The Kiddieland B&O Railroad train from the former Chippewa Lake Amusement Park can be seen at the Lodi Railroad Museum, 204 Railroad St. Museum members plan to make the ride functional again.
NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE Enlarge
LODI — As Fran Menssen worked the old telegraph at the Lodi Railroad Museum, one could imagine the trains, packages and people coming or going at the 1909 Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway Depot.
“I actually worked the B&O depot up here in Lodi for a short period and I came over here back in the 1950s and delivered interchange papers to the guy in here, so I have a few ties to this depot,” Menssen said.
Menssen, 79, who serves as president of the nonprofit museum, was joined Monday by museum Vice President Brian Morningstar and committee member Mike Mace at the depot to talk about the museum’s open house 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
“So many people have wanted to see what has been happening here,” Mace said. “It is a great opportunity for us to just kind of show the progress that Brian has really ramrodded.”
Although the depot was donated to the group by Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway in 2008, it was not until the last few years when restoration efforts began to make headway. Museum President Bill Heffelfinger credited Morningstar with getting the museum in shape for the open house.
“That gentlemen took over and brought us back to life,” Heffelfinger said later Monday. “Without him, we would have been gone.”
In addition to replacing every window, Morningstar also worked to level the floor, which he said was sloping about 9 inches, rewired the building for electricity and built a handicapped-accessible restroom.
Vandals “broke every window out of this place,” Morningstar said. “I replaced all the windows by hand.”
Morningstar said he first noticed the depot when he brought his 5-ton military truck to Lodi for the annual corn festival and parked it next to the building.
Soon thereafter, the Lodi Railroad Museum was established in 2005.
“When I started this, everybody thought I was crazy. They said you will never get it back together. Well, here it is,” he said.
A highlight of the museum’s collection is the Kiddieland B&O Railroad train from the former Chippewa Lake Park.
Heffelfinger purchased the ride in the 1990s from Chippewa Lake after the amusement park closed. He later donated it to the Medina County Historical Society, which eventually gave it to the Medina County Park District.
Heffelfinger said the train recently was loaned to the railroad museum.
Morningstar said he has been working on the train’s mechanics, and museum members have plans to have it up and running in the future.
“When we have our open house this Saturday, I can just imagine a lot of kids are going to want their picture taken with it,” Menssen said.
The museum members agreed it is important to preserve the area’s railroading history for future generations.
“It’s history,” Menssen said. “It’s like that telegraph set there. I’m one of the few left that can telegraph.”
Other artifacts including railroad lanterns and a tool used to hand off written messages to engineers of moving trains have been donated by Menssen and others.
“We have a lot of old stuff and more is coming to put on display,” Menssen said.
In addition to Saturday’s open house, the museum has plans for a Christmas in July open house July 28 and a concert Sept. 9. For more information about the Lodi Railroad Museum, 204
Railroad St., visit lodirailroadmuseum.org.