Shedding light on a workshop mystery

Another museum newsletter article, this time to drum up interest in the museum’s library, which had been sidelined due to a lack of trained librarian to handle the collection.

We’ve all been down to the shop. Building three, the cave of wonders. We’ve seen the two small diesel locomotives, eager for action. We’ve seen the two finished cabooses, stuck behind that small green switcher engine we’ve seen in all the publicity photos and maybe remember running. Everyone knows #290’s in there, waiting for hair and makeup in preparation for her close up. And of course there’s a small corner of the shop dedicated to the Park Train, hard at work making their own special brand of magic happen.

And, of course, most of us, after all that, have seen the RPO and the baggage car in the very back corner, dusty and largely used as a chalkboard and lighting rack for the park train restoration. Many of you probably wonder what’s in those things, and why are they important enough to take up valuable shop space? Today, dear readers, all shall be revealed!

Those two cars house the Southeastern Railway Museum Library, an extensive collection of photographs, books, periodicals, blueprints, mechanical drawings, and small artifacts dating back to the Civil War. A veritable smorgasbord of railroading history, with items representing most railroads in America, plus a few that aren’t and even some maritime and aviation history. Truly, an unsung treasure of the museum!

These two time capsules have recently been the focus of an intensely dedicated group of individuals that come out once a month, sometimes more, to work on cataloguing and preserving this wonderful collection for generations to come. Our volunteers put in tons of time and effort helping to create a working inventory of all the wonderful pieces we have access to, with the goal of digitising the database and creating a web page from which anyone, anywhere in the world, can search for items and eventually have limited access to them. This collection is too good to be hidden away!

If you’re interested in participating in the next cleanup day, they’re usually on weekdays, early in the morning to beat that good ol’ Southern heat. For more information on the library, or how you can help with our ongoing efforts to turn our two cars into a serviceable research library, contact Holly Hearn at, or if you’re not yet a volunteer contact Sue Kelly and let her know you’d be interested in working in the library! Together, we can all give the railroad preservation world something to really sink their teeth into.

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