Artifacts Sought for Corbin Rail Project

hand lantern photo

The Corbin Rail Project is on the fast track to an opening in May 2015, and Kentuckians and others are invited to hop aboard by donating artifacts from bygone days of the railroad industry.

The museum, a collaborative venture involving the Corbin Tourism and Convention Commission (CTCC), the L&N Historical Society, CSX Transportation and Eastern Kentucky University, is seeking a variety of artifacts to help illuminate the region’s rich railroad heritage. These might include photos, newspaper articles and other documents, uniforms, hats, pins, belt buckles, bells, whistles, watches, signs, manuals, lanterns, tools, locks, audio or video, posters, radios, train sheets, diagrams, paintings, letters, patches, loco plates, tickets and china/dishes.

The artifacts will either be physically present or used in one of the planned interactive displays, according to Jeffrey Cawood, an EKU senior sociology major and intern with the Corbin Tourism and Convention Commission. The museum will house a number of themed areas, with the artifacts places strategically within the appropriate themes.

“Artifacts are vital to the success of the museum,” Cawood said. “Without them, we’re merely telling a story. When we add the artifacts, the sights and sounds, we are both preserving history and invoking an unparalleled emotional response.”

Cawood promised a treat for visitors when the museum opens in the old L&N Corbin Depot, 101 N. Depot St., on May 9, which happens to be National Train Day. “We have worked with a number of railroad museums, railroads, historical societies and technology firms to create a truly unique experience,” he said. “The interactive displays and unique concepts will highlight the impact of railroads and railroad employees.”

Those who can donate artifacts to the museum should contact the Corbin Tourism and Convention Commission Office at 606-528-8860 or at info@corbinkytourism.com, or Cawood at jeffrey_cawood4@mymail.eku.edu. Also, donors can bring their items to a “Call for Artifacts” event on Saturday, Feb. 7, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the L&N Depot, 101 N. Depot St., Corbin.

“The community and region have the opportunity to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity alongside the museum,” Cawood said, “allowing them to leave their legacy for others to enjoy.”

Cawood, a North Laurel High School graduate, has vivid memories of the trains and bustling rail yards in Corbin. His participation in the project was made possible by a $10,000 grant from EKU’s Center for Appalachian Regional Engagement and Stewardship (with the apt acronym CARES). The grant was one of five awarded by CARES to community improvement projects throughout the University’s service region. 

Working under the supervision of Maggy Kriebel, executive director of the CTCC, Cawood has been busy archiving and cataloguing artifacts, establishing partnerships, recording and transcribing oral history that documents Corbin as a railroad boom town, identifying possible grants and writing proposals, developing a series of rail packages with similar communities, and assisting with the development of long-range plans.

The May 9 opening, Cawood said, only represents the first phase of additions to the museum.

Published on January 06, 2015

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