Pacolet River rail car is coming home to Landrum

Published 8:00 am Saturday, March 24, 2018

LANDRUM — Landrum’s first museum should be operational by July or sooner.

The city council has signed a contract for a rail car to be donated to the town. The next step is to select a location for the museum and request bids for shipping the car.

Landrum Mayor Robert Briggs said the council was considering one of three locations on North Trade Street, at either end of the street between North Rutherfordton and Coleman, or somewhere in between. The goal is to be sure the rail car museum can be seen and easily accessed without interfering with the farmers market.

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“We’re getting pictures of the potential locations, and will have a picture of the railcar superimposed on the pictures so we can see how it will look,” said Briggs, who added that Freddie Rule was handling the Photoshop work.

Landrum City Administrator Rich Caplan said the next step is to get bids for shipment.

“It would be different if we could transport it by railway,” Caplan said, explaining that the line from Spartanburg through Landrum has not operated in years.

Caplan said they also had to work out the logistics and get permits for moving the car.

“We’ll have to get cranes to lift it into place,” he said.

The car was built around October 1949, is made of stainless steel and is 85 feet long, 10 feet wide and 13 feet tall. It’s a Pullman 10-6 sleeper (10 roomettes for one person and six bedrooms for two persons). It is one of 24 cars named after Southern rivers. This particular car was numbered 2008 and named “Pacolet River.”

The car served rail lines between New York and New Orleans and other Southern lines, traveling from Spartanburg  through Landrum, on its way to Asheville. In 1971, Amtrak purchased the car from Southern Railway and it traveled around the country until, in 1985, it was taken out of service and stored in New Orleans.

The state of Georgia purchased Pacolet River and shipped it to Atlanta with the intention of converting it to a coach for use in an excursion train around the city. The excursion train project did not develop, and the car was sold at auction in 1995.

The current owner, who is donating the car to Landrum, purchased it at the auction and brought it to the Tennessee Central Railway Museum. Around 2014, Pacolet River operated as part of an excursion train to Watertown, Tennessee, and is still in operating condition.

Caplan said, Landrum will pour a concrete slab and lay railroad tracks for the car to rest on. The town is asking for donations of railroad memorabilia to place in the museum, and for anyone with railroad knowledge or museum experience who wishes to serve on the museum board to contact Caplan at 864-457-3000.