22nd Jun, 2010

Train Day 2010

The boys at Cleveland Metroparks Train Day 2010I took the boys to Train Day on Saturday, a fun annual event hosted by the Cleveland Metroparks’ Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation in Cuyahoga Heights.

This event is very nicely done, and the two times we’ve been previously, the traffic has been crazy—prepare to park on the entrance road itself or in an overflow parking lot, unless you get there during a slow period. We lucked out this year and arrived about 2:30 (the event ran from 10-4), finding a great spot close in.

Most everything at Train Day is free, the only notable exceptions being food and drinks and a goofy little trainlike vehicle ride that costs $1.

We skipped the ride and went straight for the model railroad exhibits, which are located at several different places on the grounds of the park, as well as inside the visitor center. Wandering further afield, attendees can check out an entire (impressive!) Lego train exhibit, complete with skyscraper, hotel, church, airport and other city mainstays.

One of the most creative and different parts of this event is the hobo trail. Organizers set up signs with hobo signals along the meandering pathway from the visitor center to the canal. The challenge is to guess what the various graphics mean, and you can lift little placards to discover the answers. Along the pathway are volunteers dressed up as hobos, cooking stone soup, playing harmonicas, singing old railroading songs or just telling stories. Josh (9) was pleasantly surprised by this part of the event, and reported it to be his favorite part of the day. (He hadn’t remembered it from previous times, but he was a good bit younger then.)

Old, rusted railroad crossing at Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation.So, you may read this and think, “Well, that’s all good, but now we have to wait until June 2011 for the next installment.” That’s true, but I’d still suggest a visit to the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation. This small park, just NW of the intersection of I-480 and I-77, is fascinating. It’s a wooded oasis in the heart of Cleveland’s industrial valley, and it is easy to forget that you’re in the midst of a huge metropolitan area from some parts. From others, huge industrial buildings hulk in the distance, presenting an interesting juxtaposition.

The visitor center is beautifully done and gives a nice perspective on the valley, the canal, and the industrial workings of the area. Take the main path toward the canal, and you’ll encounter some great displays of objects that kids may not pay attention to—railroad crossing gates, electrical transformers, sewer pipes. Read about what they do and how they work and why they are a part of the fabric of the city. And then look up to see the same items in the distance in action. It’s really well done.

There is also fishing available near (or in?) the canal, but we didn’t investigate that. We hadn’t thought to bring any of our fishing gear—and it was a very hot, humid 86 degrees!

Leave a response

Your response: