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Full steam ahead on proposed rail car project

Landrum council discusses planned railroad museum

LANDRUM — The City of Landrum’s efforts to transport and transform a historic Pullman rail car into a railroad museum is continuing to chug along.

Members of the Landrum City Council discussed details about the ongoing project during their scheduled work session Tuesday afternoon at city hall. City Administrator Rich Caplan and Mayor Robert Briggs recounted to the council and others in attendance their recent visit to the Nashville location where a nearly 70-year-old Pacolet River series Pullman rail car is on display.

City leaders are looking to acquire the car in order to transform it into a museum about the history of the railroad in the local area. Landrum recently received an economic development grant to put toward the purchase, shipping and refurbishing of a rail car for the project.

The owner of the 85-foot long rail car will donate it to the City of Landrum, though officials will have to cover costs to transport it, as well as for concrete work to provide it with a foundation wherever leaders decide to place the new museum.

Caplan and Briggs reported that the rail car is in “very good condition,” with only one small portion marred with graffiti and another spot that has suffered a dent.

The car — which, according Landrum railroad memorabilia dealer Bill Steward, is one of 22 built between 1948 and 1952 — was originally used by Norfolk Southern before it was purchased years later by Amtrak. The rail car was later purchased by the City of Atlanta, though it was not put into service before it was purchased by its current owners, Caplan said.

The rail car is a sleeper car, with 10 single berths and six double berths. Each berth contains bedding, a toilet and a sink, Caplan said.

“If you think of a motel from 1950 that hasn’t been cleaned in 50 years, that is sort of what the inside looks like,” the administrator said.

Caplan suggested the city remove the fixtures from most of the berths, while only keeping a few intact for visitors to browse. The rest of the space could be used to display railroad memorabilia, photos and information about the history of the railway in the Foothills area.  

Due to the condition of the car, the only major interior work the city would have to handle is to install new flooring, Briggs said.

“I think [the rail car is] a great find,” Caplan said. “It is going to be a nice opportunity for us.”

Caplan said the city will soon put the transportation and foundation work for the rail car out for bid, in hopes of getting estimates back from possible contractors for the council’s next meeting in April. City leaders are considering three possible locations to place the museum, though they will hold off on making a decision until they see renderings of how the car would look in the area where it may be placed.