Railroad museum project in Connellsville picks up steam again
By Laura Szepesi
Published: Friday, May 10, 2013, 6:30 p.m.
Connellsville can't celebrate this year's National Train Day, but local residents can expect some fanfare next May as work on the city's new railroad museum is back on track.
“The building's drywall is finished, and plastering is now being done,” said Michael Edwards, president of the Fayette County Cultural Trust, the group that is working with local contractor “Tuffy” Shallenberger on the project.
At the same time, Greg Clark is repairing the Indian Creek Valley Railroad model display that will be the museum's main attraction. The 25- by 50-foot display was hauled by truck to Connellsville from Nemacolin Woodlands Resort last September. The enormous structure was lifted by a crane, which set it down on the museum's foundation as carefully as possible. However, there was some minor damage.
It makes sense that Clark is anxious to restore the train display. His father, the late Harry Clark Sr., painstakingly and lovingly built it, piece by piece, year after year after year.
“I grew up with it; of course, I want it to be like it was originally,” said Greg Clark, who now works for Shallenberger Construction. “The model trains were part of my childhood. Dad first put them in a small garage. When the trains outgrew it, he enlarged the building.”
Shallenberger purchased the display after Harry Sr. passed away in November 2011 at age 91. Nemacolin Woodlands displayed the model trains until the resort obtained a license to build a casino there. So Shallenberger decided to move it to his hometown of Connellsville.
The contractor has funded much of the construction.
Meanwhile, Edwards has searched — and continues to search — for grants to benefit the project. The Fayette Cultural Trust recently received a $25,000 grant through Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, part of which will be used to purchase equipment for the Connellsville Canteen Coffee Shop at the museum, the outside of which resembles the B&O Railroad Station that stood along Water Street during World War II.
The coffee shop is named in honor of the Connellsville Canteen volunteers, who fed 500,000 troops hot coffee, sandwiches and baked goodies at the train station on their way to and home from the war. The building is along West Crawford Avenue next door to ArtWorks Connellsville.
Edwards is awaiting approval on a $50,000 grant from the Allegheny Conference to pay for setup costs for the Canteen Café.
Originally, planners hoped to open the museum for today's Amtrak-sponsored National Train Day, but the project encountered construction delays that could not be avoided, Edwards said.
He was hesitant to pinpoint an exact opening date, but did say it's likely to be this year.
“Things are looking good. Construction is coming along,” Edwards said.
Laura Szepesi 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.
- Fayette County candy stores say public sweet on jelly beans as well as chocolate
- Attorney says Fayette County officials’ policy on recording goes against state law
- Connellsville’s news curfew to begin in 10 days; penalties stiff for minors, parents, businesses
- Too early to worry about possible CDBG cuts
- Brush fire season keeps firefighters busy
- Celebrate National Library Month with sweet contest at Carnegie Free Library in Connellsville
- No date set for closing on proposed hotel property in Connellsville
- Police department to cover community
- Resource fair planned for area veterans
- Connellsville Township supervisors recognize city police officers
- Prayer labyrinth to be constructed at Christian Church of Connellsville