The steam locomotive is the closest thing mankind has come to inventing a human being. In the shadows of Cleveland's once prosperous steel mills, Charlie Sedgley and members of the Midwest Railway Preservation Society work persistently to bring historical steam engines and railcars back to life.

If you’ve ever seen [steam engines] run, they eat coal, they drink water. You know, they sit there and they sigh and they chuff. You hear the pumps: thump thump thump. You hear the whine of the turbo generator.
— Charlie Sedgley

This short documentary film marks the beginning of a series, From Under the Rust, that explores individual stories of people who are willing to work in their own unique ways for the survival of their homes, even if the eventual outcome isn’t any more than just that: survival. With the the theme of survival as an undercurrent for the series as a whole, each short film in the “From Under the Rust” series will explore individual stories of people living and working in the Rust Belt cities they call home.

The common thread running through each profile is a specific hope for the future embedded within a sober understanding of the present’s challenging realities. These aren’t people who claim that their city will change overnight, or even that it will ever once again become what we traditionally call a metropolitan “city.” With this series, we seek to reveal a sobering truth to the Rust Belt narrative by giving it back to the people who live and know it.

Submit a Story

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Tell us about a Rust Belt story you want to see told.

John Petkovic - Original Composition | Katt Qian - Graphic Design | Jerimiah Morey - Color Correction