published Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Retired caboose headed to LaFayette for display

A Central of Georgia caboose is displayed on the turntable at Magnusson Yard in Summerville, Ga.
A Central of Georgia caboose is displayed on the turntable at Magnusson Yard in Summerville, Ga.
Photo by John Rawlston.

A retired railroad caboose on display in Summerville, Ga.'s Dowdy Park eventually should make its way north to LaFayette, Ga., to dress up a neighborhood being revitalized there.

LaFayette officials said they plan to put the caboose and an old Central of Georgia Railway baggage car on display on West Villanow Street south of the railroad tracks. The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga is donating the baggage car.

The two railcars would be a stone's throw from the Mars Theater District, a strip of buildings on North Chattanooga street that's being revitalized by Michael Lovelady.

"We actually have a fairly comprehensive redevelopment plan for the whole area," said Lovelady, who owns One Eleven restaurant on LaFayette's city square. He plans to anchor his strip of Mars Theater buildings with the Chattanooga Street Tavern, an English pub-style restaurant due to open in September.

Lovelady also is a member of the board of LaFayette's Downtown Development Authority, which recently made a presentation to the City Council about a proposed six-phase redevelopment of the Mars Theater neighborhood that included the railcar display.

The Walker County Model Railroad Association may set up a display of model trains inside the historic railcars, Lovelady said.

He said that, while the caboose has been on display in Summerville, it actually is the property of the Walker County Chamber of Commerce.

Summerville City Manager Russell Thompson said, "We have no problem with them getting it. We'd love to have it, but ... it's theirs."

He said Summerville officials will try to find another caboose to take the place of the one headed to LaFayette.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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