Man donates salary for museum

August 27, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

John Long's plan for the City of Hagerstown to have a rail museum is chugging along.

Since being hired as Hagerstown's train attendant in 1982, Long, 86, has returned each year's salary to the city to help fund a railroad museum.

Long said he has been fascinated by trains since he was a child, when his father worked for the Western Maryland Railroad.

If all goes as planned, his work and donations will result in a railroad museum at City Park.

Long has lived in Hagerstown since 1939. After working for various companies, he took a job as train attendant with the City of Hagerstown in 1982.


He works daily at the Engine 202 Steam Locomotive Caboose Display at City Park. Engine 202 was built in 1912.

The display also contains eight cabooses - five are about 68 years old and three about 42 years old - and other railroad memorabilia such as train signals, he said.

He gives all of his salary, about $2,772 a year, back to the city to help pay for a larger display of memorabilia, most of which he purchased with his own money.

A building adjacent to the trains is filled with such items, which will be available for public viewing under a city plan.

"I am 86. If I can't leave something for posterity, then I set a bad example," he said.

Hagerstown Recreation Superintendent Doug Stull said the city plans to use the $49,000 Long has donated over the years to renovate the building into a place where the public can see other artifacts.

The work will start this fall and the museum, as yet unnamed, should be open by Christmas, Stull said.

"I think it is great," Stull said. "We (the city) struggle to find resources to do things like this."

Long said he wants to be able to share, through his work and through the museum, information about trains, especially those operated by steam.

About 40 to 50 people a day come to the display, look at the artifacts and ask him questions, he said.

Long, who is not affiliated with the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum, said he loves being able to play with what Stull called "a big train set."

"I am the luckiest guy under the sun," he said.

The display is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m., from May through September.

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