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Rail museum to mark anniversary

October will mark the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of the Cotton Belt Rail Historical Society. To mark this special anniversary, there will be an open house at the Arkansas Railroad Museum on Oct. 12 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Also, that morning at 10:00am we will have a short ceremony with comments from Jefferson County Judge “Dutch” King, Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth and Greg Gustek, Director of the Pine Bluff Convention & Visitors Bureau. Following this opening ceremony will be a reception and a tour of one of Arkansas’ and the world’s treasures, the Arkansas Railroad Museum.

“With worldwide travelers that sign the registration book each year, it just proves what we already knew in the tourism business how important this museum is to Pine Bluff. Train buffs from all over the world travel here just to see the railroad cars, equipment and memorabilia from the original home of the Cotton Belt Railroad.” Gustek said.

The Arkansas Railroad Museum came about after the founding of the society with the real mover being the famous SSW engine 819. This engine, a 4-8-4 northern was built in 1942 in the very building that now houses it and the museum. It was the last of the 800 class locomotives built by Cotton Belt during the war years 1941-1945. The building was a machine shop where the locomotives were actually built and repaired.

The Arkansas Railroad Museum is located in the Cotton Belt Yards and the end of Second Avenue. Entrance to the museum is off Port Road. The museum is open daily Monday thru Saturday from 9:00am till 2:00pm. Visitors are always welcome with no admission charge to see the steam engines 819 and 336, several diesel locomotives, various type of rolling stock, displays of railroad memorabilia, model railroad layouts, and climate controlled museum within the museum.

The Cotton Belt Railroad Historical Society, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) non profit organization dedicated to the restoration and preservation of railroad history. It has membership and also accepts donations for its continued operation. For more information on the museum or this 30th anniversary ceremony call the museum at 870.535.8819.