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‘The Ratcliffe’ board onboard and running

By J.R. SCHRADER

The Southwest Times

Formally organized Monday, Friends of The Ratcliffe, are off and running. They are running to hunt volunteers interested in helping to tell the story of Pulaski’s past while revealing the scene before them of Pulaski, circa 1950s.

The museum, a dream of the late Raymond F. Ratcliffe, a native and former mayor, is unfolding daily at its new home on the west side of Route 11, not far from the Depot where thousands of travelers boarded passenger trains for parts unknown.

The same trains brought visitors to Pulaski and the area for vacation, business, entertainment and employment. Freight trains were familiar sights, also.

The thundering clanking sounds of bumping cars and stream whistles could be heard as cars were rerouted in “the yard” in the east end of town for journeys to big cities and small communities, with local products, machinery, food and equipment for local companies and farmers.

Well over 1,000 visitors have been to the museum since its opening and more are anticipated as the word spreads about what has been called one of the largest displays of  “O” gauge trains.

John White, town economic director, said the word is getting out about the display and noted that railroad buffs travel long distances to see trains and displays.

“The Ratcliffe” should expect some of those travelers and visitors.

“The Ratcliffe” tells the story from the beginning when Martin’s Tank was a stop on the Tennessee Virginia RR as the ribbons of steel unfurled toward the west.

The Transportation Museum is presently open on Tuesdays (3-8 p.m.), Saturdays (11 a.m.-5 p.m.) and Sundays (1-5 p.m.).

Volunteers are needed so that the museum can be open more days and hours. No special training is required, only an hour or so for orientation to familiarize people with the building layout and locations of light switches and train operations.

Further information is available by calling 994-8600.

Leading the Friends of the Ratcliffe will be Ty Kirkner, grandson of the namesake, as president, and Lane Penn, vice president. Janice Jonas, whose husband’s family has ties to the railroad for many years, will serve as treasurer.

The museum is a visitor site that is on-going with numerous items available for display, and they will be displayed as time passes.

A fund raiser golf tournament is set for Friday, June 21, at Pulaski Country Club. Spots are open for teams and sponsors are encouraged to contact Town Manager John Hawley at 994-8600 for further information.

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