By Laurel Callaway
The Rocky Brook Rocket is getting closer to its departure from Municipal Park with a destination in Las Vegas, where it will receive its historic restoration.
According to Municipal Area Supervisor Matthew Battles, Rick’s Restoration will soon begin filming for the upcoming season of the History Channel’s American Restorations, which will feature the Rocket’s transformation.
However, the 1955 G-16 model train will not be making the round trip alone. Over the Christmas holiday, The Opelika Parks and Recreation Department purchased an additional passenger car, which will be getting restored along with the Rocket.
The new purchase is a 1950s train car built by the Miniature Train Company – the same company that built the Rocky Brook Rocket more than 50 years ago. This piece originally ran at Coney Island in New York and was acquired by the city of from a private collector in Lexington, Ill.
According to Battles, it was an exceptional find at a great price.
Once it is refurbished, it will be able to carry an additional 12 riders, which will bring the Rocket’s total capacity to 36 passengers per train load.
“If you were at Rocky Brook Reindeer Express this past Christmas, you know how much the additional train car is needed. We had a little over 2,000 riders during the event, and the line got backed up many times,” said Battles.
The Opelika Rotary Club train shed will be extended 30 feet to house the additional passenger train car.
Unfortunately, not all news concerning the project is good. The existing Alligare Train Depot is going to be torn down because of termite damage that happened over the summer. Nevertheless, it will be rebuilt to the same specifications, along with additional storage space on the back, just in time for the Rocket’s arrival back in Opelika.
It is not too late for individuals in the community to get involved with this once-in-a-lifetime undertaking through donations.
The engraved brick pavers, which are going to be part of the walking path near the Alligare Train Depot, are available for purchase at www.polarengraving.com/opelikaparksandrecreation. The pavers are available in three different sizes, starting with the price for a standard 4-inch by 8-inch at $50.
Also, Rocky Brook Rocket T-shirts are available for purchase at the Denson Drive Recreation Center for $20.