Southern Pacific Engine #2355, which has been at Pioneer Park since 1958, is getting a massive makeover. Work was completed to remove asbestos and lead paint from the iconic train back in May. In mid-summer, restoration work was started. Currently, metal and electrical repairs are going on to prepare the train for priming and painting beginning in late October.
"We are happy to partner with the City of Mesa to refurbish the train to its former glory. I think people will be very happy with the final restoration," Save Our Train Committee Chair Jim Ruiz said.
Once restored, the train will have an elevated platform, stairs leading to the cab, new lighting and a new elevated walkway that will be ideal for "selfies." The train's bell, whistle and front and rear headlamps have already been restored. The elevated platform will be patterned after the old Southern Pacific Depot in Mesa and will include benches, interpretative signage and a small picnic ramada.
Southern Pacific Engine #2355, built in 1912 and donated to the City of Mesa for exhibit, delighted children for decades at Pioneer Park and holds cherished memories of days gone by. Fenced in since 1993, the train has been deteriorating from the elements. The Save Our Train Committee, which is funding the restoration, continues to accept donations at www.saveourtrain.com.
A massive project to provide improvements to Pioneer Park, 526 E. Main St., was started back in June. The construction will involve closing the park for several months. The target for reopening the park is the spring of 2018. Stay tuned for further updates!
In addition to the train restoration, park improvements will include a new water play plaza, installation of an iconic play structure with multiple connections provided by way of an elevated walkway, remodeling and ADA upgrades to the existing restrooms, relocation of two basketball courts, new landscaping in multiple areas, new plazas to enhance the train area and historical monuments, expanded Wi-Fi coverage, expanded infrastructure to support special events and new site furnishings and LED lighting fixtures throughout the park.
"Pioneer Park will feel like a new park with state-of-the-art amenities while, at the same time, we are preserving and improving the historic assets. One of the exciting elements is that we are activating the space around the train so that the train is highlighted, not hidden," Mesa Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities Director Marc Heirshberg said.
Funding for the Pioneer Park improvements is from the 2012 Parks Bond approved by Mesa voters.
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Save Our Train Committee
Mesa's Save Our Train Committee is a 501(c)3 organization sponsored by the Foundation for Mesa Parks and Recreation. Since the train was built in 1912, the same year Arizona gained statehood, the committee is an Official State of Arizona Centennial Project as designated by the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission. The organization was the Mesa Historical Preservation Award winner in 2012 and named "Best Steam Locomotive Restoration Project" by the New Times in their annual Best of Phoenix awards in 2014.
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