YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Railroad trains are sometimes forgotten but must be included in any discussion on the history of steel around Youngstown. Not only did the railroad bring products in and out of the area, there were also rail lines within the mills themselves.
This weekend at the Youngstown Steel Heritage Museum along Route 62, people can ride a coal-powered steam train that once serviced a mill in Pittsburgh.
Friday afternoon, Rick Rowlands, the man behind the Youngstown Steel Heritage Museum, rode the historic locomotive on the museum’s 600 feet of track.
“At one point, in the first part of the 20th century, a steam locomotive like this was very common to see in Youngstown,” he said.
The train was built in 1937 and was used around the open hearths at Jones and Laughlin Steel in Pittsburgh.
Rowlands bought it about five years ago from a boiler company in Middlefield, Ohio, to renovate.
“It was in horrible shape. This thing should weigh 90,000 pounds. It weighed 60,000 pounds when we got it, a third of the weight was gone off of it,” Rowlands said.
Rowlands found one part in a farmer’s field outside Pittsburgh, and what he couldn’t find he had remade from scratch. He also rebuilt some of the cars and laid the track.
“There’s at least $50,000 in it, probably more. That’s not including my labor or anything, that’s just out of pocket expenses,” Rowlands said.
The steam is generated by coal, shoveled in by hand. When the coal’s first put in, the train spews dark black smoke, a reminder of the days when such plums were common around Youngstown.
Sprays of steam then constantly flow from various parts of the steam-powered locomotive from the engine to the whistle.
“For preserving what we call steel mill railroading, like what we’re doing here, not many rail museums do that. We’re kind of special in that we focus on the steel industry, and certainly, no one has restored an engine like this one before now,” Rowlands said.
People can ride the antique steam locomotive and tour the museum this weekend at the Youngstown Steel Heritage Museum. It’s holding an open house Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
It’s located at 2261 Hubbard Road and costs $8 to get in.