Made in Louisiana: The Old Hickory Railroad
JACKSON – All aboard the “Old Hickory Railroad” for a journey back in time through the history of Jackson and the Felicianas.
The original “Old Hickory” dates back to 1833. The current train was built in 1964 and was brought to Jackson in 1998. It stopped running in 2009.
"We started doing whatever we could to refurbish the train. Knowing full-well that we had to take it down and take it all apart, no drawings, and put it all back together again,” Mike Salmon said.
Mike Salmon and a few others have been the conductors on the restoration project. The group has been working all the live long day, at least 40 hours a week of restoration work.
Now the project has become a community wide effort, with businesses and groups climbing aboard. Some of the volunteers climbing aboard even come from the Angola and Dixon Correctional Institute.
Salmon said the boiler was the first piece that had to be over-hauled. Other work includes a fresh paint job and some work to the train’s track.
The group is hoping to ride the rails again in early 2016. But that schedule depends on volunteers and ideal weather conditions.
The group wants to make East Feliciana a tourist destination. Their plan is to convert the old McGewen High school into a multi-wing museum.
"We've got 11 acres here. We've got room to put a petrochemical museum, we've got room to put a hunting a fishing museum, we've got room to put an auto and truck museum, there's a lot of things we can do here. And we plan to do it, it's just going to take us some time," Salmon said.
All aboard the “new” hickory, pulling a colorful, historic past and steaming down the tracks of restoration to a promising future.
"It is a romantic, part of our history, there's something sort of peaceful about riding on them."