GALLIPOLIS — The Gallipolis Railroad Freight Station Museum presented before the Gallipolis City Commission Tuesday evening with its latest progress and news of anticipated additions, including a new caboose, steam engine and a former circus passenger car.
Vice-President of the Museum Board of Directors Jerry Davis presented before the commission with other board companions. President Jim Love was unavailable for the meeting.
Davis thanked the commission and the community for their continued support of the museum’s ongoing rehabilitation and invited them to visit the museum. He displayed an assortment of photos detailing the building’s roof renovations, a cleaned interior and an added caboose to the property’s exterior.
“A lot of people have been concerned that they haven’t seen too much going on at the station this year,” said Davis,” that’s because we’ve been doing a wealth of paperwork. We wrote a grant at the end of November (2017) to the (Ohio) General Assembly and we were approved for $125,000. “
Area engineer Randy Breech has reportedly donated time creating plans for insulation, electricity, heating and cooling and bathrooms for the museum. The state has approved everything yet the bathroom plans, although they are anticipated to be approved. Davis also says the museum is moving forward to attain the appropriate permits to begin construction as well.
“We have to put together a budget to reflect that $125,000 (and how it will be spent),” said Davis. “During this winter, we’re hoping to do some additional work inside. On the outside, as far as what we’re planning any day now within the next week or two, we have a small 1945 steam engine that is going to be delivered…We’re planning on having it moved and we’re looking forward to getting it over here. We already have a group of welders that are retired and said ‘You get the engine over here and we’ll put her back together.’”
The museum also is in the process of purchasing a passenger car from Huntington, W.Va., that was once a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus car. The museum intends to place it just outside the property’s loading platform as well as to include a pueblo caboose along new track being constructed outside the museum. The former circus car is 86 feet long and was a passenger car on the Pennsylvania Railroad. The circus previously made individual rooms for performers inside the car.
“When the circus closed, a couple out of Georgia bought the car,” said Davis,” and they had started to remodel part of the car on the inside. Then they found another car they liked better. So they put this one up for sale and we found out about it, checked it out. They made us an awesome deal because they’re concerned that someone will come in and buy it since it is stainless steel and sell it for scrap. It only weighs 50 tons. So, we’re looking forward to getting that up here and a gentleman, again, from (Red’s Auto) is talking to his contacts from out of town to see about getting some of their equipment here to be able to move it.”
Rail is being laid in anticipation of the new car additions.
Ideally, the museum would like to turn the passenger car into an educational center for students and adults.
“(The station on Third Avenue) was built in 1901 by Hocking Valley Railroad,” said Davis in previous conversations. “Chesapeake and Ohio took possession of it. Then in (the early 1980s) CSX had control of it. They closed it. They condemned the building and turned it over to the McIntyre Park district. They took up the rails and paved (a walking path).”
The rail way would eventually become the park district’s walking path through town. The depot was left to sit, according to Davis. President Jim Love first approached City Commission in April 2016 about acquiring the old freight station building and rehabilitating it into a new museum.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.