10/15/2003 ALL ABOARD: Interurban will get restored to
By JOAN SHERROUSE/Daily Sun Staff
The next time Corsicana's interurban rail car comes home, it will take a permanent place of honor in Allyn Park where it once turned around on its Dallas commuter run.
But, for now, Car 305 is on its was to Florida for a make-over under the direction of experts at Edwards Rail Car Co.
Restoration aficionado Ron Maxfield, who has been involved in the car's recovery since it was spotted in a Granbury mobile home park almost two years ago, said the job will take about a year.
He said it is none the worse for wear after spending about 18 months underneath a metal shelter behind the K. Wolens Building.
"There's a little water damage because it took a while to get that roof on, but other than that, it's in pretty good shape," he said.
In its original state, Car 305 had a wooden frame, rounded windows and a coat of deep green enamel with red trimming and gold lettering.
Built in 1913, the car will become the oldest one in Texas restored to its original condition. Maxfield said the oldest, a 1908 car in Fort Worth, was brought back to its 1920s appearance.
"Even thought the Fort Worth car is older, ours will be put back to its original version," he said.
The interior is in excellent condition with most of the wood paneling still in tact, he added, but the car has a long road to travel before the experts call it done.
"They'll have to take out a piece of the wall on the right side and restore a freight door that was taken out in 1932," Maxfield said. "That year, they covered it with sheet metal to make it hold up better, and they squared off the windows."
That means most of the metal will be removed, the wooden exterior will be restored and rounded windows will be installed.
One of the most labor-intensive details will be the school-bus type seats which he said will have to be fabricated from scratch. Then, hardware, headlamps, wheels, a motorman's cabin, trolley poles on the roof and electrical hardware will have to be added or rebuilt.
"The only thing that won't be original is the seats," he said.
Maxfield said the cars filled a niche in the history of transportation for about half a century, providing clean transportation with the ability to make frequent stops.
"Interurbans came into their stride at the turn of the century in an era when there were no paved roads, and hardly any cars," he said. "It became obsolete quickly, but it was beautiful during the time it was running."
Public works director Ron Lynch said the $153,000 restoration cost was approved in the new budget and will be paid out of the hotel/motel tax fund. Use of this money is restricted to projects directly related to tourism and cannot be used for ordinary services such as street repairs.
With any luck, Car 305 will be back on or near Oct. 18, 2004, the 91st anniversary of the Interurban's inaugural run to Corsicana..
"This time, it won't be leaving again, though," Maxfield said.