Members of the Railroad Preservation Society of Fayette County (RPSFC) are asking the community for help in locating a few missing pieces from the train display at Eyman Park in Washington Court House.
Earlier this year at a city council meeting, Washington Court House City Manager Joe Denen shared that the RPSFC was looking for some missing parts of the locomotive display at Eyman Park. Denen said during the meeting that the preservation group believed people may have seen something that needed fixed and took it home to repair, but, as often happens, things get put aside and it just hasn’t made its way back to the locomotive.
“I think things like the whistle, maybe some builders plates which give information, and inside the cab we are missing various gauges and that sort of thing,” RPSFC president Martin Rennison said during an interview Tuesday. “That is at least what we know of. We are not sure what else could be missing from the display, but we are sure there must be more. If people want to call myself or Paul Febo to return some of these items, feel free. They can call the city manager even.”
To reach Rennison and return some of the old parts, call (740) 636-1307. Additionally, the city building is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and anyone wanting to return a part can talk to Denen.
On June 6 in 2010, Paul Febo was approached by Washington City Councilman Steve Jennings, who informed him that the city planned to scrap the railroad display at Eyman Park. The city council felt that the display had become “unsightly” due to a lack of upkeep. In the following days, a meeting was arranged with council and Denen about the problem.
A month later, Dean Waddell, Kert Larkin and Febo met with the city council at a “parks and recreation” meeting to discuss the future of the display. Council was asked to reconsider scrapping and to help appoint a citizens’ group to clean up the display. Denen suggested a meeting the next morning at the park to evaluate the situation.
At that morning meeting, the display was evaluated and it was decided that the caboose was the most unsightly part of the railroad display. Following that meeting, Denen helped form the RPSFC, a non-profit organization. The first organizational meeting was held on Oct. 12, 2010 with the intention of historically preserving local Fayette County railroad memorabilia, specifically the existing static train display at Eyman Park. Restoration of the caboose began in spring of 2011.
In the summer and fall of 2011, the group ordered and received the materials needed. These materials were three-fourths inch tongue and groove Cypress wood for the siding, one inch cypress lumber for windows, etc., two by fours for framing and a quarter-inch laminated safety glass.
In 2012, Febo built 18 new windows which were exact replicas of the original windows. Safety glass was installed, including the four original windows that the group decided to keep in the metal ends. The framing for the cupola side windows and the long edges of the roof became the challenge for the next two seasons.
By the end of 2014, the caboose was water tight and did not require a tarp over it to keep out in winter weather.
Beginning in 2015, the RPSFC started on painting the exterior. The red and green colors were matched to samples found on the original siding. This was accomplished thanks to Sherwin Williams donating approximately 30 gallons of paint. In August of 2015, a meeting was held to decide on how to proceed with lettering and a set of stencils, which have been used by other railroad preservation societies.
Over the next two years, projects continued on the site, including the installation of a new fence by the City of Washington Court House, a painting of the engine, the installation of the signal pole, and more. Finally, in 2017, the group started a new tradition by putting Christmas lights on display on the train at the park. The display was well-received, according to Rennison, and he said the group is planning to complete another display this year for the holidays.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy