Train soon to take its place at Discovery Park of America's Train Depot


Mary Nita Bondurant - Discovery Park of America

UNION CITY, Tenn. - Boys love trains, which is probably why Robert Kirkland, founder, couldn't quit thinking about having a train display at Discovery Park of America.  Not toy trains, he wanted full size trains.  That's why he asked Hugh Wade, acquisition agent and volunteer to "find him some trains" back in 2011. 

Wade took the challenge to heart and began the search.  "You can find just about anything on the internet," Wade said, "if you just put in the correct search criteria."

February of 2012, Wade and Union City banker Michael Hagen and train enthusiast, headed to Unity, Maine to take a look at a tourist-track-system that Wade found on line. 

"They had a steam engine with a tender, a lounge car, a dining car, a first class car plus two maintenance cars," Wade said.  He and Hagen photographed the trains and brought the information back to Kirkland. 

Almost a year later, the deal was finalized.  And, before the end of this month, Kirkland's dream of having a full size train display at Discovery Park will become reality. 

Discovery Park of America CEO Jim Rippy said, "Getting them here has been the biggest hurdle."  How are they coming?  "By train," he said.  Once they arrive in Union City, the real challenge begins.

"The trains will end up on the Greenfield Products spur," Wade explained.  "Then, a company called Wasatch has been commissioned to move them to the depot at Discovery Park, paint and refurbish them."

The Obion County Industrial Economic Development Council (OCIEDC) has agreed to put the Caboose, part of the Tom Elam estate and currently on display at the Obion County Charmer of Commerce, on the track at Discovery Park to finish out the display.

"Can you imagine the look on a little "Thomas the Train" fan when he gets to see the full size train cars and actually go inside them?" Rob Kingrey, Exhibits Facility Director, asked.  Once the trains were located, Kingrey got busy building the depot and track to display them at Discovery Park.

"The Pullman car is perfect for small events," Rippy said.  This means the train display at Discovery Park will be like just about every other faction of the park; an interactive exhibit;  something not just to look at, but to experience and enjoy. 

If you are out near Everett Boulevard in Union City, Tennessee later this month, don't be surprised if you see a train going down the four-lane.  It will be heading to Discovery Park's train depot to take its place among the historical attractions soon to beckon people from near and far to this small rural town to experience this world class educational attraction. 

Discovery Park is a 100,000 million dollar attraction set to open later this year in Union City, Tennessee. For more information, click here.