Indeed, The Baldwin County Express
would be capable of traveling up to 70 miles an hour, according to Max Ard
the founding member.
"We're striving to make it fully DOT (Department of Transportation)-road safe," Ard
said of the replica.
"The Pine Knot Special," the steam class locomotive that operated in this area in the early 1900s, is the replica Ard is building.
originally planned to build the replica to promote Baldwin County's upcoming bicentennial celebration.
"They liked the idea but the legal issues is what they were worried about," said Ard
of county leaders.
had hoped to get county funding for his Baldwin County Express
Since that didn't happen, however, he
Indeed, where the project is concerned, Ard
has gone from what he
describes as "me as an individual three years ago" to 242 members today in The Baldwin County Express Inc.
(BCEI), a non-profit organization submitting paperwork for its 501(c)3 status this week.
With the change in numbers has come a change in plans as well.
The steam locomotive project is only a part of BCEI's agenda today.
cites three separate goals toward which BCEI
The internet-mobile could be an investment of as much as $200,000, according to Ard
, who said BCEI
will try to get a grant of some kind to help with funding.
would also schedule with local businesses willing to donate to the organization.
The bus would come to their business sites, set up and provide free business advertising by means of the bus technology.
For now, however, Ard
is hoping to have the steam locomotive replica ready by January 2009.
"It's not going to be perfectly ready because of the money situation," he
said, noting the project is about 50 percent complete at present.
That notwithstanding, Ard
has dedicated himself to personally run "The Pine Knot Special" every weekend of the bicentennial year when the county has a celebration or observance taking place.
would ask is for the county to pay fuel costs, he
will take his
train anywhere anybody or any municipality or group wants him, eventually even to Mobile, he
A former diesel mechanic and welder, Ard is now in hotel construction.
His interest in history got a jumpstart about 20 years ago when he was researching his family history. (His family settled in the Greenwood community east of Summerdale in 1860.) One thing led to another and he began collecting digital images and copies of old photos.
is the result.
Membership in BCEI
That's a "Hobo" and all one has to do to hitch a free ride is click the "register" link on the BCEI Web site menu bar.
A person gets five "Tracks" just for joining, Tracks are described by Ard
as "interorganizational money.
A person can earn Tracks a number of ways, such as submitting photos for the archives and sponsoring other members.
One becomes a "Passenger" by donating $25 or 25 Tracks; "Porter" $100 or 100 Tracks; "Conductor" $200 or 200 Tracks; and "Engineer" $500 or 500 Tracks.
"Anybody that signs up online gets to ride (on the train) one time a year free," said Ard
, who estimates rides will cost approximately $5 per person.
"This would be a fun thing to do in retirement," said Ard
of taking "The Pine Knot Special" all over the county.
It's something he's
thinking about seriously.
Baldwin County Express Inc
19432 Rada Rd