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The Ohio History Center, Columbus, Ohio

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What is the Ohio History Center?  If you are looking for a complex answer, you will not find one here.  The answer is that the Ohio History Center is the U.S. state of Ohio connecting the present day to the past.  Yes, the answer is that simple.  If you are still confused, you can visit the Ohio History Center and see for yourself.  It consists of the museum that displays the history of Ohio and the Ohio Village which is a living history village that takes you back in time to the Ohio of yesteryear.  History comes to life at the Ohio History Center.

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Some of you are saying, “Wow!  This looks like a very fascinating place.  This place is about the history of Ohio, but there is a problem.  There are no railroads here.  Therefore, I will be making no history with this place.”

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The place is called the Ohio History Center.  It is a place of history that leaves no stone unturned.  That includes the history of the railroad.

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As mentioned, the Ohio History Center consists of a museum and an outdoor living history village.

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Let us begin with the museum.  As mentioned, it displays the history of Ohio.  One of the exhibits is ‘Ohio Through Time’.  Here, you will find many displays to include models of trains.  One of them is a carved wooden model of ‘The General’, a famous locomotive used during the American Civil War which was also made into a movie.  Other models include the ‘Dewitt Clinton’ and, of course, the ‘Buckeye’.  If you make your way to the Ohio Village you will pass by a streetcar.

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As you enter the Ohio Village, the first thing you will see is the caboose from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  The caboose is only on display and not open to see the interior.  The other thing you will see is an old train depot.  It is also not open to the public and is currently used as an entryway to the village from the parking area.

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Along with the village and museum, you can also make an appointment to visit the library which has a vast collection of books on history to include the history of railroads.

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Now, what was it about you saying that you were not going to visit the Ohio History Center because there are no railroads there?  You officially have a reason to visit the Ohio History Center.  By the way, you do not have to be a resident of Ohio to enjoy the Ohio History Center.

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The Ohio History Center is located at e. 17th Street in Columbus, Ohio.  It is just off Interstate 71 north of downtown, and, for you Ohio State University fans, it is right next to MAPFRE Stadium.  Parking is on site, and both the museum and village are handicap accessible.  You can get more information at https://www.ohiohistory.org/, and you can also check out the other historic sites across the state of Ohio.

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Knoebel’s Amusement Resort Park, Elysburg, Pennsylvania

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You have amusement parks, and then you have Knoebel’s Amusement Park in Elysburg, Pennsylvania.  What is Knoebel’s Amusement Park?  It has roller coasters.  It has water rides.  It also has a pool and waterslides.  It is a family amusement with a difference.  What is different about this amusement park?  The difference is that this park has free admission.  Yes, you have read correctly.  Parking is free and admission to the park is free.  The only thing you pay for is to ride the individual rides and food.  (Multi-ride passes are available.)  This makes it for those who just like to watch can come and do that.  Knoebel’s Amusement Park is a great amusement park that everyone can enjoy.

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Some of you are saying, “Wow!  This is wonderful.  An amusement park with free admission and free parking.  It has roller coasters, water rides, shows, exhibits and all the stuff amusement parks have.  There is one problem.  There are no railroads here.  Without trains, I must say that I will find that Knoebel’s Amusement Park is not amusing at all.”

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So, you are not amused with Knoebel’s Amusement Park simply because there are no trains in the park.  Those who say that there are no trains in the park have not visited Knoebel’s Amusement Park.

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As you enter the park and walk past the big roller coaster on the right, you will come upon the Pioneer.  What is the Pioneer?  It is a miniature train with a replica steam locomotive.  Well, steam do not rise from the stacks, but the locomotives do pull trains.  You board the train, and it pulls away from the station.  You cross one creek.  Then you pass under a waterslide and then a wooden roller coaster.  You enter the first tunnel.  Then you are in the forest.  You enter the second tunnel.  You cross the creek, and you are back at the station.  You then walk over to get your picture taken with one of the original Pioneer locomotives that serves one purpose: to have your picture taken with the Pioneer locomotive.

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Some of you are saying, “Wow!  That sounds like fun.  That is a lot to visit this place just to see this one train.”

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That would be a lot, but you time would not be wasted because the Pioneer is not the only train here.

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Welcome to Ole Smokey.  What it Ole Smokey?  It is another miniature train like the Pioneer, but unlike the Pioneer, the locomotive has real steam coming out of its stack.  Hence the name ‘Ole Smokey’.  You board at the station.  The train leaves the station, and you cross over the creek on a truss bridge.  Then you cross another creek on another truss bridge.  You cross a third truss bridge, and then you cross the same truss bridge you cross as you left the station.  You have now returned to the station, but the train keeps going.  You continue, and you go around a loop before you return to the station.  As you leave the train, you come to the reality that this ride was really smoking.

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Some of you are saying, “That is such a cool ride.  Two great trains in one great park.”

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But there is more.

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Knoebel’s Amusement Resort Park is home to an anthracite mining museum.  What is normally associated with mining?  With most coal mines come coal trains, and although you do not ride on a coal train at the museum, there are a few mine cars on display to include a steam locomotive that was used to pull mine cars, and the museum displays how the mine cars and the railroad played a major role in the mining industry.  It is also where you will find the Knoebel’s History Museum where you can see how this amazing attraction came to life.

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Some of you are saying, “Amazing!  I guess I need to make plans to visit this place.”

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Another railroad feature you will see in this park has is an old railroad bridge that crosses on of the creeks.  You cannot cross the bridge itself, but it can easily be viewed from nearby.

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Knoebel’s Amusement Resort Park was built on what was originally ‘Peggy’s Farm’.  The park was open in 1926 with a swimming pool, a merry-go-round and food stands.  Through the years, the park added many attractions.  In 1940, the Nickel Plate, now ‘Ole Smokey’, was the first train to run in the park.  The Pioneer train begins its run in 1960.  The park continued to add new rides and attractions to include the Nickel Plate Bar and Grill for the parks 90th anniversary.

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Today, Knoebel’s Amusement Resort Park is the largest amusement park in the United States of America with free admission.  It features the amusement park plus a campground and cottages for overnight stays.

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Knoebel’s Amusement Resort Park is located outside of the town of Elysburg, Pennsylvania off Pennsylvania Route 487.  Although the amusement park is only open from April to October, the cottages are available year-round.  You can get information on the rides, park hours for the day, directions and read more into the history of the park at https://www.knoebels.com/.

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Welcome to Knoebel’s Amusement Resort Park, a place where you can ‘pioneer’ your fun with ‘Ole Smokey’.

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Pioneer Mine Tunnel and Steam Train, Ashland, Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania is the state where the United States of America officially became an independent nation.  It also has the chocolate capital of the world.  (In case you are wondering, that is Hershey, the home of Milton Hershey.  It is a suburb of the state capital, Harrisburg.)  It is a state of many factory towns.  It is also the home of anthracite coal.  With coal comes coal mines.  The town of Ashland was one of these mine towns until the local mine closed.  Well, it is closed to those who mine anthracite coal, but it is open to those who want to take a tour of an old mine.

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Welcome to the Pioneer Mine Tunnel and Steam Train in Ashland, Pennsylvania.

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Now some of you are saying, “Wait a minute.  Mine tunnel and steam train?”

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Ladies and gentlemen, if you are a rail fan, this place is the place for you.  As you enter, you see an old mine train next to the parking lot.  You walk over to what looks like an old office.  This is the actual gift shop, snack bar and the place where you pay your admission.  You have a little time, so you walk around.  You get a closer look at that large chunk of anthracite coal.  Then you have the coal car full of, of course, coal.  You step into the short locomotive.

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Then, it is time.  You step onto the mine train.  The mine train hauled coal and people, but today, it is hauling people.  Where?  You are going into the mine.  No, you are not mining.  You are on a tour.  As you ride the train into the mine, you first experience… that the train ride is not smooth.  It was not smooth during the days when the mine was active.  By the way, you are only riding for the tour.  The miners did this daily.  What the miners did not have is a tour guide explaining everything along the way.  When you stop at a vein of coal, the tour guide explains about the vein and how it is dug out.  The miners on the other hand had to get off and work.  You continue deeper into the mine until you reach the end of the track.  You get off the train, and the tour guide walks you through the mine.  You see the different places where the miners worked.  You imagine the life they had and the dangers and difficulties they went through.  You even get to set off some explosives.  Worry not.  The tour guides have everything set in place to keep you safe from the blast.  The tour comes to an end, and you must take the not-so-comfy train ride out of the mine and to the outside.  So, you are at the end of the tour.

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Not exactly.

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Remember.  It is called the Pioneer Mine Tunnel and Steam Train, and it is called that for a reason.  You did the mine tunnel.  Not it is time to do the steam train.

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You begin on the great journey to the steam train.  How long is this great journey?  This great journey is about… twenty feet or six meters.  Right in front of you is Locomotive Number 1 Henry Clay, a steam locomotive.  The train runs on a track that is wider than a narrow gauge but narrower than the standard gauge most trains run on today.  You board the train, and you sit back and enjoy a very scenic ride up the mountain.  You reach the top, and the tour guide shows you other mining locations, and he tells you how the train transported the coal down the mountain.  While there, you take in the great view from the overlook.  Unfortunately, your time on top of this mountain comes to an end, and you take the train ride back down.

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Now the tour of the Pioneer Mine Tunnel and Steam Train is over.  Well, not exactly.

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You may be finished with the mine tour and the steam train ride, bit just down the hill is the Museum of Anthracite Mining.

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Some of you are saying, “Wait a minute.  I rode on a mine train and a steam train.  This place has no trains.  Therefore, I will bypass this museum.”

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It would be wise not to bypass this museum.  Why?  It tells the story of anthracite mining and how the coal is use in industry and in modern technology.  The story includes how the railroad plays a major part of the coal industry.  Although the railroad still passes southeast of the town, it no longer stops here.

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Some of you are saying, “I am glad that you said that.  Otherwise, I would have just driven past the museum.  I see how why the town is called Ashland from all those ashes you get from the coal.”

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That is a great observation as Ashland was a mining town.  However, you are wrong.  The name is derived from Henry Clay’s estate in Lexington, Kentucky.  As you noticed, the name of the steam locomotive is ‘Henry Clay’ in honor of the man whose home is the name of the town.  Ashland is also the home of the Mother’s Memorial which honors mothers.

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Just north of Ashland is another former mining town called Centralia.  What is special about Centralia?  As you drive through, you will get an eerie feeling.  You will find very few structures and a few houses.  These empty lots were once a thriving mining town.  Things tragically changed in 1962 when an accident caused a fire in the mine.  That fire is still burning today making the town uninhabitable.  Many attempts to put out the fire have failed.  The few homes that remain are residents who have lived in the town when the fires began, and the government is awaiting the passing of the residents before claiming the property.  Please note that if you do want to visit the town, you will want to observe from the seat of your car as fumes from the fire may contain toxic gasses, and the fire will be burning for many, many years to come.

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The Pioneer Mine Tunnel and Steam Train is in Ashland, Pennsylvania at 2001 Walnut Street.  It is just of Center Street (Pennsylvania Route 54 / 61) and it fifteen minutes from Interstate 81.  Please note that the street from Center Street to the mine is narrow and may be difficult for busses.  Parking is on a gravel lot that is on a hill.  The mine and train and gift shop are all in a short distance.  The Museum of Anthracite Mining is down a short hill.  You can get more information on the operating hours, admission, directions and to read more into the history of the mine at http://www.pioneertunnel.com/.

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When you hear about Ashland, you think a great estate.  You think about Henry Clay.  You think about an old mining town in Pennsylvania.  You think about a place where you can ride into a mine and to a mountain top all in one place.

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Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens: Akron, Ohio

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People travel to different sites in cities in America.  If you were to ask what the top cities people are planning to visit, you can be assured that Akron, Ohio will not be on many lists.  There are many great places to visit in the city of Akron.  One of these great sites is the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens.  It was the home of Franklin Augustus Seiberling.  Who is Franklin Augustus Seiberling?  You may not know about the name, but you are familiar with his famous product.  What was his famous product?  He is the co-founder of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, and the company is still based in Akron to this day.  This ‘American Country Estate’ and the surrounding gardens are a spectacular site to see and a great reason to visit the city of Akron.

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Some of you are saying, “Wow.  This is amazing.  The co-founder of Goodyear builds a nice mansion in Akron.  I am sure that this house is beautiful.  However, he founded a rubber company.  This place has nothing to do with the railroad.  Therefore, you will not see me spending any part of a good year at this site.”

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You have a very point.  There is no railroad on this site, and the Seiberling family had nothing to do with the railroad.  Therefore, you can say that this place has nothing to do with the railroad.  However, you would be wrong.

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Stan Hywet Hall was designed by Charles Schneider, an architect from Cleveland.  It is designed after three homes in England that was visited by the family.  The interior was designed by Hugo Huber from New York City, and the gardens was designed by Warren Manning from Boston.  Although much of the stone was brought from a nearby quarry, much of the materials were brought in by train.  Like Agecroft Hall in Richmond, Virginia and the Biltmore in Ashville, North Carolina, the railroad was a big contributor to the building of this fine structure.  A special spur line was built from a nearby main line to bring materials to the site of the mansion literally to the front door.  Sadly, the tracks were taken up when the mansion was completed, and there is little evidence of the track bed that remains.

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Some of you are saying, “That is wonderful that a railroad is built to bring materials to the mansion.  That is the whole story in a nutshell.”

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Not exactly.

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John Seiberling, the father of Franklin Augustus Seiberling, was the owner of the Akron Street Railway Company in 1889.  Two years later, Franklin became the secretary and treasurer of the railroad.  It was the first long distance electric railroad operating between Akron and Cleveland.  The railroad was sold in 1900 after it was not successful financially.

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Was this the end of Seiberling family and the railroad?  The answer is no.

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Franklin Seiberling, while president of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, wanted a more efficient way of shipping his products by train other than the railroads that were already in Akron.  The Akron, Canton and Youngstown Railroad was born.  The railroad never connected Akron to Canton or Youngstown, but it did connect Akron to the town of Mogodore where it was able to connect to the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway.  This connection brought growth to the city in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

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Some of you are saying, “That is so wonderful.  Now you have given me a reason to visit Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens.  However, there is one question: who is Stan Hywet?  What great things is Stan famous for?”

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You ask a very great question.  Who is Stan Hywet?  That is the wrong question to ask.  The question is, ‘What is Stan Hywet?’  It is not a person.  The name derives itself from an Old English term for a stone quarry.  When you visit Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, you can also visit the quarry where some of the stones were quarried to build the house.  It is part of the walking tour of the gardens.

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The Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens consist of the tour of the mansion and its many rooms, a walk through its many gardens to include a Japanese garden, an English garden and a rose garden just to name a few, a conservatory, the stone quarry and the Gate House.  While in the mansion, you will see a few railroad pictures of the wall in one of the upstairs hallways.  Please note that you will need to set aside a couple of hours to see everything.  There is plenty of walking necessary to see the entire site.  It is located at 714 North Portage Path in Akron, Ohio.  It is open from April to December.  You can get information on admission, the different tours, directions and the different events at https://www.stanhywet.org/.

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Now you have a reason to visit Akron, Ohio, and you have a reason to visit the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens.

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Railroad Memorial Park, Ridgely, Maryland

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The small town of Ridgely, Maryland located east of the Chesapeake Bay on the Delmarva Peninsula was a town that was once supposed to be a major city like Washington D.C., New York City or Los Angeles.  How was this going to happen?  The railroad was expanding through the peninsula.  With the railroad ferry connecting the town of Cape Charles, Virginia (at the southern tip of the peninsula) to the ports of Norfolk, regular rail service was bringing rail service between Norfolk, Virginia and Philadelphia and New York City.  Spur lines were connecting the towns to this main line.  Among these small towns was the town of Ridgely.  When the railroad came to town, local farmers brought their produce to the train station.  They were loaded onto the train and transported to Norfolk, Philadelphia, New York City, and points beyond.  The town experienced a big boom with the railroad.  Along with freight, passenger service came to the town.  Factories sprung up because of railroad service.  Ridgely was on its way to be as big as New York City, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia or… not.  Passenger service ended in 1949 with the promise to expand freight service.  Business and factories began to decline making less use of the railroad.  Conrail, the last owner of the rail line, ceased all service in 1976.  The railroad left Ridgely, and Ridgely was no longer a railroad town.  With the railroad gone, the town was just a simple town in the Eastern Shore region of Maryland.

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What was to be with this town now that the railroad is long gone?  The answer began back in the 1930’s.

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A local community group organized a memorial park in memory of those who fought in the American Civil War, Spanish American War and World War I.  (Memorial Park was not the original name.)  The park was established along the railroad line which was still in service at the time.  Sadly, the park went into decline in the later part of that decade.  With the railroad line being abandoned, the idea for a memorial park resurfaced.  This one would commemorate what the railroad did for the town.

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Welcome to the Railroad Memorial Park in Ridgely, Maryland.  The park runs along the original rail line which is now a rail trail.  It consists of an old telephone office which now service as a tourist information center, a Reading Caboose, the old train station and the original water trough used for horses to drink as they pulled the wagons from the farms to the train station.  (The train station at the park was not the original depot.  The original depot was east of the main road and was destroyed by fire.)  Even though the park is quiet, you can get a feel of the railroad passing through.  Although the railroad left the town of Ridgely, the town of Ridgely never left the railroad.  The railroad still lives in Ridgely.

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The Railroad Memorial Park is in the town of Ridgely, Maryland on the north side of the town center on Center Street (Maryland Route 312).  The train station has an open house on the first Saturday of each month from March to October from 10:00am to 2:00pm.  The open houses are hosted by the Ridgely Historical Society (http://ridgelyhistoricalsociety.com/), an all-volunteer organization and a chapter of the Caroline County Historical Society (http://carolinehistory.org/) who have gone through great efforts to keep the memory of Ridgely as a railroad town alive.  The park is open twenty-four hours a day, and parking is on the street.  Admission to the open house is free, but they gladly accept donations to help pay for expenses to keep the train station and park maintained.  The website also has links to read about the rich history of the town.

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As for the rail line that passed through the town of Ridgely, you can view remnants of the line south of the town as it parallels Maryland Route 309 between Maryland Route 404 and U.S. Route 50.  The grade crossing on U.S. Route 50 at Maryland Route 322 was paved over, but you can still see the old tracks on either side of the highway.  The tracks crossed Maryland Route 404 by a bridge.  The bridge was destroyed to make room for the widening of Maryland Route 404.  As you drive on Maryland Route 404 east of Maryland Route 309, you can see the old embankments on each side where the railroad crossed the highway.

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Today, Ridgely, Maryland is a quiet town.  It gets occasional visitors like Richard Petty.  Yes, that Richard Petty, the one that drove race cars for a living.  A picture of his visit is inside the train station, and it can be viewed during the open house.  As for today, it is a quiet town.  Back in its time, it was everything but quiet.  On second thought, maybe it is not a quiet town after all as the ghosts of the railroad roars loud.

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The  two  vintage  photos  of  Ridgely  are  courtesy  of  the  great  people  of  the  Ridgely  Historical  Society  and  the  Caroline  County  Historical  Society  and  are  being  used  in  this  article  with  their  permission.

Train Station Museum, Everett, Pennsylvania

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Everett, Pennsylvania is a small town in the south-central part of the state.  It was laid out in 1795 by a man named Michael Barndollar and originally named after the stream.  It was renamed Everett in honor of Edward Everett who was a statesman and orator.  It is a small on the Lincoln Highway.  (U.S. 30 bypasses the town.  Business U.S. 30 follows the original route.)  The town does not have much fame although the famous novelist Dean Koontz was born here.  It was the site of the Battle of Bloody Run in 1760, a massacre that took place at a small stream that runs through the town.  It is the home of two Medal of Honor recipients Ellis Weicht who fought in World War II and Sargent Robert Hocksock who fought in the Vietnam War.  If that is not enough for you, the Everett Cemetery has 152 gravesites of men who fought in the American Civil War.

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So, is there any reason for a railroad fan to visit Everett, Pennsylvania?  Yes, there is.

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Everett was once served by the Huntingdon and Broad Top Railroad.  The town of Everett is where the Everett Railroad which now has its operations near Altoona gets its name.  The part of the rail line is that served the town is now the H&BT Rail Trail.  The railroad no longer serves the town, but the old passenger train depot and freight house remain.  The station and freight house where moved from their original locations to where there are today.  Today, it is the home of the Everett Train Station Museum.

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What is the Everett Train Station Museum?  Of course, it is an old train station and freight house plus a caboose and steam locomotive.  It is a collection of artifacts of the town of Everett to include the history of the railroad in the town.  There is even a model train display.  Even if you are not from Everett or from the region, you will appreciate this museum.  (Some of the old railroad bed can be seen from the museum and from Pennsylvania Route 26 North.)

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The Everett Train Station Museum is run by the Bloody Run Historical Society which strives to preserve the history of Everett, and they go through great efforts to honor their military veterans from the town with the Military Hall of Fame.  The museum is located at 49 West 5th Street just off Pennsylvania Route 26 north of the town center and south of U.S. 30.  It is open from April to October from 11:00am to 4:00pm.  Parking is available at the museum.  Admission is free, but they will appreciate any donation you give to help keep the museum running for generations to come.  You can learn more about the museum at http://www.bloodyrunhistory.org/.

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Now you have a reason to visit the town of Everett, Pennsylvania.  If you are in the region, take a drive through the town.  They would love to see you.

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The  vintage  photo  are  the  property  of  the  Bloody  Run  Historical  Society  and  are  being  used  in  the  article  by  permission  of  the  society.

The Tour-Ed Mine and Museum, Tarentum, Pennsylvania

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You arrive.  You put on your hard hat.  You sit down at the safety meeting where you are given a briefing for the safety measures for the day.  Once the briefing is completed, you then proceed to the mine train that will take you to where you will be working for the day.  You walk through the mine removing coal from the different veins.  When the day is done, you get aboard the mine train, and you ride to the surface.  You step the train and remove your hard hat.  The boss says, “I hope that you enjoyed your tour of the Tour-Ed Mine.  Please come back.”

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Some of you have just fallen out of your seat.

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Welcome to the Tour-Ed Mine and Museum.  Be advised.  This is not your typical mine tour.  You will feel like you are in a mine as soon as you leave the parking lot.  You enter a replica mine town where you see cabins, and you can even visit the post office.  You pay your admission, and then you are taken to the safety briefing room where you get a safety briefing plus the history of the mine and how mining is done.  Once the briefing is done, you get your hard hat, and you get aboard the train.  You go into the mine.

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Some of you are saying, “I know the story.  You go to different parts of the mine and they tell you that they mined coal here and they mined coal there.  I have heard the story many times before.”

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As mentioned, this is not your typical mine tour.  You will see the places where the miners did their mining, and you will watch as they use the machinery.  Yes, you will see the machinery that was used to mine the coal, and you will see the machinery in action.  Oh, you will quickly learn how noisy the life of a miner was.  You will want to watch for those low ceilings.

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The original name of the mine was the Avenue Mine, but it was later called the Tour-Ed Mine.  (The origin of the two names are unknown.)  The mine was decommissioned in the 1960’s and was opened as a tour mine in 1970.  A tour of the Tour-Ed Mine is set up in a way where you will experience the day of a mine worker from the time you leave the parking lot to the time you return to the parking lot.  It will feel as if you yourself are going into the mine to work.  The difference is that you will not leave the mine covered in coal silt.  Once you have finished the tour, you can walk through the museum.

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The Tour-Ed Mine is located at 748 Bull Creek Road (Pennsylvania Route 366) in Tarentum, Pennsylvania.  (You enter the mine from Ridge Road.)  It is just off Pennsylvania Route 28 about ten minutes north of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 76) and twenty minutes north of downtown Pittsburgh.  Parking is on site, and the entry road and parking lot are not paved.  They are open Wednesday through Monday (closed Tuesday) from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend and on Saturday and Sunday in September and October.  Their hours are from 10:00am to 4:00pm (Eastern Standard Time) with the last tour at 2:30pm.  Please note that they only accept cash as payment.  Please note that the mine is in its original state, and it is not handicap accessible.  There are also low ceilings and tight spaces.  There is also a slight incline to enter the mine.  You can learn more at https://tour-edmine.com/.

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Welcome to the Tour-Ed Mine.  It is a tour, but it will become real.

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Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

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The town of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia is in the northernmost region of the Eastern Panhandle Region of the state.

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Some of you are saying, “I see this all the time.  I have seen town names with ‘Falls’ and ‘Springs’ and ‘Mount’ in their names, but when you visit, you never see any waterfalls or springs or mountains.  It is always a waste of time to visit these places.”

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The town of Berkeley Springs was originally called the town of Bath.  The reason is not because somebody thought that it was a nice name for a town but because it was a town where people took a bath.  You have read correctly.  It was a place where people took a bath.  In the case that you are completely confused, the name is derived from the fact that there are natural baths fed with water that come from hot springs.  How long have these baths been here?  The year these baths were discovered is unknown, but long before the settlers came, Indian tribes from the region came to bathe here.  Many years later, a man by the name of George Washington built his own bathtub here.  Yes, this is the same George Washington that was the General of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War and later the first President of the United States of America.  Today, the baths are now part of Berkeley Springs State Park, and they can be visited year-round.  These springs make up the heart of the town, and they have been preserved for years to come.  Please note that you cannot take a bath here, but you can put your feet in.

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Some of you are saying, “This is nice.  This Berkeley Springs has springs, and you can even see where George Washington took a bath.  What I do not see is railroads.  Therefore, I will not be springing my way to this town.”

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You do have a good point.  There is no railroad in the town.  The closest the railroad come to the town is to a quarry north of the town, but you will not find a rail line in the town itself.  So, what does the town of Berkeley Spring have to do with the railroad?

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As mentioned, Berkeley Springs is in the northernmost region of the Eastern Panhandle of the U.S. state of West Virginia.  The main routes of the town are U.S. Route 552 and West Virginia Route 9.  Both routes run down the main street (Washington Street) past the state park.  U.S. Route 522 continues northward from the town to the town of Hancock, Maryland just across the Potomac River.  As you leave the town center and the north junction with West Virginia Route 9, you see an old train station, but you do not see any railroad tracks.  How did this train station get here?

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As mentioned, U.S. Route 522 goes north to the town of Hancock, Maryland which is just north of the Potomac River.  The bridge that crosses the Potomac River also crosses the original rail line built by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  (The line is owned by CSX today.)  It was also mentioned that a spur line goes from this main line to a nearby quarry.  (You will drive by this quarry on U.S. Route 522.)  This line was also built by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  Today, the line serves the quarry, but it originally ended at the old train station in Berkeley Springs.  Built in 1912, passengers rode the train here to visit the town, and some of those passengers took a trip to those famous springs.  The empty space on the east side of the station (opposite from U.S. Route 522) was a small railroad yard.  Along with passenger service, the depot saw freight service.  This station was a busy place in the 1920’s and 1930’s.  Sadly, Berkeley Springs felt the fate that many towns on spur lines felt.  Passenger service ended in 1935, and freight service ended sometime after.  As with many spur line towns, train service was abandoned with service only to the quarry.

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Today, the old train station just sits there empty with the railroad yard an empty lot.  Is it just going to rot?  The people of Berkeley Springs are determined not to let that happen.  The depot is owned by the town of Berkeley Springs, and there are plans to house a museum or maybe a visitor center in the station.  The good news is that there are no plans for the old station to see the wrecking ball.

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Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, a town erected around a spring that was once a railroad town, is a great town to visit.  It is what make West Virginia wonderful.

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If you want to enjoy a nice meal surrounded by nature, Coolfont Restaurant and Resort is just a few miles southwest of the town off West Virginia Route 9 West.  You can check them out right here: https://www.coolfont.com/.

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The Gallitzin Tunnels Park and Museum, Gallitzin, Pennsylvania

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The city of Altoona, Pennsylvania, United States of America is a railroad lover’s heaven.  It is home to many great railroad sites.  You have the Railroader’s Memorial Museum.  You have the Portage Railroad National Historic Site.  You have the Everett Railroad excursion train in Hollidaysburg.  For those who are into engineering marvels, you have the world-famous Horseshoe Curve.  You cannot forget the railroad shops that are located here.  Some claim that Altoona is the railroad capital of America due to the number of railroad sites, but some would disagree as other cities have been given that name.  Regardless, the city is a great place if you love the railroad.  Along with the sites mentioned, there is one railroad engineering marvel that is little known.

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Welcome to the Gallitzin Tunnels in Tunnel Hill, Pennsylvania.  What is special about the Gallitzin Tunnels?  That is a great question.  The same rail line that currently pass through these twin tunnels is the same line that goes around the Horseshoe Curve and passes through the heart of Downtown Altoona.  With the high mountain range and the Eastern Continental Divide, building the rail line over the ridge was a very tough feat.  The best option was to tunnel through the mountain.  First, the Portage Tunnel was built.  Then came the Allegheny Tunnel.  The Gallitzin Tunnels was the third to be built, and it was a twin tunnel with double track in each tunnel.  After much blasting, the twin tunnels were completed making it the highest and longest tunnels on the railroad.

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Today, only one of the tunnels is used, and rail fans can stand on a nearby bridge watching trains go in and out of the tunnel.  (A section of the bridge fence was cut out to give fans an uninterrupted view of trains entering and exiting the tunnel.)  There is a small park next to the bridge where you can watch trains, and it features a caboose from the Pennsylvania Railroad, an old rail signal and a kid’s play area.  There is also a museum across the street in the community building that tells the history of the town.  The museum has many model trains and a small gift shop plus a small theater where you can watch a short film about the tunnels.

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The Gallitzin Tunnels Park and Museum is located at 411 Convent Street and Jackson Street in Gallitzin, Pennsylvania.  It is just minutes from U.S. Route 22 and a short drive from the Horseshoe Curve and the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site.  (Please note that access to the park involves navigating a small road down a steep hill through the town.  Larger buses may find it difficult.)  The park is open seven days a week from sunrise to sunset.  The museum and gift shop are open Monday through Friday from 12:00pm to 4:00pm.  Parking is on site.  If you cannot make it during the week, you can call ahead to make an appointment to see the museum.  You can get more information at https://www.gallitzin.info/index.php.

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The Unfinished Railroad, Manassas National Battlefield, Manassas, Virginia

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You are here.  You are at Manassas National Battlefield.  It was the site of the first major battle of the American Civil War and the only place during the war where two major battles took place.  (Although the first shot was fired at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina and the first skirmish happened in nearby Fairfax, Manassas was the site of the first major battle.)  It was here where Confederate General Thomas Jackson led a defensive stand.  As a soldier watched Jackson, he quoted, “There he stands like a stone wall.”  Hence the name General Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson.

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You take a walk on the battlefield.  You walk by cannons.  You walk on the ridges where soldiers stood in battle.  You see the peaceful landscape, a peaceful landscape that was not peaceful during the two wars.  You view the different monuments.  Then you notice something.  You see what looks like a railroad bed.  Did a railroad run through here?  Were trains rolling train here at the time of the battles?  You see an interpretive sign that says, ‘The Unfinished Railroad’.  What was the Unfinished Railroad?

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Some of you are saying, “Well, it was a railroad that was not finished.”

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So, that is what you think it is.  Well, what if you were wrong?  What if you got the wrong answer?  Well, you are not wrong.  You answered correctly.  It is simply a railroad that was not finished.  The next question is what happened?  Why was this railroad unfinished?

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This unfinished railroad was to be the Manassas Gap Railroad.  When the Manassas Gap Railroad began, it went west of Manassas Junction from its connection with the Orange and Alexandria Railroad.  (Manassas Junction is now Manassas.)  The Orange and Alexandria Railroad had connections to the port of Alexandria, Virginia.  For the Manassas Gap Railroad to access the Alexandria ports, they needed to use the Orange and Alexandria rail line.  This required the Manassas Gap Railroad was required to pay the Orange and Alexandria Railroad for use of the line, and they were losing money.  The way to remedy the problem was to build their own rail line to Alexandria.  Construction began in 1850, but work was stopped in 1858 when the Manassas Gap Railroad ran out of money.  The way it looked when construction ended is almost exactly what you will see when you walk along the old railroad bed today, but with a few trees grown on the railroad bed.

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Some of you are saying, “Well.  I guess this railroad served no purpose at all.”

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Well, it did.  It was a contributor in the Second Battle of Manassas.  At one of the raised sections, there was a rock fight, a fight were the soldiers used rocks instead of cannons and guns, between the Confederate Army and the Union Army using rocks from the railroad bed.  There was another section of the railroad bed where Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson where able to fend off a heavy attack from the Union Army.

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Today, the old railroad bed is left in its original state as a reminder of what possibly could have been but never happened.  The old Manassas Gap Line and Orange and Alexandria Line are now under the ownership of the Norfolk Southern Railroad.  The trains no longer go to the ports of Alexandria but now connect to a line now owned by CSX.  Although the railroad was never finished, it is finished in time of history.

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The Manassas National Battlefield is owned and operated by the National Park Service.  The Visitor Center is at 6511 Sudley Road (Virginia Route 234) one mile north of Interstate 66 and a half mile south of U.S. Route 29.  The battlefield is open from dusk to dawn, but the Visitor Center is open from 8:30am to 5:00pm.  Please note that the trails to the Unfinished Railroad are not wheelchair accessible with uneven paths.

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