The Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield, Ohio

The Old Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield, Ohio

The Ohio State Reformatory was a prison, like many reformatories across the United States of America, where many of the toughest criminals were kept.  Through the years, the facility was in decline as the conditions began to deteriorate.  The inmates were eventually moved out, and the facility was closed in 1990.  The facility was later reopened as a tourist attraction, and it was used as a movie set for ‘The Shawshank Redemption’.  Today, you can take a tour of the facility and see the old cells and the places where the movie was filmed.  There are self-guided tours and guided tours.  Come and visit a piece of Ohio’s history.

Part of the Shawshank Redemption Movie Set

Some of you are saying, “This is nice.  They were able to save this place and make it a tourist attraction.  This place must have many stories to tell.  There is one big problem.  This is a jail.  A jail is where people go to get punished when they break the law.  The place was surrounded by a fence with armed guards on duty.  There are no railroads here.  Therefore, I will not be spending any time in this place.”

The Warden’s Desk and Office.

It was a jail.  It was where criminals were kept.  How did the criminals get here?  Some were brought in on a prison bus, but some came by train.  Yes, the railroad brought prisoners to this facility.  The railroad line is on the west side of the reformatory behind a fence is still an active line.  (This part of the reformatory is currently not accessible to the public.)  When the facility was open, the train pulled up to a special entrance, accompanied by armed guards, and then checked in before being sent to their cells.  For those who were going to be spending time here, it was not an enjoyable ride on the train.

The Railroad Line That Brought Prisoners to the Reformatory. The Bridge in the Distance is U.S. 30, the Famous ‘Lincoln Highway’.

The Ohio State Reformatory is owned and operated by the Ohio State Reformatory Preservation Society.  It is at 100 Reformatory Road in Mansfield, Ohio.  It is just off U.S. Route 30 and minutes from Interstate 71.  It is open year-round, but hours and days open do vary in different times of the year.  Many tours options are available, and parking is available on site.  Please note that due to the historic nature, the much of the facility is not handicap accessible.  However, there is a tour that is handicap accessible where you see the Museum Store, the Scofield Café, the Corrections Museum, the Mailroom, the East and West Cellblocks, the East and West Showers, the solitary confinement area, the bullpen and mini-bullpen and the Central Guard Room.  By the way, the tour guides will give assistance if necessary.  Yes, everyone will have a great time visiting the Ohio State Reformatory, and the great people at the reformatory will see to it that you enjoy every minute of it.  You can get more information about the Ohio State Reformatory and read more into the reformatory at https://www.mrps.org/.

A Prisoner’s Cell.

Come see a piece of Ohio history that has a little railroad history.  Be warned.  You will end up in jail… and enjoy every minute of it.

The Hallway.

Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, Lothian, Maryland

Looking Over Jug Bay from Patuxent River Park.

Jug Bay is a small bay off the Patuxent River in Southern Maryland.  The bay is surrounded by wetlands that is gleaming with waterfowl and many other birds including ospreys.  The Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary was established to protect these wetlands from the sprawling urbanization that is surrounding this region.  The Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary provides an oasis in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.  A visit to the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary is an oasis from the concrete jungle.

An Osprey in Its Nest.

Some of you are saying, “This is lovely.  You can walk through here having no idea that you are in a major metropolitan area.  This is real nature.  There is one big problem.  There are no railroads here.  Therefore, I do not see this place as any kind of oasis at all.”

Marsh in the Sanctuary.

You do have a great point.  There are no railroads in this sanctuary.  The nearest railroad is three miles away in the town of Upper Marlboro, and that is just a freight line.  For passenger service, you must travel much further.  When you visit the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, you will not see any railroads… but it was not always the case.

Boardwalk Trail.

The Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary is a nature preserve that has miles of hiking trails.  However, nature is not the only thing preserved here.  What else is preserved here?  As you hike around, you will come upon what may look like to you as an old railroad bed.  Did a railroad come through here?  As you walk along, you see what looks like old railroad ties.  Where are you?  You are walking on the right-of-way of the old Chesapeake Beach Railway.  You walk on the section that was built into the Patuxent River.  Wetlands are on both sides.  You find yourself at the Patuxent River.  You see Mount Calvert, a mansion house, on and embankment across the river.  Then you see and old bridge support right in the middle of the river.  It was here where the railroad crossed the river, and it continued west along the edge of the Mount Calvert property.  With the rail bed being the only way to the river, you follow the railroad bed back to the shore, and then you see a cut.  The trail goes next to the cut, but you can look down into the cut.  You imagine what it was like to be working on the railway seeing this scenery every day.  The trail takes you into the cut, but you come to a creek.  The railroad bridge is long gone, but you follow the trail that takes you across wooden bridges that takes you to the other side where the railroad bed continues.  You continue along the roadbed until you finally come to a road.  The trail ends, but the road before you follow the route of the old Chesapeake Beach Railway.

The Old Railroad Bed of the Chesapeake Beach Railway.

From the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, the old roadbed passes through what is currently private property.  To see to old roadbed again, you would have to depart the sanctuary and then drive east on Maryland Route 4, and then exit at Maryland Route 260.  As you are on the exit ramp, you can glance out to your right and see the old bridge supports where it crosses Lyons Creek.  Once on Maryland Route 260, you will find yourself on the original railroad bed.  Most of the state highway apart from the last two miles was built on the old railroad bed.  Sadly, most of the old roadbed passes through private property.  As you arrive in the town of Chesapeake Beach, you can see some of the roadbed was converted into a rail trail.  The entryway into the Rod-n-Reel Restaurant and Chesapeake Beach Spa and Resort was part of the original right-of-way with the old train station (now a museum) in its original location.

A View of the Old Railroad Bed of the Chesapeake Beach Railway from the Patuxent River.

The Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary is in Lothian, Maryland off Maryland Route 4 in Southern Maryland at 1361 Wrighton Road.  It is owned and operated by the Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks.  You can get more information at https://jugbay.org/.

The Old Railroad Ties of the Chesapeake Beach Railway on the Railroad Bed Trail in the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary.

Now you have a good reason to visit The Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary.  You can see the place where railroad travelers once saw for themselves.

Osprey on a Branch.

Leesylvania State Park, Woodbridge, Virginia

The Chimney of the Fairfax House at Leesylvania State Park in Woodbridge, Virginia

Leesylvania State Park is a park in the U.S. state of Virginia located twenty-five miles south of Washington D.C.  Before it was a state park, it was a hunting resort, but before it was a hunting resort, it was a plantation.  (The name of the park is derived from the Lee family who had ownership of the property.  It was called Leesylvania Plantation.)  Before it was a plantation, it could possibly be a site of a village of the Algonquian tribe.  A Civil War skirmish also happened here.  Today, it is a park with a beach on the Potomac River, a fishing pier, picnic grounds, hiking trails and ruins of plantation houses and the remains of an old earthen fort.  There is also a Visitor Center with a small museum explaining the history of the park.  A day at Leesylvania State Park is truly a day well spent.

The Lee–Fairfax Cemetery at Leesylvania State Park in Woodbridge, Virginia

Some of you are saying, “This is great.  This is a park that has much history.  There is one problem.  This park has no railroads.  Therefore, as far as I am concerned, history will not see me at this park.”

A Cannon

Be advised.  You are wrong.  The park does not have a train that you can ride, but a railroad line does pass through this park, and it played a major part of the park’s history.

The Fishing Pier

As you enter the park and pay the fee, you will continue along the park road for a mile, and you will see a railroad bridge.  Originally, it was the Alexandria and Fredericksburg Railroad, but it is now owned by the Chessie and Seaboard Consolidated Railroad.  (We simply know it as CSX.)  The railroad goes through this park, but this is just the beginning.  You continue to park your car.  You then decide to go on a hike.  Where?  You hike the Lee Woods Historic Trail.  Along this trail are the remains of chimneys of the houses of the Fairfax and the Lee families.  You will also find the old Civil War fort, an amphitheater, and a cemetery.

The Amphitheater

Some of you are saying, “This is great, but what does all of this have to do with the railroad?”

The Railroad Bridge

As mentioned, the railroad bridge that you passed under was just the beginning.  Another thing that you will see on this trail is an old railroad cut.  This cut was dug out by the Alexandria and Fredericksburg Railroad in 1872.  The railroad literally weaved its way through what is now the park.  The result was many landslides and derailments.  One of these accidents delayed a train owned by a man named Phineas Taylor Barnum.  Yes, this is the same Phineas Taylor Barnum that began what would become the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’, commonly known as the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, and it was the circus train that was delayed.  The rail line was straightened years later, and it continues the current route to this day.

Looking Into the Old Railroad Bed

Some of you are saying, “That is interesting.  It is great that they were able to straighten the railroad through the park.”

The Old Railroad Cut

It is, but that is not the only thing that this park has with the railroad.

Looking Into the Original Railroad Bed

As you walk on the trail, you will see the amphitheater, and you will notice the old fireplace.  This fireplace is what remains of the hunting lodge of the Wheelock Hunt Club.  Started by a group of businessmen from New York and 1926 and later purchased by Gregory Wheelock and Percy Chubb in 1928, what is now the state park was abundant with waterfowl.  Why was the hunt club built here?  The abundance of waterfowl was one reason.  The other reason is because of the railroad.  Hunters were able to travel here by the railroad and go hunting for a day or a few days.  Sadly, the waterfowl population went into decline in the 1940’s, and the hunting club closed in 1957.  The hunting lodge went into disrepair and was eventually demolished leaving only the old chimney as a reminder of the old lodge.

Looking Into the Potomac River

There were plans to build a waterfront resort.  Whether the railroad played a role in the plans of the resort is unknown, but the resort was never built.  Daniel Keith Ludwig, a billionaire and businessman, was the last owner of the land.  He donated the park to the U.S. state of Virginia, and, in 1989, it became Leesylvania State Park.

The Lee Woods Trail

Leesylvania State Park is at 2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Drive in Woodbridge, Virginia.  It is minutes from Interstate 95 and U.S. Route 1.  There is an entrance fee to enter the park.  Please note that access to the ruins and the old fort are not wheelchair accessible.  You can get more information at https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/leesylvania.

The Beach and the Potomac River

The next time you hear about Leesylvania State Park as a historic place, you can truly say that railroad history runs through it.

A Cannon at Freestone Point Fort

The Ghost of the Chesapeake Beach Railway

The Old Train Station in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland

The town of Chesapeake Beach, Maryland is a town on the Chesapeake Bay.  Today, it is a town with a waterpark, a resort, condos, and a restaurant overlooking the Chesapeake Bay.  In the beginning, it was a completely different town.  It began as a resort town to escape the hustle and bustle of Washington D.C.  It had a beach, a carousel, roller coaster, bandshell, a boardwalk and a hotel.  How did they get here?  The Chesapeake Beach Railway was established to bring vacationers from Union Station in Washington D.C. to the Chesapeake Beach Train Station.  As the train arrived in Chesapeake Beach, the passengers were just a short walk to everything.  The town was a booming resort town, and the Chesapeake Beach Railway was a major contributor to the town’s success.  What began in the late 1890’s… when into decline in the 1930’s.  Vacationers were going to other resorts.  There was a hotel the burned down.  The Chesapeake Beach Railway was no more.  The only thing of the old town of Chesapeake Beach that remains today is the Chesapeake Beach Train Station that remains in its original location, and it is the home of the Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum.  The tracks are long gone, but there are some places where some of the old railroad bed remains.

A Model of Chesapeake Beach as a Resort Town at the Cesapeake Beach Railway Museum in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland

What if the Chesapeake Beach Railway was still running today?  Maybe we can trace the old route of the railroad.  We can trace the way people went to get away from Washington D.C. to a place where they could enjoy a day or a few days having fun.  Sadly, there are no time machines, but maybe there are… ghosts.  Maybe the ghosts of the Chesapeake Beach Railway are among the old railway, but where can we find the ghosts?  Where do we begin?

A Model of the Chesapeake Beach Railway Terminal at the Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland

We arrive at Union Station in Washington D.C.  Today, it is a busy train station.  People travel for business and for pleasure, but then you see the ghosts of the people in beach attire.  They are walking to the platform to board the train to the beach.  They buy tickets.  They board the train.  The train leaves the station.

Union Station, Washington D.C.

We arrive at the intersection of Fourth Street and Virginia Avenue SW.  As the train departed south from Union Station, it went backwards to the area where it crossed Fourth Street SW.  It is here where the line south from Union Station merges with the old Pennsylvania Railroad line that bypasses Union Station and merges again northeast of Union Station.  You see the ghost of the train stopped awaiting the signal to go forward.  When it is clear, the engineer blows the whistle.  The train goes forward towards its destination.

The Old Railroad Bed of the Chesapeake Beach Railway in the Median of Hayes Street NE in Washington D.C.

We arrive at the intersection of Minnesota Avenue and Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue NE.  It was here where the Chesapeake Beach Railway departed from the Pennsylvania Railroad Line, and it is the last place on the Chesapeake Beach Railway where the tracks remain.  For the rest of this journey, we follow the places where the train once ran.  It was here where the train made its first stop at Chesapeake Junction.  We see the ghost of the train stopped.  It picks up its first passengers not boarding at Union Station.  The engineer blows the whistle, and the train pulls away.

The Old Railroad Bed of the Chesapeake Beach Railway off Shady Glen Drive in Capitol Heights, Maryland

We weave our way through the neighborhood to Hayes Street.  The barren grassy ground was the track bed of the railway.  We continued to where Maryland Route 704 meets the D.C. Line.  The D.C. Line Station was on the north side of this intersection between Route 704 and Eastern Avenue.  It was here where passengers connected to the Chesapeake Beach Railway from the Annapolis Washington Railway.  (Maryland Route 704 was built on the old track bed of the railroad.)  The train crossed Eastern Avenue and stopped at the station.  It then continued across Maryland Route 704.  We take a drive along Route 704 and turn right on Addison Road.  We pass the site where the train crossed the road which was also the site of the Seat Pleasant Station.  We stop as we see the ghost of the train crossing Addison Road.  When the train went by, we continued.

The Old Railroad Bed of the Chesapeake Beach Railway crossing the Entryway to the Mount Calvert Mansion in Croom, Maryland

We took a left on Maryland Route 214 and then a right on Shady Glen Drive.  We went about a mile and saw the ghost of the train as it was crossing the road.  The train passed by, and we went left on Walker Mill Road.  As we crossed Ritchie Road, we saw the passengers waiting at the station.  It was here where what is now Walker Mill Road was built on the track bed of the railroad as it went under Interstate 495.  The train arrived, and the passengers boarded.  We saw the passengers waving at us.  A young lady was dangling her bare feet out the window.  The train began to continue to Chesapeake Beach.  We continued along side of the train as we went under the interstate, but the road turned off.

An Old Bridge Support of the Chesapeake Beach Railway Crossing the Patuxent River in Croom, Maryland

We turned on Ritchie-Marlboro Road.  We looked right and saw the train to the left of us.  We raced to Brown Station, but we saw no passengers here.  We waved at the train as it flew by us.

Looking at the Old Railroad of the Chesapeake Beach Railway Going Through What is Now the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary in Lothian, Maryland from the Mount Calvert Mansion in Croom.

We went back to Ritchie-Marlboro Road and continued south watching the train roll on.  We turned left on Old Marlboro Pike and took it into the town of Upper Marlboro where we saw the train pull into the station where a small group was waiting to get aboard.  After the train pulled away, we hurried down Maryland Route 725, and then we turn right onto U.S. Route 301.  We turned onto a service road and watched as the train pulled into the Pennsylvania Junction.  A large crowd was waiting for the train as it is here where it meets with an old Pennsylvania Railroad line.  As the passengers were boarding, we headed back to U.S. Route 301 and the south on Maryland Route 4 and then turned into the Jug Bay Wetlands Center.

The Old Railroad Bed of the Chesapeake Beach Railway Passing Through the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary in Lothian, Maryland

We got out of the car, and we walked on a trail to where it met the old track bed.  It was just dirt, but we waited.  We heard the whistle.  We watched as the train came towards us and then the engineer blew the whistle again and again and again.  It rolled by as the passengers waved at us.

Old Railroad Ties of the Chesapeake Beach Railway Along the Old Railroad Bed at the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary in Lothian, Maryland

We hiked back to the car and continued south on Maryland Route 4.  We arrived at Maryland Route 260 and saw that the bridge over Lyons Creek was gone with only the brick bridge supports remaining, but we waited.  We knew that the train was coming, and it did cross the bridge over the creek.  We continued south on Maryland Route 260 with the train next to us.  (Maryland Route 260 was built on the old track bed.)  The passengers waved to us as we were next to each other.  As we approached the town of Owings.  There was a train station there, but nobody was waiting so it continued to its destination.  We continued alongside the train, but then the train and the road parted ways.

The Old Bridge Support of the Chesapeake Beach Railway Crossing Lyons Creek as Seen From the Ramp from Maryland Route 4 South to Maryland Route 260 South in Lothian, Maryland
Maryland Route 260

We were in the town of Chesapeake Beach.  We turned right onto Maryland Route 261, and we arrived at the end of the line just as the train was pulling into the station.  We saw the roller coaster, the carousel, the boardwalk, we saw a band playing in the bandshell.  It was the town everyone came to see.  As the passengers were stepping off the train, everything started to fade.  The carousel, the roller coaster, the band was gone.  The passengers were fading.  A lady waved at us as she was fading.  The train was fading away.  Only the train station remained.  The ghosts were gone.  It was the town of Chesapeake Beach as it was now.  I looked if any of the ghosts would come back, but just like the old town of Chesapeake Beach, they were all gone.

Looking at the Old Railroad Bed of the Chesapeake Beach Railway from the Rail Trail in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland
The Chesapeake Rail Trail Built on the Railroad Bed of the Chesapeake Beach Railway in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland

Today, much of the old track bed of the Chesapeake Beach Railway is on private property, but there are areas where you can travel the old roadbed.  You can follow Walker Mill Road under Interstate 495 which was built on the old roadbed.  You can visit the Jug Bay Wetlands Center and hike along the section of the old roadbed from where is crossed the Patuxent River where one of the old bridge supports remain, and you can follow it through the park.  You can see the old supports of the bridge over Lyons Creek from the ramp onto Maryland Route 260 from Maryland Route 4.  Much of Maryland Route 260 was built on the old roadbed apart from the last two miles of Route 260 before Chesapeake Beach.  There is also a short stretch of the old roadbed in Chesapeake Beach off Maryland Route 261 that you can walk on and is wheelchair accessible.  The old train station was the end of the line and is the only surviving train station, outside of Union Station, on the old railway.  From there, it is a short walk to the bay.

The Chesapeake Bay at Chesapeake Beach, Maryland
The Old Train Station of the Chesapeake Beach Railway in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland. It is Now the Home of the Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum

Northlandz, Flemington, New Jersey

The Home of Northlandz in Flemington, New Jersey

Flemington, New Jersey is a town that is situated about halfway between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New York City, New York.  It is one of the places where you can board the Black River and Western Railroad, and one of the old train stations is now a bank.  The town is not known to be a tourism town, but it is the home of a very great attraction.

The Outdoor Train at Northlandz in Flemington, New Jersey.

Welcome to Northlandz, home of a large model train display.

A Rail Yard at Northlandz.

Some of you are saying, “Not again.  It is just another one of those model train displays.  The trains go around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around and around.  It is the same old thing.”

A Factory or Warehouse at Northlandz

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Northlandz.  As mentioned, it is the home of an exceptionally large model train display.  You pay your admission.  Then you enter to see the display.  You see a model train yard.  Train go through just like any other train display.  It is structures just like any other model train display.  It has scenery just like any other model train display.”

Small Town and Rail Yard

Some of you are saying, “Just like I said.  It is just another model train display.  The people who built this thing says that this is different from anything you have ever seen before.  The problem is that it is just like the others.  Go to a local train show.  You will see what you see at this place.”

A Roundhouse

Why come to Northlandz?  Why travel to this town in New Jersey?  It has trains just like any other model train display.  It has structures and scenery like any other train display.  Therefore, it is a waste of time to travel to this place.

Town in a Valley

If that is what you are thinking, welcome to Northlandz.

In the River Valley

As mentioned, you first see a train yard.  You see cliffs but wait.  You see train tracks.  Trains go by.  You continue to a lake.  The lake becomes a stream.  The stream flows between two high cliffs where the trains run alongside.  You look up.  You see bridges.  You see more bridges.  Then, you see tunnels and bridges.  You see towering scenery with trains and trains and bridges.  Then there is a huge valley with bridges and trains.

High Trestle Over a Town and River

Do you still think that this is one of those model train displays?

A Factory

This model train display is huge.  How huge?  The walking path that takes you to every section to see every part of this display… is about three miles long.  It is on three levels.  There is eight miles of track, four hundred tunnels, over one thousand buildings, over one hundred bridges and two hundred fifty thousand trees, and there are sixty trains running at one time.  Yes, it is that big.  Make sure that your camera is fully charged and that your card has plenty of space.  You will be taking plenty of pictures.  There are great shots at every turn.

Factory on a Cliff

Some of you are saying, “Is it really this big?”

Town on the Cliffs

So, you need evidence.  Is there any evidence?  If there is any evidence, where can you go to get it?  Ladies and gentlemen, the evidence is easy to get.  All you need is a copy of the Guinness Book of World Records.  Yes, we are talking about that Guinness Book of World Records, the book that contains, of course, world records.  This display holds the world record for the longest laid HO scale track in the world and the world’s largest miniature wonderland.

Town and Tracks in the Valley

Some of you are saying, “Wow!  That is incredible.  I know that it took hundreds of people to build this thing.”

A Baltimore and Ohio Train

When you see this thing, you may think that… but you will be wrong.  This whole display is the work of one man: Bruce William Zaccagnino.  It took five years to build working sixteen-hour days.  What began in his home was eventually moved into the current structure today.  It appears as if you are looking at a theater or maybe a hotel, but when you go inside, you will see a great show, and you will find this place a great place to stay.  Today, Bruce is less involved with the display and has put Northlandz under new management who is keeping this great attraction open for many generations to see.

Train Crossing a Lake

Along with the model trains, there is also an organ which Bruce plays in a theater, named the Great American Theater, (as mentioned, it looks like a theater on the outside) with a large chandelier to give it the grand theater look.  It is home to the Doll Museum that features his wife’s doll collection where dolls and doll houses are displayed, and art gallery, old model trains on display, a play area for the kids and a full-scale outdoor train.  Be advised that you, friends, and family are going to enjoy your visit.

The Organ at Northlandz

Northlandz is located northeast of Flemington, New Jersey on U.S. Route 202.  The address is 495 U.S. Highway 202.  Admission is required.  Parking is on site.  It is open from 10:00am to 6:00pm and closed on Tuesdays.  You can get more information at www.northlandz.com, and you can also read more about Bruce Zaccagnino and how he built the display millions enjoy today.

In the Valley

Do you need to escape?  Go to Northlandz in Flemington, New Jersey where you will find yourself in a whole new world… of trains.

The Big Trestle

Ohio Caverns, West Liberty, Ohio

The Entrance into Ohio Caverns outside of West Liberty, Ohio

The small town of West Liberty in the U.S. state of Ohio is a town that was once along the main road between Dayton, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan.  With the development of the Interstate Highway system, the town does not see as much vehicle traffic.  One of the things that does bring visitors to this town is not necessarily in the town itself, but it is a natural wonder that is east of it.

Looking Around the Ohio Caverns.

Welcome to Ohio Caverns.

Gem Mining at the Ohio Caverns in West Liberty, Ohio

Some of you are saying, “Oh, great!  Another cavern.  What is up with this one?”

Ohio Caverns has a few claims.  It is the largest cavern in the state of Ohio.  It has been recognized as the most colorful cavern in America.  It has the ‘Crystal King’, the largest free hanging stalactite in the state of Ohio.  Like over caverns, it has formations that are unique.  Here, you will see many crystalized formations throughout your tour.  The great thing about these caverns is that they are open year-round.  If you are in the western part of Ohio, you will want to make your way to see Ohio Caverns.

Some of you are saying, “This must be a very wonderful place to see.  It looks like I am going to have to visit this place.  There is one thing.  This, being a railroad site, are writing about these caverns because these caverns have a connection to the railroad.”

Well, you are right.  The Ohio Caverns does have a railroad connection.  What is the connection these caverns have with the railroad?

To answer the question, we must go back in time.  As mentioned, before the Interstate Highway was built in the United States of America, people drove on roads.  The U.S. Routes were the original interstate system, and U.S. Route 68 was the way people went between Dayton, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan.  (U.S. Route 68 still passes through the town today.)  The early part of the twentieth century was also the heyday of passenger rail travel.  During this time, the railroad made many stops in small towns.  One of those small towns was West Liberty, Ohio.  Why did they come to West Liberty?  They wanted to see the Ohio Caverns.  The original depot, built in 1900 by the Big 4 Railroad, was partially destroyed by a fire.  A new depot was built in 1926, and when the New York Central System came to town, the region was bustling.

The train arrived at the depot in West Liberty.  The passengers be-boarded the train, and they were taken by a shuttle to the caverns.  They did the tour of the caverns.  They were taken back to the train, and they went on their way.

Unfortunately, passenger service ended in 1942, and freight service slowly came to an end as well.

Some of you are saying, “That is very nice, but I guess the railroad is gone and the depot was destroyed.”

Let us say that passenger service is no longer available to West Liberty.  The railroad still passes through on the west side of the town.  As for the train depot, let us say that things got very sweet.

Some of you are saying, “What do you mean by ‘things got very sweet’?”

The answer is simple.  It is now the home of Marie’s Candies (https://mariescandies.com/).  Moved to its present location on U.S. Route 68 north of the town center, Marie’s Candies is in the old West Liberty train depot, and the candy shop helped spare this piece of the town’s history from being destroyed.  We can all say, ‘How sweet of them’.

Ohio Caverns, as mentioned, is open year-round closed only on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The hours do vary by season.  They offer different tours to include the Limestone Tour which is handicap accessible.  You can get all the information you need at https://ohiocaverns.com/.

An Underground Pool inside the Ohio Caverns in West Liberty, Ohio

Next time you are in the western part of Ohio, visit West Liberty.  Visit Marie’s Candies.  Visit Ohio Caverns.

The Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum, North Judson, Indiana

The depot at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana

The U.S. state of Indiana has the nickname of being the ‘Hoosier State’.  How does the state get that name?  There is no real known answer to the question, but there is a theory being that Indiana is not one of those states that comes first to many people’s mind that the word ‘Hoosier’ comes from the phrase ‘who’s there’.  The definition is simply a resident of the state of Indiana.  Many travel experts would tell you that there is nothing to the state of Indiana.  Sadly, they are mistaken not knowing that the state is the home of one of sports hallowed grounds known by many racing fans as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which hosts the Indianapolis 500, the greatest Indy Car race in the world.  The southern part of the state in the Louisville, Kentucky metropolis, and horse racing fans are fully aware of another hallowed ground known as Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, the longest continuously running sporting event in the world, and it is part of what is known as ‘The Triple Crown’.  It is also a big basketball state, and South Bend is home to the University of Notre Dame, a university famous for its football team.

Bessemer and Lake Erie Caboose Number 1989 at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

Some of you are saying, “This is wonderful about the state of Indiana, but does this state have anything to offer other than sports?”

The platform at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

That is a great question.  Did you know that the city of Indianapolis has the second largest number of monuments of any city in the world?  (Washington D.C. is number one.)  The three longest routes in the United States (U.S. 6, U.S. 20, and U.S. 30) all pass through Indiana, and the longest interstate route (Interstate 90) passes through Indiana.  If that is not enough, the city of Elkhart is called the Recreational Vehicle Capital of the World.  How?  Many recreational vehicles are manufactured here, and it is the home of the RV Hall of Fame.

Between the Tracks at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

As for railroads, many the America’s major railroads passed through the state of Indiana.  The New York Central System had Elkhart as one of the railroad’s hubs (it is home to the New York Central Railroad Museum), and it is a hub for the Norfolk Southern Railroad today.  We can go on about the many great sites and accomplishments of the state of Indiana, but one of the great sites you will see is a great railroad site that bears the state’s nickname.

The signals at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

Welcome to the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.  Located in the northwestern region of the state, it is a short drive from the major cities of Indianapolis and Chicago, Illinois.  What will you see here?

Passenger Cars at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

You begin inside a replica of a Chesapeake and Ohio Railway depot.  Here you will see photos and photos and photos of trains that passed through North Judson.  You will see the ticket office and a bench used for passengers in the waiting room.  You will see a model train running around the top of the museum.  Of course, you will also find the gift shop where you can buy a souvenir from the museum with proceeds going to the museum itself.

The Ticket Window inside the Depot at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

Wait a minute.  You do not want to come here to see pictures of trains.  You want to see trains.

Old Commuter Passenger Car at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

Well then.  It is time to go outside.  You cross the tracks.  You see so many cabooses and locomotives.  Where do you begin?  How about starting with Caboose 1989 from the Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad.  You can see the old commuter passenger from the Long Island Railroad.  How about Caboose Number 9914 from the Illinois Central Railroad which has a small museum inside?

A Pullman Hospital Car at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

Be advised that you have a good-sized list of rolling stock here, but there is more to this museum.

Caboose Number 471 from the Nickel Plate Road at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

You have an old switching tower and a watchman’s shanty, and you can also visit the shops.  Here, you can see dedicated volunteers rebuilding and refurbishing locomotives and rolling stock.

An Old Yard Switch Tower at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

There is so much that you can see at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum.  If this is not enough, you can also take a train ride.  Train rides happen from May through October and during special events like Easter and Christmas.

Inside the Ticket Office at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

The Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum is an all-volunteer organization.  There is no paid staff.  It is at 507 Mulberry Street in North Judson, Indiana, a few blocks north of Indiana Route 10.  The museum is open every Saturday from 9:00am to 4:00pm year-round, but train rides only take place from May to October.  The museum is free, but they will gladly accept donations to keep the museum open and to help with the costs of refurbishing the equipment.  There is a cost to ride the train.  Parking is on site.  You can get information about the museum to include the train rides and to see more of their equipment at http://www.hoosiervalley.org/.

Number 508 at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

Now, what was this about there being nothing special about the state of Indiana?  There are many great places in this state.  The Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum is one of them.  It is an out-of-the-way museum in an out-of-the-way town worth going out of the way for.

Number 2789 at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum in North Judson, Indiana.

Sauder Village, Archbold, Ohio

Erie Sauder’s Workshop at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

What in the world is Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio?  The village was an idea by a man named Erie Sauder.  His vision was to create a village with old structures from the past so that when people visit, they are taken back in time to see life in the region of northwestern Ohio.  Visitors would see people in period attire doing crafts like woodworking, sewing, weaving, tin making and so many other crafts.  As the world around the region was changing, Erie Sauder wanted every visitor to never forget the ways and the values of life in the United States of America.  When you visit the Sauder Village, you will have that experience.  You will see 75 structures plus a museum telling the stories of yesteryear and farms where you can pet the animals.  Even though Erie Sauder has passed on, his granddaughter continues to run the Sauder Village the same way her grandfather did.  This includes the building of the brand new 1920’s Main Street Village that you can enjoy.  If you are anywhere in the northwestern region of Ohio or in southern part of Michigan or in the northeastern region of Indiana, you will want to make your way to Sauder Village.

Fraas Tin Shop at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

Some of you are saying, “This must be one great place.  It is great that this man created this village to remind people of what America was like and to remind everyone of what having good values can do for us and for generations to come.  There is one problem.  You see, you have structures and crafts people, but no trains.  Therefore, I do not see the value of visiting Sauder Village.”

The Basket Shop at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

So, you think that it is a waste of time to visit Sauder Village because there is no railroad here.  Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Sauder Village.

Fur Trader’s House at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

As mentioned, Sauder Village is a living history village that is a reminder of America’s past.  It consists of many structures plus a frontier homestead, a Native American camp, and a few farms plus a museum.  Another great feature is the Erie Express.

The Erie Express at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

What is the Erie Express?  Added to the village in 2006, the Erie Express is a miniature train pulled by a replica C. P. Huntington steam locomotive.  You board the train, and you ride through swamp land and open fields.  You arrive at the Elmira Depot which is part of the new 1920’s Main Street.  You take a tour of the old depot and see the waiting room and the ticket office.  Well, you get back on the train and ride again.  Of everything you see at the Sauder Village, it may be the highlight of your visit.

Riding the Erie Express at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

Now, what was that about there being no railroads at Sauder Village?  Now you have a reason to come here.

The Old Elmira, Ohio Train Depot at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

As mentioned, the Sauder Village is the creation of Erie Sauder, and the village remains in the family.  The family continues to run the village the same way Erie would want to have it run.  You will be taken back in time, and you will be disappointed when the village closes for the day because you will not want to leave.  Along with the village, museum and train ride, the Sauder Village also has a restaurant, café, coffee shop, ice cream parlor, donut shoppe and a place where you can spend the night.

The Ice Cream Parlor at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

Sauder Village is located at 22611 Ohio Route 2 north of the town of Archbold.  It is four miles south of the Ohio Turnpike (Interstates 80 and 90), eight miles north of U.S. Route 6 and ten miles south of U.S. Route 20.  The living history village is open from May to December while the restaurants, the retails shops and the inn are open year-round.  Parking is on site.  You can get more information at https://saudervillage.org/.  You can also read more into the life of Erie Sauder and into the creation of Sauder village, and if you have the time, are worth the time to read.

1920’s Farmhouse at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

Make your way to the Sauder Village in Ohio.  Come see Erie Sauder’s great creation.  Come see a place where time stands still.  Come ride the Erie Express and visit the Elmira Depot.  The Sauder family would love to have you visit.

The End of the Erie Express at the Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

The Attica and Arcade Railroad, Arcade, New York

The Arcade and Attica Railroad at the Depot in Arcade, New York

The U.S. state of New York is a state of many great treasures.  One of the most popular waterfalls in the world, Niagara Falls, is on the border with Canada.  Another great treasure is south of this natural wonder.  What is it?  The locals know it as the Attica and Arcade Railroad.

A Display Train in Arcade, New York

The main depot is in the heart of the town of Arcade.  The experience begins… as you enter the parking lot.  Yes, it begins when you park your car, and a train consisting of a bright orange locomotive, a red boxcar and a red caboose is on display.  Sadly, this train does not go anywhere.  You then make the short walk to the bright orange depot.  You go inside… and you find yourself in a museum.  Artifacts from different railroads are on display here.  While walking through, you finally find yourself at the ticket office where you get your ticket for the train.

The Arcade and Attica Train Depot Across New York Route 39 in Arcade, New York

After a while, it is time to board the train in the bright orange cars pulled by a bright orange World War II era locomotive.  You get on board and sit.  The train pulls out of the station.  You wave to everyone as it pulls out of the depot across the street and over a creek.  In a short time, you are surrounded by open farmland.  You pass through a swamp and then more farmland.  Then you arrive at the Curriers Depot which is painted in bright orange.  This is the north terminus of the excursion trains.  (Their freight trains continue six miles north to the town of North Java.)  The locomotive detaches from the train, and then it begins the journey to the other end.  About halfway, it stops.  Why?  Here, you climb into the locomotive.  You sit in the engineer’s seat and get a glimpse of what it is like on a locomotive.  You climb out and see the train with the number 22 locomotive, box car and passenger car.  You want more.  You walk to the depot which houses, yes, another museum.  Well, it is time to get back on the train and head back to Arcade.  As you de-board the train, you have one regret that you wish that the ride was much longer.

The Locomotive at the Depot in Curriers, New York

The Attica and Arcade is a short line railroad with a deep history that once connected the towns of Arcade and Attica with the city of Buffalo.  After flood damage to the tracks, trains no longer went to Attica, but the name of the railroad remains.  Along with excursion passenger service, they are also a freight railroad.

Looking Down the Tracks of the Arcade and Attica Railroad.

The Attica and Arcade Railroad is in the town of Arcade, New York which is located forty miles south of Buffalo.  The depot is located at 278 Main Street (New York Route 39) just west of its junction with New York Route 98.  Parking is a short walk from the depot itself.  You can get information on the excursions, ticket prices, directions and read more into the history of the railroad at https://www.aarailroad.com/.  You can also read more about the restoration project of the Number 18 steam locomotive to operate on its 100th birthday in November of 2020.

Number 22 on Display at the Curriers Depot.

So, if you like seeing orange, and if you like seeing trains, you will enjoy a day on the Arcade and Attica Railroad.  They would love to see you ride.

Locomotive Number 113 at Curriers, New York.

The West Chester Railroad, West Chester, Pennsylvania

The West Chester Railroad arrives at the Old Market Street Station Site in West Chester, Pennsylvania

What is special about the town of West Chester, Pennsylvania?  Most of you would say that you have never heard of this town unless, of course, you live in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.  It was originally named Turk’s Head after a local tavern.  It has a courthouse.  Yes, every major town has a courthouse, but this courthouse was designed by Thomas Walter.  Who is Thomas Walter?  He is the same man who designed this structure known as the United States Capitol in Washington D.C.  What other great things are here?  In the 1700’s, it was the center of clockmaking.  In the 1800’s, a wagon wheel company which later made wheels for automobiles was centered here.  In the 1900’s a cream separation company did their operations here, and Commodore computers were also assembled here.  Today, this suburb of Philadelphia is the home of West Chester University and many other historic buildings, but it is also home to one of the nation’s oldest railroad routes.

Inside a Passenger Car on the West Chester Railroad in West Chester, Pennsylvania

Welcome to the West Chester Railroad.  Today, the railroad is an excursion railroad, but, in the beginning, it was a major passenger railroad.  Beginning in 1831, the West Chester Railroad Company took passengers to and from West Chester.  Twenty-five years later, the West Chester and Philadelphia Railroad continued the service.  The Pennsylvania Railroad took over in 1858, and it became a passenger and freight railroad.  The railroad became electrified during this time.  The station on Market Street, officially named the West Chester Passenger Station, was a hustling and bustling place.  Then, the Penn Central Railroad took over, and the Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority began commuter train service to West Chester.  The great West Chester Passenger Station, sadly, was demolished after a fire destroyed the station… but those trains kept coming.

Looking Down Across a Bridge on the West Chester Railroad in West Chester, Pennsylvania

Today, the West Chester Railroad Company is owned by the Four States Railway Service Incorporated, and it is operated by the West Chester Railroad Heritage Association, an all-volunteer company who works and maintains the equipment, and makes sure that your ride is very enjoyable.  The railroad is no longer electrified, but the poles that held the electrification wires remain.

People Waiting for the Train in West Chester, Pennsylvania

Some of you are saying, “This is all wonderful.  I like that this railroad has a great history, but what good is a railroad that has a great history if you cannot take a ride on it?”

Chester Creek

You can ride this train.  This is part of the magic of this railroad.  Unfortunately, it does not take you to downtown Philadelphia, but you can ride just short of eight miles to the town of Glen Mills.  You arrive at the station which is located at the western end of the track line.  (The tracks continued west but have been taken up.)  You board the train from the original platform that many have boarded from.  When the times comes, the train leaves the station.  You pass by the railroad and see the vintage locomotives and rail equipment.  The next thing you notice is that you are surrounded by forest, and you are following Chester Creek.  You will need to be reminded that you are in suburban Philadelphia because you will be totally unaware at this point, but you are not concerned because you are riding on a train.  You come upon the Westtown Station (now an art gallery) with its upstairs.  You then come to the Cheyney Station (not open to the public), and then come to the Lockley Station where you wish you could watch the trains go by but wait.  You are on the train.  You then arrive at Glen Mills, the home of a spectacular train station.  You deboard the train and stroll around.  You go into the station which houses a small museum and has the ticket office in its original look.  You walk to the back of the train and down to a small park next to the creek with picnic tables by the creek.  After a short visit, you must return to the train and head back to West Chester.

The West Chester Railroad on a Bridge Crossing Chester Creek in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania

The West Chester Railroad is in West Chester, Pennsylvania at 230 East Market Street (Pennsylvania Route 3 East) just blocks from the town center.  Parking is on site.  You can get more information at http://wcrailroad.com/.

The Old Train Station at Glen Mills, Pennsylvania

Welcome to the West Chester Railroad, a railroad that keeps its own history on track.

The West Chester Railroad at the Glen Mills Train Station in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania