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Unique Museum

Prospect collectors may donate
train caboose to La Grange

It would become part of
new railroad-themed museum

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (May 2012) – Having worked for the L&N/CSX Railroad for many years, Prospect, Ky., residents Lynn and Bob Jones are interested in anything pertaining to railroads. They even purchased their own dining car that they are now considering donating to the Ohio Valley Historical Railroad Foundation museum project.
“Dining Car 2723 was part of a series of 36-seat dining cars built by American Car & Foundry from 1921 to 1930,” said Lynn Jones. She thinks the original name was the St. Louis Hotel, named for a famous hotel in New Orleans.
“We changed the name to Strike the Gold after a Kentucky Derby winner in 1991,” she said. The L&N diner was in service on the Pan American between Cincinnati and Memphis and had a complete kitchen. The railcar is 83 feet long and weighs 183,000 pounds.
“Eating on a train was a wonderful experience,” said Jones. “The tables were set with heavy china, real silver, crystal and linen. The food was the best the railroad could provide. The L&N diners were known for their Old Hickory Smoked Country Ham with red-eye gravy and grits, Seafood Platter and Seafood Gumbo.”
The dining car was converted to work-train service in the mid-1970. The Joneses purchased it and used it for entertainment purposes, restoring it in 1991.
Although they “did quite a bit of restoration work several years ago, the last few years we haven’t really used it,” said Jones. For that reason, the couple is considering donating the dining car to the Ohio Valley Historical Railroad Foundation Railroad museum project.
Presently, the dining car is parked at the old Indiana Army Ammunition Plant in Charlestown, Ind. The couple is waiting for it to be appraised. If donated to the organization, “It would make an excellent restaurant,” said Bob Widman, Chairman and Director of the Ohio Valley Historical Railroad Foundation.
The organization recently acquired an L&N caboose that was donated to them by James Padgett Sr., owner of Padgett Inc. located in New Albany, Ind. It was given “out of the kindness of his heart,” said Widman.
“It’s in excellent shape,” he said. “It’s actually in better shape than a second caboose that was under consideration by the organization.” This one contains electric, water and a restroom.
Once the caboose reaches La Grange, possible uses include a gift shop. The club is not sure yet how it will be used until the board meets and makes a decision.
It will be moved from New Albany at a cost of $2,000 or less. The wheels are in place on the tracks in La Grange, but rainy weather has kept the caboose from being brought to La Grange before now.
“Everything is set to go,” said Widman. Cranes have been brought in to bring the caboose to Kentucky and set it on its wheels, but this cannot be done until the ground has hardened.
Once the caboose is in place, the organization will be well on their way to their goal of establishing a railroad museum. And without a doubt, the addition of a “dining car will really make a difference,” said Widman.
A six-foot toll motor, or jitney, has recently been donated to the organization. This six-cylinder engine contains a seat and steering wheel and sits on the rails to move box cars.
The organization is considering opening the museum one Saturday a month. Members would like to see it opened every Saturday if enough volunteers can be found to help out.
The organization was incorporated Jan. 10, 2006, as a 501(c)(3) corporation to promote and preserve the history of railroads.
and railroading in the Ohio Valley area.
The Ohio Valley Historical Railroad Foundation meets the first Wednesday of every month in the basement of the Old Train Depot. The Oldham County Chamber of Commerce presently uses the upstairs portion of the building and has no plans to relocate.

• For more information, visit: www.lagrange-rr-museum.org, or contact Bob Widman at (502) 930-9430.

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