The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

May 24, 2013

Conneaut’s two museums ready for holiday openings

Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — Conneaut’s two historical museums are ready to reopen this holiday weekend, a sure sign of summer’s arrival.

The Conneaut Historical Railroad Museum and the Conneaut Area Historical Society museum, separated only by railroad tracks in the area of Mill and Depot streets, will begin greeting guests at noon Saturday. Both buildings will stay open through Labor Day.

The railroad museum, located in an old New York Central Railroad passenger depot, has acquainted visitors about Conneaut’s railroading past since 1965. Members of the local chapter of the Railroad Historical Society have been prepping the property for another season, said Ron Brundage, president.

“Everything’s about the same,” he said.

Members are seeking grant money to make cosmetic to the centerpiece of the museum, the massive Nickel Plate Railroad No. 755 locomotive, Brundage said. Rust is becoming a problem, he said.

“The engine needs some work,” Brundage said.

While tour bus excursions to the museum have slowed in recent seasons, attendance continues to be steady, Brundage said. People have visited from every corner of the globe, he said.

“We get people from around the world,” Brundage said.

On the north side of the tracks can be found the Conneaut Area Historical Society’s museum. The museum, devoted to telling the history of Conneaut and neighboring communities, opened in 2006 inside a former NYC Railroad freight depot. The old building is filled with artifacts, displays and an extensive collection of photographs.

New for 2013 is a wall that holds the Society’s collection of plaques and nameplates salvaged from buildings that no longer exist, including schools, said Jerry Gee, president. Later this summer, an antique city fire pumper that had been on loan to a Erie, Pa., firefighter museum will be put on display, as well as the Dairy Queen Restaurant sign the Society snatched up after it was replaced by an electronic version, Gee said.

Both museums rely on volunteers to maintain the properties and greet visitors. It’s getting harder to find helpers, Brundage and Gee agreed.

“We’re always looking for more help,” Gee said.

“Our work force is dwindling,” Brundage said.

People willing to lend a hand at the Railroad museum can call the museum directly at 599-7878. Folks interested in assisting the Historical Society should contact Gee at 593-1616.

The Conneaut Historical Railway Museum, 363 Depot St., will be open noon-5 p.m. daily through Labor Day. The Conneaut Area Historical Society’s museum,  accessed from Mill Street at the CSX Railway crossing, will be open noon-5 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Memorial Day, then switches to a Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule (same hours) through Labor Day