Efforts Of Those Involved in Brownville Railroad History Center Praised at Grand Opening
Early morning rain Saturday, June 12, didn’t interfere with the grand opening ceremonies of the Brownville Railroad History Center.
“What a great crowd. I’m really impressed,” said Charles Anderson, Brownville Historical Society president.
It was a day to celebrate the heritage of the history of the railroad to Brownville, Anderson said. The railroad was the most critical cog in the history of Brownville, he said. The demise of the railroad was a disappointment to Brownville, but the village survived as one of the historical and cultural treasures of Nebraska, Anderson said.
“Volunteerism in Brownville is amazing. We are here because of the determination, vision, hard work and fundraising expertise of Bob Chitwood,” Anderson said.
Chitwood said that he was grateful that the depot was saved. The effort was accomplished because of the work of many, he said.
More than $91,500 was contributed towards the effort. Chitwood commended all who made the effort possible. Laborers and contributors were recognized.
“I am thankful that we were able to get the project done with the economy,” Chitwood said.
Larry Layden shared reflections, remembrances and family remembrances. His older sister lived in the depot. Two adults and three children shared one room and lived in cramped quarters, Layden said.
“I passed through Brownville frequently. Every time I drove through the place it brought back memories,” Layden said.
Layden, who worked for the railroad 46 years, said that former railroad workers appreciated the restoration efforts the most.
State Sen. Lavon Heidemann of Elk Creek congratulated residents of the Brownville community and area involved in the restoration effort.
“Resources are always a challenge, particularly in these times. Volunteerism is always a challenge. Brownville has a ‘Can Do’ attitude. They prove time and time again they can accomplish great things,” Heidemann said.
Heidemann said that he always enjoys coming to Brownville. The July 4 parade was his first parade during his campaign for his first Legislative term in 2004, the senator said.
Dr. David Kaufman, who rang the brass bell which announced the grand opening, called the center “truly a dream come true. My grandfather wanted a bell. It needs to be in a place where people can appreciate it.” His grandfather contributed many of the historical items in the center.
A letter was read from Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who commended all involved in the restoration efforts.
“The work demonstrated the extraordinary commitment so many Brownville residents hold to community betterment and historic preservation,” Fortenberry said.
Scouts led a flag ceremony. Wooden train whistles were available as a souvenir of the grand opening. The audience sang “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” Jody Anderson and Nicole Kaufman provided music. Representatives of Nebraska Operation Lifesaver had a display on railroad safety.
Contributions are still being accepted. Saturday, Aug. 21, the Brownville Historical Society will be hosts of the annual Golf Classic at the Rock Port Country Club for the benefit of the center.