The Jersey Coast

During the first half of the 20th Century, rail travel was luxurious and opulent. The Whippany Railway Museum will attempt to recreate this atmosphere with the ongoing restoration of its former Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ) Club Car, the "Jersey Coast."

The first steel car to enter CNJ ownership was a coach of 1913 vintage. The car was built to carry 78 commuters and was of a standard clerestory roof design. Starting with the number "800," the series grew to the number "1204" (over 400 coaches) by 1927.

The Museum's car, numbered "1201," was built in 1927 by Bethlehem Shipbuilding as a standard CNJ commuter coach.

In July 1948, the first of the Jersey Central's newly rebuilt, ice-mechanical air-conditioned coaches for "commuter clubs" went into service between Jersey City and Raritan and Bay Head Junction, NJ. It was at this time that the Museum's car went into service as a "Commuter Club Car" and received its "Jersey Coast" name.

The Commuter Club Cars were provided to a group of commuters at the cost of conversion and operation, and guaranteed each of its members one of the 74 seats onboard the car. The car was fitted with an electric generator, one flush toilet and one wash basin. Air-conditioning was provided by forced-air blowing over several 400-pound blocks of solid ice carried in the bunkers underneath the car. Beverages were served by a porter, and for many commuters it was a civilized way to travel to and from work. Club Cars were placed at the east end of the train so their passengers did not have far to walk through the Jersey City Terminal. These special cars were scheduled to operate only on specific trains.
The "Jersey Coast" served the CNJ admirably in this position for over 25 years.
In the mid-1970's the car was purchased by a Morris County, NJ individual who converted it into a "private car," complete with a new, open-end observation platform that very strongly resembled the original observations of the Jersey Central's legendary BLUE COMET passenger train.
Some years later, after the owner placed the car into storage, it was subjected to the ravages of weather and vandalism for over a decade, leaving the car in extremely poor condition.
Early in 1994, the Whippany Railway Museum acquired the car and Museum members immediately began the task of gutting the badly-damaged interior, replacing the many shattered windows and patching the leaking roof.

The exterior of the car was painted in a BLUE COMET-inspired scheme of Jersey Cream, Packard Blue, and Royal Blue (representing the sand, sky and sea of the New Jersey seashore), along with the addition of the famous "Jersey Central Lines" lettering and Statue of Liberty logos reminiscent of the CNJ's 1950's era.

The BLUE COMET was the crack passenger train of the CNJ during the 1930's, running between Jersey City and Atlantic City until 1941. The paint scheme of the train, with its cream-color band running the length of each car, reminded one of a comet streaking through space. All of the BLUE COMET cars were named for "short-period" comets... the swiftest of comets, caused by their small orbits.
Though never used in BLUE COMET service, in its present configuration, the "Jersey Coast" strongly resembles a BLUE COMET observation car. Much work remains to be performed on the interior of the car before it can be used on our excursion trains as an "extra fare" car where passengers will travel in comfort and partake in light snacks and beverages.

The Observation Car, much like the Caboose and Steam Locomotive is now a part of Railroad History. Once the restoration is complete, visitors and riders alike will be able to see how the aristocracy of the rail world once traveled onboard The Seashore's Finest Train.

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