SAL Office car "Savannah" : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

I understand the SAL Office car "Savannah" is in Memphis at the Memphis Transportation Museum. I could not find a website for this museum. Does anyone know anything about this museum. Thanks

-- Dick Kearns (, January 29, 2003


I and a partner bought the" Savannah " from the Seminole Boosters in Tallahassee. It had beed used as a hospitality center next to the stadium where the FSU Seminoles played. It had previously been donated years earlier by the SCL to the University. It was displaced by stadium expansion plans. We craned it back onto live rails and had it moved back to New Orleans where we did restoration work for about a year. We sold it to the city of Collierville, TN whose mayor was a rail buff and SR fan. He asked that we Letter it "Southern" since it would be parked along the SR (NS) main into Memphis. We got authentic blueprints and did as he asked but left the Pullman green ( as opposed to Southern green) paint. All this was around 1990-91 as I recall. My partner, Pete Messina still restores cars and is the best around. He did the Panama Canal train owned by the KCS and many others. One of his recent projects is the former "White Oak' formerly of the Clinchfield Specials. It now is the New Orleans Public Belt business/ promotion car.

-- Maunsel White (, December 22, 2004.

From the Memphgis Magazine online City Beat section. I plan to be in Memphis later this moth. I'll see what I can find out. 73 de Cliff

All Aboard

Back in 1966, Lewis Bird rode a train to New York to see his uncle perform on Broadway. Ever since, he’s been fascinated with railcars. These days, as vice president of the Memphis Transportation Museum, not only does he help preserve and maintain a collection of five railcars that are located on Collierville’s historic town square. He also works with movie producers and music groups in providing trains as settings.

Once he wrote to the Rolling Stones, pitching an album cover that would feature Mick, Keith, and the other bad boys of rock riding the rails. The band’s tour manager actually came to town and checked out the idea for a Dallas to New Orleans tour — but in the end, says Bird, “Mick Jagger decided he couldn’t sleep on a train when it was moving. I didn’t know he ever slept anyway.”

The museum provided nine cars used in the opening scene of the movie Mystery Train and set up a track in Cordova for the movie Return to Graceland. He was also contacted by producers of The Fugitive who wanted to stage a collision. “I knew that wouldn’t be possible here,” says Bird. “They wound up doing it somewhere out west.”

The Memphis Transportation Museum was formed in 1974 to offer excursion tours, but it shifted gears in 1982, when it became incorporated as a railroad museum. Several years later, the city of Collierville asked the volunteer organization to provide a group of railcars for display on the square. Through corporate sponsorships, the cars were purchased and refurbished. They include a deluxe- service lounge car, a pullman, a 1949 diner car, and a parlor-lounge observation car, as well as coach, an office car, and a Southern Railway caboose.

Now in its 20th year, the museum is currently working with the city of Collierville to accomplish new goals. Among these, according to Bird, is opening a museum office apart from the railcars, hiring a full-time employee, and setting established hours of operation, instead of giving tours by reservation only.

Judy Fricke, who operates a shop on the town square and serves on Collierville’s tourism committee, believes that with these changes, the museum could compete as “a viable tourist attraction and historic stop.”

Besides aiming for these goals, Bird wants to build a stronger base of volunteers, which now stands at about 15. As it is, Bird — who works in insurance relations for Dobbs Collision — is almost a one- man maintenance crew. One car needs painting and a new carpet, the other cars need to be cleaned, and if a window should get broken, watch out. “To replace a window you have to remove almost 200 screws,” he says.

Meanwhile the museum continues giving tours for schoolchildren and special groups. Yvonne Siemer, who runs a marketing/fund-raising company with her husband, frequently rents the railcars for special events and vouches for how authentic a tour can seem. “One lady asked my husband how far we’d go before we turn around and come back. She actually thought we were moving.” — Marilyn Sadler

-- Cliff Kendall (, February 04, 2003.

At one time there was a "Memphis Transportation Museum" that actually had cars that ran.They would run excursions.Can't recall the last time I heard of them.I will ask on another list.

-- Joseph Oates (, January 30, 2003.

Dick... my in-laws live in Memphis and I've spent a lot of time there. If there is a transportation museum there, it is well hidden. Now, I understand there are some lightweight cars parked on an abandoned siding about 500 yards west of Germantown Parkway out where the L&N used to come, but I have never crossed over all the barb wire fences back there to see what they are.

-- Buck Dean (, January 30, 2003.

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