Facebook Page

Dennison Railroad Depot Museum 8/19/2022

by Chris Guenzler

After experiencing the incredible Warthers Carving Museum in Dover, Ohio, we drove a short distance to Dennison.

Dennison Railroad Depot Museum history

Recognized as a National Historic Landmark, The Dennison Railroad Depot is the most significant remaining example in the nation of a railroad canteen still reflecting its World War II heritage.

During WWII, 1.3 Million service members were served free food by 4,000 working volunteers at the Dennison Depot Salvation Army Servicemen's Canteen. These service men and women traveled by troop train along the National Defense Strategic Railway and stopped at the Depot as they were going off to fight in the war.

Our Homefront hospitality became so well known, that the nickname Dreamsville, USA was given to us by the soldiers themselves. Today, the beautifully restored 1873 Pennsylvania Railroad Depot, which served as the Panhandle Division Headquarters, offers plenty of family entertainment.

The Depot is fully restored and now houses a museum, restaurant, Panhandle Theater and Whistle Stop Railway Gift Shop. Visitors can explore the museum's Railroad History and Sports exhibits, then watch the trains run in the large Model Train Layout depicting Dennison in its heyday. The theater features a film on Dennison's role as a WWII Canteen that earned Dennsion the nickname Dreamsville, USA. A train of railroad cars is attached to the Depot which features the Children's Interactive Railroad Car Experience, a special yearly Feature Exhibit Car, a rare WWII Hospital Car housing our WWI and WWII collections, and a Local History Car. The museum is very interactive and hands-on. Children are invited to follow Bing's Scavenger Hunt.

A fifth car in the Museum's Addition is a Railroad Research Library, housing our archives. It is available for research upon appointment during open hours.

Follow up your visit with souvenir shopping or a meal in the Depot's Over the Rail Diner. Picnic space is also available outside where you can see Bing's House plus our collection of Rolling Stock including a 1940s Thermos Bottle Engine, Nickel Plate Caboose, the 2700 Cheseapeake & Ohio Locomotive and various other railroad cars.

This homefront hospitality continues today in our lobby, with a free cup of coffee and a cookie to all our visitors.

Our visit

Elizabeth and I parked and started to look around.

Pennsylvania Railroad business car 7530 "Willamsport" built by the railroad in 1929, as Pennsylvania Railroad 7528.

Nickel Plate Road caboose 454 built by International Car in 1962.

Baltimore and Ohio flat car 582 built by the railroad in 1953.

Wheeling and Lake Erie 40 foot box car painted as Pennsylvania Railroad.

Dover Chemical tank car of unknown number.

Columbus & Southern Ohio Electric 0-4-0F 3 built by Vulcan Iron Works in 1946, then moved to Groveport, Ohio and later sold to Robert Fleagane.

Pennsylvania Railroad coach 4064 built by the Budd Company in 1947. This 52 seat coach was part of the Pennsylvania Railroad/Seaboard Air Lines Silver Meteor pool. The car retained its number when absorbed in the Penn Central system. Amtrak took control of it in 1971, renumbered it 5286, then 073 after rebuilding it to 60 seat capacity. Orrville Railroad Heritage Society purchased it in 1984 and started using it in 1985 fan trips. Its name, Wm B. Baer, is in honor of the late president of Will-Burt Co who supported the ORHS.

New York Central 2905 built by the Budd Company in 1947. It moved into Penn Central ownership with the same number then when Amtrak refurbished it in 1971, re-numbered it to 5675. It was purchased from Amtrak, refurbished by the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society and used on its first excursion in 1986. The car was named for Howard H. Wade who served for 50 years as an engineer on the Cleveland, Akron & Columbus Railroad. Mr. Wade was the grandfather of ORHS Chairman Howard E. Wade. The naming of the car is to honor the many contributions that the Wade family has made to Orrville Railroad Heritage Society.

Canadian Pacific coach 2244 built by Canadian Car and Foundry in 1960. It became Algoma Central 422 then Railroad Passenger Car Alliance (RPCX) 422. It was bought by the Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad but remains in Dennison.

RPCX 3850, originally New Haven Parlor Car 315 "Westerly" built by Pullman-Standard in 1948, was owned by Capitol Passenger Car and has been sold to Orrville Railroad Historical Society. Originally a 36 seat parlor car, it was rebuilt in 1964 by New Haven into 72-seat coach 7206. Penn Central re-numbered it 3196 in 1968 then when it went Amtrak, became 7256. It was rebuilt in 1973 into a 56-seat coach/parlor 3850 with an experimental airliner style interior which turned it into an oven. The history after that is sketchy until 1988 when it was discovered sitting derelict in Barberton, Ohio. The car was purchased by Capitol, moved to and rebuilt in Orrville as a 36 seat parlor.

Santa Fe 53 seat coach 3090 built by the Budd Company in 1937, sold to New Jersey Transit who put it into commuter service circa 1969, then retired and sold to the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad and later went to the Maine Coast Railroad.

Chicago and North Western bi-level coach built by Pullman-Standard. It is currently RPCX 401.

RPCX 800844 "George C. Davis" built by the Budd Company in 1952. This Amtrak certified private car was once Viginia Rail Express V501, Viginia Rail Express 400, Masschussetts Bay Transit Authority 400 and Boston and Maine 6100. This car has the unique distinction of being the first RDC delivered by Budd to the Boston & Maine, the railroad that owned the largest number of RDCs -- 109. It is also the only RDC or former RDC that is certified for operation as private car on the Amtrak system.

RPCX baggage car 105 built by the St. Louis Car Company in 1953 as US Army troop kitchen car 89663. It was acquired by Amtrak in 1971, re-numbered 1370 and used as a baggage car. Orrville Railroad Historical Society now uses it as a concession car for its excursions.

Arrowpoints to Cities around the country.

The Dennison Station was built in 1887.

Cutouts of servicemen who were fed by this depot on their train trip to World War II.

Pennsylvania Railroad 12 Parlor Chairs Buffet Kitchen 14 Lounge Seats 7006 "Kiwanis Club" built by Pullman in 1929.

Pennsylvania Railroad Parlor Car 7007 built by Pullman in December 1929 as 13 seat parlor-buffet (kitchen)-12 seat dinette (2 4-seat tables and 2 2-seat tables)-16 seat lounge "Lambs Club". The floor arrangement was altered several times; between August and October 1943, it was changed to 12 seat parlor, kitchen, 24 seat dinette (6 4-seat tables) and 14 seat lounge. This car was withdraw from Pullman lease in October 1956 and became maintenance-of-way 492061 then later sold to the Midwest Railway Historical Foundation, the equipment-owning arm of the Midwest Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. After the split from the Chapter, MRHF became the Midwest Railway Preservation Society .

Pennsylvania Railroad 12 Parlor Chairs Buffet Kitchen 14 Lounge Seats 7005 "Friars Club" built by Pullman in 1929.

Pennsylvnia Railroad 10 Parlor Chair Dining 7004 "Vieux Carre" built by Pullman in 1964, originally "Pequot", rebuilt in 1913.

Pennsylvania Railroad 6-3 sleeper 9514 "Times Square" built by Pullman in 1925. It was sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad as 8561 "Times Square".

Pennsylvania Railroad combine 7003 "Matchless" built by Pullman in 1910, originally "Honey Brook", and rebuilt in 1933.

The arch for Dennison.

Chesapeake and Ohio K4 2-8-4 2700 built by American Locomotive Company in 1943. In 1955 it was donated to Kanawha County in Charleston, West Virginia. In 1972 the engine was donated to the City of St. Albans Firefighters Association at St. Albans, then in 1978 donated to St. Albans Railroad, Incorporated. In 1986 she was leased to the Silver Throttle Engine Association and taken to Canton, Ohio, with plans to restore it, but it stood for years on a siding where parts were progressively stripped from it. The Dennison Railroad Depot Museum moved 2700 to Dennison in May 2009 and went to court to win ownership. They won the case and following appeal in 2010 and have begun work to restore it.

Elizabeth my beautiful wife and Chesapeake and Ohio K4 2-8-4 2700. Elizabeth and I walked into the museum and paid the lady who turned us loose on the museum.

The Salvation Army provided all of the meals that the servicemen ate.

All of the displays were excellent.

Circleville and other historic memorabelia.

More displays and a conductor wearing a mask shows our Covid times in 2022.

Pennsylvania Railroad timetables and lanterns.

Women in Railroading display case.

A conductor in uniform in a display case.

The tools of railroading.

Gnadenhutten signal board and a heavy baggage cart.

Railroad crossing sign and all of that luggage. The brick floor is original.

More of the tools of railroading.

The Panhandle Line emblem. We watched a very informative fifteen minute video about the history of the depot.

Salvation Army Canteen Free Service to Servicemen.

The displays are excellent.

The hospital car had the bunks made up.

The kitchen in the car.

The table are set up for a meal.

The pantry is fully stocked.

The day time use of this car.

Excellent use of photographs help tell the story.

An ingenious display of the interior of Grand Trunk Western 6325's cab.

Railroad croosing sign with tower, railroad clerk, shanty, engine house and hobo tree attached to it.

Railroad slang. Each item lifted up to show the true meaning of the word.

Train operators board.

More tools of a railroader.

Locomotive 6235 coming at you.

Various railroad signals through the years.

Down the hall to the next displays.

Hobo camp display.

United States uniform.

Foot Locker and his weapon.

United States Navy uniform.

United States Navy Seabees and earned medals.

Another military coat.

United States Air Force equipment.

United States Air Force lady uniform.

Salvation Army ladies uniform.

United Kingdom uniform.

Gear of a United Kingdom sleeping bag.

A Russian Army uniform.

Weapons of a Russian Army solider.

A Japanese solider uniform.

Gear of a Japanese soldier.

An Italian soldier uniform.

An Italian soldier sleeping bag and knife.

A Nazi flag.

A German uniform and gear.

Buy War Saving Bonds out of income.

Surgery gear.

Life Magazine and surgery gear.

A stretcher for carrying the wounded.

Hospital train bunks.

Story of Soldier-Dog Bing retold.

Soldiers on display.

They call it "Dreamville" The Servicemen's Canteen in Dennison.

American Red Cross display.

Nazi and Japanese Flags.

Soldiers and Canteen workers.

Dreamsville, United States of America.

Pictorial Review of Dennison Canteen, Global War Services of the Salvation Army and Service in action at the Servicemen Canteen.

What happened at the Canteen.

Salvation Army serves.

"Hands...I Remember the Hands".

My Canteen - memories from those it served.

Workers of the Salvation Army.

Sandwich bags from the Dennison Canteen. These were kept by a soldier throughout his World War II career and returned to the canteen upon his return. That just proves how influential and memorable this canteen was to young servicemen going off to war and leaving their home town.

Those Sandwich Bags.

Canteen and Railroad Leadership.

Workers of Salvation Army.

Gratitude to this Salvation Army worker.

The American Life will live forever.

Newspapers provided information about the war.

Sacrifices for the troops.

Tools of our servicemen.

United States mailbox and Dreamsville.

Dreamsville, United States of America.

Scenes from a 1940s home.

Dennison High School display.

Life in Dennison.

East Ohio Gas Company.

Van Lehn Home.

Dennison ... One in a Million.

Daily life in the 1940s.

Pictures of Dennison.

Dennison train station.

Railroad documents.

Railroads in Dennison.

Pennsylvania Railroad timetable board.

Railroads are dangerous.

More station items in the baggage room.

More railroader's tools. Now we will look at the model railroad of Dennison, built by the Dennison Area Model Railroaders.

A very impressive model railroad.

A Remington typewriter.

Local pickup and delivery. Both Elizabeth and I really enjoyed and learned a lot from this museum, the film was excellent and the displays were top notch.

On the way to Terre Haute

Elizabeth drive us to Uhrichsville.

Pennsylvania Railroad Uhrichsville freight house. We made our way to East Sparta for the station there.

Baltimore and Ohio East Sparta station. From here it was on to Brewster.

Wheeling and Lake Erie Brewster station built in 1914, commonly known as The Brick, or the largest skyscraper in Brewster.

Wheeling and Lake Erie caboose 0217, built by the railroad in 1948.

The Wheeling and Lake Erie YMCA building which is now called the Wandle (Wheeling and Lake Erie) House, a museum and restaurant. We went over but the doors were locked; the restaurant serves breakfast and lunch and closed at 2:00 and we were there at 2:45. So it was over to the shops for a quick in-and-out visit.

At the Wheeling and Erie Lake Shop was GP35 200, ex. Norfolk Southern 2706, nee Southern 2706, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1964. It is painted in special black and white Ohio Bicentennial commemorative scheme with white road numbers on the cab sides, small white Wheeling & Lake Erie lettering underthe cab on each side, has white frame side sill and white reflective frame striping, red white and blue Ohio Bicentennial logo and Ohio state flag on each side of the long hood/

Wheeling and Lake Erie SD40u 6996, nee Canadian National 5196 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1971, and SD45 6981, nee Chicago and North Western 955, built by Electro-Motive Division.

Wheeling and Lake Erie SD40 4016, nee Missouri Pacific 716, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1967.

Wheeling and Lake Erie SD40u 6996, nee Southern 2662, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1971.

Wheeling and Lake Erie 2662, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1965 and Southwestern Pennsylvanian GP40-2 3504. Elizabeth drove us to Sugarcreek to the Dutch Valley Restaurant for a very good dinner, after which we went into the town.

Wheeling and Lake Erie Sugarcreek station built in 1915.

The birth place of Sugarcreek sign. We drove to the Village Inn for the night where Elizabeth checked us in.

Our trailer for the night.

Caboose of unknown origin. We relaxed for the night here in preparation for our visit to the Age of Steam Roundhouse the next morning.