Now CLOSED for the season!
The Old Station Museum and Caboose
CLOSED FOR THE SEASON. Reopening June, 2019.
1871 Old Station Lane, Mahwah, NJ 07430
**Please note: We cannot process credit cards inside the museum.***
The Mahwah Museum Society’s Old Station Museum and Caboose is now closed for the season. Admission to the museum is $3.00 per person over 16, admission is free for those under the age of 16.
The exhibit at the station this season features several models built by former Mahwah resident Hollis C. Bachmann. Mr. Bachmann constructed a model of N.Y.C. #999 and several other trolleys. We were fortunate to receive a donation of this balance of Mr. Bachmann’s collection from his niece, Kay Doody. Mr. Bachmann had built our model of the North Jersey Rapid Transit interurban car (trolley) that ran from Suffern to Paterson. You may remember seeing that model in our main museum building. It was constructed of tin cans, was 2 feet in length, and included a detailed interior, having taken Mr. Bachmann 6 months to build. Please come by and see these really nicely- detailed creations that are the offspring of that trolley.
The Old Station Museum established in 1967 is located in a building that was the original station on the Erie Railroad in Mahwah. It was rescued from destruction, first by the Winters family and later by the Mahwah Historical Society. It contains many interesting artifacts given to the museum by collectors of railroad memorabilia. It also features a 1929 Erie cupola caboose which has been recently restored. There is a scale model of the Erie system and photos of the early days of railroading in Mahwah and along the rest of the mainline.
In 1848 the Paterson and Ramapo Railroad was built through Mahwah to carry passengers and freight from New York City, via Paterson, to the main line of the Erie Railroad located in Suffern, New York. From there, connections could be made to upstate New York, then Chicago, and on to the west.
In 1871 the leaders of Mahwah petitioned the Erie to allow a stop at a new station in Mahwah. The 1871 station remained in service until 1904 when the Erie expanded to four tracks and raised the roadbed from ground level. The second station remained until 1914 when it was destroyed by fire. The current station was built in 1914 and still serves commuters today.
Mahwah Museum and Donald Cooper Model Railroad are now CLOSED for the Summer. They will reopen September 29, 2018 with new exhibits.
After this, the museum will be open its regular hours, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 PM.
We thank all who visited us this past season, and look forward to welcoming you back in September.
We will be reopening with the continuing exhibits:
Kilmer, The Man
WWI Part 1
Kilmer, The War Years
WWI Part 2
Les Paul in Mahwah
Donald Cooper Model RR (Open Weekends ONLY)
“Old Ed” – Keeping Hobo History Alive
Wednesday, September 26, 7:00 pm, Mahwah Museum Layout Room (downstairs train room)
201 Franklin Turnpike Mahwah, NJ 07430
Admission 3.00$ for non-members, museum members and children are free.
Ed Griesel, secretary of the board of directors for the West Virginia Railway Museum located in Elkins, West Virginia, will be giving a talk about the life of a hobo on a special date and night for our lectures.
“Old Ed”, a moniker given him by one of his hobo friends, speaks to groups of all ages, but his favorite group is kids. While Ed has never bundled a few of his possessions in a red bandana, tied them to a bindle stick, and set out to live the life of a hobo, he does present the image of a classic hobo with his salt-and-pepper beard, herringbone sport jacket, gray pants, brown shoes, and red bandana around his neck. He keeps his audiences engaged by asking questions and telling the history of the hobos and their way of life. This should be a very entertaining and informative evening.
The lecture is scheduled for Wednesday, September 26 at a special time of 7:00 pm. This should allow school children to join in the fun. Refreshments will be served.
*Please note the change of day (Wednesday), time (7PM), and location (downstairs at Mahwah Museum).
This lecture is hosted by Mahwah Museum, located at 201 Franklin Turnpike. The Museum is currently closed for the summer and will reopen in September featuring the new exhibits Kilmer: The War Years and WWI . Permanent exhibits are Les Paul in Mahwah and The Donald Cooper Model Railroad, which is open weekends 1-4 pm. The Museum is open weekends and Wednesdays from 1-4 pm.; admission $5 for non-members, members and children are free. Visit mahwahmuseum.org or call 201-512-0099 for information on events, membership and volunteering.
Join us for a luncheon & presentation by Elaine Weiss
Author of THE WOMAN’S HOUR
Thursday, November 1 at 11:30 A.M. Ramsey Country Club, 105 Lakeside Drive Ramsey, NJ 07446
Sponsored by The Northwest Bergen History Coalition
Admission: 50$ per person (cash bar)
Book signing at 11:30 AM, lunch will be served at 12 noon.
Join us as noted author Elaine Weiss shares a moment in history that changed all of our lives. in 1920, after 70 years of struggle begun by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granting women the right to vote was near to passing. The amendment had 35 ‘yes’ votes but needed one more. Tennessee was their last chance. That August brought a divergent group of suffragettes “Suffs” to Tennessee, a holdout state that could push the count to 36. They came to confront the “Antis” (women who feared the moral decay of the family and the nation) and the Tennessee politicians who did not want women to influence the upcoming election.
Elaine Weiss brings together all the elements of this turbulent time in which “the core themes of American history-race,class, money, gender, state’s rights, power and democracy- all came to play in Nashville.” Indeed, the original suffragettes for women’s rights had begun as abolitionists working to abolish slavery. Now, descending on Tennessee, later suffragettes – led by Carrie Chapman Catt, Sue White and Alice Paul, who often differed among themselves, would be challenged by most men and by Josephine Pearson, proud leader of the Tennessee “Antis.”
Elaine Weiss is an award-winning journalists and writer. Her first book, Fruits of Victory: The Woman’s Land Army in the Great War was excerpted in Smithsonian Magazine online and featured on C-Span and public radio stations nationwide. Highly acclaimed by the New York Times Sunday Book Review, The Woman’s Hour has been optioned by Amblin TV for adaptation as either a TV movie or a limited series.
- Enclosed is my check for ____ tickets for the Coalition Luncheon on November 1 at $50 each. Total: $ ___
- Please reserve ___ book(s), The Woman’s Hour, at $20 each: $____ Check Total: $_____
I wish to be seated with
RESERVATION DEADLINE: TUESDAY OCTOBER 24, 2018
Proceeds benefit members of the NW Bergen History Coalition. Please Credit the historical society of:
Allendale Franklin Lakes Glen Rock The Hermitage Mahwah Museum Ramsey Ridgewood Oakland Upper Saddle River
Waldwick Museum of Local History Waldwick Signal Tower ___ Wyckoff General Coalition ____
Your name will be on a list at the door. Directions will be emailed to you. Information: Michelle Dugan 201-995-0171
Send checks payable to: U.S.R. Historical Society, 245 Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
Note: For advance reading, books may be purchased ahead of time for $20 at The Hermitage Museum and Mahwah Museum
After over a year of work, the Museum’s archive volunteers have completed processing the John W. Bristow Papers. Archivist Cathy Moran Hajo worked with a team of volunteers and college students to organize, re-house, and describe one of the Museum’s largest and richest archival collections. A guide to his papers has been posted on the Museum website.
John W. Bristow (1924-2010) was a high school teacher with an abiding interest in history. He moved to Mahwah in 1973 and became involved with the work of the Mahwah Historical Society and the Mahwah Historic Sites Commission. He became Mahwah Town Historian in 1993 and is best-known for his newspaper column “This Month In Mahwah History” which ran in the Home and Store News from 1985-1992.
John W. Bristow, taken in 2008 (Courtesty of Ruth Bristow Portela).
The Bristow Papers was a large and unorganized collection when it arrived at the Museum. After separating materials like newspaper clippings, Mahwah Historical Society and Mahwah Historical Sites Commission records, and duplicates, the collection still spans 24 boxes! Among its highlights are John Bristow’s many presentations on local history, a rich collection of photographs and the photographic slides that accompanied his lectures, and ephemera he gathered while conducting research.
We could not have completed this major reorganization without the help of a dedicated team of students who volunteered on Saturday mornings. We want to thank Kevin Cosenza, Jeffrey Fischer, Meg Hajo, Lee Herman, Nicholas Incorvaia, Cristina Macari, and Jennifer Zgola for all their efforts to make this collection available to researchers. I would also like to thank Ruth Bristow Portela, John Bristow’s daughter, for sharing photographs and biographical information that we used to write up the guide to his papers.
To view the papers, please arrange an appointment by either calling the Museum or e-mailing the archives directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any Youngs, Hagermans, Bodines out there?
The Mahwah Museum archives are processing a large collection of photographs from the Martha Young Kuklinski Collection which document the lives of J. Frank Young (1905-1960) and Henrietta Morriss Young (1909-1984) and their families, ranging 1910-1940s. There are also some older historical family photographs. Henrietta Morriss’ mother was Bessie Hagerman and she lived with Andrew Hagerman. The photos from this branch of the family are fairly well labeled. The photographs of the Youngs, who came from Tallman, often have no labels at all. J. Frank Young’s mother was Anne Jane Bodine and his father was John Franklin Young. His siblings were Alta, Freda, and John Young. If you can help up put names to faces, it would make this collection much more useful to researchers.
Charles E. Ellis
Charles Ellis began his career in 1926, at the age of 19, at Norton-Blair-Douglas in New York. He was recommended for an internship by Bassett Jones, a renowned electrical engineer, who was one of the prominent residents of Cragmere and who also holds at least one patent. Charles applied for his first patent in 1929 at the age of 22 when he was working for Norton Blair Douglas. That patent was awarded in 1934 after Norton Blair Douglas had been bought out by Westinghouse. This patent was for a safety device for vehicle doors, particularly those of elevators, that involved the use of beam of light which, when interrupted by a person’s foot for example, would not let the elevator door close. Like the electric eye on your elevator door. He was chagrined that the builders of the Chrysler Building did not use it on their elevators, but was glad that Rockefeller Center did.
When Norton-Blair-Douglas was bought out by Westinghouse Electric Elevator Co, Mr. Ellis and the partners moved to Chicago where they worked for Westinghouse. During this period he was awarded a number of patents for elevator related controls and systems. In 1933, he left Westinghouse and got a $10,000 severance which he used, in part, for a trip around the world, in the depth of the depression, on a Japanese steamer. When in London, he heard that the U.S. was likely to go off the gold standard so he converted his travelers checks into gold coins and weathered the devaluation that occurred in U.S. money when it went off of the gold standard. His nephew John Edwards, who now owns Charles house is still looking for 2 gold coins that Charles told an interviewer in 1981 that he still had in the house.
After returning he worked in a company making packaging machinery and claims he was the first to seal plastics with a radio frequency rather than heat. He did not patent this invention. Through World War II he worked for Sedgewick Machine Works, where one of his inventions was large elevators for aircraft carriers, resulting in multi-million dollar sales for that item.
After a period of self employment, between 1948 and 1951, when he continued to invent, specializing in adjustable speed motors, he joined Sperry Rand Corporation where he worked from 1959 as the director of quality control. From 1959 on, he continued to invent and refine adjustable speed and supersynchronous motors.
In his later years, he became very interested in Mahwah history and the environment. He warned of the dangers of earthquakes along the Ramapo Fault, west of the Ramapo River, as subject that was also addressed by Howard Avery. When Mahwah put sewers into Cragmere, he did a drawing and analysis of the water system on Armour Road that formerly served Ezra Miller’s mansion, and became incorporated into the Mahwah water system. He was invited to become a member of the first Environmental Commission, but declined to serve because, he said, the Township refused to provide a personal indemnity and insurance.
Ellis’s house in Cragmere
Photos courtesy of John Edwards.
Robert Armstrong Smith
He did much of his creative work from a basement laboratory in his house on Beveridge Road.. Early in his career he obtained patents for better machinery couplings and bushings for his business known as Smith & Serrell. He also held patents on a better snow shovel and a coin holder.
But the most interesting stories come from his work in polarized light. He was an associate of Lewis Warrington Chubb of Westinghouse. They were working on polarizing the lights from headlamps in a car. Polarization, as you probably know from figuring out how your sunglasses work, is the process of taking light waves which are in a random pattern and changing them into a more concentrated stream.
Patent for light polarizer
Before the work of Chubb and Smith and of Edwin Land, headlights were dangerous because they were not polarized. Chubb and Smith were working on mechanical means of polarizing light which polarized it at is source. Edwin Land had dropped out of Harvard and was working on a chemical solution that polarized the light using a film on a windshield, or on the headlight lens. They were engaged in a patent battle that resulted ultimately in Chubb and Smith selling their patents to Polaroid Corporation for stock in that company and a job for Chubb.
In 1933, in the midst of the patent negotiations, Land came to Mahwah and they did some testing. Here, thanks to Audrey Artusio, the current owner of the Smith house, Margaret Smith Pryde (1910-2008), Robert’s daughter, Mary Ellen Pryde Abrams, and Tara Van Brederode, Robert’s granddaughters, is a description of that test by Robert’s daughter Molly:
Dr. Edwin Land …..came to Mahwah in 1933 to witness a test run. Our cars were equipped with polarized headlights and windshields.
I was to be the guinea pig. It was a dark, rainy night. Dad gave me instructions. “I don’t want to know where you’re standing,” he said. “That yellow slicker is too light. Go borrow your mother’s black raincoat.”
I did as he said and then stationed myself on the road. Dad and Lew [Lewis Chubb] got in the car at one end of the road and Dr. Land rode with Mother in the second car which began at the other end of the road. Both drivers were supposed to see me. I was scared.
Smith’s home on Beveridge Place
Dad had said, “Don’t move, no matter what. I’ll honk the horn when I see you.”
I was beginning to panic. “But what if you don’t see me?
He calmly replied, “I will.”
I stood, mesmerized, as the headlights of the approaching cars moved closer. I felt rooted to the ground. I muttered to myself, “Please dear God let them see me in time.” My fists were clenched in the pockets of the raincoat. I heard the swish of tires on the wet road as the cars came closer and I closed my eyes.
No sound was ever sweeter than the “beep, beep” of the Essex horn and the answering beep of the Hupmobile.
Smith did not live to see Edwin Land’s most famous use of Polaroid light, the Polaroid Camera.
All images from the Mahwah Museum
Edward Gorcyca, of West Mahwah, was another one of those inventors from American Brakeshoe. He was born in 1923 and served in the Navy from 1943-1945. He died in 1996 in San Diego, California.
I don’t know too much about Ed’s life or background. He was the second son of Myron (or Marion) and Anna Gorcyca who came to the U.S. from Poland in 1906. In 1940 Myron was a coremaker at American Brakeshoe and, according to an oral history taken in 1975 with his daughter, Jenny (who married Larry Nyland, one of our Mayors) the family also had a subsistence farm on Church Street. His brothers Ben and John were proteges of John Warhol and John was influential in persuading John to attend the University of Maryland. Ben was the long time chairman of the Board of Adjustment and John ran for the office of tax collector.
One of Gorcyca’s patents.
Between 1954 and 1965, Ed’s name appeared on five patents that were assigned to American Brakeshoe. They all related to improvement of journal boxes, which contained oiled packing materials to lubricate the bearings of railroad wheels. The picture shows a railroad employee inspecting the journal box on a wheel to make sure the packing was properly in place, because if it failed, the wheel bearings would burn out causing a “hotbox.” Until 1961, the primary inventor was a man named Llewellyn Hoyer, with Ed as a co-inventor. But the last two were in Ed’s name alone: for a clip to make keep the packing in place and a new dust guard that was easier to remove without disconnecting the entire journal box.
Theodore Havemeyer (Suzanne Meyer Stein Collection, Mahwah Museum)
Three generations of Havemeyers were inventors. As you know, Theodore A. Havemeyer came to Mahwah in 1879 and established Mountain Side Farm, much of which is Ramapo College. He died in 1897. Although Theodore had nine children only his sons, Henry O. Havemeyer and Frederick C. Havemeyer, continued a presence in Mahwah. Henry O. Havemeyer died in 1965 but his son, Henry O. Havemeyer, Jr. continued to live here until his death in 1992. The house in which Henry Jr. lived became the home of the President of Ramapo College. Theodore, Henry O., and Henry O., Jr. were all inventors.
Theodore Havemeyer’s Sugar Mold Carriage patent
Theodore A. Havemeyer, born in 1839, had only a grammar school education but joined the family sugar business as a partner in 1861. He was the technological expert in the family and an early age had spent a year in Europe studying the sugar refining process. In 1862 he and a man named Schnitzpan patented a new and improved carriage for sugar molds. He was a partner in Havemeyers & Elder, which was an integral part of the Sugar Trust. In his later years in Mahwah he was a patron of many agricultural and scientific societies that were advancing the technology of agriculture. He was on the forefront of ensilage– to generate feed for his cows—the breeding of cows to improve milk production, and the breeding of fantail pigeons for show.
Henry O. Havemeyer (On loan from the Mahwah Library)
Theodore Havemeyer’s son, Henry O. Havemeyer, dropped out of Yale in 1897 after the death of his father and became an apprentice at the family sugar business. He returned to Yale and graduated as a proud member of the Class of 1900. The Ramsey Journal reported in 1906 that he had gotten a speeding ticket in his newfangled automobile. So it is appropriate that he was the inventor of a license plate holder that could be flipped over so that it had the plate of one state on one side and the plate of another state on the reverse. Henry O. Havemeyer was not merely a playboy, however. He was the president of the Eastern District Terminal in Brooklyn which had been spun off from the family’s sugar business. He became an officer and later the long time president of the Eastern District Terminal. The Eastern District Terminal was the gateway for all railroads coming from the west and seeking to be in Brooklyn or Long Island. It was also the only way in which refined and packaged sugar could get from the Domino refinery in Brooklyn to the west. They had to come through these yards and be moved by small locomotives like these. It would be up to Henry O. Havemeyer, Jr. – who also worked for the company – to make some important advances.
Havemeyer House (Courtesy Dater Family Archives)
There were no tunnels under the Hudson River so railroad cars were barged or lightered over from the yards of Jersey City, Bayonne or Hoboken, to the Eastern District Terminal and then transferred to the industries or railroads in Brooklyn. To get one or more railroad cars across the river, there was a floating bridge connected to the tracks on the shore. The barge connected to the water side of the bridge. There were tracks on the barge to accept the car being transported. You can imagine how difficult it must have been to transfer a fully loaded railroad car from tracks on the bridge to the tracks on the rolling barge. There were constant mishaps and derailments. The invention of Henry O. Havemeyer, Jr., filed in 1925 when he was 22 years old, improves on the way that the rails on the bridge and barge could be aligned to make derailments rare. Henry O. Havemeyer, Jr. lived in the house we today call the Havemeyer House and had a number of other inventions to improve railroad transportation.
Henry O. Havemeyer’s License plate design
(Thomas Dunn Collection)
Henry O. Havemeyer Jr.’s patent design