Whippany Fire Department / Civil Defense Siren

Air Raid Siren A

Copyright 2014 by Joseph F. Krygoski
Whippany Railway Museum

Federal Sign and Signal Corporation Model C3 1/2
7 1/2 Horse Power Motor
3 Phase - 220 / 440 Volt - 60 Cycle Motor

Air Raid Siren Plate

Total Units Bought New 1951 (3)

Remote Operation Control via NJ Bell Phone Line (Verizon)

This Siren was originaly installed across from 9 Reynolds Ave, Whippany, NJ in 1951. It was relocated to Hanover Township's Bee Meadow Pool Parking Lot in 1969 and remained in that location until the Spring of 2013 when it was donated to the Whippany Railway Museum.

Hanover Township's first / original siren was located on the roof of the existing Whippany firehouse and was controlled by the Hanover Township Police Department. If the police officer was not at police headquarters, all fire calls were forwarded to the Magee residence located just a few doors up from the fire house. A Magee family member would take the information from the operator and push the siren button located by the special police phone, sounding the alarm / siren. Whippany Fire Dept. 4 c-late-1950s TR

Whippany Police 1 c-1940s

The siren would blow eight cycles with each blast lasting about five seconds.

Whippany Fire Dept. 5 c-late-1950s TR  The first responding volunteer firefighters would use the police phone located inside the fire station. The officer on duty or the Magee family member would give them the information as to the type of fire / emergency, and location.
This information was then written on a large blackboard inside the firehouse for other responding members to see. As the police department grew in size, the need for the Magee family to be a "back-up" for phone service was eliminated. All calls were directed to the police station desk, now manned 24-7 / 365 days of the year.  Whippany Police 2 1961 TR

As the town grew in population and new housing developments went up after World War II, the need to alert volunteer members in outer-lying parts of the town needed to be addressed.

Two more sirens were added in late-1951, one pole-mounted siren located across from 9 Reynolds Ave and the third pole-mounted unit sited near the Salem Drive School on the Water Department's water storage tank property. These new audible signals provided the necessary coverage for the next twenty years.

cd 7 plectron ad  The introduction of radio messaging to fire department volunteers was introduced around 1969, when the Plectron Radio Receiver was issued to each department member where a voice message was sent with location and type of emergency. The sirens were still used as a back up at this time, but the siren cycles were reduced and would only sound four times during each emergency call.
During the Cold War-era and the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, the sirens were also used for Civil Defense.

cd 1 jg cd 2

The siren would sound one very long blast lasting about five minutes.....a very fearful warning for everyone who remembers those uncertain times.

cd 11 cd 15

cd13 cd 12 Bomb shelter

The only time the siren was a "welcome sound" was for school children...alerting them of the much loved "Snow Day"! Whippany Station ice skating c-1950s 

The Board of Education would decide if weather conditions were too dangerous and closed school. Parents would listen to the local radio station (WMTR 1250 AM ) or wait to hear the siren blow at 7AM.

These sirens were tested every day at 5 PM, and the test signal was used by many local families as time for dinner. Many kids would race home so as not to be late when the whistle blew!

As technology with radios, pagers and cell phones advanced, the needs of the siren or Fire Whistle was diminished. Once members were able to be contacted via radio signals, the sirens were eventually taken out of service.

One siren still is active in Whippany, at Fire District 2 on a "limited basis" and is located on a pole next to the Whippany Fire Station at 440 Route 10.

Air Raid Siren wdf 1 Air Raid Siren wdf 6

Whippany Fire Dept. 3 c-late-1950s TR  The members of the Whippany Railway Museum would like to Thank all the volunteer men and women of Whippany Fire Department, who get out of bed in the middle of night, leave family functions, and take time off from work to respond to fires and emergencies in every type of weather condition to help those in need.

Whippany Fire Dept. 2 c-mid-1950s TR Whippany Fire Dept. 1

Air Raid Siren donation to Whippany Railway Museum

Air Raid Siren 1 Removal 3-20-2013
Siren being taken down from Bee Meadow Pool site after donation to WRyM 3-20-2013
Air Raid Siren 2 Arrival 3-20-2013 SPH
Siren Arriving at Museum 3-20-2013
Air Raid Siren 3  5-20-2013 SPH
Siren housing removed showing motor 5-20-2013
Air Raid Siren 4 Dig  5-20-2013 SPH
Transporting siren & pole to display site 5-20-2013
Air Raid Siren 5 Dig 3 5-20-2013 SPH
Setting pole in ground 5-20-2013
 Air Raid Siren 6 Dig 5-20-2013 SPH
Air Raid Siren Box 1
July 18, 2013
Air Raid Siren Close - Crop
July 18, 2013


Crossing Gates - Lead Image

As America became laced with railroads in the latter half of the 19th century, it soon became apparent that safety warning signs and signals should be set up to protect people who wanted to cross the tracks.

Crossing Sign 1890s Initially, a variety of signs were posted at crossings, and in time, watchmen were stationed at the busier crossings to warn of approaching trains.

Crossing Sign diamond shape 1910 - 1920 Crossing Watchman 1

The first U.S. patent given for a railroad crossing gate dates back to August 27, 1867, and was awarded to J. Nason and J. Wilson of Boston Massachusetts.

At that time, crossing gates were hand-operated by means of a crank mechanism. The gates were lowered and raised by means of cables or chains running through underground piping from the gatekeeper's crank base to each individual gate at the crossing. Generally, each crossing had four separate gates. Due to the extreme length and great weight of the wooden gates, they had to be counterbalanced by very heavy cast-iron weights at their bases. Snow or rain could cause the wooden gates to become even heavier than they normally would be. Additional weight could be added to the massive counterweights as needed by the gatekeeper, who would place cast-iron disks, each weighing approximately 20 – 30 pounds apiece. As a train approached, the gatekeeper would crank the gates, and these would remain down until the train passed safely. Crossing Gate Crank Base

Crossing Gates - LIRR 1943

Crossing Gates - Counterweights 1963 crop Crossing Gate Counterweight 2

Crossing Gates - Watchman Cranking 1981

Crossing Gates - Railway Safety Gate Cover

Crossing Gates - PRR The Broker West Side Ave. Jersey City Oct. 1961
The classic wooden crossing gates displayed at the Whippany Railway Museum were manufactured by the Railway Safety Gate Company of Pawtucket, RI in the early 1900's. They were originally in use at the West Side Avenue crossing on the former Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) line to Exchange Place in Jersey City, NJ. The tracks were also used by PRR subsidiary, Hudson & Manhattan RR (later to become Port Authority Trans - Hudson or PATH). When the crossing was permanently closed on April 30, 1967, the venerable gates, bases, counterweights and watchman's crank base were acquired by the Morris County Central RR (a steam-powered excursion line operating out of Whippany, NJ in the 1960's). The gates were first set up for display at Whippany in 1968. Since that time they have been restored several times over the years by Museum volunteers.

Crossing Gates - HM PRR Train at West Side Ave. Jersey City June 1961

Crossing Gates - Whippany 7-1970 Crossing Gates - Repair Whippany

Gatekeepers usually had some kind of shelter for the times between trains, and some of these were elevated as either the second story of a structure, or were sometimes perched on a wood or steel structure reached by a ladder. At the Whippany Railway Museum, a replica Pennsylvania Railroad crossing shanty has been erected to give visitors an example of these unique, little buildings. Crossing Shanty Chicago

Crossing Shanty elevated 2

Crossing Shanty Whippany 2 Crossing Shanty interior

Crossbuck 4 Wood  By the early 20th century, the use of "crossbuck" signs (the boards forming an "X"), were very common. The design formed the basic warning sign still in use today, but vastly improved with automatic warning advances. In the mid-1920s, sign makers began using road reflectors called Cataphote reflectors or “cats eyes” on crossbuck signs to make them more visible to drivers at night. These were used through the mid-1940s, when reflective buttons became common. Eventually, reflective sheeting gained popularity. Today, the material is still used to make street and railroad crossing signs.

Crossbuck 6 Cats Eye Crossing-sign-catseyes 1930s

Since it wasn't practical to have employees stationed at all railroad crossings, a way was sought to automatically alert the public that a train was approaching.

The first automatic crossing signals were bells mounted atop poles. They were activated when a train entered a circuit where the rails were insulated to confine the electric current to a designated piece of track. The current flowed through the steel wheels and axles of the train, short-circuiting electricity to a relay which needed the power to hold the electrical connection apart that kept the bell off. When the electricity was diverted through the train...(which was a path of lower resistance)...instead of the relay connection, the contacts connected and the bell rang.

The electric bell idea was quickly expanded to include a swinging round sign with a red light hanging from an arm on the signal pole to simulate a flagman waving a red lantern. The "Automatic Flagman" signals were soon dubbed "Wig-Wags". Only a very few Wig-Wags remain in use today in the United States, much beloved by rail enthusiasts for their nostalgic warning. One historic Wig-Wag signal from the early-1930's (formerly in use on the Susquehanna Railroad just West of Butler, NJ) is currently being restored for operation at the Whippany Railway Museum. NYSW USS Wig Wag Signal

Wig-Wag Whippany 3 LG
Crossing Flasher

Crossing Gates - OWL Luray 2
Eventually the Wig-Wags gave way to the alternating flashing red lights mounted as part of a cross-buck sign, and often with the crossing gates as well. The first flashing red light signal was installed in New Jersey in 1913.
At the Museum site, a fully-functional 1940's-era Crossing Flasher from the Central Railroad of New Jersey warns visitors of approaching excursion trains. With it's twin flashing red lights, cast-iron crossbucks and warning bell, the signal is a classic example of mid-20th Century grade crossing protection. Crossing Flasher Whippany 1
Crossing Stop Death Stop  The image bellow shows a prototype railroad crossing signal that was built in Grenada, Mississippi in the mid 1930’s at a railroad crossing that was considered especially dangerous. The design attempted to get motorists to stop with a combination of visually dramatic graphics, lights and sound. The words “STOP – DEATH – STOP” were illuminated with neon lights that would flash when a train approached. An arrow indicated the direction of the approaching train. The skull and cross bones was also neon-lit and flashed from red to blue. A more traditional pair of flashing lights was also included. If that was not enough, the signal also featured an ear-splitting air raid siren.

Today the basic designs come in a wide variety of configurations, depending on the complexity of the street crossing and the railroad company. Each one is custom designed to fit a specific need.

Originally, wooden crossing gates protected the entire width of the roadway. But in the later-half of the 20th Century, most crossing gates were re-designed to protect against motor traffic only in the oncoming lanes...covering only half the street, allowing an "escape" from the tracks for motorists who happened to be on the crossing when the signal was activated. Crossing Gates - South Smboy NJ 1981

crossing gates - prr

Crossing Gates - modern

Crossing accident 1943 NKP

Crossing accident C
With a terrifying number of motorists increasingly ignoring the crossing gates and winding up being involved in a deadly accident, the use of "four quadrant gates" currently is being implemented around the country to prevent motorists from driving around lowered gates.

Crossing Gates - Full Barrier Crossing Gates - Full Barrier 2

In addition to the signals and signs, operating rules require train crews to sound the locomotive horn or whistle a quarter of a mile in advance of each public crossing until they cross the roadway. Modern locomotives are equipped with a triangle of bright headlights, one mounted high and centered, and two on each lower side of the front of the engine. As soon as the horn begins to sound, the lower twin lights are illuminated and flash alternately. Whistle Post 2

Whistle - Steam

Crossing - Ditch Lights NYSW 4-3-2013 EK

Crossing accident A Since physics makes it impossible to stop a moving train in time to avoid striking a motorist or pedestrian on the track by the time the train crew realizes the danger, the public must always take extreme care when approaching railroad tracks. It takes more than half a mile to stop a heavy freight train, even when emergency braking is used.
Signals, signs, lights, whistles and horns are important safety aids, but ultimately it is the motorist's responsibility to determine whether or not it is safe to cross the tracks. Crossing Gate - lantern 2 

Always remember to STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN !

WRyM Crossing Gate


'Old' Penn Station

Opened to the public on November 27, 1910, New York City's original Pennsylvania Station, designed by Beaux-Arts architects McKim, Mead and White, was a grand temple to rail travel bounded by Seventh and Eighth Avenues and 30th and 33rd Streets. The Seventh Avenue facade was dominated by a colonnade of granite pillars modeled after the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. The main waiting room, designed to echo the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, featured a giant barrel-vaulted ceiling as high and long as the nave of Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. The main departure concourse featured a dramatic glass train shed which brought ample sunlight down to the train platforms themselves. Richly detailed sculptures abounded, including 22 statues of giant eagles which once perched all along the cornice of the station. Penn Station Brochure 1910 A
Penn Station 1910 Opening Day Brochure

Penn Station Exterior Postcard
Penn Station Exterior 1963  Penn Station NY Main Waiting Room 
 Penn Station Concourse Penn Station 1910 1 
Penn Station Alexander Cassatt Statue pre-NYP
Statue of PRR President Alexander Cassatt
who first envisioned the Penn Station complex
Penn Station Clock
One of the 1910 'Day & Night' Clocks
that adorned the entrances of Penn Station
Penn Station Eagle 2
A 1910 Penn Station Eagle as seen in 2010
Penn Station Poster

The Pennsylvania Railroad's (PRR) enormous station gave the traveler, visitor, and commuter alike an experience of grandeur never before seen in the United States. Pennsylvania Station was a monument not only to “The Standard Railroad of The World” (the PRR), but was an architectural icon of New York City and one of the grandest public buildings of the 20th Century.

Penn Station NYC 2

The station occupied four city blocks; yet one was never confused by its vastness. Patrons progressed easily from the European-like elegance of the arcade to the opulent magnificence of the main waiting room and then to the drama and movement of the concourse. Charles McKim's brilliance was evident in his ability to break up the spaces so that each was a different experience and all were related. Penn Station NYC Night

Penn Station Entrance
Penn Station Entrance 1912
Penn Station Waiting Room w-Cassatt Statue 2
Main Waiting Room, late-1950's
Penn Station Clock 1962 LG
Concourse Clock, 1962
Penn Station Interior
Concourse, late-1950's
PRR Track Indicator NYP 1910

Penn StationTrack Indicator Art
With acute attention to detail, even the Train Indicators, placed at the boarding gates, had been specially designed to conform to the ornate iron fencing that enclosed the platform area. Each Indicator stood sixteen feet high, and was of cast-iron, painted black. The aluminum sign cards, which displayed the name of the train as well as its stops, were painted bright red, the only touch of color in the room of black and gray. (During a 1950's revamping of Penn Station, the Train Indicators were given a coat of steel-gray paint while retaining the red sign cards.)

PRR Track Indicator NYP March 1964
March 1964

As the 1900's ended its first decade, there were at the time about six general types of devices in use for the purpose of aiding an intending passenger to find his train after purchasing his ticket and checking his baggage. The most modern of these indicators in 1910 were the Hutchinson Indicators manufactured by the National Indicator Company (NIC) of New York. NIC had installed indicators at Grand Central Terminal and Pennsylvania Station in New York City, the Central RR of NJ Terminal in Jersey City, NJ, as well as Michigan Central Station in Detroit, the Great Northern Station in Minneapolis and Kansas City's Union Station.

PRR Track Indicator NYP Broadway 27th

PRR Track Indicator NYP Changing Sign Cards
Method of changing sign cards
The Indicators at Penn Station were somewhat out of the ordinary, and as noted above, they formed a part of the fence along the concourse and fit in with the artistic theme of the facility. The Penn Station Indicators featured sign cards measuring 17 by 32 inches, and were carried on a light metal frame, inside of the larger frame. This inner frame was lowered by means of a small crank inserted in a hole near the base of the main post . The movable parts were operated by five, half-inch shafts, by means of miter gears and universal joints. The track number at the top was illuminated from within, but the rest of the lettering was lit by outside reflectors. The numerals used for showing the time were on steel ribbons, enameled on both sides. A single crank served to move both the name card and time ribbon.
McKim, Mead and White had intended for their masterpiece to survive for 500 years; it barely lasted 53. In 1962 the PRR made the decision to demolish the station as rail travel gave way to the airlines. No one could have foreseen that the destruction of Pennsylvania Station would prove to be one of the key moments in the birth of the historic preservation movement. Penn Station Demo 1965 2
Penn Station Demo 1965 Penn Station Demo
Penn Station Demo Eagle Penn Station Demo Statue
The 'Day' half of the 'Day & Night' Clock statuary was unceremoniously
dumped in the NJ Meadowlands alongside the PRR mainline in 1965
Penn Station - MSG The public outcry was immense: the New York Times called it a "...monumental act of vandalism..." and "...the shame of New York." Architectural historian Vincent Scully lamented, "Through (Penn Station) one entered the city like a god. Now one scuttles in like a rat." And Ada Louise Huxtable, the Times' architecture critic, warned, "We will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed." The glory of “Old” Pennsylvania Station was replaced by the steel and glass of the new Madison Square Garden complex, with the rail station consigned to the “basement” of the Garden.
Penn Station - Yesterday 1963
Penn Station - Yesterday, 1963
Penn Station - Now
Penn Station - Now

The result of this outcry was the creation of the New York City Landmarks Commission, the first of its kind in any city in the U.S. Multiple buildings and districts in New York have been preserved since, particularly Grand Central Terminal, New York's last surviving grand gateway.

The Preserved Train Indicator

PRR Track Indicator - Hutchinson 

The Pennsylvania Station Hutchinson Train Indicator displayed at the Whippany Railway Museum was manufactured by the National Indicator Company of New York, and was one of 44 such Indicators placed at Penn Station's boarding gates. This now-rare Indicator is unique in that it is the only one intentionally earmarked (albeit partially intact) for preservation purposes when Penn Station was demolished in the early-1960's.

PRR Timetable Nov 2 1930 crop

Oddly enough, at the “new” Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, in a walled-off baggage area near Track 1, there remains yet one other Train Indicator, although it has been compromised since it's original installation in 1910. It has only one “face”, (originally there were four sides)...but remarkably, it survives to this day in its original location. PRR Track Indicator NYP Track 1 
PRR Track Indicator Whippany 2 

The eight-foot section at Whippany was saved in the midst of Penn Station's demolition in 1966 by the Morris County Central Railroad (a steam-powered excursion line operating out of Whippany, NJ in the 1960's). The artifact, with it's ornate, Romanesque crown, was subsequently placed in storage at Whippany. At the same time, the MCC also acquired and preserved the lower portion of another Indicator. Thirty years later in 1996, during the Sesquicentennial year of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Whippany Railway Museum finally erected the upper section of the Penn Station Indicator. (The surviving lower section was eventually given to a South Jersey collector of PRR items, who continues a long-term process to replicate a full-size Indicator) Today this genuine 1910 PRR artifact stands as a monument to this great citadel of transportation's past and gives Museum visitors but a glimpse of the grandeur and glory that was 'Old' Pennsylvania Station.

PRR TRack Indicator Whippany 3 FE
Photo: Frank Etzel

P8027370  P8027376 

The 'Whippanong Valley Railroad'


layout24temp The 'Whippanong Valley Railroad' is the centerpiece in the main exhibit area of the Museum Building. This “O” - gauge model railroad is a favorite place for visitors to gather and watch the exciting parade of trains. People of all ages take delight in watching speeding passenger trains and long freights glide over the rails.
The Lionel Trains® that thunder down the tracks pass through a representation of the North Jersey landscape which includes a rail yard and station area very much in likeness to the actual Morristown & Erie (M&E) facility at Whippany, complete with the fieldstone depot, water tank and the Whippany Railway Museum's freight house.


layout27 A huge viaduct that passes over a deep gorge and flowing river was inspired by the massive concrete structures built by the Lackawanna Railroad in the early 1900's.

The mainline rails bore through a dark tunnel, pass by the Becker Dairy Farm (once located not far from the M&E's mainline), and wind their way through a haunted village.



The layout, measuring 6 feet wide by 16 feet in length was constructed by the friendly folks at Rails To Cottages (RTC) in Rockaway, NJ. This hobby shop offers everything from (as its name implies) model trains to miniature doll houses. RTC owner Lorenz Fischer and his crew constructed the layout over the course of nearly a month of non-stop, feverish work. The layout was completed and installed at the Museum in early-December 2005.

layout1 layout2

The layout was pre-constructed in the basement of the hobby shop. Its foundation was built, tracks laid, fully wired for electricity, landscaped, buildings set in place, and trains test-run. The entire layout and wooden platform weighs at least 1,500 pounds, and represents about 500 hours of volunteer design, planning and construction work by 4 craftsmen.
layout5 layout6

Once everything was custom fit and in working order, the layout was taken apart in pre-fab sections and loaded into Lorenz's delivery truck. Had the volunteers charged for their labor, the project would have cost about $25,000. The Museum paid for much of the supplies required for the layout, including lumber, wiring, structures, and scenery materials.

At 6:30 AM on December 5, 2005, Lorenz's truck arrived at the Museum Building. 15 hours later, with hardly a break for lunch and a bit of dinner, the layout  was standing in the center of the room, with a tired but proud construction crew looking on as the Lionel “Polar Express” made its way on an upper level, passing through towns and villages. On a lower level, the magnificent “Phoebe Snow” of the Lackawanna Railroad slipped through tunnels, bridges and farmland. In the main part of town a streetcar traveled back and forth bringing commuters to their destination.


layout24 layout14
layout15 Truly a work of beauty, the layout presents a wide variety of model freight and passenger trains that are changed out many times throughout the year. Additionally, various landscaped scenes are rotated to represent a particular season of the calendar or a historical event in history.
layout18 layout19

The layout has been featured in both The Star-Ledger and The Daily Record newspapers. The Whippany Railway Museum is extremely grateful to the fine people at Rails To Cottages for all their outstanding craftsmanship, hard work and long hours that was put into creating this exciting model railway. A brass plaque attached to the layout frame has the following message:

Donated by Rails To Cottages
Designed by Lorenz & Mike Fischer
Constructed by
Lorenz Fischer
Walter Neumaier
Fred Rhinehart
Fred Mehrhof
V.J. Filomeno
Track by Gargraves Trackage
Switches by Ross Custom Switches
December 2005

The Whippany Railway Museum extends its sincere Thanks and Appreciation to the above individuals and corporations for a truly wonderful addition to our displays...one that has been enthusiastically welcomed by everyone at the Museum, and of course, our visitors.

Lorenz Fischer may be contacted at:
Rails To Cottages
44 West Main Street
Rockaway, NJ 07834
(973) 627-6416

Circa 1909 (Replica)


Telephones, either in "Telephone Booth" structures or in simpler Telephone Boxes, were placed wherever there was a need for a locomotive engineer or conductor to talk to the dispatcher or block controller.

Trains were required to stop at certain lineside signals unless permitted to continue without stopping, by a written Train Order. Without the specific authority of a Train Order to the contrary, the engineer was required to call ahead for clearance to proceed.
This replica of a Pennsylvania R.R. Telephone Booth is based on a P.R.R. 1909 Standard Plan. It was built in 2004 by Whippany Railway Museum Trustee, Earle H. Gil, Sr.



Circa 1905 (Replica)


"Scale Houses" were most often situated on the outskirts of railroad yards or junctions so that loaded freight cars could be weighed on their way out. Thery were also found at points where bulk shipments originated, such as large breweries, grain elevators and coal yards. A Weigh Scale Operator would man the measuring device located inside the building. The scale itself would be situated beneath the track that passed directly in front of the structure.

Pennsylvania Railroad Scale House, Northumberland, PA
Photo by: Michael Hauk (1978)

Pennsylvania Railroad Scale House,
Mt. Union, PA
Photo by: Jack Consoli (1983)
This replica of a Pennsylvania R.R. Scale House is based on a P.R.R. 1905 Standard Plan. It is actually two feet longer than an original 13-foot long structure would have been, and has an extended roof line on its front face. It was built in 2004 by Whippany Railway Museum Trustee, Earle H. Gil, and currently serves as the Museum's Ticket Office.


Circa 1911 (Replica)


On the Pennsylvania Railroad, what we commonly call a "Crossing Shanty", was known as a "Watch Box". Watch Boxes were placed at grade crossings until automatic crossing gates became common toward the middle of the 20th Century. Crossing Watchmen operated the manual Crossing Gates and used a Stop Sign to control traffic at the crossing. Watchmen were also required to inspect passing trains for defects, report engineers who failed to properly sound the whistle or ring the bell at the crossing, and were expected to keep the crossing area clear of snow or other debris that might interfere with safe operation.

Watch Boxes were placed at grade crossings until automatic crossing gates became common toward the middle of the 20th Century.
Crossing Watchmen operated the manual Crossing Gates and used a Stop Sign to control traffic at the crossing. Watchmen were also required to inspect passing trains for defects, report engineers who failed to properly sound the whistle or ring the bell at the crossing, and were expected to keep the crossing area clear of snow or other debris that might interfere with safe operation.
This replica of a Pennsylvania R.R. Watch Box is based on a P.R.R. 1911 Standard Plan. It was built in 2003 by Whippany Railway Museum Trustee, Earle H. Gil, Sr.

Circa 1904

Click to Enlarge

At Whippany, directly across the tracks from the passenger depot, stands the former Freight House of the The Morristown & Erie Railroad Today, this classic railroad structure serves as the headquarters of the Whippany Railway Museum.

A visit to the Museum, and the adjacent railroad yard full of historic equipment is a step back in time. Although this yard was constructed at the start of the 20th Century, except for a few minor changes, nearly everything in this isolated area of Hanover Township is as it was so long ago...and that is it's charm.

In 1904 the Morristown & Erie negotiated with local builders Hopler & Grimes to construct a freight station at it's Whippany, New Jersey yard. The original 18-by-60 foot structure they built served it's owners for well over 60 years. Originally located on the "station-side" of the tracks and just west of the water tank, horse-drawn wagons (and later trucks) could pull up to the "street-side" of the Freight House to accept deliveries of incoming freight, while railroad box cars would be loaded or off-loaded on the "rail-side" of the building. Everything from milk, farm produce, lumber, bricks, and a myrid of industrial and household supplies made their way over the heavy oak timbers that make up the floor of the Freight House. The commerce of the Village of Whippany greatly depended on this humble, but vastly important building.




Sometime during the late-1940's or possibly the early-1950's several employees of the M&E held a New Year's Eve party in the Freight House. At some point during the celebration, a fire broke out, probably from an overheated pot-bellied stove. The Whippany Fire Company responded and managed to extinguish the flames before too much damage was done. After the holidays, M&E carpenters repaired the roof and the structure was as good as new. To this day, a few of the singed timbers remain...a silent reminder of that long-ago party that nearly turned deadly.

In the late-1950's the M&E realized that it required more outdoor storage space for it's freight loading dock at Whippany. The decision was made to shorten the Freight House to create the needed space. Nearly 20 feet of the western end of the building was removed. The west-end wall was then re-joined to the remaining portion of the building, and that is how it appears to this day.
The operation of a museum within the Freight House can be traced back to 1965 when the Morris County Central Railroad began running steam-powered excursion trains out of Whippany on weekends. Eventually several employees and volunteers of the MCC co-founded our predecessor organization, the Morris County Central Railroad Museum by displaying a small collection of railroad memorabilia in half of the Freight House, which by this time was winding down its usefulness to the Morristown & Erie. This tiny collection was the seed which eventually evolved into today's Whippany Railway Museum.




In 1967 the MCCRR provided the funding to have the freight house picked up off its foundation and trucked across four sets of tracks to its present site, where the entire building became the home of the Morris County Central Railroad Museum. This move was made to save the historic structure from being demolished and to make way for a new commercial building and parking lot complex begun by the M&E.




From 1967 through the end of 1973 the Freight House and museum helped to entertain and educate many thousands of people who came to ride the MCC excursion trains. At the end of the 1973 season the Morris County Central decided to move its excursion operations out of Whippany. The museum collection was moved as well and eventually set up on view at the MCC's new location at Newfoundland, NJ.

Unfortunately, the life of the MCC was coming to an end, and it finally went out of business at the close of 1980. By 1982 Museum members were searching for a new home. The old Freight House at Whippany was the most favored choice, but nearly 10 years of neglect and abandonment had caused the aging structure to badly deteriorate. Over two years of work by volunteers was needed to restore the building and surrounding grounds to a safe and pleasing appearance. It was truly a labor of love.




Today, now over 100 years since it was built, the Whippany Freight House continues to faithfully serve the community by being the centerpiece that shelters the exhibits and displays of the Whippany Railway Museum. These important artifacts help educate the public and bring to life the saga of New Jersey's railroads. The memories of Railroading's great past live on within the walls of the Whippany Freight House for all to enjoy.
Click on this picture to learn how you can order your own limited edition print

The Whippany Railway Museum is a member of the HeritageRail Alliance
and the United Railroad Historical Society of New Jersey.
Please read our disclaimer

Whippany Railway Museum
P.O. Box 16
Whippany, NJ 07981-0016
(973) 887-8177
E-mail: info@whippanyrailwaymuseum.net

Questions? E-mail the Webmaster