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Two trolley museums outside New York City have incredible pieces of history from 9/11 – the last cars from the PATH train that was trapped beneath the World Trade Center after the Twin Towers fell. Both were in the 9/11 hangar at JFK Airport and were donated to the Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven, Connecticut and the Kingston Trolley Museum in the Hudson Valley in 2015. Both are on view already and both museums will have special events, opening up PATH train Car 745 for the first time to the public on September 11th next month.

A few months ago, while tracking down the Mineola, August Belmont Jr.’s private subway car which is also in the collection of the Shore Line Trolley Museum, we had the opportunity to step inside Car 745. It was a sobering, reflective moment – the advertisements are still there as well as the signage on the front of the train, that says “WTC.”  Shaun Winton, director of the Shore Line Trolley Museum, told us that coffee cups and other items were found inside – literally abandoned in the rush to evacuate. 

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In the minutes after the first plane hit at 8:46 am, three PATH trains were pulling into the World Trade Center station. One was arriving from Newark and two others from Hoboken. Amidst the chaos, quick thinking by PATH deputy director Victoria Cross Kelly and trainmaster Richie Moran, who was in the Port Authority Trans Hudson Control Center located in Jersey City, saved the lives of countless potential passengers who would have entered the World Trade Center site later when the foundations were much less stable.

Moran sent a command to the first Hoboken train to literally turn around at the World Trade Center station without stopping, not letting off passengers or opening any doors. The Newark-arriving train was filled with more passengers and left the station. The second Hoboken train, which arrived on Track 3 of the World Trade Center at 8:52 am, was ordered to be evacuated completely, employees included. 

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This second Hoboken train never left the World Trade Center complex, and was found later in 2001 during the long, recovery process. Only two cars of the seven cars on the train survived, the others were crushed in the collapse of the Twin Towers. It took a week to excavate the train, in an area accessible through an emergency exit hatchway that was still intact on West Street near Vesey Street, the Shore Line Trolley Museum recounts.

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Peter Rinaldi, senior engineering manager with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, climbed onto the platform of the PATH station, walked through the doors of Car 745, that were left open. The museum writes, “He stepped aboard the car and into the operating cab and at that moment became determined that, somehow, this car must be saved. Over 14 years later, his vision became a reality as car 745 touched down on trolley museum rails and became part of our collection.” Car 745 was the front car that day and the museum says it is shown “exactly as it was found.”

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In addition to theCar 745 itself, the Shore Line Trolley Museum also has pieces of the PATH train tunnel itself from World Trade Center, which was intended to be incorporated into the exhibit.

1-9_11-Path-NJ-Transit-Train-Car-Kingston-Trolley-Museum-Untapped-CitiesThe PATH Train Car 143 from 9/11 at the Kingston Trolley Museum

Up at the Kingston Trolley Museum, Car 143 of the same Hoboken train, sits in the yard emblazoned with an American flag and a sign that reads “Last Train,” with the symbols of the Twin Towers. As Eric Garces, President of the Kingston Trolley Museum recounts, Car 143 cars were part of the first series of cars purchased by the Port Authority for the new PATH train, running from 1965 until September 11th, 2001. It was the second car in the train found under the World Trade Center and appears to have sustained more damage than Car 745, with many windows blown in.

The Kingston Trolley Museum received their car after the Shore Line Trolley Museum, said one of the workers on site when we visited. They are still fundraising what’s needed to create an exhibition for the car – at only $1610 of their $14,000 goal. They will also open their car to the public for the first time on September 11th this year.

We’re planning to organize an Untapped Cities tour to the Shore Line Trolley Museum to see the World Trade Center PATH train, August Belmont Jr’s private subway car and more from the incredible collection. Sign up for advance notice of this tour here:

Next, read about the Top 10 Secrets of the 9/11 Memorial and see inside August Belmont Jr.’s private subway car built for the financier of NYC’s first subway line.

2 Comments

  1. Kiwiwriter says:

    I’ll never forget those kinds of cars, as a guy who lived in Hoboken and rode that train every day to and from my classes at NYU and jobs in New York.

    My wife will never forget fleeing Manhattan that morning by PATH train from 14th Street in cars like that, with announcements saying, “PATH train service to the World Trade Center is temporarily suspended.” Well, three years is temporary, I guess…

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