CONNEAUT — The railroad cars at the Conneaut Railroad Museum will look a little different in a month’s time.
The engine, tender, hopper, and caboose at the museum are all set to be repainted in the coming weeks, weather permitting, museum Vice President Jeff Morrell said. “We’re trying to preserve our main attractions,” he added.
The museum is housed in a railroad depot built in 1900. The steam engine that sits on the museum’s property was built in Lima in 1944. The hopper car will be painted its original color, different from the yellow it is currently, Morrell said.
The depot itself is similar to Ashtabula’s former depot, and another in Lake City, Pennsylvania.
“This was actually almost a modular design,” Morrell said.
In addition to the painting, the museum is also working on rewiring part of the museum. Because new work is being done, the new electrical work must meet current code, including outlets being flush with the ground, Morrell said.
“We’re going to relight all the cabinets with LEDs,” Morrell said.
The work has been difficult, due to the nature of the construction of the depot, which has thick, hardwood floors.
“We’re trying to stabilize the museum, and at the same time, we’re trying to introduce new exhibits,” Rudy Campbell, president of the museum, said.
Work is also planned on the roof of the museum.
“If the roof isn’t fixed, we don’t have a museum,” Campbell said.
The new exhibits Campbell mentioned include a large board showing the extent of railway lines in the county, and has a number of pictures of historic areas of interest. “That map there gives you a very extensive idea of the systems,” Campbell said.
Campbell is also planning a display about the ferries that transported railroad cars across Lake Erie.
“The harbors were created because of the railroads. They were not created because of the ships. The ships were a result of the railroads’ activities. The railroads built both of those harbors, both Conneaut as well as Ashtabula,” Campbell said. “We have basically, a direct connection with the harbor,” he added.
The museum is open from noon to 5 p.m., from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and there is no cost for entry. The museum accepts donations. The museum is looking for new members, Campbell said.
“It’s just a labor of love,” Morrell said.
“We’d like to get the word out that we’re trying to preserve our main attractions here, and if anybody would care to donate to help defray the cost, which is in the low five figures, that would be appreciated,” Morrell said. “It’s a 120-year old building. We got an engine here that was built in (1944), so everything is old.”