Railroad History

Two train cars coming soon
to downtown La Grange site

Officials plan to bring in
a caboose and dining car

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (November 2012) – In a town known for its railroad tracks running down Main Street and trains that roll through daily, La Grange’s efforts of getting a permanent caboose and dining car for a train museum is like the icing on the cake. After waiting for a very long time, supporters of a train museum hope these two railway cars will soon roll into town.

Flying Duchess Train

Photo by Helen E. McKinney

This site at 412 E. Main St. in
La Grange, Ky., is being readied
as the site of two new train cars
that may arrive in early November.
The Flying Duchess is displayed there.

“We’ve been laying the track,” said Bob Widman, director of the Ohio Valley Historical Railroad Foundation. The foundation has had plans for some time to establish a train museum in the basement of the former La Grange Train Depot, located near the railroad tracks at 412 E. Main St. The depot serves as the home of the Oldham Chamber & Economic Development offices on its upper level.
“We’ve been notified that we have both a caboose and a dining car,” Widman said. Foundation members want to bring both cars to town at the same time so they do not have to use a big crane twice.
La Grange city workers have been laying sidewalks in the area, a project that has held up the arrival of the train cars. But members aren’t complaining. Sidewalks will only make it easier to get to the railway cars.
Foundation members hope the tracks will be completed for the two cars in early November. Once completed, they plan to bring in a circa 1951-1953 L&N bay window caboose, said Widman.
The caboose was donated to the foundation by James Padgett Sr., owner of Padgett Inc. in New Albany, Ind.
“It’s in excellent shape,” said Widman.
Following that will be an 83-foot dining car that was part of a series of 36-seat dining cars built by American Car & Foundry from 1921 to 1930. Prospect, Ky., residents Lynn and Bob Jones have donated the dining car, which they renovated in 1991.
Currently, a six-foot toll motor, or jitney, rests on the tracks. This six-cylinder engine contains a seat and steering wheel and sits on the rails to move boxcars. Also on permanent display is the Flying Duchess, a steam locomotive that created lots of interest when it came to town earlier this year.
The foundation has been using the basement of the old La Grange Train Depot for meeting space. The members also “volunteered to keep some equipment in the basement for the Kentucky Railway Museum since it flooded,” Widman said.
Once the equipment is moved and the basement re-arranged, “we’d like to build a large, O-scale layout,” Widman said. “It’s what we wanted to do all along but had no room.”
Foundation members and city officials hope the train cars will provide a new attraction for tourists, especially those interested in train history.

Back to November 2012 Articles.



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