All aboard! Volunteers and donors sought for mini railroad project

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It may not look like a lot is happening at the site of the future Iron Horse Square south of the Farmers Market Pavilion on Front Street, but that doesn’t mean behind the scenes things aren’t happening. The project is being undertaken by the Mineola Landmark Commission.

The 15-inch gauge train that will be large enough for people to ride is being constructed at Swannee River Railroad Company in Lufkin. Joyce Williams said the work is about one third of the way complete and its arrival is targeted for December. She said that Glen Thurman has volunteered to build the mini railroad, and she is looking for volunteers to create a crew to help him. She has already had four people volunteer to serve as engineers.

“They’re ready to go,” Williams said with a smile.

But, before the train can roll out, a fence is needed to be installed between the park and the real railroad tracks for safety, and the commission is asking the public to sponsor sections of fence on which their names can be posted in recognition. The sections would be eight feet for a $500 donation. Anyone interested in taking part in this can get in touch with Mineola City Hall.

The tracks are the other vital component of the project. Iron from America was sent to China where the tracks were fabricated. “The rail is on its way now. It’s being shipped from China,” Williams said, noting the tracks were made to real railroad specifications. They will be shipped to the port of Houston and Circle N Trucking will pick up the tracks in a container and bring them to Mineola. There are even plans for the container as it will be part of a shop for the railroad work.

“So the rails coming. The train’s coming and hopefully it will all be ready by December,” she said.

Among other plans for the park are a walking trail, flagman’s hut, a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks, a replica of the historic I&GN culvert and a replica of Interlocking Tower #62. Williams said that Pastor Demethruis Boyd has also offered use of the church’s ministry building for classes for the park.

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