Train Runs Through It
wants to create a
La Grange railroad museum
envision it as a
future tourism attraction
Helen E. McKinney
(December 2010) With its long railroad history,
Oldham County is the perfect location to establish a railroad museum,
according to local train enthusiasts. It would be a missed opportunity,
they say, for the town to not take advantage of the fact that it is
one of only three towns in the country that has a working railroad running
through the middle of Main Street.
by Don Ward
Grange is unique in that a train
runs down the middle of Main Street.
In an effort to celebrate this train history and spread
the word about the possibility of establishing a railroad museum, the
La Grange Railroad & Antique Festival was held during the weekend
of Oct. 8-10. Jim Zimmerman, organizer of the festival, said it was
very successful. Actually more successful than what we had anticipated.
But on the downside, it didnt have much impact on spreading the
word about a museum. So it is up to members of the Ohio Valley Railroad
Historical Foundation Inc. to see this dream to fruition.
We plan to have the festival again in September next year,
said foundation member Bob Widman. Organizers felt there were too many
competing festivals and events going on in October to draw in a good
crowd, he said.
The foundation is in the process of looking into purchasing a caboose,
said Widman. While it is in excellent condition, the foundation
has to consider the cost of moving it to La Grange.
A future home for the railroad museum might be the Old Train Depot that
currently houses the Oldham County Chamber of Commerce. Widman will
know more about a permanent location after Jan. 1.
The depot currently belongs to Oldham County, said Zimmerman, also a
member of the foundation. The Ohio Valley Railroad Historical Foundation
is ready to begin making it a tourist attraction, if at
A railroad museum would complement the three-day event,
Zimmerman said of the railroad festival. If the foundation could locate
rail cars and a caboose, this would only add to the offerings.
Other museum attractions could include a gift shop inside the caboose
and a dining car that could provide an area to sit and have a snack,
said Zimmerman. The biggest hurdle to keep the museum going would be
the need for volunteers to man the facility.
Other museums Zimmerman studied receive a lot of interest from volunteers,
he said. He stumbled across one particular site in St. Louis, where
he found a small, quaint station in a beautiful setting.
A Christmas festival was going on at the time he was there, and he realized
that La Grange could build on a museum as a tourist package.
Plans are under way for next years La Grange Railroad & Antique
Festival to include a Miss Railroad contest, art show and quilt exhibit.
There are still a lot of things to be worked out, said Zimmerman.
Grants and fundraisers are possible sources of income for operating
a railroad museum.
Money is always the biggest concern when establishing a museum and was
when setting up the Oldham County History Center, said incoming La Grange
Mayor Bill Lammlein. With museums, if there is enough interest
in the community, it will be successful, and I think there is enough
Lammlein said that hopefully, they will have benefactors step
up, and take part. Unfortunately, no funding is available
from the city that Im aware of. Our budget is set until June 2011.
But that doesnt mean the city wont support this project.
It has my full support, he said. And whatever the
City of La Grange can do to help out, we will. I think the City of La
Grange is the best location on earth for this type of museum.
For more information on the Ohio Valley
Railroad Historical Foundation, Inc. or the museum and how to contribute
to it, contact Bob Widman at (502) 930-9430.
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