The needler in the haystack.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Does Plainfield have at least one straight shooter?

'Robber Baron' quotes figured in my move to Plainfield.
Indulge me in a bit of a shaggy dog story with a Plainfield connection.

One of the reasons I moved to Plainfield nearly thirty years ago was that my thriving mail order catalog featuring books and technical information on restoring and renovating historic buildings was utterly taking over our 900-square-foot apartment in a complex at the Brooklyn end of the Brooklyn Bridge.

A hot gift item in the winter holiday issue was always a set of four old-fashioned glasses featuring autographs and quotes from some of the 19th-century's more notorious Robber Barons (see photo of the Rockefeller glass at top).

These were popular in the circle of railroad fans, hobbyists and collectors, and sets of them graced the bars of several restored Gilded Age railroad cars.

Which is how I came to learn that there were a couple of rail buffs in Plainfield, one of whom is connected to the Morristown & Erie Railroad, a shortline freight hauler based in Morristown, but with operations in Union County, Maine and Pennsylvania.

Morristown & Erie RR logo.

Over the years it has been a quiet pleasure to watch occasional news items about this little railroad that could -- and did -- make its niche. For one thing, there seems to be a steady business in supplying vintage rail equipment for films and advertising (see here).

Consider my surprise then to read in the Ledger's July 1 edition that officials of the M&E worked with New Jersey authorities to nab a corrupt DOT engineer who was trying to inflate the cost of a bridge project to cheat the state out of $700,000 in a kickback scheme (see story here).

Was my Plainfield railfan one of the straight shooters at M&E?

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