ROXBURY, NJ – A 63-year-old locomotive that regularly ambles through Roxbury is being decked-out in patriotic fashion in a tribute to New Jersey’s military veterans.
Dover & Rockaway River Railroad No. 1823, a diesel-electric workhorse built in 1955, is in the process of receiving stars, stripes and other vinyl decorations in time for a planned dedication on Olde Suckasunny Day (Sept. 8), said John Sobotka, one of the people involved in the project.
Sobotka, a train engineer for the Norfolk & Southern Railroad, is also a member of the Military Transport Association. He said the choice of a venerable locomotive such as No. 1823 for the labeling is appropriate because the machine likely played a role in the nation's military supply efforts.
“That engine probably supported military train movements in its career,” said Sobotka, a Hopatcong resident. “It’s one of the oldest they are using (at Dover & Rockaway River). It probably supported Vietnam, Desert Storm and Desert Shield.”
Sobotka said the dressing-up of No. 1823 is a joint venture between the railroad and the Military Transport Association.
“At noon on Sept 8, we are dedicating the locomotive honoring New Jersey veterans,” he said. “There are more than 371,000 New Jersey veterans still living.”
The locomotive will be parked near the intersection of Railroad Avenue and Main Street in Succasunna on Olde Suckasunny Day, allowing people at the street fair to walk over and participate in the dedication.
“We are trying to set up with the local VFW post to have a color guard there,” Sobotka said. “We want to invite any and all veterans in the area to come by at 12 o’clock. It will be just a simple ceremony.”
Sobotka said the engine will also be used this winter to pull the annual Toys for Tots Train that makes stops in Roxbury collecting holiday toys for underprivileged children.
He said the graphics on the locomotive will include three stars situated inside the blue stripe. The three stars pay homage to the fact that New Jersey was the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, Sobotka explained.
“When a man or a woman joins the military, they take an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution,” he added.