Archive for the ‘Burlington’ Category

trolley graveyard is no more

Some time during the summer most of the trolleys, cars and buses were hauled off by persons unknown. A local neighbor says about 2-3 days were spent with cranes, flatbeds and dumpsters, cutting up the pieces of the old hulks and disposing of them. He’s not sure who it was, why it was done or even who owns the property. These are probably the last pics anyone will see of the Trolley Graveyard… they were taken a few months before the wrecks were hauled away on a return trip I had made to the trolley graveyard.

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The Trolley Graveyard

The Delaware Valley Short Line Museum was dedicated to both trolley cars and railroad cars and from what I’ve read their collection was fairly large. Located in Tansboro, NJ at some point in the late 60’s they decided to move to Jobstown. Unfortunately for the museum owners, they never bothered to consult with the town. When the town found out what the plan was, they established some sort of an ordinance that forbid the museum from operating.

My information is sketchy but apparently the owner split into two groups: the Penn’s Landing Trolley line, and Buckingham Valley Trolley.  Some of the museum pieces were shipped to Philly, but most were left in Jobstown, unprotected. Eventually they went bankrupt, and the pieces at both the Jobstown site & in Philadelphia were eventually destroyed thru a combination of weather,  arson, and vandalism.

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The skinniest house in NJ

I don’t know much about this overly thin home in Bordentown. It measures 10 feet wide at the front, though the owner told me it bows out at the back so the entire house isn’t 10 feet wide. She told me that the bedroom is just a little bit bigger then a bed is long.

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small abandoned shack

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Bureacracy Headstone

In 1978, the mayor of Bordentown decided to try to do something about the welfare situation in town, and made people do public service to get their welfare. The number of people on welfare dropped from 30 to just 1. He had this headstone built dedicated to the elimination of bureaucracy. Unfortunately, bureaucracy wasn’t dead and the state said “you can’t do this.” Perhaps the headstone should’ve read RIP Bordentown Workfare…

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The Cornfield Cruiser

Known locally as the Cornfield Cruiser, there is a naval building in Moorsetown with a Battleship command tower on top. It sticks out like a sore thumb among the farms and open stretches of road.

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A Memorial Service for Emilio Carranza

In 2003 my wife and I attended the annual memorial service. There were perhaps 150-250 people in attendance, their cars lining Carranza Rd, forcing us to walk nearly 1/2 mile to the Memorial Site itself. The Memorial began with an introduction by William Heller, Carranza Chairman of the Mt Holly Post 11. He explained why they hold this memorial every year. I’ll admit that I didn’t get it just yet. I recall thinking prior to coming, “Ok, the guy died trying to fly long distance. It’s a tragedy, but why do they do this? Do they have memorials every year for Christie Macauliffe?” I regret thinking that because I now understand.

After a brief speech by a priest, and Lawrence Gladfelter, Commander of Post 11, the principle speakers began. They included:

Sergio Villabulos, Lt Col of the Mexican Embassy, Military & Air Attaché,
Billy Mack, NJ Department Commander, Trenton, NJ
Doug Satterfield, LT Col, US Army Reserve, Ft Dix

Their speeches were followed by placing of the wreathes, dozens of them, then a military salute via the playing of taps, and even a military fly-over by a very old bomber of some sort. I couldn’t tell what model it was…. They also displayed a small piece of Carranza’s wreckage that was recently discovered in the local firehouse.

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Afterwards I thought long and hard about what Carranza did and why. I thought about what it meant and it suddenly dawned on me. We live in an age where anything is possible. Non-stop flights from Newark to Tokyo are a reality. We may soon be able to take low orbit shuttles to make that trip in 3 hours. Travel is just not a big deal. Yeah, it may be uncomfortable and sometimes expensive, and yeah after 9/11 it’s a hassle dealing with security, but do any of us really think about air travel with any wonder any more? We have space shuttles going up it seems every month or two, and we even have an orbiting space station where astronauts remain for extended periods of time. Can the orbiting hotels envisioned in the movie 2001 be that far off? What’s next? Manned trips to Mars? Even if we do that, will most of relate to it? None of us expect us to be traveling thru space like Captain Kirk any time soon.

Think back to 1928. Air travel was not commonplace. We didn’t have Fedex to overnight packages. We didn’t even have an interstate Highway System like Route 80 until 30 years later, so even traveling by auto was a slow process. If we could travel long distances, it could mean a world of difference, opening up commerce possibilities, tourism, as well as a greater exchange of culture and knowledge. Charles Lindbergh proved it could be done, and Carranza was going to be next. He flew around America, attempting to generate better relations between our two nations. Carranza was an inspiration to everyone, both in America & Mexico, and even around the world. He was trying to push the limits of existing technology, to demonstrate what we all would someday be able to do. It must’ve seemed very relevant to most people, even if many couldn’t exactly envision what changes long distance air travel would bring. Next year will mark the 75th anniversary of his death. Hopefully there will be more then 200 people at that service. More people should know what he did, and why & how he died. Anyone who has ever flown in an airplane or received anything that traveled by plane owes a debt to all those who helped make air travel as we know it possible. We all know who the Wright brothers are. Most of us know who Charles Lindbergh is. Most do not even know the name Emilio Carranza. Hopefully that will change.

The Emilio Carranza Memorial

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Down a desolate road in Wharton State Forest, past a juvenile detention center, and sitting amidst the sandy dunes and scrub trees is a small memorial to a mostly-forgotten aviator. The Mt Holly Legion Post #11 has made it’s mission to keep his memory alive. His services used to draw visitors in the thousands, but now it’s dwindled to only a few hundred, mostly local residents & dignitaries from Mexico. So who is Carranza & why are we celebrating his life and death?

In the 1920’s air travel was in it’s infancy. Lt Col Doug Satterfield, said at a recent memorial service, “Today we have no appreciation of [Carranza’s undertaking]. Aircraft before the 40’s were unreliable, unpredictable and prone to falling apart without warning.” Instrumentation was limited to a compass, and a lighter to look at maps in the dark. Charles Lindbergh had just flown non-stop across the Atlantic, creating an interest in air travel that previously didn’t exist. Emilio Carranza, the grand nephew of Don Carranza, 1st Commandant of the Constitutional Army (later the 1st President of the Mexican Republic) and nephew of General Alberto Carranza, founder of the Mexican Air Force School of Aviation, he naturally had an interest in both the military & aviation.

Carranza believed in the future of air travel. He believed that long travel was possible making it possible to bridge the gap between far away places. He believed that eventually people would be able to travel around the world, opening up commerce, tourism, and dialogues between nations. His family moved to Eagle Pass, Texas where he finished high school. He later returned to Mexico and attended the Military School of Aviation, where he graduated with honors. In 1926 he acquired a Lincoln standard airplane, which, inspired by Lindbergh’s recent flight across the Atlantic, he would use to fly long distances. He planned to fly from Chicago to Mexico City via many small airports across the Midwest. Halfway to his destination, he ran out of fuel and crashed, with his brother being seriously injured.

He acquired a retired Mexican Air Force plane and planned to fly non-stop between Mexico City and Ciudad, Juarez. Note that this plane was made entirely of wood. This would be the 2nd longest flight of any Mexican pilot. He arrived safely on 9/2/1927, at about the same time Charles Lindbergh arrived in El Paso, Texas, where they both celebrated together. The two became close friends and Carranza was Lindbergh official companion while Lindbergh visited Mexico City. Lindbergh flew to Mexico City non-stop from Washington DC, making it the 2nd longest non-stop flight only to Lindbergh’s recently completed trip to Paris. This excited Mexicans everywhere, and soon a committee was formed to get a Mexican aviator from Mexico City to Washington DC non-stop. Carranza was the pilot they invited to make this trip.

The plane, a Ryan B-1, was carefully constructed to deal with both the rigors of such a long flight, as well as dealing with the thin air of Mexico City. Carranza himself was closely involved with the process. On one flight to San Diego, he crashed in the desert and boarded a train to his destination. The only witness to the crash was a 5 year old boy named Juan tapia. He was so impressed and inspired by Carranza that he declared he wanted to be as brave as Carranza. He fulfilled that goal, enrolling in the Mexican military & receiving 7 purple hearts.

Carranza flew the Ryan B-1 from San Diego to Mexico City as a test run, and over 100,00 people eagerly awaited his arrival. His safe arrival completed the longest non-stop flight by a Mexican. By June 10th, 1928 things were in full motion. Spotters along his route to New York were in place. He had a final meal with his family & he departed for America the next day. Heavy fog & darkness made navigation possible only by dead reckoning. Bad weather lay ahead, and all air travel near South Carolina had been cancelled. He finally arrived safe & sound at 4AM in Moorseville, NC. After a brief stay for rest & refueling, he left on June 12th for Washington DC where he landed at Boiling Fields.

Carranza met with world leaders, and the event was covered by press from around the globe. This was not just a trip to test the endurance of an aviator and a plane. This was meant to inspire good will among nations as well. In Mexico City, aviators dropped flowers from the sky. Carranza met with President Coolidge and the Secretary of State. He flew to Detroit with Charles Lindbergh, which further cemented him in the minds of most people as a true leader. Afterwards Carranza flew to New York, where Mayor Jimmy Walker gave him the key to the city. He reviewed the troops at West Point, an honor never given to a visiting official with the rank of just Captain. His plan was to leave on July 3rd for Mexico City, and arrive on the 4th, the American independence day.

The weather was not cooperative, and he was told not to go. Despite these warnings, he made several attempts to leave, but all were cancelled at the last minute. Frustrated, Carranza rescheduled for July 12th. The weather was almost as bad, if not worse now. A large electrical storm covered the area. Lindbergh begged him not go. He returned his plane to the hangar and returned to the hotel. At the Waldorf Astoria in mid-meal he received a telegram. It was an order to leave immediately “lest your manhood be in question.” He left for Roosevelt Field immediately. He lifted off at 7:18 PM, July 12th.

At 325 PM the next day, John Carr was picking berries in the Pine Barrens when he discovered the wing of an airplane. It belonged to Carranza’s plane. A bolt of lightning had hit his plane and sent him crashing down in the middle of what would later become Tabernacle, NJ, in the middle of Wharton State Forest, otherwise known as the Pine Barrens. Members of Mount Holly Legion Post 11 were dispatched to retrieve Carranza’s body. Hacking their way thru sandy pines, they found Carranza, still clutching a flashlight, and carrying in his pocket the telegram from the Mexican Military.

Carranza’s death made headlines around the world. A brave young man had died trying to extend the boundaries of flight. Carranza’s body was held at Buzby’s General store until the coroner made the pronouncement of death, and the body was identified. President Coolidge offered to have his body transported by warship. Two years later, children in Mexico had raised money to build the memorial that now stands in the Pine Barrens where his plane crashed. The members of Mount Holly Post 11 declared that Carranza would not go unremembered,, and every year there is a memorial service. Members of his family, as well as Mexican Dignitaries come & place a wreath at the memorial site. Mount Holly Legion 11, as well as various members of the US Military also gives speeches and pay respects to a fellow soldier who died serving his country.

Update on The Bull Demon of Lumberton

For almost 3 years, Denny has been fighting the town of Lumberton over whether or not he could keep a 2000 lb, 11 foot tall state in his backyard. Original post can be found here. They gave him a permit to put it there, then when it was transported in, a few people complained and the town decided he could not keep it. Their position was that he had not been fully forthcoming when he applied for the permit, thus the permit was null and void. In 2007, Denny’s lawyer, the town lawyer and a state supreme court judge hammered out a deal. The statue can stay where it is but it must be rotated to face away from the roadway. In addition it sat on a 2-3 ft mound, and the mound must be removed and it be placed on a level grade. Despite almost 10,000 in legal bills, Denny got the last laugh: the town lawyer got fired over this whole mess, since it obviously cost the town a lot to fight this.

The Bull Demon of Lumberton

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This 11 ft tall, 2000 lb stone bull demon/god lived in Delaware for 20 years before a local tree removal expert saw it and decided it was the perfect thing for the backyard of his Lumberton, NJ home. It was a prop in the 1955 movie “The Prodigal”, and alledgedly was also in a Tarzan film. The statue cost him $4,000 and another $2,000 to transport, and he’s spent at least that much again in legal fees both before and after acquiring it. The owner of Big Timber Tree Removal has had numerous run-ins with the local zoning board and town council over such things as having too many dogs (5 bloodhounds), parking his pickup truck in his driveway (which he uses both for personal and business use) as well as parking his vintage 1969 fire engine behind his home (which he purchased not just for the coolness factor, but because it had a 100 ft boom lift, far exceeding your average boom lift capabilities. This truck allowed him to tackle more difficult tree removal projects, but the town objected to it being in his backyard).

Suspecting the town might have a problem with his putting a 2,000 lb movie prop in his yard, he sought and obtained a variance to allow it to be displayed with the only requirements being that it be in his backyard and be at least 10 ft from the property line. In late 2004 he had it transported to his home by flatbed truck and the very next day a member of the zoning board said “that’s bigger then you told us it was…” and promptly began proceedings to force him to remove it. After much public outcry, the town council voted unanimously to force him to move it somewhere on his property that was not visible from the roadway. They tried to argue that the statue was actually a structure, like a garage or dog house, to which the owner snorted,”It’s not a structure, it’s a statue. You can’t go inside it, you can’t put anything in it. It’s ridiculous really.”

Court proceedings continue as of July 2005, and it is unclear what the outcome will be, though his lawyer assures him that the as long as he is in compliance with the original variance given him, he is safe, and so is the statue. He and his statue have been the subject of numerous newspaper articles and tv news reports, and the coverage reflects the sentiment of most neighbors and townsfolk which is “If you told him he could have it, and he put it where you asked him to, how can the town say he’s not in compliance?”

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