Mountain View Diners

Les Daniel and Henry Strys founded the Mountain View Diners Company in Singac, New Jersey in 1938. From 1938 to 1957, the company produced around 400 prefabricated restaurants. Though of simple design, many are still in operation, proving that their motto “A Mountain View Diner will last a lifetime” still holds true today. When you think of a classic 1950s diner, a Mountain View probably comes to mind.

Photo by Michael Kleen

The 29 Diner, at 10536 Fairfax Blvd in Fairfax, Virginia, is a 1947 Mountain View, and its original owners were D.T. “Bill” and Elvira “Curly” Glascock. It was known as the Tastee 29 Diner in 1992 when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. A former waitress and her husband, Ginger and Fredy Guevara, purchased the diner in the 1990s and restored its original name. They owned it until 2014, when it was bought by John Wood.

Photo by Michael Kleen

Route 66 Diner, at 950 Bay Street in Springfield, Massachusetts, is a 1957 Mountain View, one of the last manufactured by that Signac, New Jersey company. Originally called the Bay Diner, owner Donald A. Roy bought it in 1975 and the restaurant is managed by his brother-in-law, Charlie Allen.

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O'Mahony Diners

Jerry and Daniel O’Mahony founded the Jerry O’Mahony Diner Company in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1917, sparking a renaissance of New Jersey diner manufacturing. It operated until 1952, churning out around 2,000 prefabricated restaurants. An offshoot called Mahony Diners, Inc. built four more diners before closing in the late 1950s.

“A modern Jerry O’Mahony dining car is more than just a casual eating place, – it’s the kind of place that people enthuse about and return to frequently,” a 1943 company advertisement promised.

Despite being one of the oldest and most prolific diner manufacturers in the country, only a few dozen O’Mahony diners remain. I’ve visited O’Mahonys in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia. O’Mahony diners have a simple, rectangular design with a ridged stainless steel exterior. Most have single-door, centrally located entrances.

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Triangle Diner, at 27 W. Gerrard Street in Winchester, Virginia, is a 1948 O’Mahony with a stainless steel exterior and a storied history. Though currently closed, the Triangle Diner employed future country music star Patsy Cline in the early 1950s. Unlike many diners, it has sat at the same intersection since it opened. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.

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The Battle of Trenton, New Jersey

George Washington’s daring raid across the icy Delaware River revived his battered army’s spirits and prevented total disaster for the Patriot cause. Today, the Capitol of New Jersey commemorates Washington’s 1776 victory.

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The Battle of Trenton was fought on December 26, 1776 between American forces commanded by General George Washington, Major Generals Nathanael Greene and John Sullivan, and Brig. Gen. Hugh Mercer, and British forces commanded by Col. Johann Rahl in Trenton, New Jersey during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was an American victory and a much-needed boost to Patriot morale.

After a string of defeats around southeastern New York and Long Island, George Washington’s army withdrew across the Delaware River to lick its wounds. Washington was joined by several other prominent American commanders, who needed a victory to hold together their ragtag band of militia over the winter. The victorious British commander, Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis, spread his army along the east bank of the Delaware to await the spring.

Washington decided to attack an isolated contingent of approximately 1,500 Hessian mercenaries camped at Trenton. A driving snowstorm prevented some of his plan from being implemented, but Washington crossed the icy Delaware under cover of darkness with 2,400 men. The Hessians, thinking victory was at hand, had spent Christmas celebrating and hadn’t provided proper security. As a result, they were caught off guard in the town streets.

After a running battle, Hessian Col. Johann Rahl made several attempts to organize his men and counter attack, but was mortally wounded. The remaining Hessians surrendered. Relatively light American casualties sweetened Washington’s victory. The Patriots lost only four killed and eight wounded to the Hessians’ 40 killed, 66 wounded, and 918 captured.

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Princeton Battlefield State Park

In 1777, a daring maneuver by George Washington surprised and defeated an isolated British force near modern-day Princeton University, reviving American hopes for independence. Today, the battlefield is preserved as a New Jersey state park.

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The Battle of Princeton was fought on January 3, 1777 between American forces commanded by General George Washington, Major Generals Nathanael Greene and John Sullivan, and Brig. Gen. Hugh Mercer, and British forces commanded by Brig. Gen. Alexander Leslie and Col. Charles Mawhood at Princeton, New Jersey during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was an American victory, and although American forces withdrew in the face of British reinforcements, they effectively freed the state from British control.

After his victories in southeastern New York, British Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis had strung his army along the Delaware River to await the spring, but a successful surprise attack by George Washington on Trenton on December 26 stirred him to action. Cornwallis steadily maneuvered Washington into a precarious position. Rather than risk defeat in another standup fight with Cornwallis, Washington took 4,600 men on a nighttime march north to attack an isolated garrison at Princeton.

Washington met British Col. Charles Mawhood and 800 of his men 1.5 miles west of Princeton. Mawhood was heading toward Trenton when the opposing forces met. His men fired one volley and charged with bayonets, Maj. Gen. High Mercer was mortally wounded, and the Patriots fell back. General Washington arrived with reinforcements in the nick of time.

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Monmouth Battlefield State Park

In 1778, two armies slugged it out in sweltering heat in these east-central New Jersey fields. Though technically a draw, the Continental Army showed it could finally stand toe-to-toe with the best soldiers in the British Army.

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The Battle of Monmouth Court House was fought on June 28, 1778 between American forces commanded by General George Washington and Major Generals Nathanael Greene, William Lord Stirling Alexander, Charles Lee, and Marquis de Lafayette and British forces commanded by Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis and Lt. Gen. Baron Wilhelm von Knyphausen near Freehold, New Jersey during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was a tactical draw, with both sides exhausted after fighting the longest battle of the war in brutal heat.

After France’s entry into the war on the American side, British Lt. Gen. Sir Henry Clinton withdrew his army from Philadelphia and retreated toward New York City, which was under British control. He sent several thousand Tory volunteers and most of his supplies down the Delaware River, while his remaining 10,000-man army marched overland. General Washington’s 12,000-man army caught up with them at Monmouth Court House.

Washington sent Maj. Gen. Charles Lee and Marquis de Lafayette forward with 5,000 men to attack Clinton’s 1,500-man rearguard. When Clinton turned Maj. Gen. Cornwallis’ forces around to strike Lee’s left flank, the Americans broke and withdrew in confusion. Just then, General Washington arrived ahead of the rest of his army and sharply rebuked Lee. He cobbled together a defensive line, but that also broke under relentless British attacks. Washington’s third line held.

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White Rose Diner in Linden, New Jersey

White Rose Diner, at 1301 E. Elizabeth Avenue in Linden, New Jersey, is a Kullman model once part of a defunct family-owned burger chain called the White Rose System. Robert and Jack Hemmings and their cousin Jim Hemmings opened the first White Rose System in the 1950s in Highland Park, New Jersey and eventually owned three separate restaurants by 1972. Rich Belfer has owned the one in Linden since the early 1990s. The diner specializes in sliders served on a Kaiser roll topped with onions.

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Tony’s Freehold Grill in Freehold, New Jersey

Tony’s Freehold Grill, at 59 E. Main Street in Freehold, New Jersey, is a 1947 O’Mahony that (unlike many classic diners) has sat at the same location since it opened, making it one of those small town staples. Its current owners/operators, Tom and Peter Iliadis, took the reins from their father, Tony, in 1986. Tony Iliadis started at the Freehold Grill as a cook in 1961, and eventually took ownership and re-christened it after himself.

This diner is only open for breakfast and lunch. It serves a sandwich called “The Trump Tower”, featuring corned beef and roasted turkey, coleslaw, Russian dressing, and melted Swiss cheese on grilled rye. Russian dressing? Hmmm…

Look for a new diner every Tuesday in 2019! Click to expand photos.

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