Union County, NJ – Bring the kids, bring a friend, because once again it’s that time to ride the rails into history.
On October 20 and 21, Union County celebrates Four Centuries In A Weekend, when historic sites and museums across the County open their doors to the public, free of charge, from Noon to 5:00 p.m.
Many of the sites are within walking distance of the train stations across the County. To see the list, with directions, go to: ucnj.org/trainthrutime
“Four centuries is a wonderful event in and of itself,” said Union County Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados. “It is an opportunity to learn more about the rich history of our county. But that said, a train ride can make the day extra special, particularly for young families.”
Granados said he also appreciated how Mountainside and Kean University would be partnering again to enable people to visit several sites via trolleys and shuttles.
On both days, Kean University will provide free trolley service from NJ Transit’s Union Station to Liberty Hall Museum. Visitors arriving at the station should walk across the street to the Kean campus, where a trolley will be waiting.
Meanwhile, Mountainside will provide a free shuttle that will make a loop from the Westfield train station to the Deserted Village, with stops at the Miller-Cory Museum, the Reeve House and Mountainside’s Deacon Hetfield House, before reaching the Deserted Village, where the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation sponsors a host of activities and tours for young and old alike, from free hayrides to 18th century children’s games and history tours.
“Some sites, like Fanwood, are right at the train station,” said Freeholder Vice Chairman Bette Jane Kowalski. “Others have further walks, but if it is a beautiful fall day, it may be just the right time to enjoy a leisurely stroll.”
NJ Transit allows children to ride free on weekends. Monthly commuter passes are also valid. For those wishing to cycle from a train station, be sure to check with NJ Transit’s guidelines for bringing bikes aboard the trains.
Long before the Raritan Valley Line, there was the Central Railroad of New Jersey. From stations across Union County, from Plainfield to Elizabeth, it was possible to board a train to Chicago, or from Jersey City, to board a ferry to New York City. The CNJ is long gone, but some of the historic sites along the route remain, and you can ride the train to visit some of them.
A number of other historic sites are within walking distance from the train station on the Northeast Corridor line (Elizabeth, North Elizabeth & Rahway) and on the Morristown Line, which stops in Summit. For those really looking for a rail adventure, it is possible to transfer between all the rail lines at Secaucus Junction.
For quick links to all transportation options countywide visit Union County ConneXions at ucnj.org/connect.
For more information and complete details on all Four Centuries in a Weekend events visit ucnj.org/parks-recreation/cultural-heritage-affairs or contact the Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs at 908-558-2550 (NJ Relay Users dial 711) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs is a division of the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation, which offers enriching public programs and activities all year. Visit online at ucnj.org/parks or call 908-527-4900.
Photo credit: Kean University Trolley by Kristen DeMatos.
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