50 years strong in Lake County.
The Lake Shore Live Steamers have been active as a formalized group since 1969. The mailing of a simple postcard every month drew interested folks to either someone’s house or where it all began, in the basement of a Mentor florist shop. These mailings established the club to be known in live steam circles as The Lake Shore Live Steamers or simply LSLS.
Back in the early 50’s Clyde Bliel, the proprietor of a local florist shop that almost every Lake County resident has frequented or driven by, picked up an interest in Live Steam. The Live Steam hobby is a fairly broad term, but in this use, it applies to the modeling of steam locomotives that actually run on steam. In 1955 a short track was laid around that shop. The addition of a simple locomotive, some cars and a caboose fit well into the business. Many residents made the trip to the little shop on Mentor Avenue. A ride for their plants and most importantly a ride for their children.
1983. We now have a home.
Until this time in our history we had trucked around a bulky collection of steel rail known as “The portable track”. This track was set up at shows in Lake County and across northeast Ohio. It drew the attention of thousands of people. This was the LSLS in the early years and it is still in use behind the station at Penitentiary Glen.
In keeping with our botanical heritage, we were given the opportunity to expand through the woods of the former Halle estate, now known as Penitentiary Glen, in Kirtland Ohio.
Over the years thousands of feet of track have been laid through the woods over which thousands of residents have ridden. I particularly enjoy listening to riders in line. "I remember coming up here with grandpa when I was your age”. “OMG. It’s beautiful. I’ve lived in the area my whole life and just found it during a walk”. “My granddaughter told me about the train in the woods after visiting Nature Play. We came back for a Halloween ride and the grand kids were just spell bound”. “Remember Brooke, the train on the track will toot. The Owl in the tree will hoot”.
The first Halloween run in the late 1980’s consisted of 30 carved pumpkins, a short ride through the woods and a couple of hundred riders. This event has now morphed into what is known as “The Magical Whooloween” weekend. These two October evening runs will be experienced by almost two thousand riders on a dark and mystical Friday and Saturday evening in October. This and 14 additional events are now scheduled throughout the year by the Lake Shore Live Steamers and Lake Metroparks at Penitentiary Glen.
This is the condensed evolution of a small group of about a dozen community minded founders that the club was built by. There are only 3 or 4 of them left now to tell the stories and answer the questions. They come to mind when documenting our history. They most certainly come to mind while watching the smiles and listening to the laughter roll by on the “Train in the woods”.
50 years strong, The Lake Shore Live Steamers.