The proposed Corbin Railroad Museum is on hold, at least for the foreseeable future.
At a special called meeting of the Corbin Tourism Commission, which has been working to make the project planned for the former Corbin railroad depot, a reality, the commissioners opened the sealed bids to design, fabricate and install the exhibits that would be the centerpiece of the museum.
Three companies responded with bids on the project, ranging from $250,000 for a minimal design to $994,300.
Tourism Director Maggy Kriebel told the commissioners that the upcoming budget would include approximately $50,000 for capital projects. She added that with the gift shop, admissions, special programs, sponsorships and grants, there would be approximately $130,000 per year to repay the planned loan to finance the museum.
“With that kind of revenue you would be awfully close,” said CPA Kyle Perkins, the financial advisor for the commission.
“If we do this project, we can’t do anything else,” said Commissioner Jackie Willis.
The commissioners agreed that tourism would be best served to continue working on improvements to the rolling stock on display outside the museum, which includes the L&N 2132 steam locomotive, coal tender, L&N 1056 caboose, and French Broad River Pullman car.
Kriebel said the next steps for that part of the project is to resurface the area around the locomotive, tender and caboose, install fencing, and begin the interior restoration on the caboose.
“It hurts after we have invested so much time and work into the project,” said Commission Chair Victor Patel. “We kind of have this dream and we just don’t have enough money.”
“We don’t have a choice,” said Commissioner Sudhir Patel.
Kriebel reminded the board that other museums have been in a similar situation, pointing to the Bluegrass Museum in Owensboro that recently opened after being in the works for 30 years.