STRASBURG – One of the Strasburg Museum’s most popular attractions is getting a facelift soon after the museum received a $2,500 grant from Crescent City Charities.
A large piece of history rests behind the museum. Sitting atop long-unused train tracks, two defunct train cars point back to a time when Strasburg served as a bustling hub of activity. The large red caboose and forest green baggage car give visitors a chance to step back in time and get a show while they’re at it.
Gloria Stickley, the president of the museum, said the project to update and repair both train cars has been a long time coming.
“It’s a job we have been putting off for some time,” Stickley said. “It’s a really popular part of our museum. People come there mainly to see the caboose and to see the model train in the baggage car.”
Inside the metal baggage car, John Schreiner set up a sprawling model train set that incorporates hundreds of miles and dozens of cities that runs the length of the car. Front and center in the exhibit is a hand-built replica of the Strasburg train station in September 1939.
In January, Stickley said the museum can reapply for the grant and receive twice as much money.
Both vehicles need a fresh coat of paint and some careful repair but the first item on the list is the wooden caboose, a shell of a bygone time when trains were the cutting edge of transportation technology.
The south side of the wooden car has sat, exposed to sun, rain and snow for years, allowing splinters to push their way through the peeling paint.
“We might have to replace some of the boards,” Stickley said, touching the exterior of the car. “And it will take every bit of that money to do that.”
The caboose, Stickley said, was part of a train that frequented the Strasburg station until it was shut down in the 60s.
“We’re really proud of it and we’re trying to take care of it,” Stickley said.
When the museum reapplies in January, Stickley said it will be eligible to receive $5,000 and they will take up another project, painting and repairing the baggage car.
Schreiner said he was excited to break down and rebuild his re-creation of Virginia in 1939, the golden age of steam, donating it to the museum and giving families a chance to step back in time.
When he brought his model set in, he said the car was showing its age. Rust was creeping over the shell and paint was peeling.
Before the car returns to a similar state, Stickley said the grant is going to help repair and preserve pieces of history that provide a draw to the historic site.
“We’re talking about major renovation to both of these cars,” she said. “But it’s been put off for a long time. The funding that we get will be a wonderful help for this.”