Celebrate Railroad Day at Cassidy Park Saturday

Published 10:35 am Friday, January 24, 2014

The city of Bogalusa is not the only one celebrating a centennial birthday in 2014, and one of the others will be featured tomorrow when the Museums of Cassidy Park host Railroad History Day starting at 10 a.m.

The only surviving New Orleans Great Northern Steam locomotive, Old 72, as it is affectionately known, is a familiar sight to anyone who has visited the Washington Parish Fairgrounds, where it is on display in a cosmetically restored state.

The historic locomotive turns 100 this month, and to recognize the milestone, its whistle will be blown and its bell rung at the Bogalusa event. Old 72 T-shirts will also be available for purchase at a cost of $15.

Railroad History Day will also include live railroad music, storytelling, additional artifacts and more. And to help everyone get a real feel for the subject matter, the museums are raffling off a round trip train ride package for two to Meridian where the winners will also get a night at a historic Bed and Breakfast. Tickets can be purchased for $2 apiece.

But Railroad Day is primarily designed to educate, and Loraine Bourn invites everyone to come out and enjoy the lessons.

“It’s great to listen to the stories of those who worked on the railroad years ago and to listen to railroad music,” she said. “You can immerse yourself in history.”

A film covering the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad, and how WWII was won thanks to railroad readiness that allowed transportation of supplies to the troops, will be shown on the museum’s flat screen TV.

Former railroaders and rail enthusiasts will share their stories over cups of tea or coffee in the Pioneer Museum classroom. Operating railroad models will be on site. Low-volume, acoustic railroad music will be played live inside the space, and everyone is invited to bring a voice or an instrument and to join in the musical nod to history.

People are also encouraged to bring their own railroad artifacts, models and photographs for display, sale or trade. Museum representatives will be on hand to scan and save any documents or photographs that anyone would like to add to the historic records.

At 4 p.m., a drawing will be held to pick the winner of the Amtrak round trip for two from Picayune, Miss., to Meridian, Miss., plus overnight accommodations at the Century House Bed and Breakfast.

Tickets for the event fundraiser are available at the Museums of Cassidy Park and from museum members.