Tracking the Trains in Worthington
By Nicholas Dekker
Does anyone ever outgrow their love of trains? Who doesn’t get excited at the sight of big locomotives barreling down the track, or the low rumble of the train as it passes through?
Worthington has a long history of trains, as freight and passengers have traveled through the area for decades. The Worthington station used to sit on Proprietors Road, not far from the replica depot building that houses the Ohio Railway Museum. (Fun fact: did you know the center row of trees in Wilson Hill Park were planted along the interurban line that used to run through to High Street?)
But trains aren’t relegated to history! You can enjoy them in full-sized and small-scale forms right here in the city.
Ohio Railway Museum
990 Proprietors Road
On Sunday afternoons between noon and 4 p.m., the Ohio Railway Museum comes alive with activity. Open from May through December, the museum houses a collection of locomotives, streetcars, interurban cars, and other artifacts. The volunteer-run organization was founded in 1948, and is situated on land that was originally part of the Columbus, Delaware, & Marion Electric Company property. Directly to the east are active freight lines, so while you enjoy a bit of living history, you’ll see modern day rail at work, too!
Guests can stroll along the train tracks and visit the various cars and engines in different states of restoration. Some are available for walk-through tours, others you can explore from the outside. The dedicated volunteers will tell you the full history of the equipment and the role it played in local, regional, and national rail history. The staff at the Ohio Railway Museum are actively restoring equipment, too; they’re current raising funds to restore the #703 streetcar, one of the last of its type that served Columbus.
And every visit should include a ride on the train! The museum alternates between featuring their #64 interurban car and their #5060 passenger coach, pulled by their #7178 engine, named Roger. Narrated by one of the volunteers, the ride takes you down the rails on the overpass above Route 161 and back again.
Admission to the Ohio Railway Museum is $9 for adults, $7 for children 4-12 years old, $8 for seniors/military, and free for children three and under. Ticket prices include the train rides.
Central Ohio Model Railroad Club
6471 Proprietors Road
Located just north up Proprietors Road from the Railway Museum, the Central Ohio Railroad Club draws model railroad enthusiasts of all ages. They’re often out in the community with their displays; you can see them regularly at the Ohio State Fair. But their facility in Worthington serves as a home base. The building is home to layouts in HO, O, N, and Z scales. The club is also restoring a custom-made S scale circus layout, built over 35 years by Bernard J. Fleck of Tiffin, Ohio.
Regular guests are encouraged to become members, but Tuesdays and Thursdays the club is open to the public. Tuesday nights are the standard member nights, but the public is welcome from 7-10 p.m. Thursday evenings are open to youth and families from 6:30-9 p.m. The club even offers workshops and clinics on repairing trains, building and decorating structures, and more topics.
McCord Park Caboose
333 E. Wilson Bridge Road
Anyone who’s spent time at McCord Park – maybe for a baseball game, helping at the community gardens, or visiting the Community Center – has heard the trains crossing at Wilson Bridge Road. Well, city officials have embraced the trains’ presence next to the park and are building an observation platform for kids of all ages to watch the trains.
To supplement this, the Harper family, part of the extended family behind Rutherford-Corbin Funeral Home in Worthington, donated a wooden 1922 caboose from the their Upper Arlington backyard. The deep red caboose will be a centerpiece in the new observatory when McCord Park is upgraded in the coming years. The city is collaborating with the Worthington AM Rotary Club and the Central Ohio Model Railroad Club on the project.