YorkvilleHigh School student, train enthusiast and aspiring Eagle Scout George Werderich held a ribbon cutting Saturday morning, Sept. 17, and presented the pavilion-style train station he built in Plowman’s Park to the Big Rock Plowing Match Association.
Plowman’s Station is a 14 by 24-foot structure built along the Prairie State 7.5 gauge railroad run by the Prairie State Railroad Club that provides shelter for those getting on and off the train.
PSRC has operated at Plowman’s park since 1990, and Werderich has been a member since he was 10. Werderich raised over $20,000 and constructed the station as part of his Eagle Scout service project.
“It’s not a big club,” Werderich, 16, said, “But they’ve done a lot for me, and I decided I want to do this for them.”
At the ribbon cutting, Terry Sorensen, president of the Big Rock Plowing Match Association, and Bill Kobernus, president of the PSRC, thanked George for his efforts and generosity before Werderich presented Plowman’s Station to Sorensen.
On the same weekend of the ribbon cutting, Plowman’s Park was holding its annual Big Rock Plowing Match and Festival, where hundreds of guests were able to ride the Prairie State railroad and utilize the new station.
Denise Farrugia, liaison for the Big Rock Plowing Match Association board of directors, said to her knowledge, the association has never received a donation of this magnitude before.
“George takes my breath away,” Farrugia said. “Someone so young, who has such a strong service ethic.”
Farrugia said Werderich not only completed the steps in what is a complicated process, he excelled in it. She was amazed at the money he raised and how quickly he got the project through the permitting and planning phases.
“I don’t know too many adults that can raise $20,000 in eight months,” Farrugia said. “It has been a privilege working with that young man. He gives me hope that his generation will continue to serve others.”
Werderich and his family have a long history with trains and the Boy Scouts, dating back to his grandparents. His grandfather George A. Werderich worked for railroads in Chicago for much of his life and was an avid toy train collector and enthusiast. His grandmother Anita Werderich was Scoutmaster to his father, Wally Werderich, and an active member of the Scouts for 50 years.
George also runs a train enthusiast YouTube channel that showcases the impressive track he and his father built in their basement, and he can tell you the details and history of almost any train.
He was first inspired to build the station during a discussion between members of the PSRC, long before he was nearing the rank of Eagle Scout.
When Werderich was a Cub Scout, he attended a summer camp at Plowman’s Park, where the PSRC was giving train rides. He asked his father if he could join the club and now has been a member for five years.
“Some families have a boat, some have country clubs,” his father, Wally, said. “That’s just what we do in the summer, we go out there and spend the day with the family.”
At a club meeting when he was about 13, Werderich heard the members talk about wanting a station at the park, but not having the funds to build it.
Werderich began the project in January this year, and the station passed final inspection on Sept. 14.
The first fundraiser was April 24, at the Yorkville American Legion. Werderich’s father said the amount of community support they received blew his mind.
Members from many community groups came to show support, including the mayor, county board chairman, regional superintendent of schools and his baseball coach at Yorkville High School.
Werderich still will have to attend a board of review panel interview with the Boy Scouts of America, who will review his project and determine if he has earned the rank of Eagle Scout. The board of review date has yet to be scheduled.