Rebuilt steam locomotive is focal point of Dennison museum display

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DENNISON, Ohio – The Dennison Railroad Depot Museum, together with sponsorship by the Ohio Central Railroad and Dominion East Ohio, will host a gala event Sept. 13 to celebrate the return to service of steam locomotive #6325.

The event will include cab tours and photographic opportunities with the locomotive.

Also included is the grand opening of the museum’s new exhibit, Rebirth of a Mechanical Giant: The Restoration of Engine #6325, a multi-media presentation and the unveiling of two new limited edition signed prints of the locomotive.

Largest in area. The locomotive, which is the largest steam locomotive operating in the eastern United States, has been the subject of a three-year rebuilding project that required thousands of man-hours and almost a million dollars.

The process has been chronicled by Jason Johnson, employee of the Ohio Central Railroad, and Mark Perri, Akron area photographer and volunteer at the railroad.

Johnson and Perri have acted as co-curators, putting the museum’s exhibit together.

History. Originally built in 1942 for the Grand Trunk Railroad, the locomotive spent most of its life pulling passenger trains and fast freights between Detroit and Chicago, at speeds reaching 80 mph.

Fully loaded with water and coal, the locomotive weighs over 700,000 pounds, and is 100 feet long.

The locomotive once pulled President Harry Truman’s campaign train, and was retired and put on display in a park in Battle Creek, Mich.

Under the direction of Ohio Central Railroad founder Jerry J. Jacobson, who has a passion for steam locomotives, the 6325 was given an extensive rebuild at the railroad’s Morgan Run Shops, just east of Coshocton, Ohio.

Jacobson feels there is no better example of America’s industrial heritage than a steam engine, and his passion for steam has created one of the largest collections of operating steam engines in the country.

Back in service. This year will be the first full year of operations for the 6325, which pulls passenger excursions on parts of the Ohio Central’s 425-mile system.

The locomotive often operates out of Dennison, which was once a division headquarters and major steam locomotive terminal on the former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline.

Museum director Wendy Zucal points out that in today’s world, it is very rare for a steam engine of this size to be restored.

“Therefore, when Jason and Mark came to the museum with the idea of putting this restoration process into exhibit form that would allow the public to see first hand this process not normally open to viewing, the museum board and I felt it was something that visitors would greatly enjoy.”

Good cause. Attendance to the exhibition and the sale of prints at the event will benefit the museum’s ongoing expansion as it works to add a children’s exhibit, library, rare military railroad car and theater to the museum.

The exhibit, to be on display until February 2003, will include the photography of Perri and others close to the railroad.

In addition, steam crew members will display artifacts and exhibits from the locomotive’s rebuild; and explain its operation.

Location. Dennison is located where State Routes 36, 250 and 800 meet; 18 miles east of Interstate 77, and 36 miles north of Interstate 70.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Admission is $3 for adults, $2.50 seniors and $1.75 students. Children under 7 are admitted free and family memberships are available.

For reservations for the gala event, call 740-922-6776 or 1-877-278-8020.

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