When the Corbin Tourism Commission voted in January to accept the proposal to restore the L&N 2132 locomotive along with her coal tender and caboose on display on Depot Street, the goal was to have the project completed before Nibroc 2017 kicked off in August.
Monday morning the work crew from Wasatch Railroad Contractors took down the last of the scaffolding as Tourism Director Maggy Kriebel completed her final inspection of their work.
“There are a few last final details such as touching up the paint, but the work is essentially complete,” Kriebel said adding that when the pieces were first trucked into Corbin in January 2016, she didn’t envision them looking like they do now.
“It has exceeded my expectations and I think you can say the board’s expectations,” Kriebel said. “When she was brought in, most people thought it was nothing but a pile of junk.”
“We have had a running joke in which we call her ‘Lazarus,’ because she had been raised from the dead,” Kriebel said of the locomotive.
The locomotive and tender have been repaired and restored to match their appearance when it operated in the Corbin rail yard switching loads from one train to another and moving cars around the yard.
The caboose, which had been painted bright orange, was sandblasted, repainted to the familiar L&N red and rechristened with its original road number “L&N 1056.”
Kriebel said the project will be formally dedicated at a ceremony on September 22.
That same weekend, the L&N Historical Society will hold its annual convention in Corbin.
Kriebel said with this project completed, she will be turning her attention to the interior of the caboose, the French Broad River Pullman car and completing the work to make the Corbin Railroad Museum a reality.
Work has been ongoing to catalog and enter into a database an inventory of all of the artifacts that have been donated or lent to the museum.
Contractors have begun planning to renovate the interior of the former Corbin depot to house the museum.
“We are realisticly looking at 2018 to get the museum open,” Kriebel said.
Part of the space in the museum will be used to tell the story of L&N 2132 and its unique history as the only surviving steam locomotive built at L&N’s locomotive shop in Louisville.
The C-1 switcher engine and her tender were built in 1922.
The shop was located at the site of what is now Papa John’s Stadium.
Kriebel said many of the parts and pieces removed and replaced as part of the restoration have been kept and would be put on display along with other antique bells and steam whistles the museum as acquired.
“We want to tell the story of how she operated and the process of making the steam and how it propelled her,” Kriebel explained.
After ending its service to the railroad, the locomotive and tender were sold to Gulf Power Company in Florida. It was eventually moved to Bainbridge, Georgia where, along with the caboose, it was put on display in a local park.
Upon learning of the locomotive’s ties to Corbin, Kriebel approached the Bainbridge City Council in 2014 about donating it to Corbin.
The tourism commission spent more than $400,000 to move the pieces to Corbin and to refurbish them.