The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

April 27, 2014

Railroaders take field trip to historic Jefferson Depot

JEFFERSON — Ray Bottles and Joan Jennings Scalfani will be two of approximately 200 railroad aficionados returning to the historic Jefferson Depot on Sunday afternoon.

The New York Central Railroad Historical Society is meeting in suburban Cleveland and bus loads of the participants are expected to converge on the depot around 1 p.m., Bottles said.

The historic depot served as the connecting hub for the New York Central Railroad on the trip to Youngstown. It opened on Aug. 4, 1872 and by 1879 there were 14,635 passengers. By 1902 there were 15 passenger trains stopping daily plus many freight trains.

Bottles worked for three different railroads, including the New York Central, with accumulated work time of more than 50 years until his retirement in 2009.

Scalfani worked for the railroad for only 15 months, but had a variety of unique experiences working with famous people.

“I started in June of 1960,” she said of the job that included primarily public relations work on behalf of the railroad.

“I lived in Murray Hill in Manhattan,” Scalfani said. She said she would be given a “special attention” list, at Grand Central Station, and make contact with “celebrities” or important people that might be on the train.

“The highlight was Frank Sinatra. I had to knock on his door. When I saw his blue eyes I almost fainted,” she said.

Scalfani said she also had the opportunity to meet President Harry Truman and Bess Truman. “The president insisted I join them for breakfast,” he said.

Bottles started his love of the railroad through family ties where 21 extended family members worked for the railroad. He began working for the railroad in 1948 with his father and other close relatives.

Bottles primarily worked the Toledo to Buffalo line that passed through Ashtabula County around midnight. “We zoomed through here... We never stopped,” he said.

Bottles and Scalfani are planning a ride on the Ashtabula Carson and Jefferson Railroad from the historic depot with fellow convention participants.

 The 12 mile round trip starts at the depot and begins the return trip at the south end of Norfolk Southern’s Carson Yard about two miles from the intersection of Interstate 90 and Route 11.

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