I visited the train engine and caboose in Bainbridge’s Earle May Boat Basin on Monday afternoon. I wanted to see what the condition of the train was myself. You can see what I found in the pictures and video below.
First, I don’t recommend anyone attempt to climb up in the steam engine. It has a very narrow metal step rungs that are not very sturdy to hold on to. Going down you basically have to feel for the metal rungs with your feet or risk falling about 3-4 feet. Not great for adults, you could see a kid easily injuring themselves if not supervised. If the train is kept, could a mirror be installed to see up in the train compartment?
Video walkthrough (approximately 6 minutes)
The upkeep of the train engine wasn’t too bad. The paint is chipping off, and there was a little bit of trash and natural debris up in the steam engine.
I was happy to see a family posing for pictures outside the train caboose. They even went inside the caboose and looked out the windows for one picture. The paint on the outside is badly chipped, but you could see how it’s kind of rustic. How bad it could be on the inside?
Pretty horrifying. Lots of graffiti all over the walls of the caboose, and trash on the floor and in various compartments. Why hasn’t the City of Bainbridge cleaned up the graffiti? The answer is, they have clearly made attempts to wash off or paint over some graffiti in the past. Some of the graffiti was painted with a date; one said March 2014, which is pretty recent in the scheme of things.
To prevent graffiti, you would basically have to keep watch over the caboose with a surveillance video (which wouldn’t necessarily identify people anyway–see the graffiti scrawled by a man who said he was from Valdosta). Or you would have to come back every week to wash out the new graffiti. Even then, you wouldn’t remove all traces of it and some graffiti has been etched with a sharp object into the outside of the caboose and what looks like a coal tiller behind it.
There was litter on the ground next to the train and in the parking area nearby. Why can’t someone pick up the trash, you might ask? There’s literally almost 20 trash cans lined up alongside the animal area, not 20 yards from the train.
Our take: this is not a case of the City of Bainbridge letting the train and caboose fall into disrepair, as they clearly have tried to abate some of the graffiti and litter.
What should be done to keep up the train engine and caboose if they are to be kept in the Earle May Boat Basin for future enjoyment? That is a question worthy of debate by both citizens of Bainbridge and the city government’s leaders.
Pictures by Brennan Leathers