A decade transporting visitors to the past

Published 7:00 am Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Lower Pearl River Valley Transportation Museum has been preserving local history for a decade.

The museum was dedicated on Dec. 4, 2009 and focuses on the history of trains and the lumber industry in Pearl River County. Retired locomotive engineer Norman Howell gives tours of the museum to students and visitors from out of town.

Volunteers wanted to establish the museum to prevent historical artifacts related to the history of Picayune and Pearl River County from being lost or discarded, Howell said.

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Creating the museum took a large volunteer effort and many people continue to donate items to the displays within, Howell said.

Only two months ago, items from locomotive engineer Lourie N. Formby Sr.’s career were donated to the museum. Formby ran a passenger train. Now the museum has fine dining dishes from that train on display as well as Formby’s workbag, cap and watch.

Visitors can also examine an old phone switchboard, and look at a mail sack used when trains delivered mail before the 60s. People can learn about the tools locomotive engineers used and how message lines were used to communicate with trains before the 70s. Guests can even pull a replica steam engine whistle built from PVC pipe outside the facility next to old train cars.

Along with the history of trains and lumber, the museum has information and artifacts related to Stennis Space Center and the role it played in reviving the local economy after the lumber industry died down, said Howell.

Over the last 10 years, the museum has grown and brought out-of-town visitors to the city of Picayune, Howell said. Eventually the museum will need a larger space, he said.

Currently the museum is located in the Intermodal Tourist Center at 200 Highway 11 South in Picayune. Without the city’s administration providing a space for the museum, it would not have been created, Howell said.

The museum is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., although Howell recommends out-of-town visitors call before their visit to ensure the museum is open. To learn more about the museum, contact City Hall or Picayune Main Street.