The digging for the old Chesapeake and Ohio locomotive starts today!
If the train is un-earthed, it should remain at Jefferson Park and in the Union Hill neighborhood. The train is a part of our rich heritage and culture- there is no way it should be taken from us. Instead we should have the train on display- with interpretive kiosks that tell the story of the tunnel, its history and eventual collapse–it belongs here in Union Hill!
I fully agree with ‘Bill’ that the train, which has been a part of Union Hill for decades, should remain a part of Union Hill.
more info from the RTD
I respectfully dissent.
If our concern is with the train itself and whatever it stands for, we ought to want it to be wherever it will be most carefully preserved. There is no museum or similar facility in the Church Hill area that can accommodate this thing. Keeping it here would be wildly expensive. Can we make an argument with a straight face that the best curatorial and conservation facilities are in our neighborhood? This thing is going to need a lot of stabilization and protection from the elements. This may be analogous to the U.S.S. Monitor situation. The Monitor fragments went to the place that could take the best care of them: the Mariner’s Museum.
Also, isn’t it the property of the railroad? If so, it will go where the railroad wants it to go. I’m sure the railroad would hear us out at least, but ultimately it isn’t our call.
Obviously this is all hypothetical. Who knows what is down there.
I certainly respectfully disagree on almost all of his points. Do you really think a locomotive needs the best curatorial and conservation facilities? I suspect it will be conserved and placed in an outdoor setting for people to look at and possibly climb on- and I said that with a straight face. I think this is more analogous to idea of moving the Whitehouse of the Confederacy to a new site- away from where the history took place. The locomotive is most important if its story is told with the story of the tunnel and in the historical context of our neighborhood.
At this point in time I think the City and Railroad should seek input from our neighborhood. Just remember, that when we allow our historic artifacts to be taken away, we lose a part of our cultural identity. Union Hill is currently struggling to establish it’s identity as a neighborhood- the story of the tunnel collapse is a huge part of that–let’s not give it up without a fight. Peace.
For the record, I am pleased with the varying opinions on this issue- discussion makes for better decisions. Has any thought been given to use the locomotive as a memorial to those who gave their lives during Richmond’s thriving railroad era–especially those men who lost their lives in the tunnel collapse.
Day 1 of the Dig from the RTD>
I’m not sure those calling for public display here understand what is most likely coming out of the ground, if anything. The consistency of the iron will most likly be like that of a graham cracker. This thing isn’t a bronze cannon – which would only need a little polish before being set up in the park. It’s more likely to be a huge cake of rust in the vague shape of train. Today’s news about the tunnel being filled with water only makes it more likely that this thing is rough shape. That is why it hypothetically needs “conservation”. It’s an artifact like any other and ought to be stabilized. Plopping it in the park will be its death sentence.
Plus, has anyone else noticed our neighborhood can’t have anything nice? Granted, a lot of people work hard to make the neighborhood better, but one look at the benches and trash cans on our fair streets leads to the reasonable conclusion that any old fragile train would be far more mangled in public display here than it was in its infamous cave-in.
All of this polite disagreement is academic obviously – who knows what they will find under there.
I think placing the train in a park is a great idea. I mean who wouldn’t want to create another place for transients to go to the bathroom in Church/Union Hill that is not our alley ways. Or another place for the gangs on our streets to show off their latest gun “purchases”. Oh, I know lets put the train in a park so here will be another place for an open air drug market besides the sidewalk in front of our houses. Ok, maybe I can get behind this idea after all. Yes, please spend millions of public dollars to pull out a train that is likely to be as rusty as my neighbor’s awning. Im in!
Duece: Thank you for your support and positive attitude. I especially apprecitate your willingness to embrace an idea that looks beyond currrent conditions and helps shape the future of our neighborhood. Would you like to join the Friends of Jefferson Park? Peace.
I, once again, must respectfully disagree with UH. You are right about the point that no one knows at this point what is going to come out of the tunnel, if anything. However, if something is unearthed that is worthy of display, I believe it should be displayed here, at the site of the tunnel and collapse. It is the story of our neighborhood. At the very least we should be a part of any discussion. The tunnel and its collapse is a major historical event that shapes our neighborhood- we should be at the table.
I also disagree that our neighborhood can’t have anything nice. Look around…Tricycle Garden, Jumpin J’s, Brick sidewalks, lovely houses and yards, Jefferson Park… plus crime is way down and renovation is way up– we cant plan for the way things were, but we can plan for the Union Hill of the future- which I hope will include an historical display that interprets our tunnel, its construction and collapse. It is an amazing story, one worth preserving for future residents and visitors.
Well said about the nice places in the neighborhood, Bill. However, I respectfully submit that the excellent places you cite are all heavily fortified.
I see where you are coming from, but my ultimate point is that we shouldn’t be too quick to get up in arms if it’s going to have be inside a museum because of its advanced state of decay. We in Church Hill / Union Hill just don’t have a place for something fragile like that without spending Big Money.
In the final analysis, if it can’t be here, what’s so wrong about it going to our state’s premier history museum, which museum is also in our same city? It’s not like it would be going to Short Pump.
The Virginia Historical Society is a better place for the train.
The train is very fragile and cannot be put outside and will require its own building if left here. That would cost a lot of money.
Also after an initial spike in visitors, it would be forgotten again if put here. At the society’s building, it will get many more visitors. Could you imagine if every historical artifact were dispayed at its original location? It’d take a year to see everything that you could just go see at a museum in a day. And there would be many artifacts that no one would ever see.
Also, it’s not just a part of Church Hill history, it’s a part of Richmond history. Be glad at least that it will stay in Richmond.
It would be cool though if they opened up the end of the train tunnel and they could make that a place where people could go see where the train was and have some type of kiosks with photos and smaller artifacts. They should have at least something to recognize the site.
I’ve been really interested to note what the city and the media cite as the location of the train and have spoken with the Mayor’s office and emailed the Times Dispatch to let them know that the train is not in Church Hill, but Union Hill.
First of all, I’m not sure I see the point of digging the thing up at all, except possibly the stabilzation of what is potentially a hazard under our hills.
But, assuming it is unearthed, (a big assumption); and assuming it needs preservation (a likely assumption), do we really want the infrastructure that would accompany its upkeep in our park? Jefferson Park has hands down the best view of the city; do we want to plunk a building in the middle of that?
If it were to be kept here, I would suggest that it be situated very close to its current location, that is, down the slope and not on top of the hill. I can imagine a nice glass-walled building that faced the city, dug into the hill and all. Now _that_ would be cool. Think anyone will pony up the money for that?
Josh, what a great idea. Could leave the thing in situ, walled in by glass.
The major point that I want to make is that the citizens of Union Hill should have a voice at the table early in this process. While it is true that I would like to see historical artifacts about the tunnel and train displayed in Jefferson Park- I also recognize that it may not be reasonable to do so. At this point in time we are just speculating about what will come out of the tunnel and how it will be conserved. Perhaps it will make sense to historians to leave the artifacts here, in the historical context of the tunnel and park?
Union Hill has and continues to struggle with its identity- most people still call it Church Hill. It’s not. A huge part of our identity comes from the tunnel and the story of the collapse. I think it is worth the fight to keep our history here- I envision an historical highway marker, a display of artifacts – including a train from that era- and interpretive signage, as well as the listing of Jefferson Park in the Register of State and Federal Historic Places.
Many are working to improve the neighborhood, but we must also remember and honor our colorful and historic past. A site on Jefferson Park that tells the story of the tunnel, its construction and eventual collapse will be a wonderful addition to Union Hill.
Not to be dismissive, but knowing a train is under that hill is such a better story than one that involves removing it. There’s no more mystery, or imagination involved. I’d rather imagine the train under the hill than seeing the ruin that would come out. Why don’t we focus our attention a few blocks west, to the slave cemetery/slave auction site that now “rests” under an MCV parking lot? Let’s give those ghosts true, honorable graves to haunt, instead of asphalt and Hondas. Let’s give them a museum to tell their story. The train needs two hundred more years to even begin to enter the house of ruin. Get in line, train. There so many ghosts and not enough time.
This may well be the most polite and well-reasoned blog thread ever.
But it seems like we aren’t really talking about the train anymore, but instead are looking for things to give Union Hill the kind of identity that it arguably hasn’t had (or needed) since Richmond annexed it. The Keep the Train in Union Hill cry seems needlessly balkanizing.
Balkanize means to divide people into individual hostile units.
This train issue should not do that at all. It should bring us together–reasonable people with a shared vision for building a safe an d liveable neighborhood. We may not agree on every point, but I think we can come up with a better solution together than either one of us can do alone.
While I agree the slave cemetery issue is very important to our City being honest and be a part of the healing process, I dont think this is an either/or issue. It just happens that the escavation of the train has pushed this issue to the front burner. Perhaps some successful community organizing behind this project, can be transferred to the other historical site. I am passionate about both sites and would be happy to work to see each sites’ history interpreted and preserved with dignity.
Thanks for the historical link on the bridge and the train rescue on the MLK bridge thread, John. Interesting to know that there was once a school at the current vacant city block adjacent to the hill. This begs the question with regard to a current, if unrelated topic, how will knocking down schools affect neighborhood development (or, how will building them do the same)? This account also reveals issues of the stability of the hill. Allowing someone to remove this train should be linked with an effort to better secure the fill on this hill and make the side of the hill, which is seen by thousands of motorists on 1-95 each day, more attractive. The half-hearted effort to fix the hill after Gaston needs to be addressed along with any potential train removal. Which, due to matters of practicality and historical import, I do not think they should do at all. I would prefer they build an attractive, well lit (well maintained!) public art and/or landscape display of some sort that both honors the dead and illustrates this part of the city’s history for residents and visitors alike. I know that there was a recent VA Tech landscape architecture class project for Monroe Park, why not one for the hillside of Jefferson Park? Perhaps a more attractive hillside would facilitate high quality development in adjacent blocks.
I am on the way to MLK for the public meeting on the City of the Future Plan..but wanted to let folks know that I have heard the Mayor Wilder has stopped the train escavation project for safety reasons. That is the word on the street. Peace.
Mayor Wilder confirmed at the City of the Future Meeting that there has been a STOP WORK ORDER placed on the draining of the train tunnel and any related escavation. The project, which at first was a simple drilling to film exercise has developed into a major project that needs various permits and studies to be completed safely.
So in the meantime, there will be a group meeting to form a Friends of Jefferson Park. This group would be similar to the Friends of Bryan Park, Byrd Park, Libby Hill Park and Forest Hill Park. The group would be associated with the Richmond Recreation and Park Foundation. More information to follow…
I am glad they stopped. I would think that pumping out that much water would have not been good for the park and its surrounding properties. As far as starting a friends of Jefferson Park, another great idea. I would assume that forming such an organization might, in the future, forestall random history buffs/”treasure” seekers from coming around and injuring the park without even a simple city permit.
You Are Invited to an
Friends of Jefferson Park
Monday, July 24, 2006
2018 Princess Anne Avenue
Discussion Topics Include:
Train Excavation/Park History
Dogs and People
Please RSVP to Bill Conkle firstname.lastname@example.org 649-3764
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