Mahoning Valley Railroad Heritage Association hosts open house and 30th birthday celebration
By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
Yellow, blue, black and green train cars are lined up on tracks on Poland Avenue. They don’t go anywhere anymore, but people still like to look inside them.
And the rain Saturday didn’t stop them. People gathered under tents and carried umbrellas at the Mahoning Valley Railroad Heritage Association’s open house and 30th birthday celebration.
Gavin Esposito, 13, of Hubbard and his grandfather Dan Scott, also of Hubbard, share a love of trains.
“I just really like the history, how mechanical they are,” Esposito said. “Just how some men like cars, some men like trucks, I like trains. They’re just awesome.”
He and his grandfather enjoyed seeing the trains on display, and toured a couple of Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad (P&LE) cabooses.
At the Poland Avenue site are two P&LE cabooses, a steam engine, a Pollock steel ladle car, a 60-ton General Electric locomotive, a Plymouth EL yard switcher (the only one in existence), a mold transport car, a box car and more.
Esposito thinks it’s “really cool” the organization is preserving the train cars for future generations.
“It’s just amazing that they’re putting the time, the effort, and money into doing something like this,” he said. “It’s really cool.”
His grandfather agreed.
“I’m nostalgic for it because my grandfather was a Russian immigrant. He worked on the Erie railroad,” Scott said. “And we had trains in the backyard. We thought we were rich, as little kids, because the trains were there.”
Like Esposito, Zachary Walter, 9, of Canfield loves trains. Both learn about them through various websites, but enjoyed the opportunity to see train cars in person.
“It’s cool,” Walter said of the event. A yellow locomotive caught his eye.
One of his favorite things about trains is the sound of the horns, he said.
His father, Randy Walter, said he appreciates the efforts of the organization.
“We all should support them more, so they can fix these up, because it’s heritage we’re going to lose if we don’t preserve it,” he said. “They’re trying to preserve that bit of history.”
Members of MVRHA were on hand to answer questions and give tours. Refreshments, including birthday cake, were available.
Currently, the organization does not have regular hours, but visitors can tour the site by appointment.
“Our goal is to put down more track and put the cars on display to show what was used in the steel industry and in the steel mills,” said Joe Vasko, president.
The purpose of the MVRHA is to preserve equipment and materials from the railroads that served the steel industry in the Mahoning Valley. It was formed in 1985. It has the largest collection of steel industry rail equipment in the United States.