The Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites, the non-profit that supports the SAM Shortline Excursion Train, has been awarded a grant from the John Emery Rail Heritage Trust.
The grant of $12,000 was one of 22 awarded by the Trust. SAM manager Chris Lockwood says the funds will be used to repair and improve two coaches. “We need to upgrade the Leslie, our concession car, and the Americus, our table car,” he explains. Budd built both vintage coaches in the 1940s. According to Lockwood, although the grant won’t cover all the costs, it will get the project started.
The current Friends chair, Nelson McGahee, says the group is energized by the award and hopes to raise enough money through other fundraisers to complete the project. “The train is not only an important stimulus to the economies of Americus and Plains, it is also an adventure that can be enjoyed by families throughout Georgia and the surrounding states,” he points out.
John Emery was an avid rail enthusiast and established the trust to help preserve rail equipment and infrastructure that will allow future generations to share his experiences during what he considered the “Golden Age” of railway travel, from 1920 to 1960.
Forty-one applications were received requesting in excess of $1,000,000.00. After extensive research and serious consideration by advisors of the Trust, 22 grants were awarded, totaling almost $325,000.