|Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden Trains(tm)|
Helping the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company MuseumGetting land, shipping locomotives across the country, moving and reconditioning buildings, building new buildings - the museum folks have been really busy here, and they've done a great deal of work without a huge cash flow. Based on what I've seen they really seem to be doing the best they can with the help they get.
Because they have rightly emphasized preservation over presentation, they now have exhibits that are well worth seeing, but they don't have all of the things done that you would expect a better-funded museum to have. Some of that changed in August, 2008, when a team of volunteers converged on the museum grounds to add pathways, shade trees and other upgrades to the museum's grounds. Once again, the museum seems to have leveraged a relatively small investment into an impressive series of upgrades.
Little Museum, Big Plans - The museum's "Grant Project" page, which hasn't been updated for a few years lists some things they were planning to do in 2005. Some of the big-ticket items have already been done, and some of the items haven't been done yet.
A few fairly expensive items linger on the "not done yet" list. For example, they hope to get Shay 2147 at least somewhat restored, and that won't be cheap to do right. But many other things on the "to-do" list shouldn't be that expensive, and would add a great deal of interest and educational value to the site. One example is signage, including little signs around the grounds so folks who don't know trains will know what they're looking at. Another August, 2008 addition, was painting the LRRR's name on the water tower, which will really help folks find the place.
Different Ways To Help - The museum uses different fundraising efforts to reach various kinds of folks, including benefit concerts, and Major Donor and Commemorative Brick programs. Some of these are described on their Grant Projects page. The Commemorative Brick program has its own page, and it seems like a very reasonable way to show your support.
Another way you can help is by becoming a member. It's inexpensive and will help you keep aware of special programs and activities. And, of course, volunteers are always appreciated.
The Smoky Mountain National Forest gets more visitors every year than any other national park. When I'm anywhere near Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, I personally appreciate the opportunity to see an exhibit that really says something about the history of this beautiful natural resource. With the help of the model railroading and railfan community, the LRRR&LC museum could become an exhibit that educates hundreds of thousands a year about railroads and railroading.
Links for More Little River Railroad Information
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