Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Vintage Railroad Bell Rescued, Restored Last of Its Kind from Railroad

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Vintage Railroad Bell Rescued, Restored Last of Its Kind from Railroad

Article excerpt

When Dave Nagel of Kennedy replied to a classified ad in 2010 listing a railroad bell for sale in Coraopolis, it launched a journey that led to the preservation and restoration of the only remaining steam engine bell from the Montour Railroad.

Mr. Nagle, not knowing its historic value at the time, made arrangements to see the bell as soon as he saw the ad.

"I've always liked steam engines. My grandfather worked as a fireman for the Pennsylvania Railroad out of Pitcarin, and as a kid, I always had electric trains," he said, explaining how he became interested.

Mr. Nagel and his girlfriend, Amy Lynn Formosa of Coraopolis, made their way to the home of Olga Amber, who had placed the ad.

She led them to her backyard, where they found the bell under a tarp, badly corroded and half-buried in mud.

The asking price was $350.

"I thought even in its deplorable condition, it was a thing of beauty and quickly paid for it," Mr. Nagel said.

Moving the bell from the backyard to his home, however, would be more of a challenge.

"It weighed between 250 to 300 pounds, and there was no way I could move it myself."

So he called upon a few friends, who helped him wedge the bell out of the mud and hoist it into his pickup truck.

Once he had it in his basement, he cleaned off the mud and was just glad he had bought the bell, made out of brass and cast iron, before anyone else had contacted Mrs. Amber.

"It easily could have been scrapped. Luckily, I was the first one who answered the ad," he said.

Mrs. Amber, who owned the bell since 1975, said it came from the Montour Railroad.

Mr. Nagel contacted the Montour Railroad Historical Society to find out more about his backyard treasure, which had the No. 25 stamped at the top.

The historical society told Mr. Nagel that steam engines were phased out at the Montour Railroad in 1952, and that all the steam engines with their bells were sent to the scrap yard. …

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