Berlin, OH - Events of Tuesday, June 28 to Monday, July 4, 2016
Last Tuesday, we drove about 45 minutes to Dennison, Ohio, to visit the Dennison Depot Museum. We pass a sign for the museum along the highway all the time on our way to and from Pittsburgh, so we finally decided to check it out. Admission is $8.00 ($6.00 for seniors). The museum is closed Mondays.
We learned a good bit about the depot from the historical markers outside the museum. In 1864, the village of Dennison was founded as a water stop and rail yard half way between Pittsburgh and Columbus by the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St. Louis Railway. The demand for passenger service led to the construction of the depot in 1873.
The Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St. Louis Railway was consolidated into the Pennsylvania Railroad system in 1870. The rail yard continued to grow and boasted 40 acres of shops including foundries, machine shops and two roundhouses. The yard experienced its busiest period between 1900 and 1921. At its peak, more than 40 trains a day stopped in Dennison, and there were over 3,000 workers at the complex. Dennison was Pennsylvania Railroad's second largest rail yard. Only the yard at Altoona was bigger.
After a contentious strike in 1922, the railroad decided to decentralize their repair facilities and began to close some of the shops at Dennison. Development of diesel engines and the decline of railroads due to the growing popularity of automobiles eventually led to the yard being phased out entirely. The depot remained open until sometime around 1968 or 1970.
Outside the museum is #4759 steam locomotive and several freight cars that visitors can explore.
Inside the museum, we started off our tour with a 30-minute video about the important role Dennison played during WWII. The trunk line on which Dennison is situated was called the Panhandle Line, and it was a vital link in the east-west movement of troops. About 1.3 million service men and women passed through Dennison.
The video details how a group of local women began to provide refreshments to the troops when the trains made their brief stops in Dennison to take on water and coal and to change crews. The canteen, which was sponsored by the Salvation Army, provided free sandwiches, coffee, cookies, donuts and fruit to the troops. Dennison came to be known as Dreamsville, USA, because the idyllic, small-town atmosphere and the smiles of the women who handed out the refreshments provided comfort the servicemen, many of whom were away from home for the first time.
The museum has photos of some of the almost 4,000 volunteers from 8 counties that served in the canteen during the years it operated (1942 to 1946).
As we mentioned earlier, the last train stopped at the depot around 1968-1970. The building, which subsequently fell into disrepair, was purchased from Conrail by the Village of Dennison in 1984. The original restoration was conducted by a group of enthusiastic volunteers and vocational school students. Subsequent restorations were done in several stages.
In addition to many photos, the museum also contains numerous railroad artifacts as well as information about the depot itself and its restoration. The next photo shows a couple of the stained glass windows that were removed from the building. The traces of black paint on the smaller one to the left is blackout paint that was put on the windows during WW II to block light so the depot wouldn't be visible to enemy bombers at night. Fortunately, no enemy bombers ever made it to Dennison.
There is also a room containing a model railroad display of the rail yards. This N-gauge model train layout is extremely well done with incredible detail.
To the west of the depot is a string of 6 passenger cars that is an extension of the museum. Inside one of the cars, there is a year-long exhibit of art by Nelly Toll on loan from the museum in nearby Massillon, Ohio. Nellie lived in Nazi-occupied Poland. For thirteen months, Nelly and her mother were hidden from the Nazis in the small bedroom of a Gentile couple where she painted bright pictures of what she imagined a normal life would be like. She and her mother were eventually rescued and came to the United States. The exhibit explores her art, the Nazi occupation and the Holocaust.
Other passenger cars include a rare, military hospital car, a car with sleeping compartments and a dining car.
There are also more photos and railroad relics.
The Dennison Depot Museum is very well done. It tells the history of the depot itself, the history of the rail yard at Dennison as well the story of the volunteers who worked in the canteen during WWII.
Uhrichsville is right next to Dennison. The two towns are separated only by Little Stillwater Creek (and we do mean little). In addition to passing the sign for the depot museum on our way to and from Pittsburgh, we also pass a sign advertising El Pueblito Mexican restaurant in Uhrichsville. Good Mexican food is hard to find in Amish Country, so we're always hungry for it when we stay here in the summer. El Pueblito gets pretty good reviews online, so we decided to stop for lupper on our way back to Berlin.
El Pueblito has lunches for $6 to $8 and dinners for about $9 to $10. We started off with the usual corn chips and salsa, which were good, but not as good as those at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Pancho's Villa in Florida. We think the chips at Pancho's are exceptional because they are thin, warm, crisp and salty; and the salsa is so good because it has lots of fresh cilantro in it.
Lunch at El Pueblito is served until 3 p.m. Since it was before that time when we arrived, we both had lunch-sized portions of chicken chimichangas that included one side for $6.99. Margery had rice with hers, and Paul had refried beans. The meals also included a small salad.
The chimis were great. The chicken had lots of flavor, and it was tender and moist. The rice and beans were good, too. We'll definitely be back.
From El Pueblito, we headed back to the 5th wheel to relax with an evening of TV.
On Wednesday, we headed to Pittsburgh for the day for a visit with Lora, J. Michael and Lydia. As usual, we had a good time playing with Lydia and just watching her. One of the things she likes to do is wear long strings of beads. In the next photo she is modeling some of her favorite fashion accessories.
Our truck hadn't had a bath since we left Florida almost three months ago, and it was very dirty from driving the back roads of Amish Country. Since most campgrounds don't allow washing of vehicles, or if they do they charge a fee for doing so, Paul decided to borrow J. Michael's garden hose and do a quick wash. Lydia helped.
After J. Michael got home from work, we enjoyed the delicious dinner Lora made before heading back to Ohio. It was another nice visit.
Lora and J. Michael usually camp with us on holiday weekends, but this 4th of July they went elsewhere with friends. Therefore, we just hung out around the rig for the weekend and avoided the crowds. We were hoping to get out to do some sightseeing the after the holiday crowds went home. Stay tuned.