Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation Museum
Ohio proud

Roll Into Autumn with These 5 Special Events

Chug, chug, chug — all aboard for family fun! Each visit to the Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation Museum in Findlay, Ohio, combines nostalgia with kid-friendly fun, and a full season of special events provides even more reasons to keep coming back.

By Jill Ross

Pumpkin Train, all photos by Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation Museum unless otherwise noted.

The Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation Museum (NWORRP), run entirely by passionate volunteers, is unique among railroading groups in that they incorporate a variety of interests, from model-size to full-scale and historic memorabilia. Children and adults can literally “ride the rails” on one of the museum’s quarter-scale trains: either Engine 901, a coal-burning, steam-powered, prairie-style locomotive (the only one known to be operating in Ohio), or the Riverside Train, built in the style of a Union Pacific 1930s “streamliner.” A volunteer dressed in period costume will serve as the conductor on your journey around the track.

Each trip to the tracks will lead to a different experience, depending on the season. From May through the year’s end, check the website for affordable, family friendly events. With fall just around the corner, add these five events to your calendar:

1. All Things Fall

Pumpkin Fest, September 16–17

The can’t-miss autumn event! From Pumpkin Train rides to corn cannons, this two-day festival is filled with games, activities and events perfect for kids of all ages. One admission ticket covers it all, including a ride on the Pumpkin Train, bounce houses, miniature golf, axe throwing, corn cannons and pumpkin chuckin’ all day long. Who wouldn’t want to watch pumpkins being hurled across the sky? You can even take some of the fun home — pumpkins are available for purchase as part of the Pumpkin Train, but you don’t have to buy one to ride the train.

2. Cargo You Can Carve

Pumpkin Train, September 23–October 22

Destination: Pumpkin patch! Board the quarter-scale train on an express ride to pick your perfect pumpkin. Load your pick on to the train’s flatcar, and you and your pumpkin will take one more trip around the track before returning to the station. The pumpkin patch is kept well-plumped with more than 20 tons of locally grown pumpkins delivered throughout the season. Make sure to enjoy the other games, decorations and special activities throughout the museum during your visit. (Note: There’s an additional charge for pumpkins; the purchase of a pumpkin is not required to ride the Pumpkin Train.)

3. All Aboard!

Tracks to the Past, October 6 and October 7

Do you know what a doodlebug or baker fan is? Want to find out? From antique steam-powered tractors to an operating sawmill, you’ll get the chance to see old machinery of all kinds in action during this two-day blast into the past. Due to popular demand, this event is returning with additional attractions, including the Findlay wood carvers demonstrations during the day and a steam engine show after dark. Take a ride on the Pumpkin Train or the Halloween Express, which can be included in the price of admission. Friday is Eduction Day with special rates for teachers and school children.

4. After Dark

Halloween Express, September 29–October 28

When the sun sets on select Friday and Saturday nights during the season, the nighttime train departs to view the Halloween decorations after dark! Don’t worry, though, the not-so-scary ride is appropriate for kids of all ages.

5. Give Me Something Good to Eat!

Trick-or-Treat Halloween Train, October 21 and 28

It’s all treats and no tricks! On these two special days, come dressed in your costume and collect treats as you take a train ride through the Halloween decorations.

Bringing up the Caboose

After getting your fill of outdoor activities, don’t forget to stop by the museum itself. Here, you’ll find model trains on four different scales, including O, S, HO, and N layouts, as well as lots of unique exhibits and artifacts from the Golden Age of railroads. In the gift shop, an assortment of souvenirs, such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, toys and postcards, are available to take home.

“As we no longer have passenger trains in Findlay, it becomes more important to preserve this history,” explains Jim Gabriel, a member of the Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation Inc.’s board of trustees. “Though it’s fun for children — and adults — to ride our little trains, we hope that a visit here provides much more by recreating, on a smaller scale, the excitement of traveling by rail in the 1900s.”