The annual Toys For Tots Train, sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, travels through northern New Jersey and lower New York State on various short lines, making stops to pick up toys.
This year’s train featured a Conrail caboose, a U.S. Marines boxcar, a restored Pennsylvania Railroad express-baggage car, restored New York Central lounge car No. 43, and former 20th Century Limited tail car Hickory Creek.
The host short line provided the motive power. Shown is the train operating on the New York, Susquehanna & Western with SD33ECO No. 3012.
It was a cold, but beautiful day for a chase. I chased the train for about 20 miles and I caught it in several spots along the Susquehanna, including the train leaving the yard at Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, and passing the Marcal Paper Plant in Elmwood Park, New Jersey.
I waited for the train at its scheduled stop in Wortendyke, New Jersey, and visited with Santa and the crew, many of whom I have known for years from my 30 years of volunteering.
A car from one of the world’s greatest trains carrying Santa Claus on a short line that has outlived the mighty New York Central might seem like an unlikely, but unforgettable, combination on a beautiful fall day.