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Railroad Heritage Days draw crowd

June 10, 2000|By ANDREA ROWLAND

Three-year-old Angel Stull jiggled the throttle from her conductor's seat in the engine cab of the 8,000-ton train. It was fun to make the big locomotive "move" fast, but blowing the horn was even better, she said.

The Hagerstown youngster was one of several hundred visitors Saturday to Railroad Heritage Days at the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum at 300 S. Burhans Blvd., event organizers said.

Angel enjoyed one of the event's main attractions - a rebuilt Pullman passenger car that featured displays depicting the history and modern operations of the Norfolk Southern transportation system.

Kids and adults acting as conductors of the exhibit train learned the challenges of accelerating such a massive piece of machinery and stopping a train quickly in case of emergency.

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"That's what (the event) is all about," said Robert Tracey Sr., vice president of the National Railway Historical Society, Hagerstown chapter.

Railroad Heritage Days highlights the rich history of Norfolk Southern and promotes Operation Lifesaver, a nationwide program to raise awareness of railroad safety, Tracey said.

In the U.S., there is a collision between a train and a vehicle every 90 minutes, added Jim Cummings, an Operation Lifesaver board member.

Jeremy Caldwell, 7, said the conductor's job might be too tough for him, but he had a good time trying.

"The best part was driving that Norfolk and Southern train," said Jeremy, of Hagerstown. "It had a mixed freight."

The exhibit train was also air conditioned. Yet Saturday's hot temperatures didn't bar event visitors from climbing aboard the 1946 Ahrens Fox fire engine that was parked in the museum's lot.

Joey Williams, 11, was dwarfed behind the engine's giant steering wheel. Seven-year-old John Spangler could barely reach its brake. His brother, Jared, 3, let the bigger kids do the driving while he concentrated on ringing the bell.

"It's cool to drive the truck," Joey said.

Inside the museum, a number of budding young engineers worked the controls on a series of model trains circling an elaborate track, and rode on a miniature railroad. Adults milled through the museum's exhibits and gift shop.

Railroad Heritage Days continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. Refreshments are offered for sale. Admission is $3 for adults and 50 cents for children ages 12 and under.

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