TAC votes to help town with caboose

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    The Patrick County Tourism Advisory Council (TAC) voted unanimously Sept. 22 to contribute $11,000 toward the purchase and rehabilitation of a historic caboose to be placed along the Mayo River Rail Trail in downtown Stuart.
    “The caboose signifies a joint effort between town and county officials, offering a glimpse of an important historical element within both the town and county’s history,” said Joseph Quesenberry, county tourism director.
    The trail is designed to follow the route of the old tracks of the Danville and Western Railroad, also known as “the Dick and Willie,” along the Mayo River.
    Town of Stuart staff and council members made a presentation at a recent meeting, requesting assistance from TAC.
    Town Manager Terry Tilley requested funds for the purchase, transporting and rehabilitation of a caboose currently located in North Carolina. The work will cost about $32,000, and the town proposed a 60/40 match, with TAC’s portion set at $21,000. After deliberation, TAC voted to approve funding of $11,000 and waive the town’s previously committed $10,000 contribution to the Mayo River Rail Trail.
    “The caboose will provide us with a gateway to both our historic past and the Mayo River Rail Trail,” Quesenberry said. “Whether you’re a rail enthusiast, a history buff, or simply love to take a stroll along our beautiful trail, the caboose will become an integral part of the journey. I appreciate the town’s diligence in making this become a reality, and I’m glad that the Tourism Advisory Council chose to assist in the project.”
    TAC member Chris Owens said the caboose was “an awesome idea.” As the father of a five-year-old boy, he said, he knew the attraction trains and railroads have for little kids.
    “If we passed a caboose, we’d have to stop and look at it,” Owens said.
    During their presentation, town officials said they had been working on the project for over a decade—trying to find a caboose in good condition at a reasonable price—signifying the importance of this future community asset.
    Stuart Vice Mayor Rebecca Adcock said the town hopes to complete the project by the summer of 2017, which would mark the 75th anniversary of the departure of the last train from the depot in downtown Stuart.
    For more information, contact the county tourism office at 276-694-6094 or the town office at 276-694-3811.

    The Mayo River Rail Trail in downtown Stuart will serve as the future home of the historic caboose.
    The Mayo River Rail Trail in downtown Stuart will serve as the future home of the historic caboose.