Roaring Run Station
By Paul Harvey
In 1956, the Peoples Natural Gas Company opened their new Roaring Run Station to compress and transport natural gas. Named for the bounding creek behind, it was considered “state of the art” for its day. Note the small building behind, also built at that time, that was used as the office. This is the story of how Roaring Run came to Coolspring Power Museum.
But first, let’s take a step back in history to see the earlier station. Yep, there’s the creek roaring along. Look all those stacks! Wonder what was inside? Perhaps someday we will discover the answer.
Now we will time travel to November of 2020. Ben Steffy, our board member as well as a Peoples Gas employee, emailed me that their Roaring Run station was going to be replaced with an automated unit. They would be happy to donate the old structure to CPM. Wow! Wonderful, but so many questions to be answered and so much to consider. So, let’s first take a look.
I met Ben one mild November day at his home in Smicksburg, Pennsylvania, and he took me for a tour. This road went one way then the other and we were getting out in the middle of nowhere! He assured me we were near Apollo, Pennsylvania. Finally arriving and seeing, what a delightful surprise I found!
The structure was magnificent and looked like it was just built. The engine was working well and the interior had all the great aromas of a working station. An experience to be remembered!
The nameplate for the building was still proudly displayed on the side near the door. That meant the building was all bolted together with no welding. In those days, buildings were designed to be moved as the need arose. Hmm. So, it could come to CPM and be re-erected. Our interest increases, as does our dreams for future use.
The other side of the main station. A rolling overhead door has been added as well as a partition to make the back side a work area. Parts bins, workbench, air compressor, pipe threader, and drill were located here. Good idea!
The office is a 12 by 14-foot structure in excellent condition. The possibilities for future use are endless. Ben and I sat down a bit to enjoy the cozy warmth and reflect on the possibilities. Of course, the restroom was welcome. It’s looking good!
The engine, that day happily working, is a massive Cooper Bessemer model GMX, built in 1955 or 1956. It makes 400 HP at 400 RPM. With 8 cylinders of 9¾-inch bore and 10½-inch stroke, it is a monster! The power cylinders are in a “V” configuration with 4 large compressor cylinders out of one side. Although offered to us free of charge, we had to decline the donation of the engine. It just was beyond our capabilities and did not fit our goals.
CPM was impressed with the structure and donation offer, and approved its acquisition formally at a Board of Directors meeting. Now the long process of getting it here began!
I wrote a letter to Peoples Gas, gratefully accepting both buildings and understanding that they would prepare them for removal and transport them to the museum. They happily agreed.
First, they had to transfer operation to their new station and disable the old faithful engine. Simple and done. Their pumping never ceased. Next, they had to have an asbestos abatement program done, and inspections completed to certify that it was safe to donate to us. Sure glad we were not involved in that!
Then time dragged on well into 2021 and winter was approaching. So, it would probably happen in 2022. OK, that’s good. But in the first week of this November, Phil Dobson, of Dobson Contracting, called to say two tractor trailer loads would be arriving in two weeks. Excited, we chose an appropriate storage area for the buildings to be unloaded. Progress! We all knew Dobson Contracting as they have done many projects here.
An amazing feat, the Dobson crew unbolted the structures by hand, causing no damage. They did not use any torch work. All building sections were carefully numbered with the sequence for reassembly, and pictures were taken. Wow, that’s excellent!
It was exciting as the first trailer load arrived that sunny but cold day. All sections were stacked in order, and no damage done to them. I was impressed!
Phil and crew did a fantastic job of unloading and placing for us. I just sat on my Gator and watched.
Finally, all sections and parts were placed, and well suited for the winter. Now, thoughts turn to its use. Hmmm. A waterworks building? A machine shop? And where will it be placed? Lotsa decisions and a long winter to decide. The possibilities are endless, and it is awaiting our decisions.
Part of the sections in winter storage. A big project that turned out so well!
CPM would like to extend heartfelt thanks to all who helped with this huge project. First to Peoples Gas Company for believing in the museum enough to make it happen. Their efforts were tremendous. Special thanks to Ben Steffy for coordinating so much for us. And all our gratitude to Dobson Contracting for the care that they gave to make re-erection easy and possible. Working together, the impossible came true. My apologies to all who I have missed.
Text Copyright © by Coolspring Power Museum