After a long absence, the restored 1924 Shay logging locomotive will return to the Longview Library lawn next month.
“This has been 16 years in the works,” Longview Councilman Steve Moon said Thursday. “It’s a whole generation of kids that haven’t even seen this locomotive. It’s time to get it back where it belongs so we can start sharing it with the next generation.”
Next week, excavation will begin near the giant wooden squirrel statue for a rock bed to support the historic 48-ton engine, according to Brian Magnuson, the project’s general contractor. After the rails and ties are set, the gleaming black locomotive will be brought down from Longview businessman John Chilson’s property on Columbia Heights.
It will take about two weeks to finish assembling the engine in place, and then construction on the timber-and-steel pavilion will begin, Magnuson said.
The project is abruptly moving forward because Thursday night the Longview City Council agreed to allocate $37,500 in Kuntz Family Trust matching funds to build the pavilion. Over the last month, the community has donated more than $12,000 for the structure, and three donors have committed another $13,000, Magnuson told the council Thursday. The pavilion’s cost estimate is about $75,000.
Magnuson said he hopes the community will donate another $12,500 to fully match the Kuntz grant. Ernie and Arleen Kuntz bequeathed more than $700,000 to the Parks Department in the mid-1990s, and the City Council recently established a policy for doling it out for parks projects.
Designed by Collins Architecture Group of Longview, the 20-by-60-foot pavilion would consist of a heavy timber truss under a metal roof supported by eight log columns about 16 inches thick. Surrounding the locomotive would be a wrought-iron fence, which could be unlocked to allow access to the engine during special events.
Several companies have agreed to donate materials: Steelscape is providing steel roofing, DeRosier Trucking is donating rock, Waite Specialty Machine is donating steel to bolt the trusses together, the Port of Longview is providing rail and ties and Fastenal is donating fasteners. Magnuson said he’s awaiting an answer to his request for concrete and lumber donations.
The pavilion’s roof should be up by Nov. 30, said Magnuson, who is volunteering his time on the project. The construction fence probably will be left up through the winter and the sidewalks, electrical and wrought-iron fencing completed next year, he said.
Chilson and Longview businessman Jeff Wilson disassembled the engine into 700 pieces in 1998 after removing it from the library site a couple of years earlier. The restoration work was finished by 2005, but the parts remained in storage for the next few years because there wasn’t a practical place to reassemble and display the locomotive. The Chilsons and Wilsons paid for the entire restoration, which cost tens of thousands of dollars.