Belpre celebrates roots to railroads

BELPRE – This year’s Belpre Railroad Day at Depot Park provided activities and historical information about the railroads and their history in Belpre and the Mid-Ohio Valley.

The free event was organized by the Ohio and Little Kanawha Division of the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society, said club secretary Eldon Young.

Saturday’s event offered train rides for children, the chance to view some working model railroad displays, concessions and tours of the club’s restored caboose and a coach car which the club is working to restore. The caboose and coach car serve as the club’s museum, providing a chance to view old photographs, along with old equipment and tools once used in the railroad industry.

Young said the club is currently at a standstill in its efforts to restore the coach car as it previously did the caboose. Structural work and the installation of new windows have been completed, but the coach’s roof leaks and there has been difficulty finding someone qualified and willing to do a proper assessment for the project, he said.

“We can’t do any more inside work, we’ve gone just about as far as we can go,” he said.

The railroad club meets the third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at Depot Park or at the Wendy’s in Belpre, Young said. It is open to anyone interested in railroads, not just people who formerly worked in the railroad industry, he said.

Don and Mary Taylor, of Coolville, brought their 7-year-old grandson, Wesley Ryan, out to Belpre Railroad Day on Saturday.

Mary Taylor said it was the first time they had attended Railroad Day and thought Wesley would like the event since he likes trains and has a couple of sets at home.

“We wanted Wesley to see some of the history of trains and the area,” she said. “He’s all excited.”

Taylor said she liked the event being held on Depot Park and hoped it would continue in the future as she watched her grandson operate a miniature railroad handcar, pushing the handle back and forth to move it up and down the track.

Ron Schultz, of Marion, Ohio, likes to build small working trains, including a motor-powered one he brought to display at Saturday’s event. It was just large enough to carry two or three people along a 50-foot section of track. Schultz said he is not a member of the railroad club, but came at the invitation of his twin brother, Don, who is a member.