Railroad fans gather in Belpre

BELPRE – Fans of the old railroads turned out Saturday afternoon at Depot Park in Belpre for the annual Railroad Day sponsored by The Ohio and Little Kanawha Division of the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society Inc.

John Flinn, current president of the local chapter, said the idea for the annual event has been to get people out and make them aware of what the railroad used to be like.

The rail cars show off train-related relics and memorabilia in Depot Park during the event, which has been held for several years in Belpre.

“The idea today is to have some fun,” said Flinn.

He said the chapter has about 22 members but is always looking to expand. People don’t have to be an expert in trains to be interested and help out, Flinn added.

Saturday’s Railroad Day program included a visit by the Belpre Volunteer Fire Department with a fire truck for the younger children who gravitate towards fire engines and trains. A face painter was also on the books for the day, Flinn said.

“All young boys love trains and fire trucks,” he said.

The rail cars on permanent display at Depot Park include a caboose serving as the club’s museum and a passenger car in the process of being converted. Both were open to the public Saturday with the chance to learn some of the history of the railroad from the chapter’s expert, Eldon Young.

Young said the rail cars were put on the spot of the city’s old feed mill. He told people about the local history behind the trains. He talked about everything from the placement of the trains windows to an old crash picture that showed what damage can be done when two rail cars side-swipe each other.

Young even explained the mail process when trains were in charge, before other transportation allowed for mail carriers to travel great distances. In the past, trains had certain hubs they would stop in to deliver, which could sometimes be faster than today’s process, he said.

Mail was delivered from Parkersburg to Portsmouth and Zanesville, Ohio, all the way to Clarksburg, W.Va., he said.

Model trains were also on display in the park Saturday, set up by the local model railroaders with the Mid-Ohio Valley Model Railroad Club. Visitors could also enjoy a variety of concessions and vendors.