GALLIPOLIS — The Gallipolis Railroad Freight Station Museum along Third Avenue in Gallipolis made further progress Friday afternoon, as workers cleared dirt and laid foundation gravel for the eventual laying of railroad outside the station for the addition of an anticipated caboose.
“The community has just been wonderful since we started all of this,” said vice president of the museum’s board, Jerry Davis, of Gallipolis. “We’ve not heard one negative thing and we’re getting all kinds of support.”
Rod Clary Excavating of Crown City cleared dirt from the loading dock area of the station going down several feet before lying gravel to serve as a foundation for the addition of railroad ties which are anticipated to be connected to rails donated by Lightstone Generation which recently purchased the Gavin Plant. The rail is anticipated to be laid by West Virginia business RJW Construction, of Buffalo. According to Davis, the work is all being volunteered. Crisenberry Electric has assisted in providing temporary electrical work for the building.
Davis said the track will be laid in a Y-formation with a switch so cars can potentially be pushed and exchanged with room available for more cars to serve as exhibits. The museum expects a caboose to be its first rail donation from Porter Township around Wheelersburg when the rail work is complete. The museum is also focusing on finishing a roughly $25,000 roof rehabilitation.
“(The station) was built in 1901 by Hocking Valley Railroad,” said Davis. “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.
“They had ideas but they never materialized,” Davis said. “My understanding was they sold it to the city for a dollar. Bill Jenkins was the city manager at the time. He wanted to refurbish the station and do something with it but didn’t get anywhere. This past year, our group came along and for a dollar we acquired the property.”
Museum members intend to fill the station with railroad artifacts and potentially model railroad displays.
Museum President Jim Love previously said at a city commission meeting: “The generation now has no idea about trains. There are many of us (group members) that have railroad memorabilia to put in there, operating layouts and various things to interest the kids. We’d like to get a box car and make that into a place where people can bring their kids and have a birthday party and indoctrinate them into what went on many years ago on the railroad.”
Once the museum roof is complete, it will focus on repairing wooden walls and painting the building. An engine is anticipated to join the caboose in the future.
As reported earlier this month, Ohio Valley Bank donated $12,000 towards the museum to replace a roughly $25,000 slate roof at the old freight depot location.
The railroad reportedly arrived in the area in 1880.
The museum is considered a 501(c)(3) organization.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.