Future Dalton attraction trying to stay on track - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Future Dalton attraction trying to stay on track

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DALTON, GA (WRCB) -

An abandoned train car in Dalton is being turned into a local and tourist attraction in an effort to boost the local economy. Equipped with three bedrooms, a kitchen, and a lounge, the Crescent City served mainly as accommodations for the Southern Railway Corporation's VIPs from 1949 until the early 1970s when it was moved to Dalton. Here it served as an office on Crown Mill for around two decades.

"Following that it was moved down to south Dalton and sat there for about 20 years by itself, abandoned, and it was damaged by vandals," says Kathryn Sellers, volunteer with Friends of the Crescent City.

In 2011 the city paid to move the eyesore, and it now strategically sits next to the renovated freight depot where the CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads merge, going through a makeover ever since thanks to volunteers.

"What we want to do is have meetings, parties, events inside, as well as tours to just see it," explains Sellers.

Private donations and grants partially matched by the city have totaled $150,000, allowing the exterior to be completed and flooring repairs to begin. But now organizers need help making this unique attraction a reality as money runs out, and the project loses steam.

"Now we have to get professionals in to start working on the infrastructure, like the electricity and the plumbing," says Sellers. She's hoping for more donations and matching city funds.

For volunteer Ron Johnson, helping out re-lives childhood memories of trains going through his neighborhood back north.

"My grandfather on my mother's side worked for the Big Four Railroad and I've just been interested in trains," says Johnson. He's proud to now lend a hand to the city where's he's called home for more than 40 years.

Volunteer Logan Bailey, an 18-year-old Dalton native, hopes locals climb aboard once the train car can open for business.

"Joy. History. A window to the past of how people lived," says Bailey. The plan is to make the inside look a little "retro" like the original.

Sellers is confident, once complete, visitors will also flock.

"I do believe it will be a draw for visitors, to bring more visitors to Dalton, and of course that brings good economic development," adds Sellers.

Sellers wants to have the attraction open by mid-2014. If you're interested in volunteering or donating to keep the restoration going, please contact the Dalton Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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