Why is Rendezvous So COOL?
Why is Rendezvous So COOL?
All of the Rendezvous events are HOT… but at the end of the day, a super cool evening isn’t what the RailPark Rendezvous is all about. The Rendezvous is an event we put on to fundraise for many different aspects of the Historic RailPark & Train Museum. Our goal is to fully restore all eight vintage rail cars that are a part of the museum as an educational feature of Southern Kentucky. Regarding our railcar restoration efforts, some of the projects we are focused on are Phase Two of restoring the Hospital Car, Phase Two of restoring the #109 Segregated Passenger Car, and restoration of the L&N Caboose.
The Hospital Car is one of 100 Hospital Cars built during World War II to bring the injured troops home. The car was built in 1945 in Missouri to contain living facilities for medical professionals, treatment areas, storage for healthcare supplies, and more. The railcar was gutted following the retirement of medical services to be used as an armory but was donated by the Louisville Naval Ordinance Station in 2011 to be restored as a Hospital Car.
The L&N #109 Segregated Passenger Car is an extremely rare railcar, one of two “Jim Crow” combination cars. Since the two-wood side steel car had a baggage section dividing the passenger car into two, the custom car complied with laws created before 1965. This car is an incredible educational resource for the Civil Rights Movement as well as an uncommon, vintage railcar containing rich history.
The L&N Caboose is a Chessie Class C-27. The caboose was manufactured for the fruit industry, being one of 62 refrigerated cabooses built for the task in 1978. The production of refrigerator cars declined during the 1970s era, which led the company to branch out into manufacturing other types of cars.
Within phase one of railcar restoration, the priority is to restore the exterior of the car to deter further deterioration. This responsibility entails several extensive and expensive services to preserve and restore the railcar. With being exposed to decades of weathering and abuse from the elements, these cars need painstaking repairs. Some project costs this external refurbishing entail are priming, painting, window installation, gaskets, locks, lettering, supplies, labor, and more. The projected budget for the Hospital Car exterior restoration ALONE is $20,972.
Once the exterior of the car has been reinforced, our restoration efforts proceed to the interior of the car. This requires tedious labor, specific materials, expensive installation efforts, and continued work to restore the interior of these cars fully. Due to decades of technological advancements, many components of railcars are either no longer manufactured or extremely rare. For example, the L&N RPO #1107 car is almost completely restored except for some of the light fixtures as it has proven to be very difficult to find early 1900s light units. Another example would be the conductor’s chair from the 796 E-8 Locomotive. Our tour guides like to joke “If you happen to have a 1900s train part lying around, holler at us!” While this is some light-hearted humor for our guests, preserving the interiors is an expensive, meticulous hunt to find the pieces that we desperately need to restore.
On top of the initial restoration projects to make the cars available to the public to learn about, maintaining and preserving the cars is an equally important and expensive task. Weathering has an uncontrollable impact on the cars that is a constant upkeep. Avoiding damage from external factors is a continuous effort. This also goes along with preserving the L&N Depot, which was built in 1925 to replace a previous station in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The task of restoring a portion of a post-industrial revolution rail line with 450 feet of track displaying an E8 Engine, a Railroad Post Office Car, the “Duncan Hines” 1949 Pullman diner, the “Towering Pine” 1953 Pullman Sleeper, the 353 Presidential Office Car, and the Historic L&N Depot is conscientious work. BUT it is conscientious work worth doing because of its historic, cultural, and educational value. The Historic RailPark & Train Museum is a source of great area knowledge for Bowling Green, as well as a means to understand the American economy and transportation systems pre-PC age. This is why we continue to restore, preserve, and elucidate the worth of the L&N Depot here at the Historic RailPark.