MESA, Ariz. (AP) - Mesa officials are taking steps to save a historic steam locomotive at a Mesa park with a project that includes repairs and eventually placing the train on an elevated walkway in which park-goers can access its cab.
The city will begin renovating Southern Pacific Engine 2355 this week, The Arizona Republic reported (https://bit.ly/2nY0J5J).
The locomotive has been in Mesa for nearly 60 years and is fenced in at Pioneer Park. The train has been closed off to visitors since the early 1990s, when it was deemed unsafe under national standards.
The city had threatened to get rid of it in 2008, but the Save Our Train Committee formed to convince city officials to keep the 103-year-old steam engine. The group was successful and has since raised $45,000 to help pay for the restoration project.
“It’s been a long ride,” said committee Chairman Jim Ruiz, who grew up down the street from the park.
Ruiz spent his childhood playing games at the park, pretending to be the train’s conductor. “It’s just a lot of good memories,” he said.
The restoration project will allow children and other park-goers access to the train again once it is complete. The walkway will lead people to the train’s cab, which will include interactive buttons and other features, Ruiz said.
The city will remove asbestos and lead paint from the train before getting started on the other cosmetic renovations and structural repairs.
Pioneer Park will be closed from mid-May until November as the entire park gets about $8 million in improvements.
Information from: The Arizona Republic, https://www.azcentral.com
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