BY CHRISTINE LEE
MINERSVILLE — Visitors will be able to ride a historic locomotive this weekend to help an engineer who has operated it.
Railway Restoration Project 113 will offer a benefit excursion on the CNJ 113 and a pig roast Saturday.
Boarding starts at the train station at 113 E. Sunbury St. at 11 a.m. and departs at noon. It will arrive in Port Clinton at 1:10 p.m. and be back in Minersville between 3:15 and 3:30 p.m., with the meal following. There will also be raffles of donated items, most of which are railroad memorabilia. Passengers have the option of riding in coaches or an open gondola.
Proceeds from the ride and dinner will benefit Chris Bost, a train engineer for Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad, who has operated the locomotive since Project 113 was formed in 2013.
In January, the Leesport resident, originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, was diagnosed with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, or CIPD, a neurological disorder that causes progressive weakness in the limbs.
Project 113 President Bob Kimmel said Bost has been a “good friend for a long time” not only to him but to the locomotive project. The two have known each other since 1979 when they worked at the Wannamaker, Kempton and Southern Railroad, and Bost has been involved with CNJ 113 for 15 years.
“We wanted to help him in his time of need,” he said. “Anything we could do is good.”
Kimmel said since the engine attracts a lot of people, he figured it was a good way to raise money for Bost’s care. Project 113 normally hosts a yearly pig roast fundraiser, but decided to raise money for Bost instead. The event was canceled last year due to the threat of COVID-19.
Tickets for the train ride with a coach seat and pig roast are $30; train ride only with coach seating is $20; and pig roast only is $20. They are available by calling the station at 570-544-8300, or by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope and check to Project 113, 113 E. Sunbury St., Minersville, PA 17954, with “Chris Bost benefit” in the memo, along with the number and kind of tickets requested. Tickets for the gondola are sold out.
In a news release, project members said Bost’s “positive attitude serves as a model for all of us,” adding that treatments are underway.
Kimmel said organizers are working for free on the excursion out of their devotion to their friend, and they have received community support for the fundraiser.
The Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad is covering the cost of operating the train on its tracks, Reading Anthracite is donating coal to run the engine, and gift cards have been donated by Giant, Weis Markets, BG’s Value Market and Walmart. Water is being supplied by Redner’s Markets.
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