Postcard donated by Donna Zintek
Moving “Railways of America” dining car from tracks to the museum near Ascot in Cuyahoga Falls on May 31, 1962.
1968 Akron Beacon Journal Article:
Railways of America, located north of Ascot Park beside Rt 8 on what looks like an oldtime railroad siding, is among the world’s largest and finest collections of operating train models.
It contains, count’em, some 250 locomotives, 400 passenger cars and 600 freight cars, all running ithin a genuine red brick station left over from the pioneer days of railroading.
It cost more than $400,000 to build over a three-year period.
It happened by accident, in a manner of speaking.
“When my son was still a youngster,” explained Mack Lowry, Railroad of America’s owner and developer, “I brought him a train set for Christmas. He didn’t get terribly interested, but I sure got the bug!”
That was 21 years ago. Whie the son, Lee, grew to manhood and went to work for Goodrich oblivious to the choo-choo madness, Mack began collecting, building, repairing models for himself.
The madness grew, and Mack began diverting large sums from his children’s clothing business into his hobby. By 1961, he knew models weren’t enough. He wanted the real thing, trains that once had burnished the rails across America. That’s how Railways was born.
Now Mack’s hands are covered with blisters from pounding railroad spikes ad laying additions to the 11,000 feet of model tracks within the museum behind his station, which once served the Pennsylvania Railroad in Bowling Green and comes complete with a potbelly stove and railroaders’ clock. The timber for his model tracks, incidentally, is sufficient to build a six-room house.
Gracing a large lot around his station and museum are full-sized locomotives, Pullman and dining cars bought or begged from railroads and brought to Akron in often hazardous operations.
They include two dining cars with their original, turn-of-the-century china sets, lounge and executive cars, and even the private coach belonging to a former Pennsy president, complete with bedrooms and baths. All of his display cars are air-conditioned and heated.
Mack’s hobby took him throughout the country in search of pieces, principally to the dwindling number of men who make train models by hand.
“At first no one wanted to sell me their replicas and souvenirs,” he said, “but when they began to realize I was serious about early lore of the rails, priceless pieces began arriving. The owners hoped my hobby would keep these things preserved for generations to come.”
Though Mack never hopes to get back all the money he has sunk into Railroads of America, he offers enough services to visitors so the rent never goes unpaid.
Besides a miniature train ride for children, which age group makes up the largest number of visitors, Mack offers dining cars with completely-equipped kitchens for dinner parties, executive cars with lounges and conference rooms for business meetings, and Pullman cars to families of railroad buffs for overnight stays.
“But one of my most popular exhibits,” he said, “is the old station. Folks, particularly old ladies, just like to come in and relax. They sit around for a long time, probably dreaming about great era of railroading they all knew, and that they’ll never see outside again.”
Story written by Helen Waterhouse for the Akron Beacon Journal – December 20, 1964.