Steam to Victory will commemorate D-Day

Steam to Victory will commemorate D-Day
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Steam to Victory will take place June 14-15 at the Age of Steam Roundhouse in Sugarcreek. Visitors will experience how the American military and steam worked together. Onlookers will see static railroad displays, artillery and small-arms demonstrations, WWII military vehicles, and live history reenactors.

                        

Wars are fought and won on the ground, in the air and at sea. Superiority in those three areas is key to victory.

Just as important but certainly overlooked — perhaps because it doesn’t take place on the battlefields, in the skies or on the beaches surrounding the front lines — is rail superiority. In World War I, the United States struggled with that but prevailed along with its allies.

World War II may have been a different story had that not changed.

“These days it seems to be overlooked,” said Pete Poremba, executive director of Age of Steam Roundhouse in Sugarcreek. “That’s what we try to do here is pull out the importance of railroads in World War II. In World War I, they seemed to fall down a little. After World War I, they looked at where they fell short and really did a remarkable job.

“The government and the war department got together and put a plan together and looked where their shortcomings were in World War II and made provisions to correct all that, should it all happen again.”

And sure enough, in just a few short years, it all did happen again. This time American railroads were ready to do their part, which Poremba said played a key role.

Commemorating the role played by and on American railroads during World War II, the Age of Steam Roundhouse in Sugarcreek, 213 Smokey Lane Road, annually recreates some of the sights, sounds and conflicts involving the railways.

The latest rendition of Steam to Victory will take place Friday, June 14 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, June 15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Gates will open at 8:30 a.m.

Visitors will experience how the American military and steam worked together. Onlookers will see static railroad displays, artillery and small-arms demonstrations, WWII military vehicles, and live history reenactors.

The event this year will commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France, just a week or so after the actual anniversary. For a full schedule of events, visit https://ageofsteamroundhouse.org/wp-content/uploads/2024-event-schedule.pdf.

“Every year it grows a little bit,” Poremba said of the annual event, normally held in the fall but moved this year due to reenactors having conflicts. “We have a little more railroad equipment than we’ve had in the past. We have some more reenactors, more military equipment than we’ve had in the past. There’s been a lot of attention paid to the battlefields for the reenactors and the public.”

The role of railroads in the war is something Poremba said few are even aware of. In World War I, he said shipments weren’t getting where they needed to, when they needed to, and that the railways simply couldn’t be depended upon.

That meant equipment was not getting shipped overseas as quickly as possible, and with so much equipment needing to be moved on time, from small arms up to tanks, the slowdown of that supply chain could not be afforded again by the U.S. military. This time the railroad industry stepped up, and equipment, from planes and weapons to natural resources used to build things, was successfully moved.

“There are military movements now, even during peacetime or during military training, that keep their skills sharp, keep them prepared, keep the equipment prepared,” Poremba said of the railroad industry’s contributions to the military.

The roundhouse is a place to see and experience. There is more to do than take in the commemoration. Guests also can find food vendors, take a short train ride on the museum grounds, tour the roundhouse and see steam locomotives not being displayed outside the event.

General admission each day is $20 for adults and $15 for children age 3-16. Active-duty military and veterans will get in for $10, and children under 3 are free. Train rides are $5 per ride (cash only). Admission is available at the gate or by visiting https://ageofsteamroundhouse.org/events-posts/steam-to-victory-2024/.


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