New Lease on Life

Train enthusiast Fuehring leading effort to restore 1912 train car

Madison Railroad debuted car
at September Torch Relay event

(October 2016)
Read previous Don Ward columns!
Don Ward

When a group of Indiana Bicentennial torch bearers arrived in Madison, Ind., on Sept. 16, they did so aboard a partially restored 1912 Pullman standard train passenger car pulled by the Madison Railroad’s locomotive that once belonged to NASA and used at the Kennedy Space Center for the Space Shuttle Program. What’s more, the event occurred on the 180-year anniversary to the day that construction on Indiana’s first operating railroad began in North Madison.
The passenger train car, renamed “Legacy,” was built by the Pullman company of Chicago. It was purchased by the Madison Railroad fours years ago and is being restored there. Madison Railroad Operations Manager and train enthusiast Roger Fuehring is leading the restoration project.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Forrester

This 1912 Pullman standard passenger train car has been restored at the Madison Railroad and renamed “Legacy.”

Born in Bellevue, Ohio, Fuehring grew up working with the Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum and golden Age Railroad Equipment Inc. He spent several years working on excursion trains and private car trips. He started his railroad carrier with Indiana & Ohio Railroad and the Central Railroad CO. in Kokomo, Ind.
In 1991, he founded F&M Car & Locomotive, based in central and southern Indiana. The company provides mechanical services for locomotives, passenger and freight cars. He also was the former manager of F&M Rail Service, based in southern California. He has worked on projects large and small, from New York to Los Angeles. Some of his clients have included New York & Atlantic, Pacific Harbor Lines, Louisville & Indiana and many other smaller customers including grain elevators, steel mills and smaller freight and tourist railroads.
So it comes as no surprise that Fuehring has a fascination for restoring old train cars, such as the Legacy. In fact, his father restored train cars, so he inherited the passion naturally. It has been his pride and joy project for the past four years, and its coming out party occurred by carrying several of the Jefferson County, Ind., torch relay team members from Dupont to Madison. The 10.5-mile track mile ride at 10 mph took one hour, he said.
Since the restoration of the car is only 50 percent complete, Fuehring said the torch relay passengers could only occupy one section of the car.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Forrester

The Madison Railroad locomotive, formerly used by NASA, powers its way from Dupont into Madison on Sept. 16.

“This was a luxury passenger car in its day,” explained Fuehring, 48, a Scottsburg, Ind. resident. “People traveled and lived on the car, with their secretary and did all their business from the car. It was a premium private car back then.”
He said Southern Pacific had close to 40 of these private cars, and most executives of the day had one. “This was before limousines and interstates and Lear jets, so this was the mode of transportation back then,” he said. When wealthy businessmen arrived at the Kentucky Derby, for instance, “it would not be uncommon to see 60 or 70 of these private cars parked at Union Station in Louisville.”
Similar cars exist today in the region – three owned by the French Lick (Ind.) Scenic Railway, another one in service at the Kentucky Railway Museum in New Haven, Ky., and one of the oldest still in service at the Indiana Transportation Museum in Noblesville.

Photo courtesy of Roger Fuehring

The “Little Lady” locomotive No. 3 was one of three previously used by NASA at the Kennedy Space Center. It is now owned and operated by the Madison Railroad.

The Legacy train car, originally named the Guadalupe after a saint by that name, was owned and operated at different times by the Texas and New Orleans Railroad and later the Southern Pacific Railroad. It went out of service in 1974. The car subsequently changed hands several times over the years. By the time the Madison Railroad purchased it from the previous  owner in Illinois, the car had dilapidated and was in poor condition, Fuehring said.
“We were able to save the car and get it to Madison to restore it,” he said.
He and his wife. Cathy, have been busy searching for period furniture from the early 1900s to place in the car to help create a feeling of nostalgia. The car measures 80 feet in length and has a steel exterior, with Cuban mahogany wood trim throughout the interior. Much of the carpet and upholstery is being redone as well.
The Madison Railroad hired Jennings County art teacher Barry Hovis to paint the large “Legacy” logo onto the side of the car.
In addition to serving as a ride for the Indiana torch relay team members, the Legacy train car was used last year to portray Abraham Lincoln’s presidential car during the Sassafras Tea Festival in Vernon, Ind. The car this year will be used for the first time for the Santa Express, running between Madison and North Vernon in December, he said.
The Madison Railroad began operation in September 1978. The railroad operates the remaining segment of Indiana’s first rail line, the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad, which dates back to 1836. The railroad was the oldest in the Pennsylvania system west of Harrisburg, Pa.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Forrester

Several of the 18 Jefferson County, Ind. torch relay team members rode into Madison aboard the partially restored “Legacy” passenger train car, owned by the Madison Railroad. They are (from left) Ray Black Jr., Matthew Forrester, Spencer Schnaitter, Susan Stahl, Linda Ferguson, Kim Mahoney and Jim Lee.

Madison Railroad has been owned and operated by the City of Madison since 1981. The line was purchased from Penn Central in order to maintain rail service to the community. Since then, more than $6 million has been spent on track and bridge upgrades to ensure reliable, quality service to its customers.
The Madison Railroad acquired the NASA locomotive No. 3 in May 2015. The brightly red-and-white colored locomotive was one of three to be used for the Space Shuttle program before the program was shut down. It was used to transport rocket boosters from Utah to the Space Center in Florida. Indiana applied for and received the locomotive as a government surplus item.
The Madison Railroad subsequently applied to purchase the locomotive for only $10,000. Its value was estimated at $400,000, said Cathy Hale, the Madison Railroad’s executive director. The other two locomotives were obtained by museums in Florida and Louisiana.

• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email: info@RoundAbout.bz.

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