DELAWARE, LACKAWANNA & WESTERN RAILROAD
SUBSCRIPTION CLUB CAR NO. 2454
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.
Some memories of riding onboard the 2454 / 3454 are provided below by New Jersey commodities broker-turned-steam-excursion-entrepreneur Ross Rowland:
“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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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!!”
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.
The restoration of this notable rail car is a long-term project. The Whippany Railway Museum is utilizing the services of Star Trak, Inc. located at the URHS restoration facility in Boonton, NJ. Currently all of the earlier paint layers have been removed and the carbody and roof are now coated in primer paint. The lower, rotted portions of steel along the bottom and ends of the car have been cut out and refitted with new metal work. Repairs were made to a minor leak in a portion of the copper-clad roof. Steps and vestibule platforms are in the process of being rebuilt. Museum volunteers have removed all window frames, and they have been refurbished and fitted 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 all the 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 have been totally re-fabricated.
As for the interior, which is in remarkably good condition considering the three decades of non-maintenance and exposure to vandalism and the elements, WRyM staff have cleared the car of all carpeting and debris. Volunteers have already begun restoration of the interior of the car, including all woodwork, ceiling panels, light fixtures, seating, etc. The Morristown & Erie Railway will eventually move the Club Car to its new home at Whippany, NJ once Star Trak completes its part of the restoration process.
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: www.WhippanyRailwayMuseum.net 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.