On Sept. 28 – 30, The Nickel Plate Road Historical and Technical Society (NKPHTS) is hosting its annual convention in Cleveland, one of the stops on the Nickel Plate Road railroad, which connected New York, Chicago and St. Louis. HGR’s current facility was one of the Cleveland stops on the line where GM’s Fisher Auto Body Plant used the railroad to transport automobile bodies to Detroit.
So, why are we talking about an event that doesn’t take place until September? Well, because pulling off a convention takes planning, and Chuck Klein, NKPHTS’ convention chairman, is running the show. On March 7, he visited HGR’s showroom in Euclid to pick up his “check” for $1,000, donated by HGR. Matt Williams, HGR’s chief marketing officer, is a member of NKPHTS. And, HGR cares about preserving the heritage of its site, which was an important part of the war effort and industrialization in Cleveland.
Williams joined the society because his grandfather worked in Nickel Plate’s Canton, Ohio, railyard, and his father, an electrical engineer, was The Orville Railroad Heritage Society’s president. While Klein, a retired optician, is a model railroad enthusiast and a committee member for the National Model Railroad Association, which is how he came by the job of convention chairman.
Klein says, “We almost didn’t do the luncheon because it wasn’t financially feasible, but with the donation from HGR to cover the room rental, we were able to pull it off.” And, pull it off in style they will do. The society is shuttling convention attendees from The Holiday Inn South Cleveland — Independence to The Terminal Tower with a special stop along the way. A visit to the tower’s observation deck also is planned. The topic of the luncheon presentation will be “From Chicago World’s Fair to Cleveland’s Public Square: the Story of the Terminal Tower.”
For lovers of Cleveland history, especially of Public Square, Klein provides a wealth of information. I learned more in an hour with him about the history of the buildings on Public Square and the Van Sweringen brothers who built them than I’ve learned in my (ahem) undisclosed number of years on this planet where I’ve lived in Cleveland since birth. He recommended the book Invisible Giants: The Empires of Cleveland’s Van Sweringen Brothers by Herbert H. Harwood Jr. It’s now on my Goodreads list!
If you are interested in joining the society or attending the convention, you can get more information on the society’s website. We’ll be at the luncheon looking for you!