Council approves train disposition for ‘valid offer’ from Corbin, Kentucky

Published 9:23 pm Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tuesday evening the Bainbridge City Council voted 5-1 to transfer the L&N Locomotive to the city of Corbin, Kentucky for to-be determined compensation.

Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby will now work out the details with representatives of Corbin to negotiate a “valid offer,” Bainbridge Mayor Edward Reynolds said.

The vote, which Councilmember Rosalyn Palmer dissented, came after Corbin representatives addressed the council at the last meeting, requesting a trade for the train. Maggy Kriebel, director of the Corbin Tourism Convention and Commission, presented Corbin’s plans to center a rail museum around Locomotive 2132. Kriebel said that Corbin already has acquired a sponsor to move the engine and is open to negotiations on compensation. Part of her proposed deal included Bainbridge becoming a sister city of Corbin.

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“I’m not as interested in an engine as I am something else going down there,” said Councilmember Luther Conyers. “I would like us to ask her again for their very best offer, and I think what we should do is take their very best offer and put something down there that our children can enjoy for years and years to come.”

A common issue Reynolds and multiple councilmembers had with the train is the asbestos and other safety issues as well as the price of restoring the engine.

“In our current understanding, we’d have to fence it off and limit access to it,” Reynolds said. “What our citizens remember most is actually being able to get up on it and experience it. We can’t abate the asbestos to the point that I would feel comfortable that we wouldn’t have a liability.”

“I know we don’t have it budgeted to repair it and restore it this coming year,” Councilmember Glennie Bench said. “I’m not sure where the money would come from and what other things would go undone if we did spend the money on it.”

Palmer disagreed with the estimated $100,000 renovation costs and said that the city did not have to restore the train to Corbin’s standards.

“I think what Corbin wants to do is great,” Palmer said, “but we don’t have to spend that kind of money. We’re not trying to put it in a museum.”

A lot of the discussion focussed on how to “save” the train. Bench said that the city did save the train 30 years ago.

“We should be proud of that, and now it’s our responsibility to save it again,” Bench said. “We can’t save it by keeping it. I think we should save it by sending it to Kentucky.”

Conyers said, addressing Reynolds, “It has been said that your father (former Mayor Bill Reynolds) saved the train some 30 years ago, and he saved it by bringing it here. I think it might be a tribute to your father if you would save it and let somebody else enjoy it for a few years.”

The train was moved to Bainbridge in 1980 after operating for a few years in Sneads, Fla. before being left to deteriorate, according to a Post-Searchlight report.

In a letter addressed to the City, Sid Johnson, president of the L&N Railroad Historical Society and retired CSX Transportation executive, said that L&N 2132 should be returned to Corbin, where the train operated for years.

“L&N 2132 needs to go back to Corbin where it can be restored, displayed and enjoyed at the Corbin Rail Museum,” Johnson said. “The City of Bainbridge should be highly commended for keeping L&N 2132 from the scrap heap for 35 years unlike her 33 sisters who were sent to the torch.  It is now time to move forward.”