The Lincoln County Express is back in commission as a tourist attraction along Route 66. This little gem had slowly become obstructed from view because of trees and foliage growing up around it. Many people have told me they had been looking at that engine on Route 66 for years but recently had to really search to be able to spot it. Town Talk purchased this local piece of history to make sure it was restored so that it would be around for years to come.
Former local resident Paul Hicks, born in 1921, worked as a pipeline welder in northeast Oklahoma. He used his metal sculpting skills to manufacture this roadside attraction.
Paul even added personal touches to the train engine by putting his name of the side of the tank and stamping his grandchildren’s names on the Lincoln County Express letters.
Rob Gordon, owner of local oilfield equipment company, Service King, graciously agreed to restore the engine for Town Talk at no cost to the organization.
It is definitely a love gift to the community from Rob and Dixie Gordon. Rob moved to Stroud in 1965 after graduation from high school in Mason, OK. Bryan O’Neal, supervisor of Service King’s paint and body shop commented, “That engine turned a group of grown men into little boys.” Service King employees working on the project included O’Neal along with Tony Holland, Melburn Maxwell, Randy Maxwell, Kyle Funk, Ryan McElvaney, Nathan Deans, Crystal Rake, Curtis Miller, Alex Melson, Everett Melson and Bob Warden. The crew worked on the restoration off and on over a two-week period spending between 35 and 40 hours on the project.
Glenda Buchanan Funk, long-time Stroud resident, called me a few months back and told me about the engine. To my amazement, I had never even noticed it on the side of the highway. The minute she told me about it I knew it sounded like a Town Talk project. I got off the phone with Glenda, grabbed my mom, jumped in the car and off we went to locate this almost forgotten treasure. I immediately went to the residence of Paula Hicks Ackerman, Paul’s daughter and made arrangements to purchase it. The cost was $4500 and Town Talk only had $1500 available cash. A “secret donor” loaned the additional $3000 to seal the deal feeling, too, that it was a piece of Stroud’s history that needed to be preserved.
Anyone wanting to donate to help with the loan may send a check to Town Talk, c/o Diana Reed, 301 West 6th Street, Stroud, OK. All monies received will go directly to this project. Current plans are to place it on Route 66 Main Street and it be part of the miniature golf course Town Talk is planning for our community.
Every project we undertake is twofold. One is to help bring visitors to Stroud who hopefully will get out of their cars to take a snapshot or two and while they are here take in the history of our little town, shop a little and dine in one of our great restaurants.
Two, is to make it a place where people want to live or relocate because we have local amenities such as shopping and dining and an attractive community. Speaking of dining, new Stroud resident Mandy Clark recently purchased the building which formerly housed 918 Bistro & Bar. She will be opening her own restaurant which will be called Ruby’s, named after her grandmother. Mandy is shooting for a St. Patrick’s Day opening. Stay tuned for more news about Stroud’s latest local business. Have a great week and keep on shopping and dining in Stroud!