Welcome to the Crestline PRR Engine Facility

Preserving the Roundhouse

Last Update to This Page: May 6, 2007

Please come back to this page often to keep up with the most recent news about the preservation of the roundhouse. I will keep it current as news becomes available.

Please visit The Crestline Roundhouse Preservation Society's official web site at http://WWW.crestlineroundhouse.org/.

Preservation Index


The Crestline Roundhouse Preservation Society

Current Happenings

March 4, 2002
March 27, 2002
July 1, 2002
August 19, 2002
November 30, 2002
February 15, 2003
February 7, 2004
July 18, 2004
May 6, 2007

Become a Member of The Crestline Roundhouse Preservation Society, Inc.
A 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization

Historical Collections of The C. R. P. S.

Join The C. R. P. S.

membership form


The Crestline Engine Facilities were built in 1918-1920, being designed by the Pennsylvania Railroad and constructed by the Austin Company of Cleveland, Ohio. It was located roughly mid-way between Pittsburgh and Chicago, MP 189, and was the division point between the Eastern and Ft. Wayne Divisions.

These facilities were very important to the PRR and the City of Crestline. The PRR was by far the largest employer in town, and had a significant effect on the City's economy. Of this once huge and bustling complex, all that is left is the remains of the roundhouse. For this, we must consider ourselves fortunate, as for most former engine facilities across the nation, they exisist only in memories and photographs.

As evidenced by photographs of the roundhouse, it has received minimal maintenance over the course of its life. The PRR defered maintenance unless it was of major import, such as when an errant engine crashed through a wall or fell into the turntable pit. When it closed in 1968, many windows were broken out, doors to the stalls were in extemely poor condition or non-exisistant, and the outer masonry walls and the wooden window frames were suffering from the effects of weather. Since its closing, the subsequent private owners have done virtually no maintenance to it at all.

As time marches on, the roundhouse continues to deteriorate exponentialy. The concrete cornices are erroding, the mortar on the outer wall is failing in a major way and large cracks have appeared, and entire sections of brick are falling off the building. As the roof continues to leak, the floor, foundations, and roof trusses are in danger. Fortunately, the steel framework and the roof trusses are still in excellent condition. According to a structural engineer, all the steel work needs is sand blasting and a good coat of paint.

As the roundhouse sat unattended and forgotten, one man had a vision, and still has that vision today. That person is Ron Widman, who had an uncle who worked at the roundhouse. He has many vivid memories of it as a child growing up in Bucyrus, Ohio, 12 miles west of Crestline. His dream is to see the roundhouse preserved and put back into a useful entity, for the City of Crestline and for railfans everywhere, and to tell the colorful story it holds within its walls.

In May, 2000, he sent an application (with supporting documents and photographs) to the Ohio Historic Preservation Office for them to consider placing the roundhouse on the National Register of Historic Places. On August 10, 2000, Mr. Widman receives dissapointing word from the OHPO, the application was rejected. Note that in the second paragraph, it states "...it is still an important local historic property and is certainly worthy of continued preservation efforts."

With this advice still fresh in his mind, Mr. Widman submitted a second application. This time he sent a nomination to the National Trust for Historic Preservation for consideration for placement on America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list. This was in January, 2001. And again, in June, 2001, Mr. Widman receives the bad news.

Ron and I have been in communication with each other since the summer of 2000, thanks to Catherine Hoffman, President of the Crestline Historical Society. We had been commiserating about the plight of the roundhouse and sharing our research material. In May, 2001, I had the pleasure of meeting Ron in person. This was at the annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society. It was here that Ron presented a well received slide show about the Crestline roundhouse to the Society .

The rest of 2001 was a discouraging time for us concerning the preservation of the roundhouse. Since all previous efforts to save the roundhouse had failed, I decieded to do this web site, to remember what the Crestline engine facilities once were, to share what I have learned about it, and to bring a forgotten PRR gem to other's awareness.


On March 23, 2002, an organizational meeting was held in Crestline, Ohio with the purpose of establishing a formal group dedicated to the preservation of the PRR roundhouse in Crestline, and The Crestline Roundhouse Preservation Society was established. At this meeting, a Mission Statement was adopted and officers were elected. In subsequent meetings, a Board of Directors was elected, By-Laws adopted, a membership form adopted, and an application has been sent to the State of Ohio for incorporation, and on July 1, 2002, The C.R.P.S. received a certificate from the Ohio Secretary of State stating that the C.R.P.S. is a non-profit corporation in the State of Ohio. The next step is to send an application to the IRS for non-profit status as an IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. The 501(C)(3) application has been sent to the IRS, and on May 10, 2004, word was received that The C.R.P.S. is now recognized as a tax-exempt organization. Also, on May 18, 2004, the roundhouse was placed on the Ohio Preservation Alliance's 2004 List of 10 Most Endangered List. Work continues to move forward, with the purchase of the roundhouse as the next big step.

If you are interested in helping with the preservation efforts of The C.R.P.S. and would like to join, you will find a membership form on their website. You may also contact the C.R.P.S. by e-mail for more information. We welcome anyone to join.


March 4, 2002

There is a renewed interest in the roundhouse. Some Crestline High School students did a research project on the roundhouse and built a model out of popsicle sticks. It is currently on display at the Crestline Public Library. It is really good to see the younger generation taking an interest in the Crestline's past. For these students, they have not seen the roundhouse in operation, it is only a relic from the past.

There is a new effort being launched to save the roundhouse. A small group of intrested and dedicated people have decided to form a non-profit group, whose aim is to raise awareness, seek funding, and hopefully, to stablize and restore the roundhouse, and will be working in concert with the City of Crestline. This group, yet to be named, will hold their first meeting in Crestline towards the end March, 2002. This group of people is spread out geographically, from Maryland to Iowa, with a core group from the central Ohio area. Spread out though they may be, they all have a common interest and goal. This will not be an easy task, it will require the support of the people of Crestline, and others from where ever they may be.

The City of Crestline is currently wrapping up a feasibility study that deals with Roundhouse reuse/redevelopment. It will consist of a structural analysis of the Roundhouse by an engineer, proposed layout of the Roundhouse and surrounding acreage, a market analysis of what to do with the property, and an artist's rendering of the proposed facility. The scope of the feasibility study was developed through the course of several meetings and conversations that were held between the City, the owner of the roundhouse and one of his business partners, and the City's consultants. The feasibility study is being funded, in part, by a grant from the United States Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA).

All of the past and current efforts to save the roundhouse has the support of its present owner, Mr. Denver Roof. He realizes the importance that roundhouse had in the past and could have in the future, and knows that it is a building worthy of preservation.

March 27, 2002

An organizational meeting of parties interested in preserving the 1920's era PRR roundhouse in Crestline, Ohio was held 3-23-02 at the Crestline Public Library at 1pm. Approximately 25 people attended and ranged in age from pre-teen through senior citizen. Rail fans came from as far as New York and Iowa. People introduced themselves and told why they were interested in the roundhouse.

Ron Widman of Columbus, Ohio led the informal meeting and Stephen Marek passed out a tentative agenda for the meeting. The first item was to approve a mission statement. Officers were elected as follows: Ron Widman, president, Matthew Link, vice president (Galion, Ohio), Laurie Hoffman, secretary (Crestline, Ohio), and Stephen Marek, treasurer (Crestline, Ohio). The formal name of the group was voted on and will be known as The Crestline Roundhouse Preservation Society.

The present owner of the property, Denver Roof, is willing to contact an attorney about the steps necessary in becoming a non-profit agency. Gene Toy, representing the City of Crestline, gave an overview of the Feasibility Study, commissioned by the City, and presented an artist's rendering of the roundhouse. All present were asked if they were interested in being on the Board of Trustees, and 13 are pending consideration. The next meeting will be announced in the Crestline Advocate. The meeting closed and interested parties met at the roundhouse.

July 1, 2002

The Crestline Roundhouse Preservation Society has been quite active since the last up-date to this page. They have held regular monthly meetings at the Crestline Public Library on April 27, 2002 (an officer's meeting), May 18, 2002 and June 15, 2002, where the public was invited to attend. The next meeting is scheduled for July 20, 2002.

At these meetings, several items concerning the internal workings of the Society were discussed and approved. These included the election of a Board of Directors, adoption of Bylaws, and the adoption of a membership form on their website. It was decided that the annual membership dues would be $24. Membership dues can be mailed to: The Crestline Roundhouse Preservation Society, Inc. P.O. Box 424 Crestline, Ohio USA 44827-0424

On May 30, the CRPS received their IRS Employee Identification Number, the first step towards becoming a non-profit organization. The second step towards this goal was taken June 22, when the Initial Articles of Incorporation for a non-profit organization were sent to the State of Ohio. Once this has been approved, the final step will be to file with the IRS for non-profit status under IRS 501(c)(3).

On June 10, CRPS Vice President Matt Link and Treasurer Steve Marek met with the Executive Director of the Ohio Preservation Alliance, Mr. Thomas Palmer. The purpose of the meeting was to gain some insight and advice on how to proceed with the goals of the Society's mission of preserving the roundhouse. This was a very positive meeting, a number of topics were discussed. Among them were the ownership of the roundhouse and how this would affect obtaining grant monies, having an independent structural engineer assess the condition of the roundhouse, and the ability to survive financially in the future as pertaining to its end use.

During the past couple of months, The CRPS was concidering applying for a grant to be used toward repairing the roof. It was decided to not apply for two basic reasons. The CRPS does not currently meet one of the requirements for the grant, namely non-profit status, and since the deadline for applying is the end of June, meeting the non-profit requirement in time is not possible. The other reason is the question of ownership. This is a topic that has just begun to be discussed.

On July 1, 2002, The C.R.P.S. received a certificate from the Ohio Secretary of State, J. Kenneth Blackwell, stating that The Crestline Roundhouse Preservation Society is a non-profit corporation in the State of Ohio. This step brings the C.R.P.S. one step closer to being recognized as an IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.

On July 4, the Crestline Historical Society will hold an Open House, and the CRPS will take part in it, with displays showing the work that they are doing, and talk about the progress already made, and plans for the near future.

August 19, 2002

The July 4th celebrations in Crestline were a great success! The C.R.P.S., along with the Crestline Historical Society, held an Open House at the Shunk Museum. Many people stopped by to chat and catch up with the activities of The C.R.P.S. The Society handed out Membership Forms and had some returned with membership dues. Copies of the new book by Paul C. Dietz, "Firing on the Pennsy" were on sale. Mr. Dietz was a fireman on the PRR from 1943-1947, firing many different classes of engines between Crestline and Pittsburgh, and kept all his personal record books from those years. Using these sources and his memory, he has put together an interesting collection of stories from his experience, and included many of his own photographs. If you are interested in more information or purchasing a copy of this book, you may contact Catherine Hoffman, President of the Crestline Historical Society at 1-419-683-3335.

It is well known that the Crestline PRR roundhouse is in a state of rapid deterioration. It was reported by Ron Widman, C.R.P.S. President, that in mid July, a portion of the brick wall on the west end of the roundhouse on stall #30 had fallen to the ground. Although this photograph pre-dates the recent collapse, it can be easily seen where and why the brick wall has failed. This is further evidence that if the roundhouse is to be stablized and restored, the time frame in which this can be accomplished is diminishing!

The C.R.P.S. held their regular monthly meeting on July 20. Several new committees were formed as follows:

  • Membership: Laurie Hoffman, Chairman, Adam Link
  • Historical: Matt Link, Chairman, Earl Myers, Don Narris
  • Finance and Budget: Steve Marek, Chairman, Matt Link, Adam Link, Cheryl Pete
  • Executive Committee: Ron Widman, Chairman, Matt Link, Steve Marek, Laurie Hoffman
  • Environmental Committee: Matt Link, Chairman, Earl Myers

The issue of environmental contamination is being examined. Matt Link has contacted a former employee at the North Carolina Transportation Museum ,who is knowledgable on this matter. Matt will present a report at the next C.R.P.S. meeting. The membership discussed soil contamination and how much contamination might be on the property owned by Mr. Roof. Several drawings and plot maps were obtained by Steve Marek from the Crawford County Engineers Office and were reviewed. This information seems to indicate that the probable areas of contamination are not located on Roundhouse property. These areas are, according to the City of Crestline, owned by the Conrail Corp. and are within the city corporation limits. The newly formed Environmental Committee will contact Mr. Eric Swanson, of RNT, Inc., Grand Rapids, MI for advice on how to proceed.

The PRR logo was again discussed and it is felt that since the company no longer exists and that there are no TM (trademark) or R (registered) marks seen in any usage, that it is free for the use, i.e., in the public domain. Discussion was also held about a lawsuit against a gentleman who claimed to own the rights to the logo, and was laughed out of court when he sued for unauthorized use of the PRR logo.

Congratulations to V. P. Matt Link and his wife, Tammy, on the birth of their daughter!

Due to vacations and other prior commitments, The C.R.P.S. will not meet in August. The next meeting will be held at the Crestline Public Library on September 14, 2002.

November 30, 2002

The C.R.P.S. planned to have their first fund raising project earlier this summer. However, due to the fact that it was summer, there were not enough volunteers to take part. The event was canceled.

After the Society was granted tax free status by the State of Ohio in July, Steve Marek, C.R.P.S. Treasurer, has been hard at work preparing the IRS 501(c)(3) tax exempt application and a projected three year budget. The IRS application is no easy task, it being several pages long and asking for specific information. He is making good progress, but still has more work to do before it is ready to submit.

Two proposed logos for The C.R.P.S. were submiitted to the membership for a vote to select the official Society logo. The winning logo was designed by member and graphics designer John Boals.

February 15, 2003

The C.R.P.S. has been continuing its planning for the Annual Meeting and Open House. More information can be found below. The membership in the Society has been growing, there are now 25 members in good standing.

Steve Marek is making good progress on the IRS 501(c)(3) application. He is gathering information and supporting attachments, and will have it ready for approval at the Annual Meeting.

Member Don Narris has created The Crestline Roundhouse Preservation Society's official web site. It is still in the construction stage, but it can be viewed at http://WWW.crestlineroundhouse.org/. Please take a look at it, you will find new and different information there.

The Crestline Roundhouse Preservation Society Annual Meeting and Open House

On March 15, 2003, The Crestline Roundhouse Preservation Society will hold its Annual Meeting and Open House at the Crestline Public Library, corner of Main and N. Thoman Streets. The Annual Meeting is scheduled for 10am and the Open House at 1pm. All members and anyone else are encouraged to attend. Among other items of business, Officers and Board of Directors will be elected. Although everyone is invited to the meeting, only members in good standing may vote.

The C. R. P. S. has been busy planning the Open House. There will be displays of PRR artifacts, historical PRR documents and maps, photographs, art works, items from the Crestline Historical Society, models of PRR locomotives, all having a direct connection to Crestline's railroad heritage. The program will have a slide show by C.R.P.S. President Ron Widman that will show the history of the Crestline Engine Facility, a presentation by Barb Wymer, a talk by former PRR employee Paul Beck, and another presentaion TBA. All are welcomed, and refreshments will be served.

This promises to be an exciting event! Please plan to attend, even if you are not from the Crestline area. This will be a perfect time to learn what The Crestline Roundhouse Presevation Society is all about and what they are doing, and a perfect time to volunteer your help in its efforts in any way you can.

February 7, 2004

The Crestline Roundhouse Preservation Society will celebrate its 3rd anniversary on March 20, 2004 at the Crestline Public Library, just south of McDonalds from Rt. #30 on Thoman Street. The festivities will begin with their business meeting at 10:30am and hold an Open House beginning at 1:00pm. The public is cordially invited to attend. There will be several informal talks concerning the PRR in Crestline, displays of PRR artifacts, photos, etc. There will also be refreshments. Of course, the roundhouse will be open for touring, so bring your camera. Crest tower still stands at the former Big Four crossing just south of downtown, and you can see that Crestline City Hall has a classic PRR switch lantern in chrome on top of the roof.

The CRPS has been very busy this past year, notably the completion and submission of the 501(c)(3) application, an application to the Ohio Preservation Alliance for listing on their Most Endangered List, and planning for the future of the roundhouse, the last remaining PRR "Lines West Type A" design.

This is the year for "PRR Lines West of Pittsburgh". In May, The PRRT&HS will hold its first ever Annual Meeting in Lines West territory, namely Cincinnati, OH. The Open House in Crestline is a perfect prelude to the PRRT&HS Meeting. Anyone who will be in the Crestline area on March 20 is most welcome to attend, and for others, please mark your calendar and make all efforts to attend. It's a great opportunity for "Lines Westers" to gather and share a day of PRR Glory. I promise that you will not be disappointed!

July 18, 2004

May was a month full of good news. On May 10, 2004, the Internal Revenue Service recognized The Crestline Roundhouse Preservation Society, Inc. as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. This is a major step forward, but certainly not the end of the road, it is only the beginning. Your donations to the C.R.P.S. are now tax deductable.

On the 18th of May, The Ohio Preservation Alliance placed the former PRR roundhouse at Crestline on their 2004 Ohio's Most Endangered List. Both of these accomplishments will further the CRPS's mission towards the preservation of the roundhouse.

Several weeks ago, The CRPS received a donation of several boxes of PRR documents and other papers pertaining to the facilities in Crestline. They are currently in the process of cataloging the contents.

The CRPS website has gotten a new look and is now up to date. Please take some time to check it out at http://crestlineroundhouse.org/. There are some nice photos, articles, current news and more.

A lot of good and positive news. But the CRPS is still hopeful that they can purchase the roundhouse, the next big hoop to jump through. Negotiations are currently in progress. There is much work to do, and we would be appreciative of any helpful tips and ideas you have based on your experiences in preservation efforts.

Join The Crestline Roundhouse Preservation Society

Please consider joining the Crestline Roundhouse Preservation Society. You don't have to be local to Crestline to take part, there are members in New York and as far away as California and The Netherlands. As an active member, you can take part in the planning of the roundhouse's future and you are entitled to vote at the annual membership meeting. Membership is only $24.00 per year. If you are interested in joining and helping with the preservation efforts, you will find a membership form on their website.

Monthly meetings are held the third Saturday of each month at 1pm at the Crestline Public Library, on the corner of Main and N. Thoman Streets, next to McDonald's.

Historical Collections of The C. R. P. S.

The C. R. P. S. has been collecting memorabilia and video taping interviews with former roundhouse workers. They now have a growing collection of maps, employee timetables, photographs, PRR collectables, rule books, and many other items of interest.

If you have anything that you would like to donate, or present your own personal experience of once having worked at the roundhouse, or have stories you have heard from family members who worked there, please contact The C.R.P.S. by e-mail or regular mail:

The Crestline Roundhouse Preservation Society, Inc.
P.O. Box 424
Crestline, Ohio USA 44827-0424

As a tax-exempt organization, your donations may be tax deductable.

May 6, 2007 Roundhouse Demolition

Over the past five years The C.R.P.S has had countless meetings and phone conversations with roundhouse owner Mr. Roof and his apparent business partner Bill Hoch. They have proposed a reasonable offer and a comprehensive purchase agreement in 2004, which Mr. Roof deemed insulting and unworthy of response. At no time during this period did Mr. Roof counter our offer or propose a selling price of his own.

Mr. Roof contacted us around last Christmas (2006), but again he would not say what the selling price was. After several attempts on our part to speak with him and secure a price, he announced that the demolition was a "done deal" the week of March 11. This news came to the attention of The C. R. P. S. in the form of rumors.

Mr. Roof came to The C.R.P.S. Annual Meeting on March 17 and told the Board of Directors that he had a demolition crew ready to go, a buyer for the steel and someone who would take all the brick and concrete. It was then that Mr. Roof gave them, for the first time, a formal selling price: for $350,000 he would sell us the property in lieu of scrapping it for steel.

Mr. Roof also said that he does not intend to tear down the office building, machine shop or the warehouse, however he has two offers from unnamed local businesses to purchase what is left.  He stated that our purchase price for the entire property remaining after demolition would be $250,000.


A motion was made at that time to purchase the roundhouse for $350,000; the motion failed. We also discussed purchasing a portion of the remaining property, and would like to continue these discussions once Mr. Roof has had it surveyed.  We still hope to come to an agreement to salvage something of this historic property as a permanent home for a museum honoring Crestline's railroad history.


The Society is of course well-aware of the costs associated with restoration of this type of property, and has engaged an experienced grants-writer to assist in seeking monies for this purpose.  However, this process cannot begin when the Society cannot secure the acquisition of the property.  It seems that despite his protestations to the contrary, Mr. Roof has viewed the roundhouse as an investment since he purchased it for $20,000 ten years ago.

Mr. Roof cited saftey and liability concerns. Demolition began on March 19, 2007. This continued over the next several weeks. At this date, all 30 stalls have been razied, as well as the powerhouse and fan house. However, the office, warehouse, and machine shop still stand. Time will tell if these remains of the once busy and important servicing facility of the PRR will remain standing.

As the preservation and museum efforts progress, this page will be up-dated. Please come back to keep up on the news as it becomes available.

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