An enthusiastic and attentive crowd of people were in attendance at the 65th Anniversary celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza (Central Union Terminal) on September 22, 2015.
Participants in the planning were TMACOG, Amtrak, Port Authority, NOPRA, All Aboard Ohio, Toledo History Museum, Toledo Public Library, The Toledo Blade, University of Toledo, Photographer Gary Cornell, and Railroad Station Historical Society.
Exhibits included: All Aboard Ohio, Amtrak, Northwest Ohio Passenger Rail Association (NOPRA), Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, The Toledo Blade, Toledo Design Center; retired telegrapher, Barny Stickles, gave demonstrations of his craft; Boo Coo Model Railroaders set up a display of trains of the ’50s; Gary Cornell, Steve Rathke and John Marquis had table displays, and there was a table to record some of the recollections of attendees who had been at the terminal in the ’50s.
Guest speakers were: U. S. Represented Marcy Kaptur; Paul Toth, President of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority; Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson; Dave Kuhn of Amtrak; David Gedeon, TMACOG; Bob Seyfang, Toledo Design Center; Tina Skeldon-Wozniak, County Commissioner; and Donna Christian, Toledo History Museum.
Marcy Kaptur reminded us of the funding for passenger rail corridors that was turned down by our governor, but, in strong words, she told us that as we look to the future we have to fight for our corridor. “We’re only limping along!”, she said. She received loud applause when she stated “we must never accept second best!” She shared with us a portion of what she read into the Congressional Record (Washington, D.C.) about the anniversary of Toledo’s “Palace of Glass.”
Mayor Hicks-Hudson spoke about train travel being more than just getting from point A to point B. “We need to continue to advocate for passenger rail,” she exclaimed. The Mayor also read from her Proclamation as Mayor, recognizing the history and importance of passenger rail travel.
Commissioner Skeldon-Wozniak shared stories of her and her family’s memories of train travel from Toledo. “We believe in passenger rail,” she said. “We can go to greater lengths . . . following the lead of the Port Authority . . . and go forward.” She promised that the County Commissioners will fight for alternative modes of transportation. She included special thanks to the members of NOPRA.
Paul Toth, introducing Amtrak’s Dave Kuhn, said he was proud of what Amtrak has done to maintain their facility so well. He also asked guest Rob Greenlese to be recognized – to much applause – for all the work he has done over the years for the cause of passenger rail.
Dave Kuhn told us how important Toledo is to the Amtrak system, and, with over 63,000 passengers through the station last year, how proud Amtrak is to be a part of the history and the ongoing service here.
Dave Gedeon reminded us of the extent of the use of the building in addition to housing a train station. He feels MLK Plaza will – in the future, especially – be a focal point for the area. He invited interested people to become members of the committee (Public Transit, Passenger Rail) dealing with passenger trains.
Bob Seyfang – truly a man of vision – provided a realistic but visionary look at what some of the plans and hopes are for the future of MLK Plaza and the environs.
Donna Christian concluded the formal program with a power point presentation on the history of Toledo passenger rail.
Bill Gill recognized retired Wabash (N&W/NS) telegrapher, Barny Stickles, with a certificate and collection of telegraph stamps in appreciation for his contributions over the years in sharing his love of railroad telegraphy with us and its vital importance to the railroads.
Refreshments, including a beautify cake decorated with a picture of the station, concluded the evening.