Findlay museum helps keep our region’s rich railroad history on track
The NW Ohio Railroad Preservation museum attracts thousands of visitors every year.
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - You may have grown up playing with toy trains or dreaming of riding the rails. You may have children with the same passion. There’s a place in Hancock County where the whole family can enjoy a day surrounded by trains and people who love them.
The Findlay museum is a train lover’s paradise. It’s run by the all-volunteer organization, Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation. The group works to preserve, promote and educate people about the region’s rich railroad history. It was started in 1998 and it’s been full steam ahead ever since.
From toy and model trains, to much bigger models, the museum is a little slice of heaven for train lovers of all ages.
Mike Schroeder’s love of trains started when his grandfather bought him a train set as a kid. He loves sharing his hobby with others.
“The museum is a great place for everyone. We’re very economical,” said Schroeder. “We cater to families and little kids. You can come here and spend an afternoon here for $20.”
Jim Gabriel is the Vice President of NW Ohio Railroad Preservation.
“We have fun for young children, grandparents with grandkids. We have a number of special events throughout the year for all generations,” said Gabriel.
You can spend time inside in the gift shop, with the toy and model trains or you can ride the rails on the Riverside Train, a quarter-scale replica of an actual locomotive.
“It is a model of the M-10,000 streamliners that were built in the 1930s,” said Gabriel. “This one is a gasoline engine. It is actually a Mustang 6-cylinder powering this thing with a Mustang transmission.”
Gabriel says you can also go for a ride in cars pulled by a one-quarter-scale steam engine.
“Basically, a steam engine is a boiler. You put fire in, boil water and you turn water to steam,” said Gabriel. “The steam is used to drive the wheel and make the trains move. Initially they were fired with wood, then coal and then oil.”
Thousands of people visit the museum every year. Schroeder says the visitors come from all over the country and the world.
“We have a lot of people come from Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan and all over Ohio,” said Schroeder. “We’ve had people come from California, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Canada. We’ve also had visitors from Germany who are working at some of the local plants and they love to see the steam engine.”
And you don’t have to be a railroad expert to help keep things chugging along here.
“A lot of people retire and sit at home and watch TV. You’ve got life after retirement, come out and do something. We are an all-volunteer group. We need metal workers, carpenters, gardeners,” said Schroeder. “A museum helping keep our rich railroad history on the right track.”
The museum is opening for the season on Saturday, April 29. It will be open Saturdays and Sundays through September 10.
After that, it will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through October for fall activities. There are a lot of different events throughout the season, so if you’d like to learn more, click here.
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