Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

June 11, 2013

Ashland to receive caboose

ASHLAND — A piece of railroad history will pull into Ashland’s Transportation Center in the coming weeks.

A 1969 caboose, NW 555441, will  be placed next to the historical C&O Depot. The caboose is in Wheelersburg, but is no longer in use or wanted by authorities there, according to Don Maxwell, a local railroad historian and enthusiast. A friend of Maxwell’s, Chad Fannin, whose grandfather, Edward Fannin, secured the caboose upon his retirement from Norfolk and Western in the mid-1980s, reached out to Maxwell about the caboose, he said.

 “I immediately thought that would be great if Ashland wanted it, and it was part of the historic building there,” said Maxwell, who is a former city commissioner. The caboose, was first commissioned at No. 411 by Southern Railway, which later merged with Norfolk and Western and the caboose was renumbered, Maxwell said.

City officials immediately responded. Finance Director Tony Grubb and City Manager Steve Corbitt went to look at the caboose and Mayor Chuck Charles set to working on how to get it moved to Ashland.

Corbitt said the 45-foot steel caboose was a natural fit at the historic depot that now serves as a modern Transportation Center for rail and bus traffic. “We are a railroad town,” Corbitt said. Logistics are still getting worked out, but the plan is to place the caboose at the western end of the depot perpendicular to the floodwall and railroad tracks, Corbitt said.

The caboose is being donated and city officials say the only costs associated with it will be the cost to move, restore it and any addition needed to the existing deck to make it accessible. City staffers will do the restoration and decking work. The caboose will most likely be used as a small meeting space after it is restored, said Corbitt.

 “We have a talented array of workers on our staff that we can pull something like that off. We have that kind of range. I think it is going to be a real nice end piece to the building,” Michele Rickman, acting administrator of the Ashland Bus System, said.

“It is another great asset to have,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity. It adds some charm to the area and is another way to pay tribute to the past there and add a little signature item.”

Rickman said the Transportation Center and nearby Ashland Riverfront Park get a lot of photography traffic for weddings, senior class photos and prom. “All the time people are coming down to take pictures,” she said.

Maxwell said he is delighted the city is taking action, not only because of his personal connection to the Fannin family. “It means it is still being preserved and not cut up for scrap, which is what has happened to the majority of cabooses. That is why the value of them has increased the way it has. There are not many of them left,” said Maxwell.

While Maxwell was serving on the commission, city officials began renovations of the historic depot and the Ashland Riverfront Park.

 

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