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Roundhouse Museum looking for new home

April 13, 1999

Roundhouse museumBy ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / taff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




WILLIAMSPORT - Supporters of the now demolished Hagerstown Roundhouse say they may move the railroad museum out of Hagerstown because they need more room to display artifacts.

"We'll pursue a new site with as equal a vigor as the 10 years we spent trying to save the Roundhouse," said Robert Tracey, president of the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum.

Museum officials met with the Williamsport mayor and Town Council on Monday to discuss the possibility of relocating in the Williamsport area.

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It was the first in a series of meetings planned with town and county officials to see whether local communities would welcome a museum, said Blaine Snyder, museum board chairman.

Museum officials recently signed a new lease for the South Burhans Avenue site, but there is not enough space there to display all the museum's holdings, he said.

The museum is adjacent to the CSX Corp.-owned Hagerstown Roundhouse Complex, a 45.7-acre railroad repair yard at which the last of more than 30 buildings were destroyed in early March.

The museum's hopes to expand into the Hagerstown Roundhouse were dashed by the demolition of the historic structure, Tracey said.

He called purchase of the remaining property "cost prohibitive."

Museum personnel approached CSX Real Property to buy that land, but the railroad plans to develop the property, Tracey said.

CSX Real Property representatives could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Museum officials are developing a five-year plan, and want to break ground at a new site within two to three years, Tracey said.

Site criteria include adequate acreage and good road and rail access, he said.

"We hoped we never had to use plan B," Tracey added. "If we find something in the city that would meet the criteria, that's probably where we would go."

Space constraints in the city have made it difficult to find an ideal site in Hagerstown, Tracey said.

Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said Tuesday he was unaware of the potential move, and had no comment.

The site development plan is in the preliminary stages, Snyder said.

"We just want to know if you would want us here, or if you wouldn't want us here," Snyder told the Williamsport mayor and Town Council.

He said area Realtors and a site search committee are researching possible locations.

He told the mayor and Town Council that museum officials were not soliciting funds, and that the museum would not compete with existing historic sites.

Snyder said a minimum of 30 acres is needed to display such equipment as the 44-ton wheel lathe, press, grinders, forges and diesel and steam locomotives.

Museum officials would like to build a roundhouse, or a portion of one, to display the 115-foot, 90-ton turntable salvaged from the Hagerstown Roundhouse, Snyder said.

The preliminary site plan outlines a series of structures, including a roundhouse, a shop and several display buildings, Snyder said.

Tracey said the museum could highlight other aspects of the region's rich transportation heritage. Canal boats and antique cars and trucks could be displayed, he said.

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