The North Alabama Railroad Museum is proud to announce the completion of the following projects:
The work shed at Mercury was an idea that was conceived many years ago. In fact the shed was built and sat dormant for many years with very little use. But just recently we had the doors installed and it change the whole character of the building. Now it has become a very useful building that has come in handy for many projects, to include the installation of a generator in baggage car No. 139 as well as the re-work on the prime mover on ALCo locomotive No. 484.
- Construction of Generator and Air Compressor Shed at Mercury Shops
Soon after the doors were installed on the work shed at Mercury, a pad was poured for a small shed to house an air compressor and a diesel powered generator. This allowed workers to have power for lighting and for power tools as well as compressed air for various jobs. The generator and air compressor are already coming in handy for work on the baggage car No. 139 and locomotive No. 484.
- Installation of 1.5 Miles of Donated Track
Museum members worked diligently on the installation of new trackage on our property that extends eastward to Naugher Road. To complete this task is a great accomplishment and extends our trackage to provide for a 10 mile round trip. The run-around track at this terminus allows the locomotive to run around the train and couple to the other end of the train for the return trip to Chase. An informal ceremony was held soon after the track was completed in the winter of 1999, and soon after a Golden Spike ceremony was held. A little history on our line, when Seaboard (what is now CSX Corporation) discontinued service on their line, the museum bought a portion (roughly five miles) of the right-of-way and named it the Mercury & Chase Railroad (after two stops that were originally located on the line). Other track projects museum members have also built include: Over a mile of track that had been partially removed before it was purchased by NARM.
- Restoration of Southern Caboose Ex-3087
This caboose was donated by the Lurleen B. Wallace Center in Decatur through the State of Alabama and was trucked some 30 or so miles to the museum. At the Wallace Center, it had been used as a commons store and had been painted inside in several different non-railroad colors and motifs. Members worked hard to return the inside of the caboose back to its original look. It is probably the museum’s best and most complete example of a working caboose. It is on prominent display where visitors can see it best upon arrival at the museum.
- Establishment of Our Museum Library
Our museum library started out inside the Chase Depot but has been moved to the old Chase Nursery Office building. Before this could happen a very old and fragile tile roof had to be removed. After that was complete a new metal roof was installed on the building by members, which was no small task. Then partitions were added, bookshelves assembled and painted and a new floor was put down. Here members can browse in style and comfort through a collection of historic railroad books and instruction manuals as well as a large assortment of rail related video tapes. Members are allowed to check out selections from the library as well.
- Restoration and upkeep of Alco S-2 locomotive No. 484
One of the museum’s flagships is our 1949 American Locomotive Company (ALCo) S-2 locomotive. No. 484 is proudly wearing the colors and paint scheme of the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway (the parent railroad of our present line). Of course No. 484 still retains it’s Mercury & Chase lettering as well. We rely on the “old gal” so much she has become like a working museum piece with a need for frequent attention.
Our 1000 horsepower, turbo-charged ALCo S2 locomotive 484 was one of a group of seven locomotives built in June 1949 for the Delaware Lackawana & Western Railroad. The locomotives were numbered 482 through 488 and were re-numbered 541 through 547 in the Erie-Lackawana merger. No. 484 became No. 543 and was sold to Reynolds Aluminum in Sheffield, Alabama prior to 1968. While there, the E-L diamond was painted over but the number and yellow nose still remained on the locomotive. After our museum acquired the unit, it was painted green with yellow trim. When time came to repaint her, it was decided the scheme would be fashioned after the N., C. & St. L colors. The locomotive has had one major change mechanically since the museum has owned it. The original wheels were worn so badly that it was decided time had come to replace them. The decision was made to install roller bearing wheel and axle sets and remove the friction bearing boxes from the Blunt trucks. This was a huge undertaking both physically and financially, but one that will last for years to come. No. 484 was donated to our museum by Reynolds Aluminum in the late 1970’s and has found what we hope is its final home at Chase.
- Restoration of the Railway Post Office Car
The museum’s Railway Post Office car was bult in 1928 by Bethlehem Steel Corporation and was owned by the CNO & TP and later the Southern Railway. It was operated by U.S. Postal employees until retired from service sometime in the 1950s and last operated along several routes in North and South Carolina. The car number is 3585 and it is a 60-foot combined baggage and R.P.O. car with one end devoted to each function. Recent restoration began in 1991 when members removed all non-R.P.O. items from the car and cleaned it enough to see that a lot of work was needed. Work began with the oak boxes that are suspended from the ceiling which were used to sort flats (flat packages larger than standard envelopes). As layers of built-up paint were removed, a beautiful oak finish was discovered. That work extended through the first years in confined spaces combined with noxious fumes. That part completed, four coats of polyurethane varnish were applied. Then removal of cabinets and fixtures was begun, carefully recording the details to ensure proper re-installation and as a record of the car’s history. The ceiling and overhead vent doors along with light fixtures and heavy electrical conduit appeared at first to be a most daunting task. However all surface rust and loose paint were removed and resulting bare surfaces were primed and the entire ceiling spray painted with an original cream color. Meanwhile, the outside and baggage section of the RPO was being restored. The rotten wooden window frames were rebuilt and the glass was replaced with Lexan plastic to prevent vandalism. The windows are capable of opening and appear identical to the original. Rust was removed from the car exterior and two coats of highly durable paint of the original Southern Railway color (Pullman green) were applied. Finally the car was lettered “United States ” and “Southern Railway” giving it that finishing touch.
On Thursday, May 22, 1997, a momentous celebration was held and the R.P.O. was officially dedicated. Real cancellations were made by postal officials just like in the “good old days”. The cancellation stamp was approved and created by U.S. Postal representatives and will be controlled by them to ensure that the stamp will be destroyed after 1500 cachet envelopes are hand cancelled.
These special letter covers honor both the history of working railroads and of the U.S. Postal Service.
Other Completed Projects:
- Pavilion to provide covered area for picnics and birthday parties. It also serves as a good train watching location with a train track on either side!
- Another great addition to the museum structures is a train observation platform. Built by museum volunteers, it is strategically located next to the Norfolk Southern mainline and makes a really good place to relax and enjoy the rail traffic.