Train Dedication at Soybean Festival

 MARTIN, Tenn. — Monday afternoon, the Illinois Central Gulf Caboose was relocated to the Virginia Weldon Park in Martin.  The dedication happened as part of the 2018 Tennessee Soybean Festival.

At only 13-years-old, Ryan Robinson decided to restore the train.

It ran on the Illinois Central Gulf railroad from 1974 to 1986, when it was then donated to the city of Martin.

It had not been serviced in over 30 years, when Robinson took the initiative to preserve it.

“We made sure to repaint it and put it as close to original, as when it was donated as possible,” he said.

Robinson was inspired to restore the train after noticing that other preservations were occurring around the country, and his parents were supportive of his decision.

“He really didn’t say he wanted to take on the project until he was invited by the mayor to come present the project to the city hall,” his mother, Luann, recalls.

She did not expect the city to invest $25,000 towards the train, which the city of Martin did in 2016.

Luann says she was nervous when the budget was approved, because she realized how big the project was.

Robinson’s proposal for the restoration was detailed down to a garden in front. His mother and friends spent the weekend planting it .

“There were times when we thought, oh my goodness, we don’t think it’s ever going to get done,” Robinson says.

Two-and-a-half years later, the restoration is complete.