|Est. Sept. 2024
At the very apex of the Roaring Twenties, just months before 1929 stock market crash, the Central Railroad of New Jersey inaugurated its twice-daily Blue Comet service between Jersey City and Atlantic City. Heading the fast, luxurious trains were the CNJ’s nearly-new Baldwin-built P47 Heavy Pacifics. Three locomotives — painted in a beautiful blue livery with nickel trim, carrying the train’s name on a bronze plate under the feed water heater, and numbered 831, 832 and 833 — covered The Blue Comet’s fast schedule along the Jersey shoreline. Two sister engines were assigned to lesser CNJ name trains: No. 834 in green pulled The Bullet while No. 835 in black livery hauled The Queen of the Valley.
The Blue Comet consist was painted in blue to symbolize the sea and sky of the Jersey shore, with a cream window band to represent both the shoreline’s pristine sand and a comet streaking through the heavens. In a departure from normal railroad practice, the cars carried the train name rather than the railroad name on their letterboards. The rolling stock consisted of rebuilt coaches and diners trailed by an open-platform brass-railed observation, with each car named for a different comet. The Blue Comet was also the first train east of the Mississippi to be equipped with roller bearing trucks.
Joshua Lionel Cowen is said to have been a frequent customer on The Blue Comet, and he certainly memorialized the train far beyond its native Jersey shores. His Standard Gauge Blue Comet is perhaps the most well-known and desired Standard Gauge toy train ever built, and its popularity continues today, long after the prototype succumbed to competition from the automobile in 1941.