Memories of the Monon shared at convention PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 11 October 2017 09:08

Memories of the Monon Railroad filled the John Hay Center’s Depot railroad museum as 80 members of the Monon Railroad Historical-Technical Society, converged on Salem for their 42nd annual reunion.

This year marked the first time the Society has held its gathering at Salem and one of the few times an organization has selected Salem as the site for a convention.

Factors drawing the Monon group to Salem included the site of its World Headquarters and Archives, which are located in space leased by the Society at The Depot; an increase in available rooms with the opening of Cobblestone Hotel & Suites; the interest in Salem which  has long been considered the birthplace of the Monon, and Washington County being situated near limestone which was the topic for much of the convention.

The convention opened Friday evening, Sept. 29, with a banquet in The Depot’s Monon Auditorium. Prior to the banquet, Banjoist Jim Smoak and guitarist Brian Allen entertained the visitors with an hour of railroad-related songs, ending with “Up and Down The Monon.”

Clay Stuckey of Bloomington gave a presentation on quarrying and shipping limestone. The Monon was a major transporter of limestone from this area.

A bus trip to Bedford to view some quarry operations was on the agenda Saturday, but while waiting to board the bus, most of  the visitors were give the opportunity to sample a treat from the kitchen at Salem’s H&R Bakery -- jelly donuts.

An anonymous former resident of Salem remembers trips to H&R on Walnut Street and sent this note to convention organizers: “No visitor  to Salem should leave without first enjoying a jelly donut  from H&R Bakery!”

With that in mind, the donut lover ordered six dozen donuts sent to the Depot where, at 7:30 on a cool Saturday morning, most of the 80 attendees gathered around a baggage cart on the Depot’s platform for coffee and jelly donuts.

As the bus to Bedford pulled out, several other guests headed in private cars for a day at Spring Mill State Park.

Saturday’s dinner guests numbered 78, followed by another limestone program and film presentations of Monon trains and equipment.

With the conversion of the Depot’s auditorium from dining room to sales barn, a train show and swap meet became the main attraction Sunday and drew 24 vendors selling everything from toy trains to lanterns and railroad china. Several hundred buyers browsed the offerings. The Monon Society held its annual meeting Sunday morning in its headquarters.

Cecil Smith, the Depot’s volunteer stationmaster, and Ron Simunic of Bloomington, the convention chairman, agree that Salem’s hospitality was a major factor in providing the Mononeers with an enjoyable weekend.

LaDonna Mitchell of Country Cookin’ restaurant catered the two dinners, and Cheddar Depot prepared box lunches for those on the Bedford outing.

Smith said the Washington County Tourist Bureau did much to make the visitors feel welcome by financing yard signs welcoming them and advertising the swap meet. The Tourist Bureau also provided the visitors with gift bags containing, among other things, a bag of corn meal from Beck’s Mill, a bottle of syrup from the Sugarbush near New Salem, decorated cookies from H&R and a variety of brochures advertising places to visit in Washington County. Other favors included glasses etched with the Society’s logo, date of the convention and The Depot; a jigsaw puzzle of a Monon freight train climbing Lear Hill between Borden and Pekin, note pads and pens.

Smith said for many of the visitors it was their first visit to Salem and to The Depot. Several Depot volunteers were on duty all weekend, operating trains on the large model of Washington County which fills most of The Depot’s basement.

Cincinnati, Ohio, was announced as the site for the 2018 convention.     Memories of the Monon Railroad filled the John Hay Center’s Depot railroad museum as 80 members of the Monon Railroad Historical-Technical Society, converged on Salem for their 42nd annual reunion.

This year marked the first time the Society has held its gathering at Salem and one of the few times an organization has selected Salem as the site for a convention.

Factors drawing the Monon group to Salem included the site of its World Headquarters and Archives, which are located in space leased by the Society at The Depot; an increase in available rooms with the opening of Cobblestone Hotel & Suites; the interest in Salem which  has long been considered the birthplace of the Monon, and Washington County being situated near limestone which was the topic for much of the convention.

The convention opened Friday evening, Sept. 29, with a banquet in The Depot’s Monon Auditorium. Prior to the banquet, Banjoist Jim Smoak and guitarist Brian Allen entertained the visitors with an hour of railroad-related songs, ending with “Up and Down The Monon.”

Clay Stuckey of Bloomington gave a presentation on quarrying and shipping limestone. The Monon was a major transporter of limestone from this area.

A bus trip to Bedford to view some quarry operations was on the agenda Saturday, but while waiting to board the bus, most of  the visitors were give the opportunity to sample a treat from the kitchen at Salem’s H&R Bakery -- jelly donut’s.

An anonymous former resident of Salem remembers trips to H&R on Walnut Street and sent this note to convention organizers: “No visitor  to Salem should leave without first enjoying a jelly donut  from H&R Bakery!”

With that in mind, the donut lover ordered six dozen donuts sent to the Depot where, at 7:30 on a cool Saturday morning, most of the 80 attendees gathered around a baggage cart on the Depot’s platform for coffee and jelly donuts.

As the bus to Bedford pulled out, several other guests headed in private cars for a day at Spring Mill State Park.

Saturday’s dinner guests numbered 78, followed by another limestone program and film presentations of Monon trains and equipment.

With the conversion of the Depot’s auditorium from dining room to sales barn, a train show and swap meet became the main attraction Sunday and drew 24 vendors selling everything from toy trains to lanterns and railroad china. Several hundred buyers browsed the offerings. The Monon Society held its annual meeting Sunday morning in its headquarters.

Cecil Smith, the Depot’s volunteer stationmaster, and Ron Simunic of Bloomington, the convention chairman, agree that Salem’s hospitality was a major factor in providing the Mononeers with an enjoyable weekend.

LaDonna Mitchell of Country Cookin’ restaurant catered the two dinners, and Cheddar Depot prepared box lunches for those on the Bedford outing.

Smith said the Washington County Tourist Bureau did much to make the visitors feel welcome by financing yard signs welcoming them and advertising the swap meet. The Tourist Bureau also provided the visitors with gift bags containing, among other things, a bag of corn meal from Beck’s Mill, a bottle of syrup from the Sugarbush near New Salem, decorated cookies from H&R and a variety of brochures advertising places to visit in Washington County. Other favors included glasses etched with the Society’s logo, date of the convention and The Depot; a jigsaw puzzle of a Monon freight train climbing Lear Hill between Borden and Pekin, note pads and pens.

Smith said for many of the visitors it was their first visit to Salem and to The Depot. Several Depot volunteers were on duty all weekend, operating trains on the large model of Washington County which fills most of The Depot’s basement.

Cincinnati, Ohio, was announced as the site for the 2018 convention.