Trains and planes galore

John Gummo briefs audience on locomotive history at fly-in luncheon

Kathryn Kline / The Express Guest speaker John Gummo and Lock Haven Kiwanis Club President Lisa Bangson stand in front of Gummo’s model locomotive trains after the luncheon at the Piper Aviation Museum.

LOCK HAVEN — Local members of the Lock Haven Kiwanis and Rotary clubs, and guests, gathered in the Piper Aviation Museum hangar for their annual luncheon during the Sentimental Journey Fly-In.

John Gummo, local train enthusiast, along with his wife and daughter, were special guests at the meeting, where he enthralled the audience with his discussion of locomotive history — from the Civil War to current day.

Accompanying Gummo’s speech was a slideshow, which consisted of old pictures of railroads across the country during their prime.

Food, drinks, and other refreshments were also provided for the more than 40 guests that attended the luncheon.

Gummo was introduced by Cal Arter, fly-in volunteer, who thanked Gummo for attending and for all that he does for the community.

What is the relevance of trains to the Sentimental Journey Fly-In or Piper Aircraft Co.?

Well, railroads were quite important for Piper during its hey-day, delivering parts for planes and other materials necessary for manufacturing aircraft, Gummo explained.

During his speech, Gummo also honored the 150 year anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad – one of the most influential events in America’s history that forever altered manufacturing, travel, communication, and so many other aspects of life.

The golden spike was hammered into the final tie on May 10, 1869 at Promontory Summit, Utah.

“In seven years, workers built 1,869 miles of rail. At the end, when the golden spike was put in, one word was sent through telegraph across the world – ‘done’,” Gummo said.

Gummo discussed the importance of the Union Pacific Big Boy, the world’s largest steam locomotive, which still exists today — that saved crew costs during the Great Depression.

Other highlights included Gummo’s story of the town of Dennison, Ohio — a railroad town “similar to Renovo” — that reflects the helpful and determined nature of our country.

Dennison became the hotspot for troop trains to stop during WWII, with as many as 15 to 20 trains per day stopping in the town, according to Gummo.

“Red Cross and Salvation Army workers came together so that every soldier that stopped to get off the train in Dennison was handed coffee, sandwiches, and donuts by young ladies in white,” Gummo said. “That food was all contributed by the region. This story tells us about the spirit of America and how the railroads played a major part in winning the war.”

In addition, thousands of locomotives were shipped across seas to support the war effort, explained Gummo.

Gummo also made a point to acknowledge locomotive history here in Lock Haven.

“The original Lock Haven station, which is the Castanea station, is still standing,” Gummo said. “If you haven’t seen it for awhile, I suggest you do that to support our region and the efforts of our community.”

Gummo gratefully addressed Kiwanis and Rotary club members specifically toward the end of his speech.

“Thank you for all you do in your service clubs. It’s wonderful that you commit yourselves the way you do to the community,” Gummo said.

Gummo was also involved in organizing the model trains that are set up on the third floor of the Piper Aviation Museum, which are on display through Saturday — so if you want a little taste of locomotive history while taking a short break from the fly-in, make sure to stop by the museum this week.