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The Whippany Railway Museum made history on March 4, 2002 when its ex-U.S. Army Steam Locomotive No. 4039 was given the highest recognition as a National Treasure by its placement on the National Register of Historic Places. As a prelude to this National honor, No. 4039's application had been studied and voted favorably upon by the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office's (NJHPO) State Review Board on April 4, 2001. The locomotive was eventually listed on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places on December 20, 2001. The application was then forwarded to the National Park Service (NPS) for its review and determination.

The NJHPO informed Museum officials on March 18th of the National listing, and noted that the NPS had been very impressed by the application and felt that No. 4039 was a unique property that deserved immediate listing on the National Register.

The National Register of Historic Places was created in 1966 to recognize the historical and cultural foundations of our Nation. Listing in the National Register honors the property by recognizing its importance to its community, State or the Nation. Properties are listed in one of five categories:

  • Buildings
  • Sites
  • Structures (which includes railroad cars & locomotives)
  • Objects
  • Districts

    National Register properties are distinguished by having been documented and evaluated according to uniform standards. These criteria are designed to help state and local governments, Federal agencies, and others identify important historic and archeological properties worthy of preservation and consideration in planning and developmemt decisions.

    Of the more than 73,000 properties that make up the National Register, apporoximately 1,800 are railroad related. The majority of the railroad properties are depots...only about 90 listings pertain to railroad cars and locomotives. No. 4039 is significant in the fact that it is the only piece of railroad rolling stock or motive power to be so listed in the State of New Jersey.

    Steam Locomotive No. 4039 was built in November 1942 for the U.S. War Department by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) of Schenectady, NY. Eighty (Nos. 4000 - 4079) nearly identical "060-155"-class locomotives were constructed. Of these eighty, the first forty-three were built by ALCO in 1942...the remaining thirty-seven were built by the Lima Locomotive Works in 1944. (Of the eighty built, approximately 8 survive in various conditions today) Their intended purpose was for U.S. military service in the Far East, Africa and Europe during World War II. However, upon delivery to the Army, all of these 0-6-0's were instead used to switch various stateside military bases until the end of the war.

    On February 17, 1947, the War Assets Administration sold No. 4039 as war surplus material to the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway (VBR) of Piney River, VA, where it was renumbered VBR No. 5, and worked in freight service until retired on August 1, 1963.

    In late-1965 the VBR sold No. 5 to the Morris County Central Railroad (MCC), which was operating passenger rail excursions out of Whippany, NJ over the Morristown & Erie Railroad. The engine was renumbered back to its original "4039" and continued operating until the MCC went out of business in December 1980.

    During the 1980's and early '90's, No. 4039 changed hands several times. In May 1994 the Whippany Railway Museum acquired the locomotive and had it shipped on its own wheels back to Whippany, NJ from its temporary storage site in Honesdale, PA.

    On January 26, 1997, the Morris County (NJ) Board of Chosen Freeholders adopted a Resolution designating Steam Locomotive No. 4039 as "The Official Steam Locomotive of Morris County." On August 1, 2001, the Whippany Railway Museum was awarded a $300,000 TEA-21 Enhancement Grant that will provide for the rehabilitation and eventual operation of this historic locomotive.

    Official National Register of Historic Places site

    New Jersey Register of Historic Places article


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