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Railroad musuem would honor Thomson's founder

As work to launch a McDuffie County Museum moves along, a parallel effort to establish a railroad museum is underway.

Members of the tourism board discussed the possibility of a railroad museum which may possibly be housed with the planned McDuffie County Museum in the old Sun Trust Bank and the old Thomson Drug Company on the corner of First Avenue and Main Street.

The railroad museum effort, spearheaded by tourism board member Glenn Wilson, would display a number of collectibles revolving around the history of the railroad industry.

Mr. Wilson has been working with a collector who has an impressive set of railroad memorabilia.

"They were true fans of J. Edgar Thomson," Mr. Wilson noted in the tourism board meeting. The town of Thomson is named in honor of J. Edgar Thomson, the foremost manager of the railroad industry during its greatest period of expansion.

"The railroad museum is a great idea, since the town was named for him," said Carolyn Gilbert, Chamber of Commerce director.

Mr. Wilson can foresee the railroad museum serving as a companion to other local historic collections, and becoming a "jump off point" for tourism in the area.

The tourism board discussed using the same site for the railroad museum that will house the McDuffie County museum - two buildings which are ideally located in the middle of town and already have vaults that can be used to preserve rare, aged documents and artifacts, said Rusty Lovelace, president of the museum board.

Mr. Wilson said offering both museums would "give a whole new dimension. It would give them wider appeal."

According to historian James Malone, J. Edgar Thomson enjoyed an unbelievably good career and lived cleanly in an era of constant scandal.

He joined the railroad engineer corps at age 19, and at age 26 took the job of chief engineer for the Georgia Rail Road Company, a newly chartered venture in Augusta.

During the planning stages for the line, he supervised the construction of rails through the village of Hickory Level which would later bear his name.

Under the leadership of J. Edgar Thomson, miles of track were set to connect Augusta to what is today Atlanta, a distance of 173 miles.

He went on to serve as chief engineer and then president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and implemented new and innovative management techniques that reorganized the operation.



Web posted on Thursday, April 28, 2005











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