published Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Museum puts wheels in motion to give LaFayette historic rail car

The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum will give the city of LaFayette, Ga., an old Central of Georgia passenger rail car — once they find the wheels for it. It will be placed in downtown LaFayette, possibly for use as a model railroad museum.
The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum will give the city of LaFayette, Ga., an old Central of Georgia passenger rail car — once they find the wheels for it. It will be placed in downtown LaFayette, possibly for use as a model railroad museum.
Photo by Contributed Photo.

LaFayette, Ga., is due to get a piece of history to put on display: a passenger car used by the storied Central of Georgia Railway.

The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum has the old rail car on a storage siding and is ready to give it to LaFayette — just as soon as its wheels can be swapped out.

“You don’t find ’em on craigslist or eBay,” said George Walker, the railroad museum’s general shop foreman. “We have to scrounge the railroad yards for that sort of stuff.”

Walker couldn’t say if the rail car that LaFayette is due to receive actually ran on the tracks through town.

The passenger car needs some work, he said. It was repurposed as a mail car and then did time as a tool-storage car.

City officials are happy — but not in a hurry — to get the old rail car.

“We’ve still got to figure out where we’re going to put it and what it’s going to cost and all that,” City Councilman Chris Davis said.

Davis said he hopes LaFayette’s Downtown Development Authority can use grant money to buy a strip of vacant commercial buildings alongside the railroad track anchored by the Mars Theater, which was gutted last year by a fire. He envisions the authority selling the commercial strip to a developer for renovation.

If that happens, “it’d be very nice to have that [rail car] with the renovated area, there,” Davis said. The rail car might be used to house a local club’s model train setup; it could be part of a “little park to take the kids to in that area,” he said.

The Central of Georgia Railroad’s roots date back to 1833. Union forces ripped up its rails during Sherman’s march to the sea, and the torn-up rails became known as “Sherman’s bowties.” In its heyday in the late 1950s, Central of Georgia operated 2,646 miles of track. It became a Southern Railway subsidiary in 1963.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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