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(rshsdepot) Cleveland, OH roundhouse collapses


Railroad museum plans derailed
Brian E. Albrecht
Plain Dealer Reporter

Plans by the Midwest Railway Preservation Society to build a railroad museum
in a historic roundhouse in Cleveland jumped the tracks last week when an
interior wall and part of the roof collapsed after demolition work in the
A portion of the 1-acre former B&O Railroad roundhouse on West Third
Street, built in 1905 and expanded in 1917, is owned by CSX Railroad, which
has rented space to the society to restore vintage railroad engines and

The rest of the building belongs to the Northern Ohio Lumber and Timber Co.,
which acquired the space last year to relocate its business from Carter Road
in the Flats.
Bill Brown, society president, said that after demolition on Sept. 25 by a
contractor that Northern Ohio hired to clear the way for construction of a
sawmill, a load-bearing wall that was not intended to be part of the
demolition and a portion of the roof collapsed.
An exterior wall fell two days later, dropping as cleanly as if it had been
chopped by a machete, Brown said.
There were no injuries, and no damage to the society's rolling stock in
either incident, he added.
Brown said the city has since condemned the entire former roundhouse, one of
only two left in the state, and the society has moved its 1919 Mikado steam
locomotive outdoors to avoid damage from any further collapse.
The engine, one of only six left in the nation, once pulled passengers on
the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, and is being restored by the
82-volunteer Preservation Society.
A coach that appeared in the Robert Redford film "The Natural" remains
inside the building.
Brown said an architect and structural engineer hired by the group reported
at an emergency trustees meeting last week that the cost just to stabilize
the roundhouse could run upwards of $1 million. A more detailed
architectural study is being prepared, and Brown said he will be meeting
with city officials to discuss possible options for the building's future.
The nonprofit society had hoped to use $290,000 in city grants and a
fund-raising campaign to buy parts of the roundhouse from CSX and Northern
Ohio Lumber and turn them into an interactive railroad museum.
Now, "we don't know what the hell we're going to do," Brown said. "What has
been a long, time-consuming and complicated project has just become more
Brown said the society has been supported by Northern Ohio Lumber on the
The support will continue, according to Virgel Zanick, Northern Ohio Lumber
president, who said the firm had previously worked with the society, trying
to salvage the roundhouse, but believes the walls are structurally unsound.
He said parts of their relocation plans will now be delayed, but the firm
will still move to the new site this year.
Brown said that despite the incident, "we're going to continue our mission
to repair and restore this stuff," outdoors if need be.
He's optimistic that one way or another, someday there will be a museum.
"We're just a bunch of gearheads and gandy dancers who're determined to find
a way to save this thing," Brown said. "We'll pull the whole thing down and
put it back together brick by brick if that's what it takes."
To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:
balbrecht_@_plaind.com, 216-999-4853

The Railroad Station Historical Society maintains a database of existing
railroad structures at: http://www.rrshs.org