MILLTOWN – Members of the Milltown Historical Society and the Raritan River Railroad Historical Society are coming together for a holiday train display in support of preserving the last remaining structure of the Raritan River Railroad that fronts Washington Avenue.
The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 10 at American Legion Post #25, 4 JFK Drive, Milltown.
There will be refreshments and a chance to see Santa, who will make a special visit from 1 to 2 p.m.
The Polar Express-themed holiday train will feature new visuals, and kids will be able to get a passport and win a prize.
The Raritan River Freight Station was originally built as a passenger station and station agent’s office about 100 years ago. The first passenger train reached Milltown in 1891.
Ken Durois of the Raritan River Chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society grew up in Sayreville and said the station is also tied to the area’s industrial history.
“The railroad was very important to these industries, which could transport both their workers and their goods,” Durois said. “I feel it’s important to preserve these structures because if they’re gone, they’re gone.”
He said the development of cars and trucks had changed the function of railways. Passenger service of the station stopped in 1938.
The Raritan Railroad was only 12 miles long with stations at South Amboy, Parlin, South River, Milltown and New Brunswick.
At that time, Milltown was a small and growing small industrial town, and with a railway station, people and industry could communicate with the world.
After the station ceased passenger service, the station building was moved slightly down the tracks and the height of the platform was raised so that the building could be used for freight.
“It remained that way almost until the Conrail takeover in 1980 and shortly thereafter [property has been in the] in the hands of private owners, currently Jim Curran,” Durois said.
The station is the last remaining structure of the Raritan River Railroad.