GALLIPOLIS — The Gallipolis Railroad Freight Station Museum has added two new additions to its collection this month, bringing a literal “train set” to life – only this train set won’t fit in a basement.
“We’re just tickled to death with the way everything is going with being able to get the cars on track,” Jerry Davis, vice-president of the Gallipolis Railroad Freight Station Museum Board of Directors, said. “It’s just an excellent example of people coming together to do a project they believe in.”
The boxcar, which was made in 1947, is the second car the museum has added in a week. A 1947 Baltimore and Ohio Railroad caboose was also added earlier this month. Both cars were given by the West Virginia State Farm Museum in Mason County, West Virginia. The railroad museum also has a passenger lounge car from the Pennsylvania Railroad dating from the 1940s, a Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus car that had housed trapeze artists, a 1960s-era Southern State caboose, and a 1945 quarter steam engine, which Davis said is a rarity because it operated on steam rather than a firebox.
“We’re looking forward to having a small rail yard with the museum,” Davis said.
The museum hopes to put more track down to make this dream a reality.
“We have track and extra ties that have been given to us and that we have gotten,” Davis added.
The museum has received grants and continues to apply for grants to continue its restoration. Two years ago, the museum received a grant from the General Assembly of Ohio to renovate the station. Now, they are applying to a grant through the Transportation Alternative Program (TAP), which is through the National Highway Service. If the museum receives this grant, Davis hopes to renovate a car with a kitchen and create a place for teachers to bring classes.
“Everything we’ve done, we’ve tried to do historically accurate,” Davis said, down to the very last details, including the type of nails used.
The railroad museum also hopes to be added to the National Register for Historic Places. After qualifying for the application which reportedly requires professional consultation, the museum has applied to a grant for funding and is now in the process of applying.
According to Davis, over 300 students in the Gallipolis City Schools District have been through the station and cars in the past two years. The museum is also open for tours. The location has even become a popular spot for Christmas and prom photos.
The museum also receives community support. Local businesses, like Reds Rollen Garage, have offered services to the museum in the past with Reds most recently being a partner in moving both the caboose and boxcar, as well as coordinating the ground work at the museum (grading, track and railroad car placement) in the last two weeks.
“Reds is proud to contribute to the community that has supported us for 40 years,” Ernie McQuirt, of Reds said. “The drive that Jerry Davis, Jim Love and Ronnie Keenan display with this project built a tremendous excitement in our team. We were pleased to bring forth the technical knowledge, ability and equipment to safely set this up for the museum.”
In addition, Ohio Valley bank and individuals in the community have also made donations of both money, time and historical artifacts. Davis hopes that community members can help with the restoration of the museum in any way that they can, even by providing context for/or photographs.
“If anyone has a picture of the freight station when it was open—it was closed in 1980—if they could contact us,” Davis said.
The Gallipolis Railroad Freight Station Museum is the only railroad museum in the area.
Beth Sergent contributed to this article.
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Sharla Moody is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing from Gallipolis, Ohio. She is a graduate of River Valley High School and currently attends Yale University.