Construction on the concrete pad that will showcase the Mercy Train at Depot Park began Wednesday.
The Ardmore Main Street Authority hoped to have the train moved to its new home on the corner of Caddo and Main Street already, but construction of the pad that will hold the train was delayed — a problem that turned out to be a blessing for the Authority.
“About 98 percent of the work has been donated,” said Todd Yeager, chairman of the Main Street Authority Board. “We had hoped it would be moved by now, but it took a while to coordinate this. Because it’s going to be donated, we’re at the mercy of when the men can come out and work.”
A number of local companies have lined up to donate not only the labor for the project, but also the materials. What was once a $150,000 project for the Authority is now only going to cost $4,000.
Overland Corporation, Ardmore, is overseeing the project and donating the
labor and machinery for the project. Dolese, Ardmore, donated all the concrete for the project and the aggregate rock that will make the track the train will sit on more realistic. Fox Engineering Inc., also out of Ardmore, donated the survey work that had to be done at the site. EST Inc., Oklahoma City, will be doing soil and field testing as Overland digs free of charge.
When finished, the iconic train will look straight into the heart of downtown on a platform that resembles a rail line. The pattern of the sidewalk is also supposed to extend out with a pattern that looks like the rail ties.
AMSA will only pay for staining on the concrete to resemble the rocks between the railroad ties.
“The train is a key anchor to Depot Park,” Yeager said. “We’re still raising the rest of the funds for the park and we’re hoping that when people see the train there, they will know we’re serious about moving forward with this project.”
Even the transportation of the 100 ton train has been donated. Brady Welding, Healdton, secured the specialized equipment to move the train. Two cranes will lift the massive steam engine onto a specialized trailer with 18 sets of wheels. The trailer is unique in that each wheel turns independent of the others making it easier to make turns that would be difficult for the typical semi. The trailer is also special in that it will keep the train level throughout the trip, insuring that the engine doesn’t tip over.
At the turn of the century the Mercy Train carried aid workers from north Texas to Ardmore after an explosion downtown left some dead and many injured.
Yeager said, weather permitting, the Mercy Train will be moved to its new home in front of the Santa Fe Depot, by the end of the month.
“This is not only a big for Main Street, but for the rest of the city,” Yeager said.