Posts Tagged ‘Akron Railroad Club’

ARRC Sets Early 2022 Program Slate

January 6, 2022

The Akron Railroad Club has announced its program slate for the first three months of 2022.

The Jan. 28 meeting will feature a program by David Mangold, a long-time railroader and ARRC member who recently worked as a locomotive engineer on the Rocky Mountaineer in Colorado.

Mangold also has worked for Amtrak, Conrail, Norfolk Southern and Canadian National among other companies.

The Feb. 25 meeting will feature video from Ron McElrath reviewing Amtrak operations over the past 50 years.

McElrath operates a video company known as Revelation Video and has released a two-hour program titled Amtrak 50.

He was to have presented his program at the November ARRC meeting but that fell through due to a schedule conflict.

In March, the ARRC will hold its annual member’s night and pizza party on Saturday, March 26. The event is normally held in March but moved to October in 2021 due to meeting cancellations prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

All meetings are held at the New Horizons Christian Church in Akron at 290 Darrow Road.

The January and February meetings will begin at 8 p.m. while the March meeting will start at 5:30 p.m.

There will be a $5 cover charge for the member’s night event to defray the cost of pizzas and beverages.

Mastromatteo Service Set for Dec. 21

December 12, 2021

A memorial service for James John “Jim” Mastromatteo will be held Dec. 21 at 1 p.m. at Spring Grove Cemetery Chapel, 785 E. Washington St., in Medina.

Mr. Mastromatteo, a long-time Akron Railroad Club member and former club secretary, died Nov. 14 of heart failure.

He was born May 25, 1961, in Ravenna, the son of Frank and Norma (nee Presley) Mastromatteo.

Mr. Mastromatteo is survived by a half-brother, half-brother, John (Patricia) Firby of Diamond, Ohio; and two nieces and nephews, Heather (Jim) Young of Lake Milton, Edward (Chrissy) Firby of Lordstown; and Scott David Firby of Southern Pines, North Carolina.

Arrangements are being handled by Newcomer Funeral Home of Akron.

ARRC End of Year Dinner is Saturday

November 29, 2021

The Akron Railroad Club will hold its final event of 2021 on Saturday when it conducts the annual end of year dinner.

The event will be held at the New Era restaurant at 10 Massillon Road on the east side of Akron.

It will begin with a cocktail hour starting at 5 p.m. with dinner orders being taken between 5:45 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Attendees will order from the restaurant’s menu and are responsible for paying for all food and beverages that they consume and a gratuity for the server. The ARRC is not collecting any money for the event.

The restaurant’s menu can be viewed at

The program will be digital images presented by Jerry Jordak of Macedonia. His program is titled A Railfan’s Life: My Life Trackside Behind the Camera.

Jerry has traveled extensively over the years, particularly in North East Ohio and the Eastern United States.

Many of the images he is likely to present were made during an annual trip he makes with two friends in the fall in connection with attending the Penn Central Historical Society convention.

Known as the “bogus adventure,” the trio explores the railroads in the region where the convention is being held.

Jerry has presented to the ARRC in the past, including a program at the December 2010 banquet focusing on his travels to document railroads that run parallel to or intersect U.S. Route 66 between Chicago and Los Angeles.

He also has presented at Summerail and his photographs have appeared in various railfan magazines and books.

Due to limited seating in the banquet room of the New Era restaurant, the end of year dinner will be limited to 40 attendees.

Reservations can be made by contacting Bill Kubas (330-928-7025 or or David Kachinko (440-537-6487 or

Program Changed for ARRC Meeting

November 23, 2021

The program for the November Akron Railroad Club meeting has been changed.

The program at the Nov. 26 meeting will now be presented by Todd Dillon who plans to show digital images of Amtrak operations, Nickel Plate Road 765 on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, Chicago Metra commuter trains and other rail images.

Ron McElrath had been scheduled to present a program titled Amtrak at 50, but it will now be shown at the February 2022 meeting.

The ARRC meeting will begin at 8 p.m. at the New Horizons Christian Church in Akron.

Officers for 2022 will also be elected during the business portion of the meeting with nominations being made from the floor.

Further details have also been released about the ARRC’s Dec. 4 end of year dinner.

The event is limited to 40 attendees and reservations are required. The dinner will begin at 5 p.m. at the New Era Restaurant at 10 Massillon Road in Akron.

The program is being presented by Jerry Jordak and is titled  My Life Trackside Behind The Camera.

Jordak is a member of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Conrail, and Anthracite Historical Societies and serves as a trustee and was a founding member of the Penn Central Historical Society.

He has photographed extensively the railroad operations of Northeast Ohio and in the eastern United States, particularly in Pennsylvania.

ARRC to Celebrate 50 Years of Amtrak

November 22, 2021

Fifty years of Amtrak will be the focus of the program at this month’s Akron Railroad Club meeting.

Ron McElrath will present video made over the years of Amtrak operations on and off the trains.

The club will meet on Friday (Nov. 26) at 8 p.m. at the New Horizons Christian Church, 290 Darrow Road, in Akron.

The meeting will begin with a short business meeting followed by the program at approximately 8:30 p.m. During the business meeting officers will be elected for 2022.

Following the meeting, some members gather at the Denny’s restaurant at 1681 Home Avenue in Cuyahoga Falls for a late dinner, dessert or an early breakfast.

The club also has announced that Jerry Jordak will be the presenter at the annual end of year dinner to be held Dec. 4 at the New Era restaurant in Akron.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. at the restaurant located at 10 Akron Road in Akron. Attendees will order from the menu and be responsible for paying for their food and drink.

Jordak, of Macedonia, is a well-known and respected railroad photographer who is best known for his work in capturing rail operations in Northeast Ohio and the eastern United States.

Remembering ‘Big Jimmy’

November 19, 2021

Jim Mastromatteo at the Feb. 26, 2017, Akron Railroad Club member’s night.

He was known as Jimmy, Big Jimmy and, most of the time, Jim.

Jim Mastromatteo died last Sunday at age 60 after being stricken with heart failure during a model railroad show in Akron.

His death was a shock yet not surprising given his history of health issues.

A notice posted on his Facebook page announcing his death noted he had lived in an assisted living facility for the past year and a half and had been in declining health.

A longtime fixture of the Akron Railroad Club, Jim served as club secretary between 2017 and 2020.

We will remember Jim for how much he enjoyed photographing trains, his affection for the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway, and his interest in railroad history.

He was knowledgeable about locomotives and could rattle off details about them, including the railroad for which an older locomotive had been built and if it had been a unique model for that carrier.

Jim had a reputation of being a locomotive roster photographer, yet when he offered to allow me to use some of his photographs in two of my railroad history books I found a number of action and environmental images in his collection.

Some of those appeared in my second Akron Railroads book and in my book about the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

Jim would show his photographs at ARRC meetings but was not a regular presenter.

On his Facebook page, Jim wrote that he enjoyed “music; laughing; photography,’ railroads, [and] watching football, hockey, baseball and soccer.”

He served as secretary-treasurer of the General Alvin C. Voris Camp Number 67 Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War group and was an associate member of the General James Longstreet Camp Number 1652 Sons of the Confederate Veterans of the Civil War group.

He was secretary at the Tallmadge Civil War Society as well as a member of the Kent Civil War Roundtable.

His interest in the Civil War is interesting to me because as a history major while a college undergraduate I had focused on the Civil War period, a carryover from all the Civil War battlefields I visited during family vacations during my childhood.

I can only wonder what conversations Jim and I could have had about the Civil War.

Aside from the ARRC, Jim belonged to the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts, Northern Ohio Railway Museum, Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, Nickel Plate Road Historical and Technical Society, Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Historical Society, Akron Canton & Youngstown Railroad Historical Society, Erie Lackawanna Historical Society, Orrville Railroad Heritage Society and the Ohio Museum of Transportation.

The last contact I had with Jim was in early 2020 when he called to talk about railroad operations in Indiana.

Jim had developed an affinity for the Indiana Rail Road and he, Ron McElrath, Richard Thompson and Richard Antibus were planning a trip to Indiana in late spring or early summer to see the INRD among other rail operations.

We also chatted about what he had been up to and his plans to get an apartment after having sold the house he had lived in for years in Akron on North Hill.

Jim had been born in Ravenna and graduated from Ravenna High School in 1979 but Akron had been his home for much of his life.

I don’t know if that Indiana trip ever came about. At the time Jim was in a rehabilitation facility after having had surgery the previous August.

There are many stories about Jim that have made the rounds within the ARRC over the years. One of the most often told was about an accident that happened on May 11, 1997.

Jim and many other ARRC members had tickets to ride a Carl Franz photo special on the Cass Scenic Railroad in West Virginia.

During a photo runby at Back Mountain Road, Franz informed Marty Surdyk there had been an emergency involving Jim, J. Gary Dillon and Corey Jackson.

The three of them were traveling in Jim’s car when Jim missed turning for a curve, ran off the road and clipped a house. The Corsica rolled over onto its roof.

Miraculously, none of the car’s occupants was seriously injured. After that accident, Jim let his driver’s license lapse and never drove again.

Consequently, he had to rely on the generosity of others to take him railfanning and to railroad club events.

ARRC member Steve McMullen told another story of how he and Jim were riding in that Chevy Corsica on back roads near Massillon when the car got stuck in the mud.

Steve said he crawled out through a window and ran over to ask a nearby farmer working a backhoe for help. The farmer used a chain and his backhoe to pull the car out.

There were times when Jim acted in ways that were not in his best interest and we’ll remember those, too.

After Jim’s death, former ARRC member Richard Thompson wrote on Jim’s Facebook page, “It’s crazy what a staple in your life people like him can become. You don’t realize it until they’re gone.”

ARRC member Steve McMullen shared a similar sentiment, saying he was 15 when he met Jim and is 41 now. Rich, now 28, said he was 14 when he met Jim and has thus known him for half of his life.

He credited Jim with teaching him much of what he knows about the railroads of the Ravenna, Kent, and Akron areas.

The two often spoke by phone, Rich wrote, and now he wishes he had been able to talk with Jim one more time.

Rich has created a 40-minute tribute to Jim on his YouTube channel featuring video made of W&LE trains around Akron during the many outings he had with Jim.

It can be viewed at

I’ll let Jim have the last word in this remembrance by quoting from one of his last posting on Facebook, dated Feb. 25, 2018. And posted below are a series of images including ARRC group photos taken during various outings that Jim attended.

“I’ve noticed that there is a pattern in my life that most of the things I like the most tend to be older than me: Things that were a bit ahead of my time, such as trains of the 1950s/1960s, TV shows, and movies, among other things.

“Some, but certainly not all, of my friends are also older than me. And, of course, one of the biggest things in my life is music, and all of my favorite artists are in their 60s or 70s, if they’re even still alive at all. I don’t attend many concerts, but usually when I do, I’m not the youngest but am among the youngest in attendance.”

Jim’s Corsica is shown the day after being involved in a rollover accident in West Virginia. (Photographs by Edward Ribinskas)
An ARRC group photograph at Cassandra, Pennsylvania, on Aug. 29, 2004, shows Jim Mastromatteo as third from right. Second from right is the late Dave McKay, who was in his last year as ARRC president and would pass away in December.
ARRC members at Cassandra on Aug. 28, 2011. Jim is second from left.
ARRC members and guests during the longest day outing to Marion on June 23, 2013. Jim is shown in the back row at far right.
The group photo at Dave McKay Day in Berea on April 6, 2013. Jim is second from right standing behind J. Gary Dillon (seated).

ARRC Member Jim Mastromatteo Dies at 60

November 15, 2021

Long-time Akron Railroad Club member and former officer Jim Mastromatteo, 60, died Sunday of heart failure.

Jim had been working at the table of ARRC member Ron McElrath at a local model railroad show when he got up to walk around the show and collapsed.

He served as ARRC secretary between 2016 and 2020. More information will be posted as it becomes available.

ARRC Pizza Party is Tonight

October 23, 2021

The Akron Railroad Club will hold its annual member’s night and pizza party tonight starting at 5:45 p.m.

The event is being held in the fellowship hall of the New Horizons Christian Church at 290 Darrow Road in Akron.

Pizza will be served at 6:30 p.m. with the member’s night programs getting underway at 7 p.m.

There is a $5 cover charge to dray the cost of the pizza and beverages. There will be no business meeting this month.

Those attending are encouraged to bring non alcoholic beverages and snacks to share.

Attendees who plan to show photographs should have their images ready to present on a USB drive. If showing slides, they should be pre-loaded in carousel trays.

Presentations should be limited to 10 to 12 minutes or about 35 to 45 images.

A notice sent to club members via email this week noted that the church requires facial masks to be worn inside the building except when eating food or drinking beverages.

ARRC Member’s Night Set for Oct. 23

October 18, 2021

After an absence of more than a year the Akron Railroad Club will be reviving its annual member’s night event.

It is slated for Saturday Oct. 23 at the club meeting site in the social hall of the New Horizons Christian Church in Akron at 290 Darrow Road.

Members are invited to show slides or digital images. Those presenting are asked to limit their program to 10 to 13 minutes or about 35 to 45 images.

As in the past there will be pizza and snacks to munch on before the programs begin.

There will be a $5 cover charge to cover the cost of the pizzas and some carbonated beverages and water.

Attendees are encouraged to bring non-alcoholic beverages and snacks such as pretzels and chips.

There will be no business meeting during the member’s night event.

Doors will open on member’s night at 5:45 p.m. with pizza being served at 6:30 p.m. Presentations are expected to begin about 7 p.m.

Steam Saturday: An ARRC Excursion at Pearl

October 2, 2021

Remember when the Akron Railroad Club used to have steam excursions on the Ohio Central? Yeah, it’s been several years since one of those ran. Shown is 4-8-4 No. 6325, a former Grand Trunk Western locomotive, pulling a southbound ARRC trip at Pearl in October 2001.

Photograph by Robert Farkas