Wednesday marked the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9/11. In East Haven, The Shore Line Trolley Museum commemorates the day with a special permanent display. The museum has one of two subway cars that survived the collapse of the World Trade Center.
PATH car 745 left New Jersey and pulled into the World Trade Center Station for the last time shortly before 9 a.m. September 11, 2001. It was the lead car on an empty seven-car train, later found buried beneath hundreds and thousands of tons of debris after the collapse of the twin towers. The train now lives at The Shore Line Trolley Museum.
Alan Zelazo knew the train’s route by heart. He was a PATH train engineer – off duty that morning, but scheduled to go into work later that day. He’s now retired and the vice chairman of the museum. Zelazo wears a shirt from his old uniform every September 11th.
“This was the particular one I wore that day,” Zelazo said. “And the shirt I purposely put all the way at the bottom of the drawer so I don’t see it during the year. And then I’ll take it out for today, because I know it’s important. People have to learn.”
The aluminum 1972 class PA-3 car now shines like new. It’s been cleaned up and restored right down to the advertisements that were originally displayed. Another railcar alongside car 745 has been converted to a small theater where you can learn the history about different rapid transit operations around the country, including a special feature on the PATH car. It includes actual footage shot by Zelazo years before the attacks on 9/11.
“I mounted the camera on the dashboard, just for the sake of doing it, which was a good thing I did,” he said. “They speeded it up. The actual trip from the yard to World Trade was probably about 20 minutes.”
Zelazo can often be found at the trolley museum on the weekends doing restoration work on old railcars. On the anniversary of 9/11, he makes himself available to answer questions about the 50 foot long 40 ton subway car that is now an icon.