Sykesville * Eldersburg * Gamber

OLD PULLMAN AS NEW SHOWCASE SOUTHEAST --

April 28, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

Car No. 1278 may soon pull into Sykesville's railway station. Instead of passengers, though, the 1912 Pullman car will house the town's model train collection, if the Town Council gives the project a the green light.

Bruce Greenberg, senior manager of Greenberg Publishing Co., proposed using the car at Monday's council session. The $10,000 collection and display equipment has been homeless since Lionel Trains of Michigan donated it to the town last fall.

"We have been looking for a home for this great inventory," said Mr. Greenberg.

The Pullman would be "a most appropriate home for the collection," said John Ott, director of the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, which has offered to lease the Pullman to Sykesville for five years, for a nominal $1 a year.

"We can put a railroad car in a town with the station."

Mr. Greenberg said he needed at least 500 square feet to set up the display. He considered several buildings in town, but eliminated them for financial or renovating reasons, he said.

He took his search to the Baltimore museum, the country's oldest facility devoted to the study of railroads.

"We had something readily available and ideal for the collection," said Mr. Ott.

The museum has lent cars and equipment for railroad festivals, he said, but the green and gold Pullman will be "the first major car the museum has put anywhere."

Mr. Ott said the museum offered Sykesville a lease with an option to buy the car, which is valued at about $8,000. "The body alone is worth that," he said. "If the car was in perfect condition, it would be worth about $15,000."

The 80-foot-long car is now on the tracks at the CSX railway yard in Curtis Bay, where engineers have been moving it from one spur to another "to keep it out the way of operations," said Mr. Ott.

During the constant shuffling, vandals got to the car. "It's just graffiti on one side and a few broken windows," said Mr. Ott. "We would like to move it somewhere before anything else happens to it."

Mr. Greenberg said the car was "roadworthy enough to be towed" to Sykesville. The trip can take place as soon as the railroad "can work out a travel arrangement," said Mr. Ott.

The venture would cost the town little or nothing, said Mr. Greenberg.

"A modest painting and some window replacement is all we need," he said, noting that several residents have volunteered to help with the project.

The panelled interior of the car also needs little work and would be readily adaptable to a model railroad, said Mr. Greenberg.

Originally, the 90,000-pound Pullman was a deluxe car with 12 sections for first-class passengers. During World War II, those accommodations were removed and the car was pressed into troop transit service.

Volunteers could use the town maintenance building to set up display modules before moving them into the Pullman. Sykesville also has two cabooses, one of which will house a Western antique store.

"I think the car will look beautiful alongside our other railroad things," said Mayor Lloyd Helt.

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