Seabee alumni from several states spend part of reunion touring Railroad Museum in Medina

Photos by Ginny Kropf: A group of Seabees who are members of the MCB 53 Alumni Association visited the Medina Railroad Museum on Wednesday. They are having their semi-annual reunion in Lockport this week. In charge of the reunion are Art “Day” McCollum (in center with beard) and his wife Irene (in purple).

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 7 September 2023 at 8:58 am

MEDINA – Two groups of tourists from across the country spent part of their day in Medina on Wednesday, touring the Medina Railroad Museum.

The first to arrive were Seabees with the MCB53 Alumni Association who are having their semi-annual reunion in Lockport. Organizers of the reunion, Art “Day” McCollum and his wife Irene both have relatives in Medina and wanted to show off the canal town to the visiting Seabees and their guests.

Shortly before lunch a dozen cyclists with Wilderness Voyagers, based in Ohiopyla, Pa., stopped at the museum on their four-day ride from Lockport to Newark. Their own caterer who travels with them set up an elegant lunch in the museum.

The cyclists, who came from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, California and New Jersey, will ride to Newark and then load their cycles on a van for the trip back to Lockport.

Art McCollum of Lockport and Dennis Kiebach of Sinking Springs, Pa. look at the scale model of Royalton Airport named A.J. Kropf International Airport on the layout in honor of Allan Kropf of Medina.

Jim and Wendy Donahue of Lancaster, Pa., a member of the Seabees, were amazed at the train layout in the museum.

“It’s so fascinating with the modern things they have included on the layout,” Wendy said, pointing to a wind turbine.

“I can’t believe the stuff they’ve got in here,” said Linda Scheer, with her husband John from Leavenworth, Kan.

Most couldn’t believe the detail of the scenes on the layout.

The Railroad Museum was one of many sites the McCollums had arranged for the Seabees to do, including a visit to the Seabees Memorial in Veterans’ Park on River Road in North Tonawanda. Art and his brother George were both instrumental in raising funds for the memorial when it was built.

The group of Seabees visiting the area are members of a Mobile Construction Battalion, who served in Vietnam. The government sought out enlistees who were construction workers, including the McCollums, although Art went to work at Harrison Radiator, retiring after 37 years and then driving bus for Ridge Road Express/Grand Tours. Many of his trips were with seniors from the Medina Senior Center.

(Left) Art and Irene McCollum of Lockport stand by a picture of the former Union Station in Lockport before it burned several years ago. A developer is currently trying to raise money to restore it. The picture hangs in the Medina Railroad Museum. (Right) John and Linda Scheer of Leavenworth, Kan. gaze at the train layout during their visit to Medina Railroad Museum on Wednesday.

Several in the Seabees group expressed a desire to walk down Medina’s Main Street and visit the shops.

Several of the excursions Art and Irene planned this week involve the Erie Canal. While in Medina, they visited the canal basin and drove through the culvert on Culvert Road, the only spot where a road goes under a canal. Back in Lockport they are visiting the Erie Canal Discovery Museum and taking a cruise through the locks on the canal.

A catered dinner Friday night at the McCollum’s will feature a presentation by Bill Dickman, a combat photographer in Vietnam.

While the Seabees have a meeting on Saturday, Irene will take the wives to Lockport’s Farmer’s Market and Olcott.

Their week will wrap up on Saturday with dinner at Cammarata’s and featured speaker, Glenn Foley of Lockport, a combat infantryman in the Seabees, who also served in Antarctica.

The Seabees alumni members came from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Colorado, the Carolinas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Kansas.