The Northern Ohio Railway Museum, 5515 Buffham Road, Westfield Township, recently received a $110,000 grant from the California-based 20th Century Electric Railway Foundation. The funding will allow the museum to build a power substation to power electric streetcars in its collection.
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WESTFIELD TWP. — The Northern Ohio Railway Museum has been keeping the history of electric rail travel in Northeast Ohio alive since opening in 1965, and a $110,000 grant will give its work an electric boost.
The grant, from the 20th Century Electric Railway Foundation, will be used to construct a power substation for the museum that will bring electricity in from Ohio Edison and then tie into the museum’s overhead trolley wire system.
“It moves us ahead from having to generate our own electricity with a generator set that we bought years ago that only can run some of the smaller, older cars,” John Kostelnik, museum trustee said Wednesday. “We can now operate everything we own that is operable.”
The new substation will be an extension of the Prunkard Maintenance building and divided into two sections. One section will be for electrical service and AC power conversion to DC, while the other will be a work area for the museum’s overhead line department. The project is scheduled to be completed in May, before the museum’s operating season begins.
Kostelnik said the museum has worked with the California-based foundation in the past, and when foundation administrators George and Sheila Cook visited in July 2017 to inspect a previously funded project, the discussion turned to what the museum would like its next project to be.
“We had a nice meeting with them when they came out from California to walk the property and look at everything,” he said. “That is when they basically offered, what would you like us to fund?”
The ability for the museum to create its own power, and get a wider range of the museum’s collection out on the rails, was an obvious choice since the museum offers demonstration streetcar rides every summer.
“On every second Saturday from May through October, weather permitting, we fire up the generator set to power the wire to run the car back and forth on the 1,000 feet of demonstration track we have prepared,” Kostelnik said.
The museum’s collection includes more than 40 streetcars, rapid transit cars, interburbans and other railroad-related rolling stock.
A 1914 Center Entrance City Car built by Kuhlman and operated by the Cleveland Railway Co. is one of the oldest operating pieces in the collection.
A long-term goal of the museum is to electrify its entire property, which includes a 2-mile stretch of tracks, which would expand the demonstration streetcar rides.
Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at (330) 721-4050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.