Group focuses on history, trains

WARREN – Members of the Conrail Historical Society, which formed in 1995 and focuses on acquiring, restoring and preserving materials associated with Conrail and predecessor railroads, met for a three-day event at the Best Western in Warren that included tours of railroad-relates sites including the Youngstown Steel Museum in Youngstown, Kasgrove Rail in New Castle, Pa., where they build large freight cars, and Conway Railway in Conway, Pa.

Brenda Long, a society member, said the group plans to build a museum in Topton, Pa., to showcase historical and contemporary material associated with Conrail and the American railroad system in general.

Society President Ryan Kunkle said the event featured several guest speakers, including former Conrail employees, who spoke about different aspects of Conrail and railroads.

”This area has a lot of history for Conrail which was a major area for the railroads from 1976 to 1988. They had lines all through the Mahoning Valley,” Kunkle said.

He said a goal of the event was to let members come to an area where Conrail system once thrived.

”We want to keep this history alive,” Long said.

R. Douglas Woodard, a member, said he had his truck painted the Conrail bright blue and also had a tribute placed on it for deceased employees.

“Our main goal is to spread the word about Conrail. The museum will show the different items and equipment given to us by ex-Conrail employees to show for generations to come, ” Long said.

Mike Swinnerton of England said he used to work on the railroads in England and has always been interested in Conrail, so he became a member of the society a couple of years ago.

“Everyone has different outlooks and aspects on railroading in this part of the world,” he said, noting his has been to northeast Ohio before.

Roger Durfee, a member, shared his railroad photography and hints on taking quality photos.

”Don’t be afraid to include different subject matters in the photos. This adds dimension. The train is the main subject surrounded by another subject,” he said.

Paul Damer of the Netherlands said he found the speakers interesting and learned a lot about railroads and their history in Warren.