Train museum showcases original artifacts
by Shaunna Watson
Oct 21, 2012 | 5897 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Personal items of the agent are imbedded in everyday tools he used at the depot.
Personal items of the agent are imbedded in everyday tools he used at the depot.
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The onset of fall and changing of the leaves yield new and refreshing displays in downtown Cleveland.

The Martin and Sue King Railroad Heritage Museum is following suit by updating the artifacts on display.

Train Museum Director Lisa Miller has designed many new exhibits for the fall that, for some, evoke resounding recollections of a time long ago and yet, is unfamiliar to many of today's young visitors to the museum.

Upon entering the museum, to the left is The Depot, the first of the three new displays.

The framework, donated from the Delta State Archives, was previously used for many exhibits at the school.

In June, it also served as the photo booth during Good Old Fashioned Day in downtown Cleveland.

"We have modified it to be a depot loading dock scene. It allows us to show our artifacts – lanterns, the two-wheeled dolly, schedules, oil can, fire bag, and original mail bag from Boyle donated by Mandy Whitten – in a more natural setting," explained Miller.

Moving to the right of the depot dock is The Depot Agent's Desk.

According to the history provided by Miller, depending on the size of the station, the agent's family may have resided in the depot with the agent, and the agent himself may have served more than one purpose.

"In addition to selling tickets, the one person might have been the telegraph operator and the dispatcher for all the train traffic coming through," Miller said.

Many different versions of tools used by the depot agent such as telephones, a telegraph and switch locks are displayed on the desk.

Along with personal items, there are Railway Express Agency advertisements and annual lists of agents by state donated by Lynn Reeves of Cleveland, former REA employee.

"REA was a precursor to what we would call UPS today," Miller explained.

"We did mix up our time eras," she continued, "It's not one specific year here. This is simply to evoke the look and feel of a depot agent's desk and all that may have gone on in a depot office."

In the cases on the west wall of the train museum, is the third exhibit: The Business if Bolivar County.

Tools and photographs depicting industries and things that built the Delta are included in this showing.

Asa Atkinson, a train engineer at the museum, donated letters that discuss the renaming of a town.

These original documents reference extinct towns that show up on older maps.

Miller said, "Those are documents that you won't see anywhere else. They've never been shown before."

The series has previously focused on the business of Cleveland, and the forthcoming exhibit in the series will concentrate on the business of the Delta as a whole.

"This is a look at the success of our town. It speaks directly to the leadership that we have had in our town, and the fact that we've had Delta State." Miller continued, "We've had some continuity here that maybe other towns have not."

The Martin and Sue King Railroad Heritage Museum also houses a compilation of almost all known images of the T-bridge that was once located along side the Peavine Railroad.

The one image not included is dedicated to a collection based at Delta State University.

According to Miller, plans for a vertical tool display, enhanced sound absorption, modifications of scenery and a possible expansion to the layout of the museum are in the works.

"We are definitely going to increase the capabilities of trains going more than one direction," she added. "It's essential we keep this fresh and new so that visitors who come frequently can see something different. We are always improving it."

"As the train museum continues to attract more and more visitors, people become more gracious with donating artifacts, photographs, and train memorabilia to our collection. We are very happy to receive those things and honored to be able to share such a rich history," Miller said.