A section of the Arkansas Railroad Museum’s roof known as the fascia and a wall that runs the length of the roof have been covered in siding in a project that concluded Friday.

A section of the Arkansas Railroad Museum’s roof known as the fascia and a wall that runs the length of the roof have been covered in siding in a project that concluded Friday.


Project supervisor Lacy Cothran with Studdard Construction said that the fascia is the horizontal band of roof that runs under the roof’s edge.


Museum volunteer Elizabeth Gaines said that the siding will improve the building’s appearance and help protect the wood underneath.


"The main building was constructed in 1894," Gaines said. "There is always something that needs to be done."


Gaines said that 150 panes of glass were replaced in a project that concluded earlier this year.


"Some were broken by age, some by birds and others by vandals over the years," Gaines said.


Gaines said that funding for the projects has been provided by three grants as well as donations.


"We have spent $30,000 on the projects so far," Gaines said.


Cothran supervised Briar Cothran and Todd Williams on Wednesday as the two installed siding underneath the building’s eaves.


Bill McKaskill worked for the Cotton Belt Railroad for 40 years and Union Pacific Railroad for four years as a conductor and is now a museum volunteer.


"I don’t think the people of Pine Bluff realize what a gem we have right here with this museum," McKaskill said.


Gaines said that the museum’s smaller exhibit rooms recently received a fresh coat of paint.


"We took everything out but the cases when the painting was done," Gaines said. "We also took some things out of the display cases that have been on display for a while and rotated in new items."


Gaines said that the core group of volunteers is made up of five people.


"Most of our volunteers are also on our board of directors," Gaines said. "We would like to see more young people care about the history of railroads. We do have a number of tour groups come through. Just yesterday I signed up a group from HIPPY [Home Instruction for Preschool Youngsters] and from Union Pacific Public Relations. We have a Cub Scout group from out of town coming Saturday."


Gaines said that her group of volunteers stays on top of the latest preservation methods for antiques.


Gaines said that the Arkansas Railroad Museum is leased to the city of Pine Bluff by the Union Pacific Railroad and operated by the Cotton Belt Rail Historical Society Inc.


The museum has a large collection of railroad equipment that includes Engine 819, the last steam locomotive built in Arkansas, which was rebuilt in 1986, according to an equipment roster provided by McKaskill.


The collection includes several more engines as well as passenger rail cars and railroad service equipment.


Gaines said that the museum — located at 1700 Port Road — is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday and by appointment. For more information, call 870 535-8819.