Skip to content

A town square for an unsquare town

redbankgreen

Standing for the vitality of Red Bank, its community, and the fun we have together.


Our community pillars help us carry out our 100-Year Vision

Check it out

Health and Wellness

Red Bank YMCA

At the heart of the Red Bank community since 1874, our Red Bank Family YMCA is here to support health and well-being for all. We’re a special place where people of all ages, interests and backgrounds gather to grow in spirit, mind and body.

Learn More
organization-banner
organization-banner

RED BANK: RAILFANS SAVOR FREIGHT CHANGE

Railfan Donny Fortunato videorecords as a freight engine crosses Drs. Parker Boulevard on August 26. (Video by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

whatsgoingonhere-220x39-9915471Once or twice a week in recent months, commuters stuck at a rail crossing in Red Bank might have seen something that struck them as odd: small clusters of camera-wielding observers savoring the movements of a giant freight engine.

marc-pitanza-082622-2-500x375-2609271Marc Pitanza went into the weeds to get photos of the engine as it passed. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

What’s Going On Here? Well, the Delaware and Raritan River Railroad recently leased the line, known as the Southern Branch, between Red Bank and South Lakewood from Conrail.

That change was all it took to send a rumble of excitement through locals who call themselves railfans.

“It means a new mode of power, a more colorful mode of power, literally,” Red Bank resident Marc Pitanza told redbankgreen as he photographed the Black River 752, a faded red engine from 1956 that once pulled tourist cars through the Pacific Northwest.

Also out that August morning was Donny Fortunato of Neptune, a 24-year-old civil engineering student at Rutgers.

For nearly half his life, Fortunato has been photographing and videorecording trains, making lots of friends in the process through online chat groups and at railside gatherings.

What’s the attraction of trains? “Really, it comes down to, it’s something to do,” Fortunato said. History plays a part in it, too.

“It’s interesting because not many people know about this,” he said. They see the tracks over the Parkway, or go over these tracks, and they’re like, ‘oh, they’re abandoned.’ Not many people know that these tracks are relatively active,” carrying bulk products to customers including Lawes Fuel in Shrewsbury and Woodhaven Lumber in Lakewood, he said.

With the change in carriers, Conrail, instead of hauling freight all the way to Lakewood, drops it in the Red Bank yard, where D&R picks it up on Tuesdays and Fridays, Fortunato said.

Fortunato had taken the day off from his summer job to chase the engine along its full round-trip route, videorecording it from multiple points along the way for his YouTube channel, Jersey Shore Rail Productions.

He was excited, he said. “This is my first day chasing this new operation,” he said.

“I decided to go all-out” with the round-trip pursuit, he wrote under the completed video. “I will admit, it seemed weird chasing a train that wasn’t Conrail after all those years of chasing SA-31, but I am hopeful for this line’s future.”

Fortunato’s video followed a machine that he referred to as “rolling history” departing Red Bank shortly before 7:30 a.m. But the two-man crew was aboard another engine as they crossed Patterson Avenue in Shrewsbury seven hours later enroute to the Red Bank yard.

In between, thanks to drone footage, Fortunato captured maneuvers that made the switch of engines possible.

That morning, for the start of the run, Pitanza, a book buyer for the store at the Museum of Modern Art by day, was also out to document the engine’s departure with his camera. He posts the pictures on railfan pages on social media.

Trains, and model trains, have been a lifelong interest, something he picked up from his father, he said.

“I find them fascinating as machines,” said Pitanza, author of the book ‘Staten Island Rapid Transit.’

“Just watching them work is fascinating for me, even seeing it over and over again. And they’re not as common as cars, right? Or trucks, or buses, all modes of transportation that I adore as well. But they’re unique.”

Pitanza notes that the freight line through Red Bank was once a busy passenger route between Jersey City and Atlantic City, featuring the Blue Comet, a swank means of travel in the 1930s. (The train’s observation car is now part of the Clinton Station Diner, in Hunterdon County.).

If you value the news coverage provided by redbankgreen, please become a financial supporter for as little as $1 per month. Click here to set your own level of monthly or annual contribution.

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank business owner happier than to hear "I saw your ad on Red Bank Green!"
Partyline
COMMUNITY PROFILES
For Black History Month, Red Bank's Community Engagement and Equity Advisory Committee has been running a series of local profiles on Facebo ...
HEARTY FAREWELL FOR HARDY
RED BANK: Council to honor DPU supervisor Rich Hardy, who retired recently after almost 39 years of keeping things running.
HOMEBOUND? READ ON…
RED BANK: Can't get to the public library? It's now offering free delivery and pickups for homebound borough residents.
TAMING A BEAST OF A WEEK
RED BANK: After the second snowfall of the week, a borough family finds the perfect use for it – a Godzilla snow sculpture.
RED BANK: LIBRARY CLOSED, BUT THE HILL’S OPEN
RED BANK: Though the library was closed by a snowstorm, kids got to enjoy the riverfront property's steep slope Tuesday.
LIGHT(HOUSE) MAKEOVER
This year, getting ready for spring means a midwinter makeover for Strollo's Lighthouse in Red Bank.
TODAY: LOCAL PUPPY COMPETES ON ANIMAL PLANET’S “PUPPY BOWL”
Red Bank’s very own rescue puppy, Biscuit, is set to compete in Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl this Sunday, February 11, at 2 PM. Th ...
WHAT? NO redbankgreen NEWSLETTER?
Apologies to redbankgreen newsletter subscribers: the daily email hasn’t gone out for two days because of technical issues.
RED BANK: TIRED OF SKEETERS?
RED BANK: Tired of mosquito bites every summer? Monmouth County has a free program to help eliminate skeeter breeding grounds.
SEA BRIGHT: POLAR PLUNGE FOR ST. JAMES, OTHERS
Hundreds braved the wind and sea on Sunday at 1PM in support of St. James Elementary School, and other Catholic schools in the area. The eve ...
RED BANK: RBR CLAIMS TITLE
RED BANK: Watch pure joy as the RBR boys basketball team celebrates its first B North championship in 17 years.
RED BANK: FORGET-IT FRIDAY
RED BANK: Train Station can be a lonely place Friday mornings, especially with cold rain in the forecast.
RED BANK: CROONING YOUR LOVE
RED BANK: Imagine a quartet of impeccably dressed gentlemen showing up at your beloved's workplace, singing of your love.
RED BANK: BLACK RIVER ROLLS ON
RED BANK: A 68-year-old rail freight engine can still be counted on to draw a trainspotting fan or two when it rolls through town.
RED BANK: ‘MONDAY SWEAT’ MEETS
RED BANK: Joined by the Hazlet Running Club, members of the Red Bank Run Club met for their "Monday Sweat" at Count Basie Field.
RED BANK: CARD SALE BOOSTS GYM DRIVE
RED BANK: Charter School Foundation offers student-deisgned Valentines cards to help raise funds for a gymnasium.
RED BANK: LOVE IS IN THE… WINDOW
RED BANK: Up next: Valentine's Day, and Partyline finds the Red Bank Chocolate Shoppe getting ready for a surge of love and craving.
CLOSING THE BOOK ON A GREAT CAREER
The Red Bank mayor and council honored with a resolution Linda Hewitt (in red) on her retirement from the Red Bank Public Library at Thursda ...
RED BANK: RAIL COMMUTER’S VIEW
A commuter's view of the Route 35 Cooper's Bridge over the Navesink River, as seen from North Jersey Coast Line train 3320 out of Red Bank F ...
RED BANK: PROMISING PROMS
RED BANK: Prom season approaches, and Lunch Break once again steps up with its 8th annual Prom Giveaway of donated dresses.