Students, inmates, volunteers transform Youngwood railroad museum
It's been called the best-kept secret in town — the Youngwood Historical and Railroad Museum and Station Café.
But a lot of people have joined together to trumpet the news about this hidden treasure.
The museum features many artifacts, pictures, journals, maps and literature of the early railroad days until now.
The history dates back to the beginning of the town of Youngwood and the surrounding area.
The museum was founded in 1983 after a group of retired Pennsylvania Railroad Retirees appealed to the borough mayor to save the Youngwood Depot, which was built in 1902.
Ray and Pat Alincic of Udell have been involved with the museum since the early 1990s.
“When it started failing, the county didn't want it, the borough didn't want it, but you can't let it go away,” said Pat Alincic, who serves as secretary for the Youngwood Historical & Railroad Association Inc. “We took it over to preserve the history for generations to come — to educate the children.”
Extensive renovations on the museum include a new deck, wheelchair-accessible ramps, new lights and the café.
Currently, the 1969 caboose — one of only 49 built by Penn Central in Altoona — is being restored.
“Right now, we're open on a limited basis and offering tours by appointment because we're involved with some improvements,” said Ray Alincic. “Then we'll be up and running full time.”
Pat Alincic said a lot of the museum's support has come from Greensburg, Latrobe, Charleroi and Jeanette, as well as a tourism grant they received for the renovations.
“Surrounding towns have been very supportive because they've all been affected by this railroad,” she said.
Excel Glass in Jeanette donated four odd-shaped glass windows to help restore the caboose.
“My father was a big fan of the railroad,” said Connie Pecora, manager at Excel Glass. “It's nice to be a part of history, especially with people that take the time to do restoration. History is important.”
Students at the Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center restored a 12-foot-long original baggage cart. Students from the woodworking class, the painting and decorating class, and the machine class all got involved in the month-long project.
Gary Kistler, carpentry instructor at CTC, said having the opportunity to do something a little off track was exciting for the students.
“This is going to be there for a long time. Usually they building something and tear it down,” he said. “This gave them the opportunity to work on something that is going to be displayed for years to come.”
Inmates from the state prison in Hempfield, known as State Correctional Institute-Greensburg, have painted the caboose and restored its interior to help prepare it for upcoming tours.
Frank Cross, corrections labor foreman of the Community Works Program, said this project has proved beneficial for the inmates.
“These guys really feel a sense of accomplishment. After being in jail, many have no work experience,” said Cross. “But when they stand back, or drive by in years to come, and see what they've done, they can tell the other guys, ‘Hey look, I did that.'”
The outpouring of community support has been extremely helpful, but it's the surprise visits sometimes mean the most.
Pat Alincic said people have visited the museum from Thailand, Chicago, California and other locales.
“A lot of their family worked on the railroad here or their pictures are even on the wall,” she said.
The town of Youngwood was built around the railroad and serviced an area within a 50-mile radius.
In the 1800s through 1902, it served industrial steel mills, funneling coal along the railroad.
“It supplied a lot of jobs for this area,” said Ray Alincic. “This station was very important for the Industrial Age at the turn of the century.”
Preserving that history is the goal of the Youngwood Historical & Railroad Association.
Even when the renovations are finished, there's still a lot of work to do.
“There's always more to be done,” said Ray Alincic. “We're looking for good volunteers and always making changes so that when people come into the museum they experience something different.”
Michele Stewardson is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Firefighters extinguish fire that damages 6 cabs at Yellow Cab Co.
- Starkey: Rutherford will add when timing’s right
- Steelers’ backups Archer, Harris ready to run
- Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger says Saints game is ‘must win’
- Boyce Park to open ski season Friday
- Reading’s ‘ugly’ Christmas tree getting single red bulb
- Police identify driver in North Side crash that killed pregnant woman
- Western Pa. business owners urge shoppers to think small
- Media websites hacked by Syrian Electronic Army
- Comeau’s hat trick leads Penguins; Crosby reaches 800 career points
- Turkey Trot runners turn out to burn calories despite chilly Pittsburgh temps