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Published 2:31 pm Monday, November 13, 2017

Landrum plans railcar museum, searching for memorabilia

LANDRUM – The City of Landrum is looking back to times when the shrill whistle, the chug chug and the whoosh of brakes announced an old steam drive train thundering into the Landrum Depot. The depot was a stop on the Southern Railway from Columbia to Asheville.

In an effort to re-create some of Landrum’s by-gone era, the town has secured a $25,000 grant to purchase a railway car and create a museum. Landrum City Administrator Rich Caplan said the city council is calling for Landrum citizens who know about the Southern Railway, railcars and railroads in general to help serve on a committee to locate, purchase and restore a suitable car for the museum.

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According to Caplan, the council hopes to find citizens who can help them identify the right type of car and advise about the restoration.

“We want to buy a passenger car because it will be bigger than a caboose,” said Caplan. “Cabooses are cute, but the passenger cars are about 80 feet long.”

Caplan added that in addition to finding some people for the advisory committee, the council is calling for contributions of historic memorabilia, paraphernalia and other items that have a significance to the Southern Railway and Landrum’s history. They are also collecting an oral history from some of the town’s long-term residents who remember the times of the railroads in Landrum.

“We’ve heard some good stories about the rail line that connected Columbia, Spartanburg and Asheville,” he said. “We know there were eight trains a day that came through.”

According to a press release submitted by the Municipal Association of South Carolina, 53 municipalities applied for the grant and Landrum was one of 10 that won. The grants are intended to support economic development, increase quality of life and promote innovation in economic development practices.

The grants require matching funds based on the cities’ population. Caplan said the town’s match will be five percent and Landrum will most likely use hospitality funds to cover the matching cost.

He said the preliminary research the city has done looking into a railway car purchase shows that transportation of the car will cost close to, or more than the purchase price, which could range from $10,000 to $70,000. The proposed location for the railcar is somewhere on the grounds near the depot, but not on the tracks.

Anyone interested in serving on the research committee or wanting to donate historical memorabilia for the museum is asked to contact Landrum City Hall.