M&E Railbus Number 10

As early as 1906, Morristown & Erie Railroad president Richard McEwan began to consider replacing his steam-powered passenger trains with railbuses. It was not until 1917, however, that the White Company of Cleveland, Ohio succeeded in selling McEwan a “Rail Motor Car”… essentially a small bus fitted with railroad wheels.

In June 1918, Railbus No. 10 arrived on the property and was placed in service between Morristown, Whippany and Essex Fells, NJ in mid-July 1918. The bus was a 45-horsepower unit that could travel at 35 miles per hour, carry 22 passengers and cost $6,326.06.

The vehicle featured such “luxuries” as leather upholstered seats, interior lighting, heat, drop-sash crystal glass windows and passenger stop signal buttons. From all accounts, it appears that No. 10 performed admirably and fulfilled all of McEwan’s expectations.

In order to turn the bus at the end of each run, the M&E had two small, specially-built turntables installed at Morristown and Whippany.

At Essex Fells, the bus was turned on the Erie Railroad’s large locomotive turntable. (As a side note, today, the Museum’s ticket office at Whippany sits on the site of the concrete turntable pad, which is still there under a covering of dirt and stone.)

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