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Trains chug along Niles, Ridge replica display

WEATHERSFIELD — Miniature trains traveled this weekend around a large miniature railroad display representing Niles and Mineral Ridge of the 1850s to the 1870s.

The railroad track was part of the summer open house for the Moss Ancestral Home, operated by the Mineral Ridge Historical Society.

John Godleski and his wife, Mary Lou of Massachusetts, own the historic home and return each year for the open houses, from 1 to 4 p.m. the second Sunday of each month through November.

John Godleski and his grandson, Liam Sheehy, spent a day-and-a-half setting up the display under a large tent on the property. It included such buildings such as the Moss House and the Ward Thomas House, as well as churches and stores — many of which still exist today — set up as close to the way they were in the mid-1800s as possible.

“We have a mining area, which was … in Mineral Ridge for many years as a major industry,” he said.

This is the second year for the display, which Godleski said was very popular in 2018.

“This year we had this set up for two days. We have had more than 50 people stop,” he said.

Godleski said many people ask him questions about the location of the buildings or what was located at such modern sites as the bike trail through Mineral Ridge and Niles.

Marci Buchanan of the Mineral Ridge Historical Society helped set the replica items into the display.

“They used maps, and I helped them. We did the best we could with the space they have. They set up a really nice display,” Buchanan said.

Godleski acquired the HO-scale railroad from the Rev. Arthur Wright, a priest in Boston, and adapted the parts to make the miniature makeup of the two communities.

“He (the priest) donated the train collection to us. I told him I would show it once a year at a museum in Ohio. He was excited people would get to see it and enjoy it,” Godleski said.

The Mineral Ridge Alumni Association held its annual dinner gathering Saturday in Niles, and people who came back to the area stopped by the display.

Another fascinated spectator was Rusty Lauer, 10, a fifth-grader from Mineral Ridge, who came with his father, Jason Johnson.

“He can see where my grandma and grandpa lived on Depot Street. My grandpa worked on the B&O Railroad for 48 years,”Johnson said.

Johnson, a Girard history teacher, said he always encourages his students to learn about their personal history.

“This is exciting to see and to pass on where you come from. Something like this makes history come to life.” Johnson said.

Kathy Seemann of Kinsman said she was glad to see the display, as well as the many items in the Moss House complex.

Buchanan said each upcoming open house will feature different themes with a holiday display set for November.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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