Efforts underway to restore train, offer trips through Middle Georgia

December 14, 2015

A locomotive in Macon could be brought back to life.

A drive is underway to restore Steam Locomotive 509 that has been in Central City Park for decades. The idea is to offer Middle Georgians a special way to travel inside the only coal-fueled locomotive in the state, said train enthusiast Philip Lord, who pushed for the restoration earlier this year.Website Insert Perfect Answer copy

 The goal is to have it restored in time for the 100-year anniversary of Macon’s landmark Terminal Station in October.

Lord said he hopes Middle Georgia businesses and residents will rally to support the project financially. He said he envisions steam barreling out of a smokestack as passengers are escorted on trips throughout Georgia.

 “What we thought of so far are shopping trips to Juliette, shopping trips to Atlanta and Savannah as well as trips to (sporting events) in Atlanta and Athens,” Lord said. “Whatever other trips we could do, it’ll be something nobody else in Georgia can do. We’ll have the only coal-powered locomotive.”

On board for performing the restoration work is New Generation Rail Service, owned by Jason Sobczynski, who has worked with steam locomotive and vintage railroad equipment for 24 years.

Lord said the owner of Midstate Steel has offered to allow the $1.3 million restoration to take place at the Macon facility.

Once completed, the engine and attached tender, which holds the coal, would have a couple of passenger cars attached.

“One of the first steps in the rebuild is going to be to completely dismantle the locomotive like you have to for World War II aircraft. You take it down to a skeleton and inspect every part,” Sobczynski said. “As it sits, it’s in surprisingly good condition — as much as you can expect a locomotive to be in after having sat out in the weather for that many years.”

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