Longview train depot renovation to include bricks honoring vets - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Longview train depot renovation to include bricks honoring vets of military, rail service

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LONGVIEW/GREGG COUNTY (KYTX) - Today, Longview city engineers said a nearly $2.2 million renovation of the city's historic train depot could be completed by early winter.

The project is restoring the depot into how it looked when it opened in 1941 - and now rail advocates want to memorialize the thousands of veterans and rail industry workers who passed through Longview.

1871 - That's the year the city of Longview was founded and when a train depot was built on this property here on Pacific Avenue. For the last 142 years, people from East Texas have come to this area to see veterans, railroad employees, step on or step off this track to points unknown throughout the country and throughout the world.

Now, as the city finishes up a $2.2 million dollar renovation of its welcoming mat -- advocates for passenger rail want to pay homage to the men and women who passed through these halls to serve-- military veterans and those who built our nation's transportation network.

People like Boyd Pulliam, a longtime conductor at Longview who manned his gun 14 straight days on the wrecked U.S.S. enterprise after the Pearl Harbor bombing.

"I've got the cap, the watch, everything you see that he's wearing," says Griff Hubbard, a 42-year-old rail employee now serving as Amtrak's product line agent and revenue manager in Longview.

Pulliam died in 2008. He was Griff Hubbard's first job supervisor. Hubbard started as a road hand in 1971 and remembers the images of faces from a time when the train depot was the main artery into Longview for servicemen and rail workers.

"Many troops were still moving by rail in the late 60s and early 1970s, and I have seen the stations at Longview, Marshall and Texarkana wall to wall jam packed like they must have been during World War II," Hubbard said.

World War II has even placed a small obstacle for the renovation. Crews are trying to remove four layers of lead-based paint on the depot's windows - ordered on by President Roosevelt in 1942 in fear of bombings on domestic soil.

"That's the remnants of those four coats of lead paint that Roosevelt ordered in '42 that we're still having trouble getting off the glass," Hubbard said.

Hubbard wants that military and rail history recognized in this spot -- the Amtrak ticket window -- that will be transformed into an open air pavilion. He wants brick pavers at the entrance -- each brick recognizing a veteran of military or rail industry service. It will be the gateway into the Longview transportation center -- where a passenger will be able to hop on a train, a city bus, an regional bus or a greyhound.

"If it were not for these veterans who sacrificed, we wouldn't be having the privilege of restoring this building," he said.

And his foundation, the Hubbard-Watlington Foundation, has put up $25,000 to start the brick paver project -- in the building where Hubbard got his first job in 1971. The Hubbard-Wilkington Foundation has funded other northeast Texas projects, including a veterans' memorial at Texarkana College.

"This has truly been a junction point since 1871, and because of rail passenger service, it has in the last 40 years taken it's rightful place again, especially in the 21st Century as a passenger rail junction," he said.

The City of Longview says the Longview Transportation Center could be completed and reopened as early as January.

To find out more about the brick pavers or to purchase one, call the City of Longview at (903) 237-1000.
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