The red caboose at the front entrance of the South Boston-Halifax County Museum of Fine Arts and History, which has stood un-restored except for an interior and exterior paint job for a decade, has a new lease on life with the unveiling of the museum’s newest exhibit on Thursday.
Central to the exhibit, located inside the caboose, is an HO scale railroad featuring two steam locomotives, one from the 1860s and another from the 1900s.
Landscaping for the scale railroad includes a scene from the Battle of Staunton River Bridge, 1850 to 1900 housing, and a miniature tobacco field.
The exhibit also has railroad-related artifacts such as lanterns, photos of the early railroad locomotives from the Richmond & Danville Railroad, and illustrations of different types of locomotives.
The exhibit is a representation of rail history in Halifax County from 1850 to the early 1900s, according to Curator Jennifer Bryant.
After the Battle of Staunton River Bridge, and after the war itself, a lot of rail lines were rebuild, with that portion of the line considered the best track in Southside Virginia, according to Bryant.
That led to a boon for the Richmond & Danville Railroad and led to formation of the South Boston Depot, Bryant explained.
“That was part of the inspiration for the second founding of South Boston by E.B. Jeffress in 1885,” explained Bryant, who noted the model features a depiction of the rail line as it crosses over the Dan River to the Riverdale side.
Construction of the exhibit began in February 2013 as a group effort by several volunteers, after Paul Smith, president of the Board of Directors, made a recommendation to finish the renovations.
Smith, the exhibit director, along with the help of volunteers including Bryant, Ron and Judith Miller, Richard Hunt, Donald and Connie Bryant and Teresa Sitar, helped make the exhibit come to life.
Construction of the exhibit was completed in late May, and tours by museum staff are available throughout the summer Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 4 p.m., and other times if staff is available by calling the museum and asking for either Smith or Bryant.
The South Boston-Halifax County Museum of Fine Arts and History is located at 1540 Wilborn Ave. in South Boston.