“america”, on the road again!

It has been a long time coming, but after the recent restoration efforts of MRPS after its’ donation to the organization in 2019, America is once more “On the Road Again” (apologies to Willie Nelson)!

Under pressure to complete the project before its’ scheduled departure date, volunteers and contractors alike stepped up and put in seemingly endless hours to meet the deadline. There were a few setbacks along the way that caused a few anxious moments and delays such as unanticipated broken windows, some painting difficulties, a lot of rewiring and plumbing and the air conditioning overhaul along with the difficulty of finding parts and hardware needed, but in the end, everything came together and now the car will be seen on Amtrak runs throughout the United States.

America left the yard during the night of July 30, 2021, picked up by CSX, and destined to Indianapolis where it was coupled to Amtrak and taken to Chicago for its’ initial lease run. The car, scheduled to be gone for one year, will return in August for a complete inspection, some repairs and preparation for its’ next scheduled excursion run.

One aspect of this project that is a huge benefit to the organization is that the overall scope of the restoration enabled volunteers and Trustees alike to learn or increase their knowledge of passenger car restoration as well as honing their skills in estimating costs and timing for future projects.

America’s lounge is seen in two views above looking towards the bar/entertainment center (left) and towards the observation end (right). The furniture was provided by the individual who is leasing the car for the coming year.

The dining room make-over included repainting as did the lounge. Colors chosen were complimentary to the existing carpet which received a thorough cleaning and the window shades. Dining room chairs, again, were provided by the lessee.

America’s kitchen of today is a sharp contrast to the one that it replaced. Designed to increase storage space and optimize flow, it is equipped with a full size refrigerator, dishwasher, extra deep sink, oven with cook top, microwave oven and Keurig coffee maker. The utility room in the vestibule has a combination washer/dryer for convenience. A trap door in the ceiling accesses storage for paper towels and other light bulky necessities.

The Presidential Suite is shown above left and one of the staterooms above right. All new bedding including memory foam mattresses were provided for the comfort of her passengers. The staterooms and the crew quarters all are equipped with Hi-definition televisions and the wireless system allows passengers to access their streaming services along with local stations. Satellite radio is included in the lounge. Other modern amenities include electrical outlets with USB charging ports and dimmers for lounge and dining room lighting.

Although America runs under the banner of the New York Central System, it also has the logo of the Cleveland Terminal & Valley Railway which is registered under MRPS. The Amtrak ID number is stenciled on the car along with the Midwest ID number CTVX5. Warning signs on both ends of the car indicate that the car is under constant surveillance and its’ GPS allows the organization to track the car wherever it may travel.

THANK YOU!

Although a huge debt of gratitude is owed to the many volunteers and contractors that took part in finishing the “America” project, we owe even more to those individuals whose generous donations enabled Midwest to get this project off the ground and finally completed. The initial fund raising efforts of an anonymous donor last year lead the way with a $7000 matching funds donation that promised another $7000 after members and friends did in fact meet the goal. A large donation earlier this year by another anonymous donor enabled us to buy materials and parts needed to begin the end stages of the restoration. The Trustees of Midwest Railway Preservation Society wish to thank all of those whose donations large and small helped to “Make America Great Again”.

RPCA Conference

The 2022 RPCA Conference that is being hosted by Midwest Railway Preservation Society in January is fast approaching. The conference committee spent a lot of time last week finalizing the schedule for activities, speakers and tours and have presented it to the RPCA Board for review prior to their arrival in Cleveland for their semi-annual meeting the weekend of August 6th.

Among the activities planned are a tour of The Age of Steam Roundhouse in Sugarcreek, Ohio with dinner at Der Dutchman, a beer and wine tasting excursion on the Cuyahoga Valley Railroad, a tour of the Historic B&O Roundhouse that includes appetizers and educational classes and a tour of the Cleveland Cliffs rolling mill. The RPCA annual meeting and banquet will be held at the hotel. The base for the Conference is the Holiday Inn on Rockside Road in Independence.

MRPS is still seeking volunteer help in many areas of the conference from planning and stuffing welcome bags for attendees, registration at the hotel and helping out during scheduled activities and the nightly hospitality room. Last year’s and this year’s conferences were not the usual formats due to the Covid-19 mandates so we are expecting this one to be well attended. Any help you can offer towards making this conference one to remember will be greatly appreciated. For more information or to offer your assistance contact the office by phone or email.

4070 Progress

Volunteers Greg Antz and Nick Resar were busy on a recent Saturday at the roundhouse cleaning the wheel drop pit in stall 4 of muck and sludge. This was the first step prior to flushing the drain and getting the sump operating again. Once this is completed the wheel drop cylinder will be placed in the pit and 4070 brought in to begin weld repairs on the main frame. The main driver needs to be dropped for access to the crack in order to perform the repairs.

Volunteer help is needed to once again get the 4070 restoration project back on track. Join us for Saturday work sessions at the roundhouse and lend a hand. There is still work to do in completing the machine shop reorganization and stall 4 preparation. Now that America is back on the road, help us do the same for 4070!

GTW RPO – Gone But Not Forgotten

Although no longer among the rolling stock inventory of MRPS, the former GTW Railroad Post Office car is a perfect example of how the organization has followed its’ mission of preservation.

In the early 1990’s when Midwest (then the Midwest Chapter of the National Railway Historical Foundation) was selling some of its’ railcars to provide space and raise cash, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum bought the rolling post office from the organization and used it as a model from which was built a 30 foot mock-up for display since the eighty foot car itself was too big to use as is. The Midwest chapter was contacted by the museum about the car after an employee saw a brochure and the sale was arranged.

The World War I era car was intact when owned by Midwest. Being a mobile post office, the interior of the car was set up for sorting mail from bags that were grabbed by a hook mounted to an arm on the outside of the car. The empty bags were tossed out at the next stop.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer published an article outlining the transaction in its’ June 6th, 1993 edition of the paper in which it stated that the museum was to open that July in the lower level of the former Washington City Post Office building on Capitol Hill.

Even though the car was not preserved intact it did enable the museum to recreate an accurate display providing visitors with an example of mail delivery before airplanes and trucks became prevalent.

Thank you to all of those that responded to our plea for donations towards replacement of the roundhouse transformer. Although the donations did not entirely cover the replacement cost, it is a good start toward our goal.

4070 Memories
The “Steam Gods” to the Rescue

In the July issue of Marker Lights, we published an archive photo of 4070 and 2102 on their momentous excursion to Horseshoe Curve in 1975. The trip however, was not without incident and surviving members of the operating crew tell a story that might just be an inspiration for a “Haunted History” or “Twilight Zone” episode.

During the ride through Horseshoe Curve, 4070 suffered a bent connecting rod. Viewers of a video that was taken at that time say that it can clearly be seen on the video. When the train stopped for the night, the crew removed the connecting rod from the locomotive, loaded it into the back of the flat bed truck that accompanied the train on its’ excursion and drove off searching for a repair facility. They eventually came upon a one-man blacksmith/forge shop and as luck would have it, the operator was there and working. After explaining the situation, the proprietor said that he could straighten the rod so it was unloaded and he went to work completing the job in plenty of time for the crew to get back and remount it before the train continued on its’ excursion.

Before leaving, the crew rode back to the shop to thank the operator once again but all they found was an old abandoned building that for all appearances hadn’t been in operation for years. Who made the repairs? That question haunted the crew for the rest of the trip. The only explanation was that the “Steam Gods” were watching over them and somehow the repairs were miraculously made. The remainder of the trip went off without a hitch.

More Photos From the Archives

4070 pauses by the coal tower in Akron before heading back to Cleveland during a Valley run in 1988.

An annual occurrence during the Valley Run years was the volunteer pot luck dinners that took place during the layover in Akron. The above photo was taken in 1988.

An Operation Lifesaver excursion for Bedford school students that was sponsored by Midwest and powered by the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad took place in 2001 and ran between downtown Bedford and Plum Creek in Kent. The above photo was taken during the excursion’s stop in Kent.

New Gift Shop Items Now Available at the Roundhouse

Soon to be available at our new online gift shop are a variety of tee shirts, sweat shirts and caps featuring the MRPS Diamond Logo and our GTW 4070 steam locomotive. Tee shirts are available in grey or safety green in short sleeve and long sleeve styles. Sweat shirt hoodies are available in pullover and full zip styles. Along with the baseball cap shown, two styles of winter ski caps are available in grey and yellow. These items can be purchased now at the roundhouse in limited sizes but please call or email the office in advance to make arrangements for your visit. All of our MRPS merchandise will be for sale on line shortly with delivery available anywhere in the United States.

Happening “aRound the House”!

The stall 4 pit received a thorough cleaning in July by Mitch Karibinus in preparation for 4070’s return into the roundhouse.

A recent donation to Midwest, this speeder arrived through the generosity of members Alex Ciparis and his father Ken. Some work is required to get it running, but once done this lightweight piece of equipment will come in handy around the railyard.

Bringing the Drott back to life is becoming a reality as the motor and transmission are being installed back into the chassis. On our priority list for a long time, the crane will soon be added to our stable of ancillary equipment. This project has been spearheaded by volunteer Dan Roniger who has been taking quite a bit of the roundhouse dirt and grease home with him. As he tells the story, one day after returning home and taking a shower, his wife instructed him to go back upstairs and take another one!

Among our inventory of grade crossing signals are three that were removed from the grounds of the former Ford Motor Co. Engine Plant #2 in Brookpark. Donated by Weston, Inc. prior to redevelopment, they were removed by Midwest personnel and delivered to the roundhouse where they will be used on site or possibly sold to raise funds for our restoration projects.

Before and after photos of the dining room chandelier of “America” depict the sharp contrast of the crystals adorned with more than a decade’s worth of dust and grime and the recently cleaned and reassembled crystals.

Completed last month, the GP10 is shown as it sits on a siding adjacent to West 3rd Street awaiting pick up by the W&LE for delivery to Cincinnati. The industrial setting brings back memories of Conrail’s former glory.

An unusual sight at the roundhouse is empty stalls as seen in this photo after the departure of America. Stall 4 will soon be occupied by 4070 when she comes in for the wheel drop and stall 3 will soon be occupied by Mt. Baxter for scheduled work thanks to the John Emery Grant awarded earlier this year.

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