Back on track: Unique railcar restoration gets boost
Published 4:30 pm Monday, May 8, 2023
A unique piece of local transportation history is slowly getting a new life at the Historic RailPark & Train Museum.
The Louisville & Nashville Railroad No. 109 passenger car, built in 1911, now sits at the L&N Depot in Bowling Green, home to the nonprofit museum.
For decades before landing at its new home, the 109 was a tangible part of Jim Crow segregation.
Up until 1955, the railcar carried passengers from Glasgow as part of the Glasgow Railway Co.; white travelers in front, Black travelers in the back part of the railcar, which was split by a baggage storage area.
The car was then abandoned and left to rot near the tracks at the Glasgow Railway Depot. In 2007, it was purchased by Dorian Walker and donated to the museum.
The car, however, was just a skeletal shell, with a tree growing through the (mostly missing) floor.
The lengthy all-volunteer effort to save the railcar began.
In 2013, a house moving company transported the railcar to the L&N Depot in Bowling Green for continued preservation efforts.
The exterior rehab has mostly been finished – the inside is still a work in progress, with mostly bare walls still needing to be covered and seats added.
Volunteer work “is only half the equation,” said Jessica Warren, development officer of the Historic RailPark & Train Museum.
Funding is also needed for supplies.
That’s where the Cultural Awareness Corvette Weekend Inc. stepped in.
The group’s mission, per its website, is for Corvette owners from across the “United States to come together and experience and celebrate the cultural and ethnic diversity that exists amongst Corvette Owners while contributing to the development of educational and economic opportunities in the host community.”
The host community, of course, is Bowling Green.
During a past visit, CACW members toured the RailPark and came away impressed by the museum’s work to tell the history of the Depot and railroad.
That resulted in a much-needed $5,000 donation formally presented Thursday at a ceremony in the railcar.
The car is believed to be one of only two of its kind remaining, making the preservation effort even more vital.
“It’s an important story for us to tell,” Warren said.
—For more information about the RailPark, visit www.historicrailpark.com.
– Follow Managing Editor Wes Swietek on Twitter @WesSwietek or visit bgdailynews.com.