After more than 20 years parked in Noble Park on Ninth Avenue North, an iconic locomotive and caboose will soon return to the Galveston Railroad Museum.
The Galveston Railroad Museum, which loaned the shay locomotive and TNO caboose in 1995, has asked for the rolling pieces back to add to its display collection.
Texas City commissioners unanimously approved spending $50,000 to transport the pieces back to Galveston and restore the grounds of the park.
The city made a deal with the Railroad Museum of Galveston in 1994 that Dunn Heat Exchangers would repair one of the museum’s locomotives. In exchange, the museum agreed to a 25-year loan of the Shay Locomotive, according to a plaque at the park. The locomotive was mounted in Jan. 1995 and the caboose joined it shortly after.
The city will likely move the parts within the next month, Mayor Matt Doyle said.
Morris Gould, executive director of the Galveston Railroad Museum, said the museum was looking forward to restoring the locomotive and caboose and putting them on display.
“A lot of things have changed since we loaned it to the city,” Morris said. “That particular locomotive has become quite valuable.”
The locomotive is worth anywhere between $300,000 and $500,000, although the museum doesn’t plan to sell it, he said.
A little bit of work will be needed to get the engine up and running again, he said. The “monkey motion,” the mechanical part of the locomotive, is in good shape, but will need lubrication to get moving again, Gould said. Other parts of the train have some rust, he said.
The museum is waiting for contractors to retie about 700 feet of railroad track before it can take on the train. The locomotive will likely be moved by using cranes and a flat bed trailer, Gould said.
“I’m just as anxious to get it as they are to send it,” he said.
Once the locomotive and caboose are moved, the city will spend the remaining money to restore the park grounds, said Dennis Harris, who is the director of recreation and tourism for the city.
The recreation department is still deciding what it wants to do with the park, but will keep with the theme, Harris said. The park has a Depot Station-themed pavilion and a train-shaped playground structure.
“Once it gets removed, we’ll look at what other type of park amenity will compliment the existing park,” Harris said. “We don’t have a timeline yet for that.”
The train has been a staple of the park along one of the city’s main drags for the last two decades. Nick Finan, city secretary, said he remembered taking his now adult daughter to the park when she was young.
When Cub Scout leader Heather Ludgate heard the train would be moved, she decided to take her group, Pack 240 Den 5, to the park to check out the train. On a recent afternoon, she took seven Cub Scouts to see the locomotive.
“We talked to them about how trains work and then had a whittling class in the pavilion,” Ludgate said.
The second-graders were intrigued by the mechanics of the train and how it all worked, she said. It’s probably not their last time to see the train. The Scouts plan to take their last field trip of the school year to the Galveston Railroad Museum, she said.