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Shay locomotive
Long-Bell's Shay locomotive when it was still operational. Courtesy of the Cowlitz County Historical Museum

The historic Shay locomotive will be placed at its old site on the Longview library lawn unless the Longview Historic Preservation Commission decides R.A. Long Park would be a better spot.

Thursday, the Longview City Council voted 6-1 to have the 1924 logging locomotive reassembled on "Squirrel Meadow," the open grassy area west of the library near the giant wooden squirrel statue. Mayor Kurt Anagnostou voted no because he thought the 50-foot-long engine should go in the under-used park, which is in the middle of the Civic Center roundabout. The rest of the council said they'd be willing to hear what the preservation commission thinks of that but wanted to get the project's wheels turning in the meantime.

The park is listed on the city and national historic registers, and any alterations to it must be approved by the city Parks Board and the preservation commission and possibly the state Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation. Such close review wouldn't be needed for the library lawn because that's where the locomotive sat from 1955 to 1995, when Longview businessman John Chilson began restoring it.

The issue will be placed on the city preservation commission's Oct. 27 meeting agenda, city staff said.

Chilson, 69, is eager to reassemble the locomotive because he's "not going to live forever," as he told the council. The job, which will take a few months, must be done on-site because the engine weighs 64 tons.

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