I admit I’m a train person.
While I can’t identify the various types of locomotives in use, or give details on the various railcars, trains fascinate me.
I don’t mind being stuck at a crossing as a train goes by. I wish there was a platform where you could stand and watch cars being shuffled in the Corbin railyard. Though, I realize it is a shell of its former self.
I was one of those who thought it was great when the Corbin Tourism Commission agreed to bring the steam engine from Georgia to be put on display in Corbin back in 2014.
I had high hopes for the train museum. Like anything else, the interest in trains is something you either get or you don’t. If you love trains, it is really great. If you don’t, it was a big waste of $400,000.
For comparison’s sake, I will say that I don’t get what draws thousands of people to jump off of Interstate 75 at Exit 29 and drive to our KFC to supposedly, “eat where it all began.”
It is the same chicken and sides served the same way that you get at any other KFC in the world. You look at a few things, get your picture taken with the plaque and under the sign, and then head on up the road. But, more power to those who get a kick out of it.
Which brings me back to the trains, specifically L&N 2132. The Corbin Tourism Commission spent a lot of money getting it hauled to Corbin, getting it restored, and then building a canopy to protect the investment.
I have written multiple times about the locomotive’s history. It was built at the L&N shop in Louisville. That is a big deal, because it was one of the few locomotives built there, and the site is now occupied by Papa John’s Cardinals Stadium.
It spent part of its career in the Corbin yard, so it has a connection to the city, and has come full circle by being returned.
However, unless someone looks up the stories about it on the Internet, none of that will be known to anyone that visits. To most people, it is just an old engine sitting under a canopy.
While the tourism commission has delayed the planned Corbin Rail Museum because of the cost, it could take a big step to make people more inclined to see the locomotive by putting it in context.
It is time to add signs displaying the locomotive’s history. What it did in the yard. How it did it. Specifications on its parts, including how the boiler worked and how the steam made it go
The same with the L&N 1056 caboose. I remember as a child in the 70s, and even into the 80s, seeing trains pass with the caboose attached at the end. Then they were replaced by the red blinking light.
Tell the story. Add pictures and signs that explain what it did and how it did it, and why the railroads eliminated them.
I realize that the economic impact from the COVID–19 pandemic has left tourism in a budget crunch, putting most projects on the back burner.
However, adding the signs would be a way to make it a real attraction and would be relatively inexpensive.
Cumberland Falls and KFC are the two things that get people to stop in our area. What tourism has to do is answer the question of, “What else have you got?”
Will the train bring thousands of visitors on its own? No. But it is another piece in the puzzle that makes Corbin and the tri-counties a tourism destination.