Train contest reminds Poplar Bluff of its history - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Train contest reminds Poplar Bluff of its history

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - With four routes left in the Union Pacific Great Adventure Excursion contest, two are neck and neck for the lead, and one of those travels through the Heartland.

The Little Rock Express starts in Kansas City and travels across Missouri to St. Louis, then through the Heartland through Cape Girardeau, Dexter, and Poplar Bluff, and then continues south, ending in Little Rock.

"I think we were 90 votes ahead," said Poplar Bluff Mayor Tracy Edington, we he last looked.

"Last time I visited the website, we were down about 150 votes," said MODOT Community Relations Manager Nicole Thieret.

"Vote as many times as you can, every email account you have," said Downtown Poplar Bluff, Inc. Treasurer Angela Cochran.

These type of comments are just an example of the conversation going on in the Heartland communities recently. But that's not always the case.

"We don't always remember the rails until we have to cross over a railroad crossing," said Thieret.

But with all the talk of the Union Pacific Great Excursion Adventure, members of the Poplar Bluff community are looking back on how railroads played into the city's history.

"That's what put us on the map in the late 1800s and early 1900s there were many many railroads throughout the area," said Edington.

"This was just a major thorough fare, people would get off here, we have the grand staircase, there used to be hotels and restaurants downtown and we really see as part of downtown Poplar Bluff, bringing that back," said Cochran.

Brining back downtown Poplar Bluff by sprucing up the downtown, including the Railroad Depot.

"It's not in good shape," said Edington. "If you get back about 50 yards it looks pretty good, but when you get in there, it needs a lot of help."

That help hasn't started yet. They plan to start construction sometime this Spring. The renovations will include a new roof, and outdoor, interior, and step renovations.

"The restoration of the depot is just going to be a real milestone for downtown Poplar Bluff," said Cochran.

It's a milestone that Cochran hopes will make Poplar Bluff the railroad hub it once was.

"After we get the outside taken care of, we can work on the inside, and there's just no stopping us," said Cochran.

Cochran says there's no stopping the renovations, but hopes the steam train excursion does stop in the Heartland.

City officials from the Heartland cities said this would bring numerous of people and visitors to the area.

A representative from Union Pacific says they don't know when the excursion will happen, or how long the train will stop in each city until they know the winning route.

Go to upexcursions.com to vote.

Copyright 2011 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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