For love of trains

Published 1:02 pm Friday, September 17, 2010

Landrum City Councilman Billy Inmans love affair with trains started when he was a little boy.

The trains no longer rumble along the tracks that border Landrum, Tryon and Saluda, but Inman is bringing the Greenville Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society to the once-busy Landrum depot for a regular meeting and program at 7 tonight.

The group meets once a month, but this is the first time its ever been held up here, said Inman, who said he has been trying to get the group to visit Landrum for a couple of years.

Tonights meeting will also include ice cream and a presentation from a chapter member whose vacation included travel by rail in the American West.

Inman hopes the attention from the group might help a restoration project for the depot, which is partially reliant on the approval of a grant from the Polk County Community Foundation. The four-phase restoration project is estimated to cost $48,000 over the first three phases.

Members of the Greenville Chapter of the NRHS were instrumental in the restoration of the depot in downtown Spartanburg, which is now also a museum highlighting the areas rail history.

We want to restore the (Landrum) building as close as possible to the way it was, said Inman. Wed like to see something like (the Spartanburg depot) here a museum with memorabilia and things about the railroads.

The nearby Saluda grade is still the steepest railroad grade East of the Rocky Mountains, even though trains no longer chug through the mountains.The local rail lines between Saluda and Landrum are still owned by Norfolk Southern Railroad, but are no longer in use, so depots such as ones in Landrum and neighboring towns along the rail sit dormant.

But Inman said he doesnt want to see the railroads, which have played such a vital role in our history, go away.

The thing is, if the railroads like this one do disappear, theyre never coming back because there are too many issues with right of way and things like that, he said. So we need to preserve them.