Steve Korpos likes to play with trains — huge steam engines and old dining cars, reconditioned red cabooses and seen-better-days freight haulers. Walking the yard with him outside the historic B&O Roundhouse in the Flats is an education. The structure was built in 1906, and 450 people once worked here, maintaining the train engines that ferried long-distance travelers across the country. For the past year, Korpos has managed operations for the Midwest Railway Preservation Society that calls the space home, working to restore the building and the more than two-dozen train cars the organization owns. "I just came to an open house," says Korpos, a Ford Motor Co. retiree who joined the group in 2009. "I was getting bored. I wanted something to do."
The nearly 60-year-old nonprofit organization still hosts open-house events several times a year. The next one is May 18, and a suggested $5 donation offers the opportunity to peer into the past. Visitors can learn about the old railcars stored outside and check out the huge 1918 GTW 4070 steam locomotive featured in the film The Natural that's being refurbished in one of the Roundhouse stalls.
Like the trains, the Roundhouse is a work in progress. Korpos says stalls six through 10 must undergo a major renovation in the next five years, and the group handles a full slate of contract restoration and repair work for others to help finance their ongoing fight against the elements and time.
"There's constant maintenance, because they're outside all the time," says Korpos, looking down the long line of railcars. "Just like a house." 2800 W. Third St., Cleveland, midwestrail.org