2008-11-22 / Front Page

LIONS CLUB BUYS RAIL CAR

It took some doing, but the Coudersport Lions Club landed this rail car, which will be restored and placed on borough property in the arboretum. In the photo, from left, are Lions Club members Lou Karija, Dick Buchanan, Wick Furman and Steve Erway. It took some doing, but the Coudersport Lions Club landed this rail car, which will be restored and placed on borough property in the arboretum. In the photo, from left, are Lions Club members Lou Karija, Dick Buchanan, Wick Furman and Steve Erway. With the dedication of Coudersport's Military Honor Roll only two weeks past, news of another addition to the town's arboretum has surfaced.

Coudersport Lions Club members confirmed this week that they have purchased a passenger car from the former Kane and Kinzua Railroad. It will be restored, placed at the arboretum and operated as a small museum focusing on railroad history and other local historical themes.

The project has been spearheaded by Lions Club member Lou Karija, who learned that the cars were being auctioned off and would all likely end up in the hands of scrap metal investors.

"If it wasn't for Lou, we wouldn't even be talking about this," longtime Lions Club member Steve Erway told Endeavor News. "He rescued that car from the torches, literally."

In short, the Lions Club had a limited amount of money to spend and Lou was unable to outbid the scrap metal companies. But, to know Karija is to know that didn't stop him. He cornered one of the winning bidders and convinced him that at least one of the railcars should be preserved. Karija explained why the Lions Club wanted the car and the man caved.

"Thankfully, I'm not the only one who thought this was a good idea," Karija explained. "I no sooner mentioned it and I had $5,000 in hand."

Businessmen Gary Buchsen and John Wright, as well as the Coudersport Area Chamber of Commerce, were among the donors. One donor asked to remain anonymous.

A site has been selected for the train car at the arboretum's northeast corner, directly behind the Coudersport Service Center (former BP gas station). Plans are in the works to prepare the site, complete with railroad ties and rails, and then have the car hauled here in the spring.

Coudersport Arboretum caretakers are fully behind the plan and eager to help, according to Dick Buchanan, who heads up the arboretum group.

The car will need some grinding work and a new coat of paint, both inside and out. Karija said the Lions Club will seek volunteers to help with that work.

"It's a perfect match," Erway said of the plans to place the car at the arboretum. "We're really lucky we have people like Lou who pursue projects like this."

The passenger car/museum will complement the caboose that is located at the park's entrance along Rt. 6 and the former Coudersport and Port Allegany Railroad depot, which now houses the borough office and police department.

Knox and Kinzua Railroad suspended operations and sold most of its inventory by auction this fall.

The arboretum has come to life this year with landscaping and other site work, as well as completion of the Military Honor Roll, sponsored by American Legion Post 192. Now in its ninth year, the park has 12 benches, 12 lampposts, 16 trees, shrubbery and numerous memorials.

Landscaping was a major focus this year, and the results of that work are obvious at the arboretum entrance next to the Sheetz convenience store on Chestnut Street (Rt. 6 West). Sponsorships remain available for trees and bricks. Many donors have chosen to sponsor bricks in memory of loved ones. For anyone connected with Coudersport's past, a walk through the Arboretum becomes a trip down memory road.

Engraved bricks are $50 each. For those sponsorship opportunities or others, contact the Coudersport Area Chamber of Commerce at 274-8165.

A $10,000 state grant and a $2,000 donation by Sheetz helped to pay for this year's work, according to Buchanan.

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