Just about the time Kathy is certain she never has to see an other airplane, car or train museum, I find a new one. 😉
Kathy & I recently returned from a trip to central Ohio over the Labor Day weekend, visiting family and friends there. While looking over things to do for that trip, I discovered the Age of Steam Roundhouse, a railroad museum located near the town of Sugarcreek.
The Age of Steam Roundhouse is actually much more than simply a railroad museum. The roundhouse was built with private funds by a man named Jerry Jacobson and his wife Laura. Jacobson retired in 2008 from the railroad industry, selling his entire 525-mile Ohio Central Railroad System (OCRS) freight railroad to Genesee & Wyoming, a short-line railway company headquartered in Rochester, NY.
As well as being a regular revenue railroad, the Ohio Central had its own steam department that operated steam locomotives for tourist trains, excursions, and special events. When Jacobson sold OCRS in 2008, he maintained ownership of the antique equipment, including the collection of steam locomotives. Needing a place to safely house and restore his old-timers, Jacobson acquired 34 acres of land adjacent to the OC track and constructed his Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum. He built two miles of storage tracks, a depot, store house, coal loader, wood water tank, ash pit, back shop and, the jewel of the site, a working, 18-stall brick roundhouse that surrounds a 115-foot turntable. This was the first full-sized working roundhouse built in the U.S. since 1951.
Since Jacobson’s death in 2017, The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum is currently operated by a non-profit organization and has three roles: maintaining its roster of 23 steamers, teaching future generations these fast-disappearing job skills, and bringing America’s railroad history alive.
Kathy & I, along with my brother Bob and his wife Suzie, booked a tour of the Roundhouse one afternoon, and these are (more than) a few of my photos from this fascinating visit. I just couldn’t narrow them down further and still tell the story! 🙂
Kathy & I fulfilled one of our goals yesterday – we rode the Amtrak “Piedmont” to Durham, North Carolina for lunch. It was our first-ever Amtrak trip, and while not exactly an epic journey, it was something we have wanted to do for a while.
We were impressed. Parking at the Charlotte station was free and convenient, the people were friendly and there is no arduous “security theatre” screening process. The train was on time, boarding was quick and orderly, and even though the seats were not reserved, everyone had a row to themselves (it helped that the Piedmont originates in Charlotte so the train was empty when we boarded). The seats were comfortable, comparable to first class airplane seats with plenty of leg (and butt) room. Bottled water and pretty decent coffee were available for free in the cafe car, and there were vending machines for those needing to buy a snack. The two rest rooms in our car were clean and roomy.
We arrived in Durham at 1:00 and had about 2 1/2 hours until the Piedmont returned from Raleigh to take us back to Charlotte. So we explored the downtown area a bit. Durham is known as the Bull City, and there were bull themes prevalent everywhere. We found a lunch spot that specializes in craft beer and burgers made from pasture-raised beef (the burgers, not the beer 😉 ), called, appropriately enough, Bull City Burger and Brewery. A good find for lunch!
As with most downtowns these days, there are not too many retail businesses, but lots of bars and restaurants. Many of the former tobacco warehouses have been or are being converted to residential buildings with street level commercial, which makes for an interesting vibe. I don’t know where all the people work, but Duke University is nearby, and Durham is the county seat, so those would be sources of employment.
It was kind of a dark and gloomy day in Durham, a little on the cool side. But it didn’t rain so that was a plus! Most of my photos are processed as black & white since there wasn’t much color to get excited about.
The return trip to Charlotte was uneventful. Since the train originated in Raleigh it was already pretty full when it got to us. We scored seats together, although they were facing backward. Not a problem but a little weird. We boarded at 3:30 and arrived back in Charlotte at 6:00, in time to be home for dinner. It was a long way to go and kind of an expensive lunch when including the cost of transportation. But it was a fun day! We’re glad we took the plunge and look forward to planning a longer trip in the near future. Perhaps to DC or NYC.
After Staunton, VA we spent a night in Scranton, PA. We stayed at a Radisson hotel in the former Lackawanna railroad station in downtown, and the following morning visited Steamtown National Historical Site before heading off to Rhode Island.
Steamtown National Historic Site is a railroad museum and heritage railroad located in downtown Scranton, PA at the site of the former Scranton yards of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W). The museum is built around a working turntable and a roundhouse that are largely replications of the original DL&W facilities. The roundhouse, for example, was reconstructed from remnants of a 1932 structure. The site also features several original outbuildings dated between 1899 and 1902. All the buildings on the site are listed with the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Yard-Dickson Manufacturing Co. site.
This is but a small sample of the photos I took there, and as usual mostly just scratch the surface of the place. A real railroad fan could spend days there!
I’ve posted a New England Part I gallery on Adobe Portfolio for anyone wanting to see more of my snapshots. The photos in that gallery take us through Rhode Island, which I’ll cover in a future post.
While Kathy & I were in Wisconsin visiting our friends Jeff & Mary Pat, Jeff, his son Luca and I left the ladies at home and headed to the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Illinois. The museum boasts a huge collection of rolling stock of all varieties, from horse-drawn cars to vintage steam locomotives to more modern diesel-electric engines. It was a great place to make photographs, and while I took some photographs of entire engines and cars, it was the the little details that really appealed to me – in this case what I’ve come to refer to generically as “Rust and Peeling Paint.” It is the details that are “about” a place, taken “at” at place that I love to photograph.
We spent several hours there and had a chance to take a ride on a vintage electric “Interurban” train car (much like a trolley but larger and faster). It’s the kind of place where you can find something new with as much time as you have. A few hours was plenty for us, but it wouldn’t be a bad place to return to some time in the future.