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WESTERN RESERVE VILLAGE For visitors, history comes alive



Published: Mon, September 2, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Nancy Yantek's grandfather was a conductor on the steam engine, and every year she brings her children to see it.

By MARALINE KUBIK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

CANFIELD -- Away from the hustle and bustle, the loud music and flashing lights, even the smell of French fries, fairgoers can find a quiet spot to sit back and relax in the shade of an old maple tree.

Western Reserve Village, on the west side of the fairgrounds near state Route 46, boasts 10 historical buildings, a historical steam engine with rail car and caboose, and a church built to resemble a historical house of worship.

The buildings are all situated around a village green, much as they might have been in the mid-1800s.

A Civil War encampment operates at one end of the village and soldiers in as close-to-authentic uniforms as possible -- right down to wool underwear -- stroll along the brick path around the green.

"My favorite spot today is right here on this bench," said Joe Mazur of East Springfield.

He and his family traveled more than an hour to the Canfield Fair, an annual tradition, and visiting the Western Reserve Village always tops their list of things to do.

"I was just telling my daughter that I've been here so much I could have graduated from that school," he said, pointing to the one-room school.

The school was built around 1900 and originally stood near the corner of Leffingwell and Knauf roads. It was moved to the fairgrounds in March 1967.

Mazur and his wife, Susan, have been bringing their daughter, Melissa, to the village since she was in a stroller. Melissa will be a senior in high school this year.

Although she's visited the village every year, Melissa smiles and shakes her head when asked if she feels like she could be graduating from the one-room schoolhouse.

Family connection

Nancy Yantek of Cleveland and her family visit the village every year, too.

"My grandfather was a conductor on the train, so we always come to see it and bring the kids to see it."

Yantek has three children, ages 6, 2 and 1, who are excited to climb aboard the train.

This year, Yantek's grandfather, John Quigley of Youngstown, is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his retirement.

"I started as a conductor on the crew in 1942. I threw switches and gave signals," Quigley said.

His family called him from their cell phone while visiting the village.

"In the late '40s, they brought diesels in," Quigley continued. The steam engine at Western Reserve Village was retired in 1950; Quigley retired Sept. 1, 1977.

The engine, which was built in 1916, was installed at the fairgrounds in 1985. That year, Quigley and his children and grandchildren visited Western Reserve Village together. "It was quite a thrill to see it out there," he recalled.

The train stands behind an Erie Lackawanna Railroad station circa 1870.

The station stood in its original Canfield location 96 years, according to Jay Dehghani, 16, a junior at Cardinal Mooney High School who dressed the part of a railroad employee to recount the station's history for visitors.

At one time, the Canfield railroad station served three passenger trains a day.

Rest of village

Other buildings that make up the village are a library from 1910, blacksmith shop from the mid-1800s, watchman's tower from 1880, log cabin from 1829, law office from 1840, general store from the late 1800s and doctor's office from 1913.

A carriage museum housing buggies and sleighs is across the midway from the village.

Western Reserve Village was begun in 1965 when the fair board, under the direction of Bob Rose, acquired Elisha Whittlesey's Law Office. The Western Reserve Village Foundation, which governs operation and maintenance, formed in 1993.

kubik@vindy.com




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