Phillipsburg, N.J. Railroad Festival! Celebrating 171 Years Since Rail Came to Town


Phillipsburg, N.J.- Platinum Star Cleaning and Kays Electric will present the second annual Phillipsburg N.J. Railroad Festival, celebrating 171 years of railroad with music, food, vendors, and three walkable areas of railroad fun on Saturday, September 23, 2023, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The first railroad to arrive in Phillipsburg was the Central Railroad of New Jersey (CNJ), which opened on July 2, 1852. Phillipsburg was once a major transportation hub, home to five major railroads with round houses and turntables as well as the Morris Canal.

Event presenter Aaron D. Coleman, who lives in Phillipsburg and owns Phillipsburg-based Platinum Star Cleaning said “With the overwhelming success of last year’s festival with over 3000 attendees, he saw the importance to continue the annual festival for Town of Phillipsburg and the surrounding community” Coleman said: “I feel it’s important for businesses to give back to the community. “This year Kays Electric partnered with Platinum Star Cleaning to present the second annual event” Mr.

Coleman also announced this year’s “All Aboard” sponsor is Phillipsburg’s IRON STRONG since 1871 McWane Ductile

Mayor Todd Tersigni said “This amazing railroad festival is back again this year in rich tradition. We expect this year to be another record breaking year in attendance, bringing our community together, as well as visitors to enjoy many years to come. As Mayor, I’m so excited and look forward to seeing everyone Saturday.”

Coleman has built and fostered relationships this past year and has been working on a plan he created connecting over sixty acres Walters Park to Delaware Park, first with Walter’s Park to PU Tower & PU Station that will include trolley service, walking and bike paths. Space for an Amphitheatre, reconstruct a Roundhouse within its existing footprint and reuse existing coal chute foundates for museum buildings to hold artifacts and displays. Platform connection between PU Tower and PU Station with staircase access. Also proposed is a transportation museum in a new parking garage with room for a restaurant/event space and ground floor retail. “It is the goal with this plan to provide harmonious connectivity between all properties and non-profit railroad groups, while promoting sustainable tourism and economic development that benefits the community for years to come” Coleman remarked. He also spearheaded the restoration completion of the Phillipsburg Train Station which is now a museum and the first floor has been ninety percent restored. Coleman praises the non-profit railroad groups, elected officials, community, businesses, and many volunteers for this “All aboard” movement in Phillipsburg. Coleman is trying to secure funding from the private sector for the conceptual plan and present it to the Town, railroad nonprofits, and NJ Transit and Norfolk Southern.

Mayoral Candidate Randy Piazza states “ Like many Phillipsburg residents, I grew up with an active rail line across the street from my house. I’ve always been fascinated by the rail systems and how they all seemed to converge in Phillipsburg. It’s truly fantastic that our rail history is being recognized and celebrated”

The festival, which will have three walkable areas, kicks off at 11 a.m. in Area 1, Shappell Park and the surrounding area with over fifty vendors including food, crafts, businesses, sponsors, and exhibits with live music performed by Wonton Soups. The Phillipsburg High School Band will kick off the festivities with The mayors of Easton, PA and Phillipsburg, along with other elected officials from both states, including NJ Senator Douglas J. Steinhardt, NJ Assemblyman John Di Maio, along with PA state Representative Robert Freeman recognizing the non-profit groups along the railroad, followed by a ribbon cutting celebrating 171 years of the rails coming to the Phillipsburg/Easton area. Also nearby will be the Centerville and Southwestern Railroad (a.k.a. the Becker Farm Railroad), a miniature free train ride operated by the Phillipsburg Railroad Historians with museum displays and equipment. Vintage buses will be on display from the Friends of the NJ Transportation Heritage Center. The National Museum of Industrial History (NMIH) in Bethlehem, PA is bringing TUG, the Museum’s former Bethlehem Steel rubber-tired rail car mover to the Phillipsburg Railroad Festival. The park will also feature various train exhibitors and train vendors and Tootsie the clown and face painter. Also, magicians Lee Germain and Judy will be performing for the kids.

Area 2 is Phillipsburg Union Station, the former train station built in 1914, owned by The Friends of the NJ Transportation Heritage Center. Currently the first floor has been restored and open for tours with newly built exhibits of various antique railroad artifacts, Morris Canal, and bus transportation displays. On center display in the station from Liberty Historic Railway are vintage railfan trips. A short walk away is the Phillipsburg Union Tower. The former CNJ railroad switch tower in Phillipsburg has been undergoing a full restoration since 2007. PU Tower will be Open for Tours with slideshows & films.

Q & A with Bill Strassner, a former employee of 52 years, signs up for one more shift. Also, ON DISPLAY for photos will be a EMD GP38-2 freight locomotive Chesapeake & Delaware DRRV #2006 on the Washington Line & Also on display will be Operation Toy Train’s specially-painted Toys for Tots boxcar #2009.

Area 3 is the location of Delaware River Railroad Excursions, where you can purchase tickets for a trip on The River Train, The Ol’ Susquehanna Mine Train, or The Warren County Winery Train, and Corn Maze train. Book your trip in advance for a beautiful ride on their historic railroad passenger cars, including an operating steam locomotive.

The festival will also feature a first “The Phillipsburg Self-Paced Audio Walking Tour” which promotes a deeper understanding and appreciation of the community’s rich past. Participants have the freedom to explore significant historical landmarks and learn about the events, personalities, and milestones that have shaped the Town of Phillipsburg.

Free Trolley Service will be available from 11-5

Come and discover Phillipsburg’s  rich railroad heritage and celebrate 171 years of railroad history! All Aboard on September 23rd, 2023.

Information provided to TVL by:
Aaron D. Coleman