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Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum 5/14/2021

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I arose later than we planned and checked out then went to Bob Evans for breakfast and they did a great job of giving us quick service. I then drove us over to Sugarcreek to the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum for our 10:00 AM tour.

Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum History

The roundhouse was built by Jerry Joe Jacobson, former CEO of the Ohio Central Railroad System. In October 2008, Jacobson sold his interest in OCRS to Genesee & Wyoming, including the track, modern equipment, and most of the workshops and depots. Jacobson kept a collection of vintage steam and diesel locomotives, other old equipment and a depot at Sugarcreek, Ohio. He bought 34 acres in Sugarcreek and began constructing a roundhouse to house his collection. The roundhouse building was completed in 2011 and all of the steam locomotives, along with a few other select pieces of rolling stock in Jacobson's collection, were moved inside the roundhouse that same year. It was the "first large roundhouse built in the United States since 1951," with the previous building being Nickel Plate Road's roundhouse in its Calumet Yard. As of 2012, the Age of Steam Roundhouse's website outlines its goals as:

Preserve the steam locomotives, historic diesels, passenger cars and other railroad relics in the collection of Jerry Joe Jacobson.

Build a full-scale, operating, and realistic roundhouse and back shop to overhaul, repair and maintain Jerry's rolling stock.

Operate the steam locomotives on freight trains.

Display railroad heritage for future generations.

The project was paid for by Jacobson and his wife, Laura. They set up an endowment to support the museum. Architect F. A. Goodman says the building is 48,000 square feet and of "solid masonry walls" and "heavy timber framing". It has 18 stalls, each of which is large enough for a locomotive and its tender. The Goodman Company says the roundhouse is one of the largest heavy timber structures in America.

Our Visit

We went inside and checked in, receiving wrist bands. Since we had plenty of time before the tour, we purchased our souvenirs and took them back to the car.

The Age of Steam wheel at the entrance to the facility.

Baltimore and Ohio position light signals also at the entrance.

A grade crossing wig-wag is at the parking lot.

Hercules Powder Company tank car is displayed between the position light signals. We went back inside the station and looked around.

The late Jerry Jacobson's many accomplishment and awards.

The boiler explosion that gave rise to the 1,472/15 year inspection rule for all steam engines.

Builders' plates and other railroad memorabelia. When everyone was ready, a short film was shown about how to act in a working roundhouse and safety was stressed. Our two guides were Ash who led the tour and Rich who manned the back of the tour. Both of them were very knowledgeable. We then followed Ash outside, across the driveway and into the roundhouse.

Approaching the roundhouse before the whole group entered. Each tour was limited to just twenty participants.

Grand Trunk Western 4-8-4 6325 built in 1942. In 1948, it pulled President Truman's re-election campaign special and much later, pulled numerous fantrips and photographers' specials on Ohio Central rails.

Carnegie Steel 0-4-0T saddletank 14 built in 1897.

Alabama, Tennessee and Northern 2-10-0 401 built in 1928 and acquired from the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in Wisconsin.

Buffalo Creek and Gauley 2-8-0 13 built in 1920 and acquired by Jerry Jacobson in 1993.

Canadian Pacific 4-6-2 1293 built in 1948. In 1964, 1293 was purchased from the Canadian Pacific by F. Nelson Blount and moved to his Steamtown USA museum in Bellows Falls, Vermont. The 16-year-old 4-6-2 needed only minor repairs to get it under steam again, and soon 1293 (relettered Green Mountain RR) was pulling short tourist trains at Steamtown. It also was used to pull the Vermont Bicentennial Train during 1976, and, temporarily renumbered "1881" to appear in the 1979 horror movie "Terror Train". In 1984, the engine was moved to the new Steamtown site in Scranton, Pennsylvania, but never operated at that location. Jerry Jacobson acquired this steam engine in 1996. I rode behind this engine twice at the 2006 National Railway Historical Society convention in New Philadelphia, Ohio.

The smoke shield above each of the steam locomotives to exhaust the steam if they were operating.

Roundhouse view.

Ash discussing the 401.

The firebox door from Baltimore and Ohio 417.

Canadian National 4-6-0 1551 built in 1912. F. Nelson Blount acquired 1551 for his fledgling Steamtown U.S.A. Museum, and after his 1967 death the extensive collection of steamers was moved from Vermont to the museum's new home in Scranton, Pennsylvania. It was acquired by Jerry Jacobson in 1986 and it first steamed in 1988. At nearly the same time, Jerry closed on the purchase of a 70-mile long, former N&W line between Harmon and Zanesville, which he renamed the Ohio Central Railroad. Almost immediately, Jerry began operating steam tourist passenger trains on the seven-mile trek between Sugar Creek and Baltic. Hundreds of thousands of visitors rode behind 1551, and the engine set the stage for Jerry's steam collection to grow over the following years.

Roundhouse museum scene.

Canadian Pacific 4-6-2 1278 built in 1948 and is another of the original Steamtown engines. On the evening of June 16, 1995 while operating for the Gettysburg Railroad a series of maintenance and operational errors combined to cause the crownsheet of 1278's firebox to overheat and fail. Suddenly, hot steam exploded into the cab and severly burned its three crewmen. The National Transportation Safety Board investigated, determining that the modern design of the firebox with button-head staybolts may have prevented additional injuries (and perhaps deaths) from the incident. The Gettysburg firebox explosion prompted the Federal Railroad Administration to develop and introduce new rules for the maintenance and operation of steam locomotives. Thus, steam locomotive operation is safer today as a result of 1278's bad experience. Much of the former Gettysburg Railroad equipment was sold at auction in 1998, and Jerry Jacobson purchased this engine.

Ash telling the group about the boiler explosion of this engine and the resulting regulations.

Ash explaining about link and pin coupling.

Wheeling and Lake Erie 0-6-0 3960 built in 1935 and after its career, ended up in Minerva which I saw on a trip on the Minerva Scenic Railroad at the 2006 NRHS convention.

Ash discussing the Wheeling and Lake Erie 3906.

Roundhouse scene.

Members of our tour group.

McCloud River Railroad 2-6-2 9 built in 1901. In the late 1940's, it sat derelict until 1964 when it was purchased by Richard Hinebaugh and moved to Mid-Continent Railroad Museum in North Freedom, Wisconsin. The museum rebuilt 9 for operation and the little steamer was put back to work on tourist trains. During the summer of 1971 the new Kettle Moraine steam tourist railroad began operations on four miles of track in North Lake, Wisconsin. Initially, they used other privately-owned steamers, but eventually 9 (then nicknamed Sequoia) was moved to North Lake. The Kettle Moraine became an unfortunate victim of real estate development of former farm land. New residents complained about smoke, noise and visiting tourist traffic in town, and the steam train ride was no longer wanted in the upscale village. It was stored indoors from 2001 to 2015 when it was acquired by Jerry Jacobson.

The nose of McCloud River 9.

Lake Superior and Ishpeming 2-8-0 33 built in 1916. After being retired in 1962, 33 was purchased in 1968 by Jerry Ballard for use on Ohio's Hocking Valley Scenic Railway. Rebuilt to operating condition by a flock of volunteers, this steam engine ran on the tourist railroad for many years before finally being parked in need of heavy repairs. In 2003 it was traded to Jerry Jacobson and moved to the Ohio Central Railroad shop for repairs.

Ash used many historical pictures to help explain to the group about the steam engines.

A picture through the window of Hercules Powder Company tank car.

Baltimore and Ohio 0-6-0 1190 built in 1904. When its fires were dropped for the final time, 1190 was donated to the city of New Martinsville for display. During 1979 the 0-6-0 was moved to the Mad River and NKP Museum in Bellevue, Ohio, where it languished in pieces and its wood cab rotted away. In 2008, the museum sold the engine to Scott Symons of Dunkirk, New York. Mr. Symons hoped the engine could be repaired and operated, but those plans never materialized and 1190 was sold to the Age of Steam Roundhouse in 2014. Due to its many years being stored outside, this 0-6-0 and its tender show significant deterioration. It survives today not only as the sole B&O steam switcher, but also as the only existing Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh locomotive.

Ash showed the group a picture of this engine with its former number of 390.

Parts from B&O 1190.

Roundhouse scene.

Canadian National 2-6-0 96 built in 1910. After retirement, it was purchased F. Nelson Blount for his growing Steamtown tourist operation in Vermont. Number 96 was not operated, but instead used as a source of spare parts to keep Blount's other engines under steam. When Steamtown prepared to move to its new home in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the steam engine was deemed surplus to the collection and sold to Horst Muller of Canada. The locomotive languished in Brantford, Ontario for many years. In 1994 No.96 was purchased by Jerry Jacobson who moved it to his Ohio Central Railroad System.

Columbus and Southern 0-4-0F 2 built in 1930 and used at the electric generating plant in Groveport, Ohio. It was eventually retired and donated to the Penn-Ohio Railfan;s Association. For several years this and another fireless locomotive were stored in a field south of Canfield, but 2 was acquired by the Old Express Restaurant in Sharon, Pennsylvania, and moved to its diner display site on June 13, 1974. Over the years the building and 2 passed into the ownership of Travel Centers of America and went through a number of different tenants. Finally, the structure was scheduled for demolition in 2017, and the future plans for the property did not include the old locomotive. In stepped the Age of Steam Roundhouse, with an offer to purchase the engine and preserve it in Sugarcreek.

Porter compressed air 0-4-0 1 built in 1915 for the Palma Sugar Company in Cuba. The engine returned to the United States sometime after 1921, and during 1935, was working for the New Orleans Sewage & Water Board where it switched freight cars. After being retired, 1 was placed on display in Mel Ott Park in Gretna, Louisiana. This compressed air locomotive was acquired by the Louisiana Steam Train Association before being sold to the Age of Steam Roundhouse.

Sturm and Dillard 0-6-0 105 built in 1917. Around 1969, Art Davis purchased 105 from Sturm & Dillard for $1,500. In 1971, Art loaded his locomotive into a gondola and had it moved to the former Pennsylvania Railroad roundhouse in Erie, Pennsylvania. In 1983, the engine was moved again, this time to Art’s industrial property in Orrville, Ohio. Art occasionally fired up his little engine for his friends to enjoy, among them Jerry Jacobson and members of his crew. After Art's passing, an estate sale paved the way for Jerry to acquire this beloved engine and it arrived at Age of Steam in July 2015.

United States Navy 0-6-0T 4 built in 1919. Following its retirement in 1963, 13 was sold to George Hart and moved to Reading, Pennsylvania. In 1977, the engine was transferred to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, where it was displayed until being deemed surplus to the core collection in 2010. In October 2011, the Age of Steam Roundhouse took ownership of this engine.

Coshocton, Otsego & Eastern bobber caboose 0100 built in 2005. This line was a little-known coal hauler which served a coal mine in central Ohio. In 1917, the CO&E became part of the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway, but was eventually abandoned after the mine shut down. The obscure little railroad faded into the history books and W&LE's corporate records. During the 1990s and 2000s, train enthusiast and Ohio Central Railroad employee, John Uher, relaid one mile of standard gauge track on the CO&E's former right-of-way near Coshocton, Ohio. He acquired a small GE diesel switching locomotive – now also part of the AoSRM’s collection – and ran short trips for family and friends along his little railroad. For rolling stock, Mr. Uher built his own caboose, primarily referencing a single photo of a similar one for guidance! Displaying a strong attention to detail, he outfitted his very accurate bobber caboose with all of the tools and fittings one would find inside the real thing. Sadly, Mr. Uher passed away in 2010. Jerry Jacobson acquired John’s railroad equipment and moved it to Sugarcreek.

Libby, McNeil and Libby insulated box car 26571 built in 1931.

Ohio Central T6 400 built 1968, originally Copperweld Steel 400 and later Monongahela Connecting 400.

Turntable lead views.

Coshocton, Otsego & Eastern caboose looking in from the outside.

The turntable.

Alabama, Tennessee and Northern 2-10-0 401 from the outside looking in.

Views of the eighteen doors of this fantastic roundhouse.

General Electric 25-ton 2 was built in 1951 for the New York and Pennsylvania Paper Company for use on the 36" gauge railroad inside its plant in Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania. Later purchased by John Uher and modified to standard gauge, the engine ran on John's private Coshocton, Otsego and Eastern Railroad.

Roundhouse scene.

Southern Wood Preserving Company 0-4-0T 3 built in 1926. After retirement, it was bought by Paul Merriman, a Chattanooga electronics engineer who was one of the founders of the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. By 1963, Paul's collection also included the more famous ex-Southern Railway 2-8-2 4501, renowned for its later role in the Southern Railways steam program. Needing a home for both engines, Paul was happy to display them at TVRM. Number 3 was eventually deemed surplus for TVRM, and in 1994 the engine was sold to Jerry Jacobson.

Moorehead and North Fork 0-6-0 12 built in 1912 as Southern Railway 1643. The M&NF did not retire its steam locomotives until 1963, so railfans came from across the country to photograph this obscure steam holdout. Among the visitors was a young Jerry Jacobson, then a paratrooper in the US Army's 82nd Airborne Division. In 1962 while stationed at Fort Bragg, Jerry would take advantage of the occasional weekend pass and endure a 450-mile Greyhound bus trip to witness M&NF steam in service. Number 12 made quite an impression on the young soldier, foreshadowing the third act of the little engine's career. After the M&NF was abandoned, 12 was shoved into the M&NF's ramshackle shed in Clearfield and largely forgotten. Jerry Jacobson never forgot about this steam engine, however, and sought to acquire it for years. In late 2011 the locomotive owner's widow and son agreed to a sale, and plans were made to haul the isolated 0-6-0 to Ohio by truck. What seemed like a straightforward process turned into a three-month ordeal of permit challenges and truck breakdowns, but it was finally hauled to Sugarcreek and arrived at the Age of Steam Roundhouse on February 7th, 2012.

Reading 0-4-0 Camelback 1187 built in 1903. After a long career switching cars in yards for its owner (and its successor, the re-organized Reading Company), the engine was sold into industrial use with the E&G Brooke Iron Company in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania and re-numbered 4. The Strasburg Railroad in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania acquired the engine in 1962, and it was run to Strasburg under its own power. The little Camelback proved too light for most of Strasburg's trains, and it last ran in 1967. After being displayed in the Strasburg yard as well as at the neighboring Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, the engine was eventually deemed surplus. Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum purchased 1187, and the engine arrived at the Roundhouse on August 3rd, 2020.

United States Army 2-8-0 2630 built in 1943. The engine remained on active duty for the Ft. Eustis Military Railroad for years; the Army kept operating steam locomotives to ensure no knowledge would be lost in the event that military operations began in a country still running them. Occasional weekend tourist trips around Ft. Eustis became popular stops for American railfans. The engine was finally retired in 1972 and donated to the state of West Virginia for potential use on the Durbin Branch, a state-owned line connecting to the famous Cass Scenic Railroad. Flood damage to the line ended these plans, and No.612 was stored outdoors for many years. In 2010, 612 was sold to Robert Franzen, president of Steam Services of America, and was disassembled and trucked to the Southeastern Railroad Museum in Duluth, Georgia, for storage. Age of Steam Roundhouse acquired 612 from Mr. Franzen in 2015 and shipped it via several highway trucks to Sugarcreek. In 2019 the engine received a complete cosmetic restoration, back-dating it to as-built appearance and numbering it back to 2630 in anticipation of AoSR's Steam to Victory event.

Ash showed us a picture of this engine before it was rebuilt. Our tour now moved into the backshop so we could see what was currently being worked on.

The overhead crane.

The driving wheels of McCloud River 2-8-2 19.

Montaur Railroad SW9 82.

McCloud River Railroad 2-8-2 19 built in 1915. After a four-year career in Mexico, it was sold again to the McCloud River Railroad in northern California, which renumbered it to 19. The engine worked in regular service at McCloud until purchased by the Yreka Western three decades later. While owned by YW, No.19 was leased for summertime excursion service in Oregon. During a hiatus in Oregon, it famously appeared in the 1972 feature film "The Emperor of the North" and the 1986 movie "Stand By Me". After returning to Yreka in 1988, the locomotive was again overhauled and ran in intermittent excursion service on YW until operations dwindled and ceased altogether in 2008. As a valuable financial asset, the 2-8-2 was caught-up in a series of lawsuits, and stored at Yreka until a 2016 sheriff's sale. That legal action permitted 19's title to be cleared, creditors paid and a sale to Jerry Jacobson. No.19 was shipped across the country via railroad flatcar, and arrived at AoSR in 2017. Crews are currently replacing portions of the engine's firebox in preparation for a return to operation.

The ultrasound markings on the boiler is part of the rebuilding process. We then returned to the roundhouse.

Caboose 20.

Nickel Plate 2-8-4 763 built in 1944. Most of NKP Berks were kept until official retirement in August 1960 when they began being towed to scrap yards. Six were preserved, with 763 eventually being put on display in Roanoke, Virginia by NKP's new corporate parent, the Norfolk and Western Railway. Ten years later, 763 was moved to New Jersey for inspection and possible overhaul as power for the American Freedom Train, which at that time was proposed to be pulled by double-headed NKP Berks 763 and 755. However, that plan did not work out, so the engine headed back to Roanoke. The park exhibits were later transferred across town to the covered display tracks of the new Virginia Museum of Transportation, which displayed the 2-8-4 alongside N&W's own steam locomotives Jerry Jacobson purchased 763 in 2007, and the locomotive made the trip from Roanoke home to Ohio on its own wheels in a special Norfolk Southern train.

Our tour group.

A face that any railfan would love.

More views of Grand Trunk Western 4-8-4 6325.

Another view of Carnegie Steel 14 as we complete the tour.

Another view of Alabama, Tennessee and Northern 2-10-0 401.

Another face that one could love.

Roundhouse scenes.

My final view inside the roundhouse.

Chicago, Burlington and Quincy heavyweight coach 6144 built in 1922 and retired in 1967. It was sold to the Illinois Railway Museum and after passing through subsequent owners, the cars were sold to Jerry Jacobson and moved to the Ohio Central Railroad. Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum crews performed repairs and repainted the two coaches into their classy "Pullman Green" livery in 2019.

Chicago, Burlington and Quincy heavyweight coach 6148 built in 1922 and retired in 1967.

The car shop.

One last view into the roundhouse. We thanked our tour guides for a very exciting and educational tour then Elizabeth and I left but stopped along the road on the north side to take a few pictures through the fence.

Views of the diesel collection along the northern side of the property. I drove us to Coshocton so Elizabeth could see the depot I passed on my 2006 steam excursion at the NRHS convention.

The Coshocton Pennsylvania Railroad station built in 1930.

The Pennsylvania Railroad freight house. I drove us next to Newark.

On the way there, we passed the world's largest picnic basket east of Newark.

The Pennsylvania Railroad station in Newark built in 1888. We stopped for petrol before going to Tim Horton's in Newark for lunch.

On the way to Jeffersonville.

The Detroit, Toledo and Ironton freight house in Jeffersonville.

The Detroit, Toledo and Ironton water tower. We stopped for petrol and drove toward Cincinnati. Due to one lane on the Ohio River bridge freeway, we had to detour via city streets to another bridge across the river.

The Norfolk Southern bridge across the Ohio River.

This is us entering Kentucky. We drove the rest of the way to Fort Wright where we checked into the Days Inn for the next two nights. Elizabeth and I had dinner at O'Charleys Restaurant with Dave Smetko and Randy Jackson who flew in from Florida and Texas. We returned to the hotel, checked the Internet and relaxed.