DALTON, Ga. (AP) — Renovations on the Crescent City train car could be complete come January or February if donated funds come through to finish the project, Kathryn Sellers and work crew manager Mike Brown said. Brought to Dalton in 1970 by two men who wanted to use it as an office, the train sat on the south end of town for 30 years before it was eventually given to the city, Sellers said. She took an interest in putting together a renovation project when a mutual acquaintance put her in contact with Brown, who works for Tennessee Valley Railroad. The train car, built in 1949, was originally a luxury passenger car for Southern Railway VIPs in its day. Sellers said she hopes to return it to its former glory and use it as an educational and tourism tool for Dalton. The car was part of the Southern Crescent passenger service that ran from New York City to New Orleans. The Pullman club car includes two bedrooms and one master bedroom/lounge area. Sellers said renovations are coming along quickly. Crew members are currently in phase one, Brown said. Once phase one is done, all windows will be new, lights will be working and the floor in the lounge will be complete, he said. He added that they currently have two men rebuilding a railroad air conditioner unit for the car. Brown said phase one should be done by the end of October. "We are replacing the structure that is damaged and it will be as structurally strong as it was the day it was built," Brown said. Sellers said they received a grant from the Mashburn Trust for $75,000, which was matched by the city of Dalton for a total of $150,000 for renovations. However, Brown said the initial estimate was $220,000 to $250,000 but due to unexpected damage, it looks like restoration costs will come in just under $300,000. To complete renovations, Sellers said they will need to make up the rest of the costs. Brown said crew members have been brought it from many states, including Florida, West Virginia and Maryland, who have experience and interest in railroads. He said the renovations will be done so that the train could be used as a functioning and mobile car if that purpose ever arises. Sellers said there are a lot of possibilities for what the train can bring to Dalton. She said it could serve as an educational tool for children and anybody who is interested in railroads. It also could add to the railroad tourism already established in Dalton, she said, adding it also could be rented for meetings, viewings, parties or even as a bed and breakfast. Sellers added she also wants to see the train bring a piece of history to Dalton. "It will just be cool for people to be able to see what train passenger service was in the 1950s and 1960s. Since we don't have that in the Southeast, people are not familiar with how prevalent it was during that time and they need to be able to see what it was like," she said. To make all this a possibility, Sellers said they are looking for someone, or several people, to invest or donate the remaining $150,000 needed. "It can be a wonderful asset for the city for tourism and for education," she said. "The return on the investment could be great." The exterior renovations are almost completed, Brown said, and in the next several phases the crew will be focusing on electric, plumbing, floor repairs, individual room repairs and lastly, decor. ___ Information from: The Daily Citizen, http://www.daltondailycitizen.com
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