Roundhouse campaign goes nationwide

July 08, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

Supporters of the Hagerstown roundhouse are going national in their efforts to save the railroad site, they told the Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday.

"We regard this as a national treasure," said William Knode, treasurer of the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum.

Knode showed council members the museum's plan for saving the 1905 structure from being razed.

The first step would be to transform the museum into the National Roundhouse Center with an advisory board made up of prominent business people across the country.

The group would launch a national fund-raising campaign to restore the complex off Burhans Boulevard at an estimated cost of $4.3 million.

The plan is for the roundhouse to be a tourist attraction.

It also would be the only place in the mid-Atlantic region where steam engines could undergo repair and restoration, museum officials said.


There are 60 steam engines either working or under restoration in the region and 230 that don't work, museum officials said.

The roundhouse could run excursions and feature miniature railroad exhibits, restaurants and amusements.

The center would cost an estimated $1.1 million a year to run.

Income would come mostly from museum ticket sales, food sales and railroad excursions.

In the last few weeks, the museum has seen an increase in out-of-state visitors, they said.

The group's new Web site at has broadened interest in the cause, they said.

Meanwhile, museum officials are fighting a July 10 deadline from roundhouse owner CSX Real Property.

A lot hinges on a closed-door meeting Friday with city officials, state environmental officials and representatives from roundhouse owner CSX Real Property.

"We'll know a lot more after Friday's meeting," said Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II.

CSX has asked the museum to pay for $500,000 in cleanup costs, which would include removing asbestos and lead paint.

The company also wants a government agency to assume legal responsibility for any problems that might arise with the deteriorating buildings or underground environmental hazards.

At a June 23 meeting, Hagerstown City Councilman Lewis C. Metzner expressed concern about the liability.

But on Tuesday, Metzner said the city should try to make a deal with CSX.

"I think it's very important not to allow this property to get away from us. I think we would be really foolish," Metzner said.

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