50 train buffs from several states make trek to see Medina RR Museum

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 8 August 2021 at 3:21 pm

‘Rare Mileage Collectors’ praise site in Medina

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Jim Fetchero of Charlotte, N.C., left, talks to passengers as them disembark the train at Medina Railroad Museum Saturday morning. Fetchero rented the train for 50 fellow train buffs who call themselves “Rare Mileage Collectors.” Many have ridden trains in all 50 states, most of Canada and several foreign countries.

MEDINA – The Medina Railroad Museum hosted an uncommon group of individuals on Saturday, who call themselves “Rare Mileage Collectors.”

“We’re not an officially recognized group, just a lot of people who love riding trains,” said Michael Dault of New York City.

Some of the Rare Mileage Collectors aspire to reach 100,000 miles riding the rails.

John Schmidt of Springfield, Va., “Boomer John” as his friends call him, has ridden trains in all 50 states and all but two provinces in Canada. He said with all the places he’d been, he was very impressed with Medina Railroad Museum.

Saturday’s ride from Lockport to Brockport in Medina Railroad Museum’s two first-class dining cars was funded by Jim Fetchero of Charlotte, N.C.

Fetchero admits to being a train buff all his life, in addition to being retired from the Iowa-Pacific Railroad.

“Just like some people are bird watchers and like to watch for all kinds of birds, I like to ride trains and see how many miles I can accumulate while seeing the sights.”

He said he has ridden on too many railroads to count – throughout the United States, Europe and South America.

“I’m delighted to have this museum here,” he said of Medina Railroad Museum, where they stopped for an hour layover. “We’re having a great day and appreciate the museum being flexible and working with us.”

Passengers on the ride came from California, Washington State, Ohio, North Carolina , Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida and Illinois, as well as New York state.

All were impressed with the museum and “awesome,” “awesome” was heard over and over.

John Schmidt “Boomer John” of Springfield, Va. looks at the bell of the famed 999 engine at Medina Railroad Museum on Saturday. He was among the 50 train buffs who rode the train from Lockport to Brockport, with an hour stop at the museum.

“This museum is the ultimate rail fan basement syndrome,” said Greg Molloy of Seattle. He has ridden trains in all 50 states.

Chuck Weinstock of Pittsburgh said he usually isn’t a fan of railroad museums.

“Some people have a couple of rusting cars in the weeds or a room full of junk and call it a museum,” he said. “But this place has great stuff.”

After reboarding the train to continue to Brockport, lunch was served on the train by volunteer coordinator Grace Stewart. The lunch, catered by Captain Kidz, included a sandwich or salad, potato salad, chips, water and a train cookie from Case-Nic Cookies.

Museum board president Rick Henn was conductor for the trip, and engineer was Neal Keirn of Middleport.

“This was a great ride,” Henn said. “It was such fun to be with a group of people who love trains and train riding. It was also great to hear how much they were wowed by the museum.

“It’s a huge credit to everyone involved, including Genesee Valley Transportation. I have to thank them for their assistance in organizing this trip and thank the train crew for their cooperation in making the ride special.”

The Rare Mileage Collectors will continue their quest to rack up the miles by riding the train Sunday from Gowanda to Dayton, and then on Monday the Arcade and Attica.

Jim Fetchero, left, who rented the two first-class dining cars from Medina Railroad Museum for a day-long trip from Lockport to Brockport, talks to Greg Molloy of Seattle and Cincinnati, and Chuck Weinstock of Pittsburgh during their stop to visit the Railroad Museum.