Winter Speaker Series

The Roundhouse may be closed for the cold winter months, but we are welcoming a lineup of knowledgeable presenters sure to please any offseason visitor with discussions on a variety of railroad topics.  Join us at the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum throughout the offseason for our Winter Speaker Series in the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum Depot Visitor Center scheduled in early 2023. 

Thursday February 9, 2023 at 6PM – A Look Back at Ohio Central Excursions with Marty Surdyk

Join us at the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum for an evening with Mr. Marty Surdyk. Listen to a presentation on past Ohio Central excursions that were conducted by the late Museum Founder, Jerry Jacobson, during his time building and operating the Ohio Central Railroad in the 90’s and 2000’s.

Thursday March 9, 2023 at 6PM – Engineering Tragedy: The Ashtabula Bridge Disaster

Join us on Thursday, March 9th, 2023 at 6:00pm for our winter speakers series when we show the national PBS documentary film “Engineering Tragedy: The Ashtabula Train Disaster”.  You will be able to meet the producers and directors and even some of the actors!

Some of the film was shot at the Age of Steam Roundhouse using former McCloud River Railroad #9 as the stand in for both of the steam locomotives in different scenes.

The Ashtabula train disaster and bridge collapse was the worst train disaster of the 19th century, claiming the lives of 97 people. The engineering and structural failures that caused the collapse of a bridge that stood for over a decade, also took down the most luxurious train of the day, “The Pacific Express #5.” The accident happened during a raging blizzard sending the luxury train crashing 70-feet into a river gorge and costing the lives of 97 people. The disaster shocked the nation, yet it’s a story that’s been lost in the pages of history. This disaster became a rallying cry for regulation and change between big business, the public, and the federal government.


In a strange twist of fate and intrigue, the bridge disaster also became the backdrop to the still unsolved murder of Charles Collins, the railroad’s chief engineer. It also contributed to the eventual suicide of millionaire Amasa Stone, the president of the railroad and the designer and builder of the bridge.

This documentary explores the events surrounding the disaster that occurred in Ashtabula, Ohio on December 29, 1876. We will cover the engineering, construction, and collapse of the Ashtabula Bridge; the treacherous conditions that hampered the rescue attempts of trapped passengers; the heroes surrounding this event, including America’s first African-American telegraph operator; and the ensuing investigations that prompted new national safety standards for the railroads. After this disaster public outcry forced states to pass new bridge building standards and inspection laws that apply even today.

This documentary is 2-hours long, is very cinematic, and uses actors, historians and a narrator to bring this story to life.

The Winter Speaker Series lectures are held in the Roundhouse Depot and do not include a tour of the Roundhouse itself.