Teen trying to save rail landmarks Group seeks to restore towers By Heather Deeley
Record-Courier staff writer Monitoring the two landmarks on an almost daily basis, Ravenna resident Ryan Fitzpatrick is determined to save the city's two remaining railroad towers.
Two months ago, the Ravenna High School freshman spearheaded the Ravenna Railroad Historical Society, where rail buffs are sowing the seeds of their preservation game plan.
"We want to acquire the towers, relocate them and restore them, eventually turning them into a railroad museum," he said.
The abandoned, vandalized towers belong to CSX, on Chestnut Street, and Conrail, off Diamond Street. Fitzpatrick said Norfolk Southern will buy Conrail June 1 and Conrail's assets are frozen until then.
"We have been working with the railroads and we have a good rapport," Fitzpatrick said. "But we want to make sure Conrail doesn't tear it down between now and June 1."
The group has a membership of 16 people, serveral of them rail buffs. Area residents have shown a lot of interest in the cause.
"People have been very supportive. I have gotten call after call from residents asking questions," Fitzpatrick said.
At the age of 3, his grandfather started taking him to the tracks. Originally from Cincinnati, Fitzpatrick spent summers in Ravenna and moved here a year ago.
"There are no (railroad) towers left in Cincinnati -- the railroads tore them all down," Fitzpatrick said. "So when I found them here, I was facinated by them."
Fitzpatrick's preservation goes beyond the physical conservation of the towers. Educating the public on the rail lines and the spirit of the railroads is also a priority.
"I was sitting, videotaping the tracks and saw that kids had thrown rocks at the (CSX) tower and I decided I wanted to preserve them so that (future) generations will know what the towers were like. They are a big part of Ravenna's history."
Fitzpatrick points to the benefits for companies to donate the towers using it as a tax write off.
He even has the process mapped out, including cutting the towers in half, loading them on a flat bed, reconstruct and restoring them on a small parcel of land between Ravenna's two towers.
The railroad society meets at 7 p.m. the last Saturday of every month in Reed Memorial Library's Jenkins Building.