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Rail cars removed from Sewickley park

About Bobby Cherry

By Bobby Cherry

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, 6:34 p.m.

Two rail cars that had been stationed at a Sewickley park will be no more.

Sewickley Council accepted a $17,500 donation from Sugarcreek, Ohio-based Age of Steam Roundhouse to remove a locomotive, its adjoining coal car, a caboose and track from Riverfront Park on Chadwick Street.

Removal of the relics began Wednesday morning.

“It's great to see them find a new home,” Sewickley Manager Kevin Flannery said of the 1897-built H.K. Porter 0-4-0T Locomotive and Pennsylvania & Lake Erie Bobber Caboose dating to the late 1800s.

Fourteen railroad enthusiasts and museums expressed interest in the items, seven of which submitted proposals, he said.

Flannery said the items had become a safety hazard. He said he was happy to know the items would be preserved.

Age of Steam Roundhouse is a privately owned facility that houses locomotives and passenger cars, according to its website.

The facility was built by former Coshocton, Ohio-based Ohio Central Railroad System CEO Jerry Joe Jacobson. Ohio Central Railroad System operates short-line railroads in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio.

No one from Age of Steam Roundhouse could immediately be reached for comment before deadline.

According to the Age of Steam Roundhouse website, the project is being funded entirely by private funds.

Both the locomotive and caboose were placed in the Riverfront Park in 2000. The items were donated to the borough through the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.

The pieces were part of a display at Station Square before being relocated for an expansion project.

But concern over the safety of children outweighed historical significance, prompting borough leaders to look for a new home for the items, Flannery said.

The locomotive was given to the regional landmarks foundation in 1978 by Sewickley resident Fred Okie, who was a former railroad employee, according historical data on the Riverfront Park website.

The locomotive and caboose sat in the front yard of Okie's Backbone Road home until he moved.

Okie was president of the Union Railroad and the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad.

The locomotive was made at the H.K. Porter Locomotive Works in Pittsburgh and used at U.S. Steel's Duquesne Works.

Built in the late 1800s, the caboose became part of the Pittsburgh & Ohio Valley company, before becoming part of the Shenango Furnace Company on Neville Island. It was retired in 1964.

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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