Progress on moving the restored Shay Locomotive back to its old site on the Longview Library lawn is chugging along slowly.
Thursday, the Longview City Council approved a $9,400 contract to Collins Architecture Group, a local firm, to design a pavilion to protect the historic 1924 engine from the weather. Collins Architecture also will create a site plan, a building plan and a set of permit documents for the project.
The contract’s cost will be paid out of the city’s capital projects fund, which is fueled by real estate excise taxes.
The general concept for the structure is a peaked roof supported by log pedestals. Beneath it, the locomotive would be surrounded by a fence. Sidewalks would lead to the pavilion, which would have interpretive panels. The pavilion would be near the giant wooden squirrel statue.
The city Historic Preservation Commission, Library Board, Parks Board, city staff and Shay Locomotive restoration sponsors will need to approve the design.
Long-Bell Lumber Co. presented the city of Longview with the 50-foot-long locomotive in 1956 to display as a tribute to the city’s logging roots, and the city placed it next to the Library. Unprotected from the weather, thieves and vandals, the engine rusted there until the mid-1990s, when the city gave the nod to Longview history buff John Chilson to restore it.
Chilson and Longview businessman Jeff Wilson disassembled the rusting hulk into 700 pieces in 1998. The restoration work was finished by 2005, but the parts remained in storage because there wasn’t a practical place to reassemble and display the locomotive. The Chilsons and Wilsons entirely paid for the restoration, which has cost “tens of thousands” of dollars, Wilson said.
Last year, the City Council approved a plan to return the engine to the library grounds. For several months, Wilson and a crew of skilled volunteer laborers have been putting the locomotive back together at Chilson’s house on Columbia Heights.
The 64-ton train will need to be brought to the library in three pieces and lowered with a crane onto a railroad bed that will prevent the engine from sinking into the earth.