By Lou Pane
There is a weird site in Jobstown, NJ known as “Trolley Valhalla”. I first saw these moldering veteran s of the streets in 1974, and now, 25 years later, they are slowly returning to the earth in their unintended grave site. Here are the sketchy facts as I know them; maybe another reader knows more. Trolley Valhalla was a trolley car museum established in Tansboro, N.J. in the 1960’s. How long they were there, how successful they were, and the circumstances of their move to Jobstown, I know nothing about. I do know that they moved their equipment to this site in Jobstown, immediately adjacent to the recently abandoned Pennsylvania Railroad Kinkora Branch. This would allow them to re-lay track on the old rail bed and be able to offer trolley rides.
In an early example of the New Jersey “Nimby” mentality, the good citizens of Jobstown then passed an ordinance insuring that no tacky trolley car museum would ever sully the bucolic splendor of their fair town. By the time I became aware of it in 1974, the dream had already died and decay had started to settle in. I surmise that moving all this heavy equipment from their previous site probably “broke the bank” for the organization and put everything into limbo. At this time, there were some very nice cars on the property, probably operable, and quite a large collection of railroad and trolley stuff. I do know that at some later date, the organization split or morphed in some way to become the group that ran the Penn’s Landing Trolley line in Philadelphia. Much of the better stuff, apparently, was moved there, and they were successful at this site for some years.
A few years ago, this ill-starred operation then lost their rights to operate, and the cars were parked on a nearby pier. This site was never properly secured, and fire, theft, and vandalism took a heavy toll there. The remaining “junk” in Jobstown was stripped of usable items, many cars were burned, and what remains waits for its unknown fate. The irony of it all is that “Valhalla” signifies a final resting place of the vintage warriors. These weary travelers were as good as scrapped in the 50’s and 60s and, instead, won a reprieve to “Valhalla,” where an honored retirement and eternal life awaited them. Instead, their death was extended another 30 to 40 lingering years, more unwanted than ever. Who knows what’s next? Perhaps the Elysian Fields.
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