NEW INFORMATION: Future of historic train discussed at city council

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)-- It was a lengthy debate Monday night in Eau Claire City Hall, where members of the community discussed the future of a historic train.

Engine number 2719 once pulled passengers through the Chippewa valley, and sat in Carson Park as a piece of history for nearly four decades.

But in 1996, it was bought by the Locomotive and Tower Preservation Fund which is now leasing it to a museum in Duluth.

Now the museum wants to buy it, but Eau Claire retained the option of first refusal if it would go up for sale.

Many members of the community spoke out against this sale, but the museum claims the train will be in good hands.

“Unless you keep up with the engine, you're playing catch up and unfortunately sometimes that's not possible. Parts aren't available, unless you keep a constant line going,” says one member of the Locomotive and Tower Preservation Fund.

Paul Miller, also with the Locomotive and Tower Preservation Fund says, “I don't want the community, the tax payer dollars that were put into this, volunteers that put thousands of hours into the restoration of this engine. I don't want them to look back at either the city council, or our group with anger and resentment that we didn't make the right decision into how we pass this engine on through history.”

“Our plan is to put it in the museum, and to display it with proper signage”, says Ken Buehler with the Lake Superior Railroad Museum. “The signage would thank all the organizations and recognize them as I listed at the start of my talk, and the history of the engine and the importance of the engine. It's significant.”

The proposal is for the city to buy the train back for a dollar, and sell it to the museum for two dollars.

This measure is on the Eau Claire City Council's agenda for Tuesday.

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