Sugarcreek, OH – June 2018 – Age of Steam Roundhouse

The Age of Steam Roundhouse located in the countryside outside of Sugarcreek, Ohio is the result of a single man’s passion for trains. Jerry Joe Jacobson had a lifelong interest in trains, and over the years collected numerous steam and diesel engines,, along with a number of cars.

In 2011 they completed the roundhouse to house the collection. I had read about this online and sent an email querying about visiting. The email I received back detailed how they only opened to large group tours, but that sometime in the summer they would offer up public tours – so I signed up and a few months later had my tour.

I received back a lengthy waiver detailing numerous don’ts for the visit. While giving me pause we headed out. Upon arriving we had yet another lengthy warning speech about safety (don’t step on a rail you might twist an ankle!) and numerous other things. Now I was concerned it was going to feel like a school field trip we headed out.

Thankfully I was very wrong once we went out on our tour. Our primary tour guide was the son of Jerry (who passed away a year or so ago). He was informative, engaging and lead us throughout the facility – although they did group us into 3 large piles of 30+ people.

 

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The roundhouse is 48,000 square feet with space for 18 locomotives. Built out of masonry and heavy timbers it is an impressive sight.

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Our first stop was the shop where they restore the locomotives.

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It was here we got our first close view of the impressive doors, each weighing over 2000 pounds (1000 kilograms). They are proud that they are so well balanced you can close them with 1 finger.

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Also outside is the large water tank and delivery system that steam locomotives require.

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Returning back inside we toured the numerous engines housed there.

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A couple of the middle bays were free of trains to give a nice overview of the building.

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The assistants to the tour were all dressed for the part – and helpful.

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Each bay has a chimney to capture the significant smoke that a steam locomotive puts out. Note the impressive ceiling.

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They had a variety of engines, although to be fair with the large crowd you could either a) be up front where you could hear the description but have 35 people in the way of the photos  or  b) hang back and get nice photos but no description. One of the numerous opening instructions were no talking to each other or the other guides so you don’t disrupt the tour – they have a schedule to keep.

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Outside are the doors to the turntable – a very impressive sight remembering each of the doors (36 in all) are over 2000 pounds.

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The tracks to the turntable with an engine on the table.

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One of the ‘pushers’ (to keep everyone in line) was Jerry – he and the others were really great and helpful (I whispered my questions!). After the tour I was able to speak to Jerry further finding him a very interesting man.

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Returning back inside – another great view.

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A close up of one of the engines and the ceiling.

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They did have a couple of small display of ancillary railroad items.

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A final look inside.

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A view from outside the fence surrounding the property. The Age of Steam Roundhouse is an amazing place well worth the visit, even with the extensive (silly) warnings and processes and slightly expensive cost to attend.

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Amish Country, OH – June 2018 – A variety of scenes

Sugarcreek is the center of Amish Country in Ohio, and with our trip to see the Age of Steam Roundhouse (other posting) we passed a strange mix of sights, including the photo above with an Amish buggy in front of what they claim is the world’s largest cuckoo clock.

On the way we passed the numerous farms in the area.

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The large corn crib nearly full provided an interesting shot.

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When we arrived in town we found that many of the buildings had murals on the front depicting Switzerland, as the town was founded by the Swiss and they continue to play up this fact for tourists.

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Including the fire station.

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Only to find …. a car show!

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With some strange rides

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And some nice ones.

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Washington DC – June 2018 – Museum of American History

Our final stop was the Museum of American History, also known as America’s attic. There is so much to see starting with – Children’s TV icons…

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A shirtless George Washington?

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A tribute to Ella Fitzgerald.

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Early computers.

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Early money.

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Commercial advertising standards.

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Batman’s ride.

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A collection of model ships.

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Washington DC streetcar.

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In the transportation hall they had a couple of displays of life in the 1950s.

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And a feature of the growth of the suburbs.

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Julia Child’s kitchen.

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And her awards.

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Early telegraph.

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The random eagle.

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A section about Latino’s in America included this cool Statue of Liberty only featuring a Latino woman holding tomatoes.

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There was a section about democracy in America, including a stunning presentation on voting in America, and how often people have tried to control who can vote so they can stay in power – it sadly continues to this day.

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Presidential election tchotchkes.

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A 1940s voting machine.

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A collection of protest signs.

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Another room housed mechanical items – an early sweeper.

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Finally in the presidential section was a collection of street signs named after presidents. The Museum of American History is a sensory overload – in my opinion it is second to Air & Space for museums in DC.

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Washington DC – June 2018 – Smithsonian Air & Space Museum

The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum opened in downtown DC in 1946. Today it houses some of the most important aircraft and spacecraft in history.

One of the first artifacts we saw was the first satellite, Telstar.

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A recent addition is the actual model from the Star Trek TV series.

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Apollo 11 capsule

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Saturn 5 engine.

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A collection of space rockets.

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The original Wright flyer.

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Military aircraft.

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There is a nice ‘Pioneers of Aviation’ section.

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Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St Louis.

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A tribute to Amelia Earhart.

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The plan that first flew across Antarctica. This museum is truly one of the best in the world for aircraft.

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Washington DC – June 2018 – Views of the City

A day and a half in DC gave the opportunity to visit numerous museums (later posts) as well as check out the town. This post are randoms views of the city.

Starting with an unusual view of the Washington Monument down the tracks.

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Stores near Eastern Market

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The Eastern Market interior. I was surprised how small it was.

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A lone runner going past the capital. The reason there are no people around is the visitor center is underneath, and the police keep everyone off the steps.

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The aforementioned police.

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For those who read this blog that are not from America – nearly every 8th grader (13-14 year olds) make a field trip to Washington DC. They always have matching shirts so their chaperones can keep track of them.

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Apparently DC ducks don’t fly, so they have a ramp to get into the reflecting pool.

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The view down the Mall

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A well protected fountain

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The famed Watergate Hotel/Apartment Complex.

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And finally a ride on the Metro.

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New York City – May 2018 – Life Underground

Most New York City subway stations have some level of artwork in them. The 8th Avenue Subway station’s 14th Street station takes it to another level. There are around 130 small sculptures scattered throughout the multiple levels of subway platforms.

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Titled ‘Life Underground’ and designed by artist Tom Otterness in the 1990s, they were initially displayed above ground – eventually being installed in the station in the early 2000s.

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They are literally scattered everywhere.

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Underneath a gate to make it look like he his trapped.

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On the beams above the walkways.

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Some of the more popular are the legendary sewer alligators.

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Some of his inspirations were that the subways were designed in the 1890s, during the Tammany Hall/Boss Tweed era. This statue at the top of with a money bag head is one of the most popular with the commuters – the artist believes people rub it for good luck.

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We spent an hour wandering the station – many shots provided interesting backgrounds.

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This couple must be on happy hour.

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Many of the statues have some representation of poor versus rich.

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Some were hiding under stairs.

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One of my favorite, which I found in a couple of places, were two guys attempting to cut down the structural beams.

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Some were harder than others to figure out the message.

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Waiting on his train.

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One final look at another alligator and a number of others. If you find yourself in Manhattan it is well worth the effort to stop by this station.

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Bellevue, Ohio – May 2018 – Mad River and Nickel Plate Railway Museum

While I am a fan of all types of transportation, I am not a train fanatic like some. Still, even though we had recently been to a major train museum in Pennsylvania this Saturday brought up another opportunity to check out one closer to home – The Mad River and Nickel Plate Railway Museum in Bellevue, Ohio.

The drive up to Bellevue paralleled a major rail line, and a stop in the town of Bucyrus to check out their historic station was interrupted as we waited out a 150 car freight trian.

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Eventually we made it to Bellevue and the Mad River – Nickel Plate Railway Museum. The name requires some explanation – Mad River is flows for 70 miles across Ohio. It gained it’s name from the ‘mad rapids’ that occur along much of the river.

The New York, Chicago and St Louis Railway was founded in the 1880s, but was based in Cleveland. It was given the nickname Nickel Plate from a local newspaper who thought it’s financial prospects were ‘nickel plated’ – or very good.

 

 

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The museum has an indoor area with a number of small artifacts including dinnerware and waiter uniforms.

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One of their prized possessions is the bell from the Lincoln Funeral Train.

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In addition to the rail rolling stock they have a couple of nicely restored trucks.

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What sets this rail museum apart from the others is nearly all of the cars are open for inspection, including numerous cabooses.

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Outdoors are many more rail cars – including numerous box cars that house even more artifacts. Below is a telegraph desk.

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They also have a nice collection of tools – note the ‘track level’

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Many of the cars are connected together to pass between them. All have been restored to original vibrant colors.

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A small station was brought from a nearby town.

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It too is restored to original condition.

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The cars are fairly packed into their yard – but as the rain came this was welcome.

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A manual brake on a car.

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They also have a beautiful postal car.

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As well as some switching lights.

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A diesel locamotive.

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The venting on the side gave it an aerodynamic feel.

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Literally across the tracks was an area with a few more restored cars, as well as a couple un-restored ones next to some cool giant, empty concrete silos.

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But alas we have reached the end of the road. This rail museum is well worth the visit, with their great collections in the rolling stock that allow you to actually go in and check them out.

Given that Bellevue is on multiple active rail lines the constant train whistles in the background made it even better. It was all very cool.

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