BRADFORD — Mention the town of Bradford and the first word that comes to mind is “railroad.”
Whether it be the official school moniker, Railroaders, or the earliest industry to be established, Bradford is synonymous with the railroad industry.
Bradford, founded in 1865, is named for Tom Bradford, a railroad official, and is situated at what was the intersections of Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St. Louis rail lines. Trains took on provisions and changed crews in Bradford.
With such a rich railroad history, it is only fitting that the town of just over 1,800 has a museum commemorating the legacy of its founders.
Dr. Marilyn Kosier, president of the Bradford Railroad Museum has been with the museum since its inception in 2004. Kosier, along with Exhibit Concepts, in Dayton, has developed a $460,000 conceptual plan for the museum and is working to bring the dream to reality.
As with all organizations, funding is an ever-present worry.
Initial funding for the museum — which is housed in a former bank building at 200 N. Miami Ave., within sight of the former roundhouse that was the hub, literally, for trains across the eastern United States — was secured from then-State Rep. Diana Fessler.
A capital improvement grant from the state of Ohio, spearheaded by then-State Representative Dr. Richard Adams, totalling $275,000, was approved in 2014. In order to secure the grant, the museum was tasked with funding the remaining $185,000.
Museum officials have secured $120,000, but still need $65,000 by June in order to keep the money in the grant and to make the dream a reality.
“We have to get PR here in Bradford to get this last $65,000,” said Kosier.
Kosier reached out to Edison Community College for assistance in using social media and other forms of communication to get the word out about the museum.
Edison stepped up to the plate and offered the project as a part of a senior Business Capstone project under instructors Ruth Barney and Sandra Streitennerger. Four students, Sheila Wyan, Kristi Comstock, Justine Ford and Beau Smedley, are working with Kosier to help publicize the need for funding and also to clean, organize, and get the museum ready for its Saturday, April 2 grand opening for the 2016 season. The theme for the season is “Mail by Rail.”
“We have a fellow coming by the name of Gary Levitt,” said Kosier. “On April 2, he will be giving a speech on mail by rail. He is with the Postal Museum in Delphos.”
Levitt also sits on the board of the Ohio History Alliance. Students from Bradford schools will also take part in the event, which is free and open to the public.
Kosier said that last year’s program on Abraham Lincoln was recognized by the Ohio History Alliance and they are hopeful that this year’s program will be just as successful.
The event will also recognize former railroaders and their families who still live in the area.
Also on the horizon for the museum is “Dining by Rail” on May 7, to help raise funds for capital improvements.
For more information regarding the Bradford Ohio Railroad Museum and upcoming events, visit bradfordrrmuseum.org
Reach Mike Ullery at [email protected]