The Heritage Museum is looking for help from the community with matching funds for the $26,704 Department of Tourism grant awarded to the museum to restore the 1906 Shay locomotive “Ole Four Spot.”
The grant will help the museum to restore the locomotive’s fire box so it can once again have a working boiler system.
A press release from the museum states that the project cost will be $40,057, and $13,353 will need to be raised in matching funds.
The press release asks that donations toward the matching funds be marked specifically “for the Shay.”
Volunteers at the Museum have completed disassembly of the locomotive for rebuilding and restoration, according to the release. Professional locomotive engineer consultations and over 100 ultrasonic test results have been positive that the locomotive is repairable, can be restored to operating condition and that it can still meet federal boiler safety requirements when restored.
The press release also thanked the many local contractors and businesses who have aided the restoration project, such as Granite Concrete, who used their heavy equipment to remove the boiler from the locomotive at no charge.
Luke Johnson, owner of Toutle Valley Locomotive Works, LLC from Washington State, has personally inspected the Shay in Libby and stated that he “was very pleased with the work that museum volunteers have completed to date.”
The grant application process required that the project include niche product development of interest to nonresident visitors, as identified in “Montana Destination Brand Research.”
A 2016 visitor survey conducted as part of that research found that “history buffs” (over one-third of the overall respondents) are clearly a high-value audience that fits Montana perfectly, according to the release. The visitor survey also found that respondents rated “Historic attractions” as an “Extremely important” attribute in selecting travel destinations, and they represent a large and lucrative niche segment.
Donation forms — as well as museum membership forms — can be found online at www.libbyheritagemuseum.com. Completed forms can be dropped off at the Libby Chamber of Commerce, 905 W 9th Street; or mailed to: The Heritage Museum, P.O. Box 628, Libby, MT 59923.
The Heritage Museum will open on Monday, May 13, and remain open seven days a week through Saturday, Sept. 14. The annual Opening Day Celebration will be held on Saturday, June 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.