New Jersey Live Steamers

June 2 2007

Since I don't know hardly anything about live steam (other than it looks really neat), if anyone has information to offer about what type of train is shown in which particular photo or who that is in a photo please don't hesitate to send the information along to me.  Your help in making these pages as accurate as possible will be greatly appreciated!

The New Jersey Live Steamers, which was established in 1961, held their spring steam up the weekend of June 2 and 3 2007.  Since I had decided this year to visit shows and meets which I had previously not attended I was off to the wilds of New Jersey at 7:00 on the morning of the 2nd. 

The NJLS does not publish their physical location on their web site so two weeks before the event I had emailed to them stating who I was and who I am affiliated with, NEMES, and asked for directions to the track.  I received back an email inviting me to visit and the address of the track location which I will not reveal here.

Years ago when the NJLS started they were out in the far country with no one else around except farmers and cows.  Now there has been an invasion of McMansions and city folk who moved to the country to change it to their liking.  So train whistles and folks minding their own business and enjoying their hobby have to tread lightly.  Sadly this is a very common problem around the country. 

Upon arrival (just about exactly three hours from our home in Preston, CT) we were warmly greeted and Mike Plihck showed us around the facility.  NJLS has about three acres laid out with a number of tracks.  One can run pretty much any common scale equipment on, 7 1/4" ground level track and 3/4" and 1" elevated track.  There are numerous steaming bays for all gages and clever hoists and trolleys for moving trains from steaming bays to the tracks.  The site is heavily treed especially in the steaming bay area so one can work on equipment in the shade.  

Two ground level loops with operating signal systems are referred to as the outer loop and the inner loop.  New track is regularly being added.

There are four elevated tracks  Two for electric operation and two for steam.  Steamers can of course run on any of the four tracks. In the small gage trains that use the elevated track butane is a common fuel with some trains being fired by coal.

NJLS has about 101 full members, 130 associate members and 10 junior (under 18 y.o.)  members.  Full members may use the facility at any time, associates must be accompanied by a full member when using the tracks facilities.  There is a monthly membership meeting at the site and various work days are scheduled to share the work of maintain such an operation.  

The NJLS draws their membership mainly from New Jersey with other members coming in from Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New York.

Also at the site as part of the building where the meetings are held there is a well equipped machine shop which members may use to make parts they may not be able to make in their home shop. 

They schedule spring meets the first weekend of June, fall meets are the first weekend in October with a "blow down" day the Sunday in October.  There is also a New Years eve meet where the adventurous can fire up for a winter run.

All in all it was a fine trip and the folks at NJLS are among the most friendly and hospitable I have ever met.  Thank you so much for a great day!

Errol Groff

Well, enough chatter...


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