• Discussion relating to the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western, the Erie, and the resulting 1960 merger creating the Erie Lackawanna. Visit the Erie Lackawanna Historical Society at http://www.erielackhs.org/.
Discussion relating to the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western, the Erie, and the resulting 1960 merger creating the Erie Lackawanna. Visit the Erie Lackawanna Historical Society at http://www.erielackhs.org/.

Moderator: blockline4180

  by livesteamer
Okay, here's another tough one for the real Lackawanna experts.

The MU fleet include a few RPO/coach arrangements. What routes had RPO service (I am guessing the Gladstone Branch), how many trains carried the RPO service and when did it end?

  by Tri-State Tom
Montclair Branch trains often had a low-level MU RPO combine trailor on a.m. inbound trains thru 1976 ( Conrail ). From 1971 to Conrail it/they appeared to just be part of normal equipment pool and not used for any mail/baggage service. AIR, these cars were always on the west end point. The RPO room was empty but neatly kept and open for passenger pass thru. The gorgeous Montclair Terminal station building ( still standing in excellent condition in 2004 as part of a mini-mall called 'Lackawanna Plaza' ) had a large baggage room and classic baggage wagons were still sitting on the track #1 platform thru the mid-1970's.

BTW, a bit off topic but the old Montclair Terminal had a Railway Express Agency building out in the freight yard that, circa the early 1960's, shipped parcels/packages I think 3-times per week ( anyone confirm ? ). A Phoebe Snow painted baggage car was often seen spotted on the siding.

Several times watched a 4-car MU set back out of station track #1, be switched thru the interlocking, reverse ends to head over to station track #6 and then reverse again to access the REA siding ( it had cat wire ) to retrieve this baggage car. Then a repeat of this move - but with a run around the baggage car out in the interlockings - and then backing back into track #1 with the baggage car at the station bumper to bring up the markers ( in this case a single red RR lantern hanging off the end door ! ) of a regularly scheduled after rush hour eastbound local run to Hoboken.

Must say a 4-car green MU set with a grey/maroon/yellow Phoebe Snow baggage car in tow looked pretty cool back then !!

Did I think to grab pics as a youngster back then ? Nope. Did anyone else ? I've been asking and searching for years with no success to date....arrgh !

  by pdman
The Gladstone Branch had two RPO services each day. Westbound it was was on Train #405 (lv. Summit at 7:46 am arrive Gladstone 8:38). It dropped off at waiting post masters who arrived at the trains in their cars. Stops were New Providence, Murray Hill, Berkeley Heights, Gillette, Stirling, Millington, Basking Ridge, Bernardsville, Far Hills, Peapack, and Gladstone. I'm not sure if there was a drop off at Lyons for Liberty Corners. I think that community was served out of Basking Ridge with RFD service (I might be wrong on that). There was no eastbound morning pick up. To my memory this was a combi MU car at the west end of the train.

During the day a westbound car trailed one of the trains. This was a full baggage car in full DL&W colors. It was a four car set (two MU sets) pulling it. As I remember, it was Train #421 (leave Summit at 3:13 pm arrive Gladstone at 3:53). Eastbound, the car was trailed on a four car MU set on #426 (levaing Gladstone at 4:38 arriving Summit at 5:37, and it went on to Hoboken). There were never any passengers carried in one of the MU sets. I always assumed it was just for the double power to pull the car.

So there were two drop offs during the day and one end of the day pick up. I don't remember what Saturday service was like. I do remember going down to the post office twice a day. I used to write postal cards to all the roads with passenger service asking them for their current timetables. So, the two and three weeks after I sent these all out would result in our mail box getting quite filled. I still have this collection from about 1956 to 1961.

I remember the stopping of mail, but I don't remember what that date was. Something like Feburary of 1959 sticks in my head. I remember, because all the crews were saying how this would cause a lot of trains to be eliminated through filings at the Interstate Commerce Commission.
  by henry6
Railway Post Office or RPO cars were on all railroads, the Lackawanna provided several MU cars for this service of sorting mail enroute...this was before the ZIP Code system. Roster is in Taber's book. Service from Hoboken west to all electrified brances. RPO trains did not handle baggage but sometimes newspapers. Boonton Line trains..to Dover, Washington and Newton and Branchville carried regular RPO cars where neccessary. The open platform Boonton coaches had baggage combos but do not remember any RPOs.

  by livesteamer
Did the Pennsy have any RPO MUs? I spent a lot of time on or near the Lackawanna and not as much time arouind the Pennsy so I don't recall any of the Pennsy MUs bring equiped with RPO service.

  by livesteamer
Just another thought--the Mark 1 videos of the Lackawanna have a lot of Lackawanna MU action including hauling milk cars (off theGladstone Branch, I think).

And, if you are a fan of the Lackawanna, the Mark I videos are a must.
  by henry6
I don't remember RPO MUs on the Pennsy nor do I remember combines there....milk cars on the hind end of MU's were picked up in Dover off Branchiville trains, no milk (at least in modern times...1950 on...on Gladstone.

  by pdman
The only commercial dairies along the Gladstone line were Schmaltz (in Warren Township -- most of that land is now occupied by Watchung Hills Regional High School) and Somerset Hills Dairy (not sure of the exact location, but I think it was around Liberty Corners). Both had their own herds, milking, and bottling operations. They received some truck tankers from Hunterdon, Warren, and Sussex Counties. They never had anything to do with rail (either inbound or outbound). They delivered to homes. I had uncles and cousins who worked for them. Both companies went out of existence at around 1961-2. Their lands were worth much more for home development.

  by livesteamer
The Branchville connection with the milk cars tied to the rear of MUs makes much more sense. BTW, the current issue of Railpace shows the NYC MUs hauling a couple of RDCs and explains that the railroad was told to cease and desist or void the warranty on the MUs. Now, I know the RDCs are "tad bit" heavier than milk cars but I guess the Lackawanna MUs were a "tad bit" more capable.

  by pdman
This is a little off the topic, but I remember from about 1955 to 1960 or so, a local freight hauled by a L&HR locomotive would come eastbound into Summit at about 9:30 each night. It had a milk car that came down from Straders on the Sussex Branch. That freight would turn around westbound at about 10:00. I had always assumed that the milk car was then taken down to a dairy processing plant that used to be trackside in the Orange yard. I remember it, because the person I was with was the editor of Railway Age (a neighbor of ours), and he introduced me to the L&HR with this sighting.
  by henry6
The L&H engine on the Summit Drill...I don't ever remember seeing it, but it is plausable...But the milk from Straders came down on then train 1050 for Orange and Henry Becker's Dairy in Roseland. Quite often, especially on Friday nights, old Henry would sit in his big car at Denville and smoke cigars making sure his milk went east; often his son Gene was out on the platform with the rest of us fans. Henry would always give me a cigar...I was in my early teens...to take home to my father. Trains 1050 and 44 both had Borden milk cars, 1050 from Branchville, 44 from Upstate NY. At one time I believe it was 44 that set out Borden's cars on Denville's East Siding for 1050 to take east on the M&E while it went over the Boonton line, or vice versa.

  by Tri-State Tom
pd / henry -

Where exactly was the milk processing plant near the Orange yard ?

I was just around this area last Saturday morning....hence the curiosity.
  by henry6
At Orange yard milk was transloaded to trucks and carried to Roseland.

  by JimBoylan
livesteamer wrote:Did the Pennsy have any RPO MUs? I don't recall any of the Pennsy MUs bring equiped with RPO service.
PRR, West Jersey & Seashore, Long Island (and Reading) had various MU versions of various combinations of Baggage, Express, RPO, coach. Best to move to those forums for more questions. I'll try to answer there.