On October 18 and 19, Union County celebrates Four Centuries In A Weekend, when 27 historic sites and museums across the county open their doors to the public, free of charge.
But this year, there is a totally new way to visit many sites.
A number of communities along NJ Transit’s Raritan Valley Line are offering shuttle bus service from their train stations to nearby historic sites. The service will be available in Plainfield, Fanwood, Scotch Plains, Westfield, Roselle and Union. The sites in Cranford and Roselle Park are within walking distance of the stations.
“Four Centuries is such a great event,” said Union County Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski. “Giving families a chance to visit these sites and adding in the fun of a train ride, it’s just a win-win.”
Kowalski said the other advantage is that for visitors from out of the area, or for those who rely on mass transit, it will be possible for the first time to visit so many sites over the Four Centuries weekend.
“The train ride adds to the fun of learning about our area’s incredibly rich history. There was a lot going on here long before America even declared independence,” she said.
For families, there will also be some savings because NJ Transit allows children to ride free on weekends. Monthly commuter passes are also valid. Fair details are available at njtransit.com.
Perhaps the busiest stop along the Raritan Valley Line will be the Westfield station, where Mountainside, Westfield and Union County will provide shuttle vans that will stop at the historic sites in the two communities and then head up into the Watchung Reservation to the Deserted Village, where there will be a host of activities, tours, and speakers over the two day celebration. For details, go to ucnj.org/4C.
Vans will stop at the Miller-Cory Museum, and the Reeve house, Mountainside’s Deacon Hetfield House, and the Deserted Village, where Union County Parks sponsors a host of activities and tours for young and old alike.
For those who would like to visit the Littell-Lord Farmhouse in neighboring Berkeley Heights, the township will be running a shuttle between the historic farm and the Deserted Village.
While Fanwood’s historic train station is right on the rail line, the borough will operate a shuttle so that visitors may visit a special exhibit at the Ash Brook Reservation to learn more about the Battle of the Short Hills. There, local historians will be on hand to explain the Revolutionary War battle.
Visitors will also be able to follow a nature trail into the Ash Brook Reservation to see why Washington’s troops wanted the British to chase them there so their heavy cannons will bog down.
In Cranford, the Crane Phillips Museum is in walking distance from the train station, which is also the case in Roselle Park, where the borough’s museum is also in walking distance.
However, Roselle will provide shuttle service to the Abraham Clark House. Clark was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
At the Raritan Valley line station in Union, Kean University trolleys will transport visitors to liberty Hall, where Elizabethtown 350th is planning a host of events. At the other end of the county, Plainfield will provide shuttle service to the Drank House Museum, where General Washington met to coordinate troop movements in the Battle of the Short Hills.
For more details on the Train thru Time, go to: ucnj.org/TTT.