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New Attraction

La Grange’s railroad museum
is becoming a reality with real trains

A caboose may be arriving soon
to accompany engine


By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (October 2011) – The Railroad Museum project in La Grange may get a boost with the possible addition of a caboose if funding can become available. Future goals call for many ways to expand the project and establish a museum of which the town can be proud.
The Ohio Valley Railroad Historical Foundation Inc. is behind the push to create a Railroad Museum on the lower level of the La Grange Train Depot at 412 E. Main St. The foundation currently uses the lower level for displays and meetings. The La Grange Train Depot also serves as the home of the Oldham County Chamber & Economic Development offices on its upper level.

The Flying Duchess

Photo by Helen McKinney

The steam locomotive “The Flying
Duchess” has been parked for permanent
display in downtown La Grange.

The foundation is now looking at two different cabooses, said Bob Widman, a foundation member. One is owned by a woman in Fairdale, Ky., in which the down payment would be $5,000 and moving costs would be $3,100, he said.
The second caboose is owned by Padgett Inc. in New Albany, Ind. This one costs $5,500 and “is in better condition,” said Widman. Moving costs would run about $1,000 to $1,500. “We’re working to try to get it at a little more reasonable price, or donated.”
The foundation was instrumental in bringing a steam locomotive, the Flying Duchess, to La Grange in late August. It was set up at the La Grange Train Depot. The locomotive was moved by Adkins Movers, a company located in Louisville and owned by Matt and Cory Malone.
“We’re also looking at getting a dining car, box car and maybe a non-working diesel engine,” said Widman. For now, the caboose would be placed behind the Flying Duchess.
The steam locomotive has created quite a bit of interest and will permanently remain where it is due to strict CSX rules. “It is a display item only,” said Widman.
“Steps have been taken so far to weatherize the steam engine,” said foundation secretary George Corral. It is debatable whether the Flying Duchess will be repaired over the winter months. “The issue we have to consider now is a shortage of manpower,” he said. Individuals with expertise, knowledge, experience and mechanical aptitude are needed.
The steam locomotive is on loan for 20 years from the Louisville Harrods Creek & Westport Railway Foundation. There is an option to transfer the ownership to the foundation at any time.
Plans call for a sign to be placed in front of the Flying Duchess depicting an 18x24-inch embossed photograph of the steam locomotive in a sheet of plexiglas.
The foundation wants to extend its mission statement and provide a historical perspective of trains and the L&N railroad in La Grange. “We want people to understand what the railroad was like and the part local people played in it,” Corral said.
The project to establish a Railroad Museum has been in existence for about six years. The addition of a steam engine is relatively new, said Corral. “The original purpose was to put together a museum to provide information on the region (Ohio Valley).”
Linda Goin, executive director of Discover Downtown La Grange, the town’s Main Street Program, said that the organization backs this project and the establishment of a railroad museum would go beyond tourist attraction status. “The center could be used for educational purposes, meetings and a resource for train groups,” she said.
What is needed now is money and manpower. The foundation is soliciting membership and will meet on Oct. 3 at the La Grange Train Depot. The group will possibly meet more often if needed. There is no member fee to join the foundation.

• For information, contact Bob Widman at (502) 930-9430.

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