the very last NJ Transit 1930's-era electric MU train from Hoboken to Dover, NJ on August 24, 1984.
lackElec 19 MU Retirement Special 12 celebration at Maplewood 8 11 1984 SPH
NJT MU Retirement Celebration, Maplewood, NJ Station Aug.11, 1984
Photo: Steve Hepler
LackElec 40 Tri State NRHS Farewell 14 to MU Millington Trestle w 3454 in lead 8 19 1984 SPH
#3454 Subscription Club Car leads the Tri-State NRHS' Farewell To The DL&W MU's excursion over the Millington Trestle on Aug. 19, 1984.
Photo: Steve Hepler
lackElec 57 Last Day F of 3000DC service Last MU run at Hoboken w 3454 on head end 8 24 1984 SPH
Subscription Club Car #3454 at Hoboken Terminal prior to the departure of the last DC-powered electric train to Dover, NJ Aug. 24, 1984.
Photo: Steve Hepler
LackElec 60 Last Day I of 3000DC service Last MU run at Hoboken w 3454 on head end 8 24 1984 SPH
#3454 wears commemorative "Last Run" signage at Hoboken Terminal, Aug. 24, 1984.
Photo: Steve Hepler
LackElec 66A Last Day burst banner Dover 8 24 1984 Scott Snell
Caption: #3454 bursts through a "Last Run" banner upon arrival at Dover, NJ Station, Aug. 24, 1984.
Photo: Scott R. Snell
LackElec 67A Last Day Dover Station 8 24 1984 Richard Hart
3454, with all lights ablaze just after her final arrival at Dover, NJ Station, Aug. 24, 1984.
Photo: Richard Hart
LackElec 67B Last Day crew L R Mike Farrell Charlie Farrell Dick Dilger Al Kelly Dover 8 24 1984 Richard Hart
#3454 poses at Dover, NJ with her final crew during the night of August 24, 1984. Left-to-Right: Mike Farrell; Charlie Farrell; Dick Dilger & Al Kelly.
Photo: Richard Hart

The full restoration of this notable rail car was a long-term project. For the exterior of the car the Whippany Railway Museum utilized the services of Star Trak, Inc., located at the URHS restoration facility in Boonton, NJ. The first task was to remove all the earlier paint layers and coat the carbody and roof in primer paint. The lower, rotted portions of steel along the bottom and ends of the car were cut out and refitted with new metal work. Repairs were made to a minor leak in a portion of the copper-clad roof. The decayed steps and vestibule platforms were removed and rebuilt. Museum volunteers also cleaned the car’s underbody components.

DLW Club Car 3454 8B 4 17 2014 SPH
#2454 / 3454 enters the URHS / Star Trak shop at Boonton, NJ to begin its multi-year restoration. April 17, 2014.
Photo: Steve Hepler
DLW Club Car 3454 52 primer Boonton 5 19 2014 SPH
May 19,2014. Photo: Steve Hepler
DLW Club Car 3454 8H side Nov. 8 2011 SPH
Photo: Steve Hepler
DLW Club Car 3454 88 side sheets removed 8 6 2014 Ray Clauss
Aug. 6, 2014. Photo: Ray Clauss
DLW Club Car 3454 124F new steel 10 10 2014 SPH
Oct. 10, 2014. Photo: Steve Hepler
DLW Club Car 3454 101 work progress 8 28 2014 SPH
Aug. 28, 2014. Photo: Steve Hepler
DLW Club Car 3454 32 Roof B end 5 8 2014 SPH
Caption: May 8, 2014. Photo: Steve Hepler
DLW club car 3454 132B old steps 4 20 2015 SPH
April 20, 2015. Photo: Steve Hepler
DLW club car 3454 142 front end 7 13 2015 SPH
July 13, 2015. Photo: Steve Hepler
DLW Club car 3454 new steps installed Aug. 4 2016 SPHcropped382
August 4, 2016. Photo: Steve Hepler
DLW2454 Brake Component Before Needle Scale 9 3 2015 AW
Brake Component prior to the removal of rust and grime. September 3, 2015. Photo: Alan Wishengrad
DLW2454 Brake Component After Needle Scale 9 8 2015 AW
Brake Component after the removal of rust and grime. September 8, 2015. Photo: Alan Wishengrad
A refurbished window frame complete with new glass. April 20, 2015. Photo: Steve Hepler
While the body repairs were underway, Museum volunteers removed all window frames, refurbishing them and fitting them with new glazing. A notable feature of No. 2454's original 1912 construction is the stained-glass window panels above each large passenger window. Some time after the 1930 rebuild of the car for electric MU service, the stained-glass windows were plated over to give the car a more “modern” appearance. Museum volunteers removed this plating and found that the original 1912-era wood framing and stained glass panels were still in place and intact. The wooden frames for the stained-glass unfortunately did not age well and were all removed and totally re-fabricated.

Also unique to the Subscription Cars were their diamond shaped windows. Over the years several of them had been vandalized and their frames had deteriorated. Museum volunteers removed the original frames and fabricated replacement ones. New glass matching the original was cut to replace those panes which had been destroyed. Museum volunteers then reinstalled these signature windows. Finally, the interior framing around the windows was rebuilt and installed.

Upon completion of the exterior work, the car was fully repainted. In September 2019 it was moved from Boonton to Whippany.

With its arrival at Whippany, work on restoring the interior got underway. Actually in remarkably good condition considering the three decades of non-maintenance and exposure to vandalism and the elements, WRyM volunteers cleared the car of all carpeting and debris. Ceiling panels were repaired and repainted. After cleaning away decades of grime all interior woodwork was refinished. Lighting fixtures and fans have been refurbished and reinstalled. Repair of the heating and electrical systems is being undertaken. New seats built to the specifications of those originally in the car have been obtained.

While the grant funding will provide for a major portion of the rehab, additional contributions are always welcome. Tax-deductible donations can be made via the Museum's website: or in the form of checks or money orders payable and mailed to:

Whippany Railway Museum
P.O. Box 16
Whippany, NJ 07981-0016

We have many people to thank for supporting the grand effort to preserve and keep this very significant railcar here in New Jersey, but most of all, the many good people at URHS deserve a big round of thanks and applause for gifting the car over to WRyM. Without their efforts, it is very likely that this car would have been scrapped many years ago.

It will take a several years of dedicated work to enable the car be in regular service once again, but we are quite confident that the final results of an authentic restoration will be well worth the effort and wait.


The Whippany Railway Museum is a member of the HeritageRail Alliance
and the United Railroad Historical Society of New Jersey.
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Whippany Railway Museum
P.O. Box 16
Whippany, NJ 07981-0016
(973) 887-8177

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