MARION COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - This little engine sure is getting a lot of attention. It's the Marion County Recreational Railroad and it's burning up the tracks.
The Marion County Railroad Authority has been running the recreational train for over a year as a throwback to the years when trains were a vital part of the county's economy. Railroad authority chairman Eddie Ray Breakfield says the recreational rail was the passion project of a former pine belt judge and railroad authority chairman.
"Maurice Dantin being the head of it at that time had a vision to have a Marion County Recreational Railroad just to remember the railroad and this history and have something a little unique and different to do."
Kids from all over the region are getting into the choo-choo and after the scenic 45 minute ride that passes over several streams and through the forest, the young-uns get a chance to toot the horn and ring the bell from the engineers lap. Breakfield says, "We want it to be family, kid oriented."
There are big plans on the horizon for rail including a gift shop with hats and whistles for the kids and an extension of the track that will be destined for the new Pearl River Interpretive Plaza. Once it's completed riders will be able to get off the train and visit downtown. Chairman Breakfield says there is plenty to do.
"You can come eat at any of the good restaurants we have. You can go to the courthouse you can go to the John Ford Home, a number of historical sites and very interesting things right here in Columbia."
The Marion County Recreational Railroad gets its caboose in gear the first Saturday of each month and is open to folks of all ages. It's available for private parties and birthdays by calling ahead and reserving a time.