Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum

An Emotive Voyage into the Past

A billowing plume of smoke, the impassioned chug of a locomotive, and the echoing whistle that punctures the tranquility of the landscape—these are not mere symbols or sounds of a bygone era. They are the soulful essence of a time when the Age of Steam was at its zenith, the period that the Age of Steam Roundhouse endeavors to encapsulate within its sacred walls.

Picture a rustic, brick-and-mortar cathedral to Train History, housing an impressive array of Vintage Trains, each with its unique narrative. A veritable Railroad Museum, the Age of Steam Roundhouse is a remarkable testament to this pivotal era of Rail Transportation, a loving homage crafted by the hands and hearts of devoted enthusiasts.

Echoes from an Age of Steam

At the heart of the Roundhouse lies its magnificent inhabitants—18 steam locomotives representing various periods and aspects of the rich tapestry of the Steam Era. Each purr and hum with an intensity that mirrors the dynamic labor involved in their meticulous Locomotive Restoration. It is here, within the echoes of rattling iron and hissing steam, that you truly sense the majesty of the Age of Steam.

Look closer. Even the most obscure components, like the massive, ferocious fireboxes or the intricate lattice of the running gear, bear the mark of diligent craftsmanship. It offers a vivid and unmitigated view into this heroic age when man tamed the power of steam to conquer distance and time.

Artifacts of a Golden Time

Brace yourselves as we venture further into the heart of the Age of Steam Roundhouse. This hallowed sanctuary is deeply entrenched in history, each corner revealing a new facet of the illustrious steam age. As you navigate the labyrinth halls of the Roundhouse, you’ll unearth such a wealth of Railway Artifacts that you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere—each artifact a tangible echo from the capstone era of industry and ingenuity.

Here’s a glimpse at some of the unique gems that make the Roundhouse a veritable living, breathing work of art—an institution that exquisitely encapsulates the grandiosity of the past:

  • Vintage Ticket Offices: Step into the shoes of a bygone railway passenger. The old ticket booths, preserved in their original charm, give one a sense of the excitement and anticipation that filled the air as travelers awaited their voyage.
  • Period Signage: Each sign sings a different tale. Be it cautioning engineers or guiding passengers, these signs capture the essence of a time when steam was king, and railways were its kingdom.
  • Implements of the Railwaymen: Tools that once catered to mighty locomotives are now invaluable narrators of the past. They embody the grit, ingenuity, and determination of the proud rail workers who kept the wheels of progress turning.
  • Unique Uniforms: Threads worn by railways’ unsung heroes—each stain, each worn seam—echo the voices of those who wore them, delivering unspoken testimonies of their toil and triumphs.
  • Railway Architectural Elements: A captivating showcase of design elements essential to the steam era, be it the arched doorways, station clocks, platform benches, or luggage racks, each breathing life into the architectural symphony of a rustic station.
  • Commemorating Plaques: These plaques, steeped in glory, honor the victories and milestones of the railways — milestones that propelled the world into the future.

As you delve further into the inviting depth of the Age of Steam Roundhouse, prepare yourself for a romantic journey intimately close to the heart of the steam era. This era continues to resonate with a fiery intensity. Every artifact within these hallowed walls waits to transport you to a grand narrative of love, progress, and unyielding resilience.

Guardians of Heritage

Train enthusiasts, history buffs, families, researchers, and educators find themselves spellbound in the echoing halls of the Roundhouse. More than a Railroad Museum, it serves as an avant-garde of Rail Heritage — a sentinel of a time marked by the power of muscled iron and the whistle of the steam engine. It’s a place where the mythical narrative of the Age of Steam thrives, inviting one and all to behold the majesty of iron horses and the stories they tell.

The Journey Awaits

So saddle up, dear adventurers, for the opportunity to step back into the epic Age of Steam is but a visit away. Inhale the scent of burning coal mingling with the age-old oil and hear the rhythmic chug of history at the Age of Steam Roundhouse. Share your experiences via comments, reviews, and social media posts. After all, this is no mere collection of aged iron and steel but your portal to a bygone glorious era.

And as you leave the Roundhouse, remember the echoes of the steam whistle not as a lament for times gone but as a defiance—a clarion call, reminding us to keep the fires of history, heritage, and passion aflame. An age may end, but its spirit need never wane—welcome to the Age of Steam Roundhouse, where the past awaits, preserved in steam and steel.

Steam to Victory 2024

United States Army train diorama

Commemorating the Role Played by American Railroads in Achieving Allied Victory in World War II

The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum will host our annual Steam to Victory on Friday, June 14th, and Saturday, June 15th, 2024; Father’s Day weekend.  

Combining the might and power of the second World War with the display of American military and steam, visitors will see how the two worked together through the war.

Visitors to the event will be treated to static railroad displays, artillery and small arms demonstrations, World War II military vehicles, living history reenactors, and militaria and food vendors. Short train rides on the museum grounds will be offered to guests as well as tours of the roundhouse to see our steam locomotives that aren’t being displayed outside at the event. Tickets include tours and gate admission.

Tickets for the event can be also purchased at the gate.

Hours

Friday:        9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday:   9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Gates open at 8:30 a.m.

 

General Admission – $20

Child Admission (3-16) – $15

Veteran and Active-Duty – $10

Children Under 3 – Free

Train Rides—Addt.l $5/ ride (cash only)

14 June 2024
15 June 2024
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Roundhouse Report - Winter 2022-23​

Greetings! Over a year has passed since our last Roundhouse Report was published, and we here at Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum are excited to share some of the recent happenings in our restoration backshop and around the facility.

Age of Steam's New Car Storage Shed

new car shed construction
new car shed construction

The largest project this year at the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum has been construction of a 464’ x 65’ car shed that covers four existing storage tracks. This structure is being used to protect our growing collection of rail cars that have been restored or are awaiting restoration. The open-air storage shed will prevent rain and snow from causing rust and interior water leaks. The shed will also block direct sunlight from fading the cars’ exterior paint and degrading interior fabrics inside closed-up, stored passenger cars.

This 30,000-square foot structure has exterior lighting and a surveillance system, but will be used strictly for car storage, not repairs. As of this writing, finishing touches are being applied and most of the stored railcars have moved in. For safety reasons, the new car shed will not be open to the public at this time.

In recognition of a generous grant from the Timken Foundation of Canton, this impressive new addition will be called the Timken Foundation Car Shed.

Bessemer and Lake Erie Hopper Cars Acquired

We were fortunate to find a pair of 88-year old, 3-pocket hopper cars hiding down in West Virginia. These former Bessemer & Lake Erie hopper cars were donated by the Kanawha Railroad, LLC (formerly Big Eagle Railroad) and are lettered BER #311 and BER #326. Fortunately, the pair also carries their original road numbers stenciled on their truck side frames, B&LE #90878 and B&LE #90366, respectively. These two venerable veterans endured a lifetime of hard service moving heavy loads of iron ore and coal, and were inadvertently “preserved” inside an unused hopper car coal dumper. AoSRM acquired ownership and transported them using highway trucks to Sugarcreek, arriving in October.

PRR Boxcar Restored to Original Appearance

Pennsylvania Railroad Class X29 boxcar

This Pennsylvania Railroad Class X29 boxcar was beautifully restored in our shop by patching smaller rusted areas with Bondo body filler and welding-in new steel to replace larger, rusted-out side sheets. Our 93-year-old car was repainted into its original 1929 paint scheme with its original PRR road number, 51121. The paint color was carefully matched to a paint swatch loaned by the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society. Old PRR lettering diagrams were painstakingly followed to confirm that the car’s final lettering was spot-on. The beautifully refurbished Pennsy boxcar #51121 rolled out of AoSRM’s backshop in the summer of 2022 looking as good as new.

Our thanks go to Bruce Smith of the PRRTHS and John Frantz of Mt. Vernon Shops for their contributions of artwork, diagrams and paint swatches to ensure the accuracy of this project. More information on this boxcar is available here.

Lightweight Combine #9300 Repainted

Lightweight Combine #9300 being painted

In 1954 a series of lightweight 76-seat air-conditioned coaches were constructed for the Canadian National Railway. These cars were used on most of CN’s passenger trains, including the renowned Super Continental. Most were sold to VIA Rail Canada in 1977 and a few years later some were rebuilt as 54-seat passenger-baggage combination cars (“combines”). Jerry Jacobson’s Ohio Central Railroad System bought one of them, #9300, for service on steam-powered passenger excursion trains. Recently, this combine was given an exterior restoration back to its original 1954 paint scheme of black and olive green with yellow striping.

These photos show the progression of the painting and masking process after body work was finished, starting with yellow paint for the stripes. Next came black paint, then green. Finally lettering and logos were applied for CN’s American subsidiary, the Grand Trunk Western. More details on our entire CNR coach set are available here.

PRR Fire Hose Storage Shed & Cart

Fire Hose Storage Shed
Fire Hose Cart inside the Storage Shed

Recently acquired for our collection is this fire hose storage shed and its two-wheeled hose cart that were once owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad. It is unknown at which yard or locomotive facility where this piece of fire-fighting equipment was used, but the shed is representative of such “hose houses” found all across the Pennsy and many other railroads.

During restoration, the hose house received some new replacement wood, but care was taken to keep this structure as original as possible while still restoring it to an operational state. A fresh coat of red paint and neat white lettering have been applied to the exterior, but its interior and hose cart have yet to be refurbished. Not many of these once-ubiquitous buildings have survived, so we were happy to have an opportunity to save, restore and exhibit this one for everyone to enjoy.

Reading 0-4-0 Camelback #1187 Receives Cosmetic Restoration

Age of Steam workers have scraped off layers of accumulated paint, rust, scale, and grease from deteriorated 0-4-0 Camelback #1187. The engine and tender were thoroughly cleaned, and several stored appliances and associated piping have been re-hung in their proper positions on the boiler. The smaller, open-air rear cab for the fireman was repaired and re-applied. The badly rusted engineer’s cab that sits atop the boiler is being rebuilt. Protective paint was applied, and the tender was once again lettered for the Reading Railroad. Additional work will be accomplished during the winter so that Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum visitors may enjoy seeing this rare and beautiful Camelback in all its glory when our next tour season begins on April 1, 2023.

W&LE 0-6-0 #3960 Receives Cosmetic Work, UT Grid

W&LE 0-6-0 #3960

Previous visitors taking Roundhouse tours saw a “checkerboard” grid pattern that had been painted onto the bare boiler of one of our locomotives during a boiler survey. This led to questions and answers about how boilers work, safe locomotive operations, and the incredible power of steam. This topic fascinated our tour-takers, so a new subject was added into subsequent Roundhouse tours. When that locomotive received a full cosmetic restoration, the grids were painted over and this conversation piece was no longer a part of our tour.

Wheeling & Lake Erie 0-6-0 #3960 was already in the backshop receiving a general cleanup and some fresh paint, so it was selected to receive the same checkerboard grid pattern. When a locomotive is to undergo a Federal Railroad Administration-mandated, 15-year/1,472-day inspection, hundreds of these 12” x 12” squares are onto the outside (and inside!) of the boiler. Each square is numbered to allow easy identification during non-destructive testing. By using an ultrasound testing (UT) device similar to those used by doctors on mothers-to-be, a measurement of the thickness of the remaining boiler steel can be taken and cataloged. These measurements are then used to calculate the safe operating steam pressure that can be used in the boiler of that particular loco. The stripped-down #3960 was the perfect locomotive to receive that UT checkerboard grid and will add a little-known story back into our Roundhouse tours. Currently there are no plans to restore #3960 to operational status.

B&LE 2-10-4 #643 Update

We frequently receive questions about the status of moving former Bessemer and Lake Erie 2-10-4 #643 to the Roundhouse from its longtime storage location in Pittsburgh. The locomotive’s tender and many other major components were safely moved to Sugarcreek just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Extracting the massive engine itself is a complicated endeavor due to the surrounding tight city streets, active rail lines, and other nearby public and privately-owned infrastructure. AoSRM continues to work diligently with the appropriate parties to finalize the plan for moving the engine to Sugarcreek. As soon as all of the details are in place, we will relocate the locomotive and wrap up this long-term project. Updates will be shared as they become available. We look forward to displaying #643 at Age of Steam, this engine’s first time on public display in decades.

McCloud River RR 2-8-2 #19 Restoration Continues

McCloud River RR 2-8-2 #19 in the shop
McCloud River RR 2-8-2 #19 new parts fabricated

1915-built McCloud River Railroad 2-8-2 #19 has been in the backshop for quite some time now, with nearly every component having been removed, inspected, and repaired as needed. As work progressed many more necessary repairs were uncovered, including old repairs that had been made on top of even older repairs. In such situations, completely new parts were cast at the local steel foundry or machined in our shop.

#19’s boiler has been fully inspected and necessary repairs – including a new firebox door sheet and a patch on the front tube sheet – have been completed. Newly built superheater units, tubes and flues have arrived and are ready for installation. Receipt of many restoration materials has been delayed by COVID-caused unemployment and supply-chain challenges.

Recent work on #19 includes a thorough inspection of all brake rigging. During inspection large amounts of wear were found on some supporting components. These were welded-up and re-machined as good as new, and all-new pins and bushings were machined in the shop and installed. All of the locomotive’s frame pedestal surfaces – which guide the driving box shoes and wedges up and down – needed welding to build up missing steel. These surfaces were then re-machined to provide smooth, flat contact planes. Since you can’t simply set up a locomotive frame in the nearest milling machine, the machine shop crew designed and built an innovative portable milling machine that was bolted to #19’s frame and that allowed precision resurfacing of all of these built-up welds. (Great job, guys!)

The laying-out of #19’s cylinder centerlines was undertaken so that the cylinder bores are exactly parallel to the locomotive’s frame. This is important because #19’s pairs of pistons, piston rods, driving rods, and valve gear are connected together, so all of these parts must operate in a unified manner for the smoothest operation. Two other recently completed projects were the machining of the steam dome seat where the soft copper “round-ring” will sit and be squeezed to ensure a steam-tight fit between #19’s steam dome and its newly fabricated steel dome lid. This lid and its round-ring seal must contain the 185 pounds of steam boiler pressure constantly being pushed against them. Support springs and hangers for #19’s main driving axle have come to the workbench as the next project.

The Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum will continue its complete and safe restoration of #19 until it is ready to operate once again. We will periodically update you as to this loco’s progress and look forward to returning this famous engine to service soon.

Season's Greetings

Thank you for your continued support of the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum. We wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. More tours, events and exciting updates are coming in 2023. We look forward to your next visit to the Roundhouse!

red caboose decorated with christmas lights

Ferroequinologist Tours

An extended three-hour long guided tour of the Age of Steam Roundhouse including our collection of Steam Locomotives, Restoration Shop, Turntable, Machine Shop, and Store House. This tour is an in-depth look at the technical aspects concerning steam engineering, locomotive mechanics, industrial heritage, railroad history, and roundhouse architecture.

Note: The Ferroequinologist Tour is a more in-depth version of our regular guided tour designed for the knowledgeable railroad enthusiast.

Group size is strictly limited.

Due to the nature of the site, visitors are restricted to the guided tour itself.
Group sizes are limited, with one tour guide and an assistant.
All tickets are sold in advance. No tickets may be purchased at the door.
Comfortable, closed toe, footwear recommended.
Roundhouse waiver must be signed.

Available Dates

27 April 2024
18 May 2024
22 June 2024
20 July 2024
17 August 2024
21 September 2024
12 October 2024
16 November 2024

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