The city of McComb was chartered by the state of Mississippi in 1872 due to its prime location for the booming railroad industry. "Railroading is our heritage," says Whitney Rawlings, mayor of McComb.
The McComb Railroad Museum, located in the city's refurbished 1901 train depot, was established in 2003 to honor and preserve the city's history. This year, the museum is celebrating its 10th anniversary with two new additions--an office club car and a rare Railway Post Office (RPO) car.
"When the Southeast Louisiana Chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society offered the city two pieces of railroad history, we jumped at the opportunity to purchase an office club car built in 1883 and a Railway Post Office car built in 1914," says Mayor Rawlings. "Using Transportation Enhancement Grant monies awarded to the city of McComb by Southern District Highway Commissioner Tom King and Mississippi Department of Transportation, the city will restore these two cars and make other improvements to our existing Depot Park for our visitors to enjoy for decades to come."
"These cars join one of only two remaining Illinois Central Railroad (ICRR) mountain type steam locomotives, the only ICRR aluminum refrigerator car ever made (made in McComb), and an obsolete caboose," says Winnie Len Howell, volunteer director of the museum.
The RPO car is a 60-foot heavyweight car built by the Pullman Company for the ICRR, who leased it to the U.S. Postal Service, and is the only one of its kind still completely intact as a RPO. The body is steel, the floor is wooden, there are two sliding doors, and it is equipped with racks for large mail bags, sorting cages, and mail slots.
The office car contains a bathroom, bedroom, parlor, and kitchen with the original coal-burning stove and ice box.
"I encourage you to visit McComb, tour the museum and the railcar display in Depot Park, and experience what were the glory days of railroading," says Rawlings.
The museum will celebrate National Train Day Saturday, May 11, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., with free entertainment and rail car tours, model trains, motor cars, and more.--S.M.B.
Visit mcrrmuseum.com for more information.