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503 fundraiser asks: Why not Port Arthur?

Again the “PropAganda News” gets it all wrong.

Opinions are fine, but speculation and statements not based on facts or reality aren’t the staple of reputable news organizations.

Suffice it to say the News (Sic) did not contact me for information on 503. But since they went through such lengths to mention me, it is only right, proper that I respond.

The “GoFundMe” drive was ONLY to buy the train from the salvage company (which wasn’t legally authorized to sell it!) and relocate it outside of Port Arthur until restoration funds could be raised.

There was NO AGREEMENT to return the restored 503 to Port Arthur;

There was NO GUARANTEE that 503 would NOT be used for parts on other engines.

There was NO AGREEMENT for the train to be on display elsewhere, nor any agreement for occasional visits to Port Arthur, or free rides for its citizens.

There was no plan, or money, for its restoration.

Here are the facts: The City Council decided, at citizens’ request, to keep “Our 503” in Port Arthur. Had council not acted, KCS 503 would have left the city … forever.

Why should we give away a “gift,” one with historical value AND sentimental ties to our city?

Other cities use their history, their culture and local “flava” as an attraction to tourists, passers-through, and for the enjoyment of their citizens.

Why not Port Arthur?

There are over 25 cities in Texas offering rides, exhibits and museum displays of trains, engines, rail cars and equipment, for the enjoyment of all.

Why not Port Arthur?

Interestingly, the writer says, “Four hundred thousand dollars could go a long way to restoring Rose Hill, for that matter. But it has never happened”….

Sigh … again the News (sic)… as usual is…”Wrong.”

Currently under restoration, the city has committed hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore Rose Hill.

The city has restored the “Federated Women’s/Department Club” and funds the Pompeiian Villa.

The city also makes yearly donations to the Museum of the Gulf Coast; all these are worthwhile, taxpayer-funded ventures to preserve Port Arthur’s history.

Why not restore and preserve “503?”

Many speak of our city with nostalgia, longing for the “good old days” of their youth in Port Arthur. While that brings back fond memories, we can’t return to those days; we must look to the future. And that future belongs to those who make it, with the courage to build it.

I don’t see KCS 503 as the “lil engine that could”; it is the engine that “did.”

It survived all these years, through storms and hurricanes; seen its heyday come, and go. And now it stands on the brink of a new, restored life and purpose; as a traveling ambassador of the city built by rail, oil and steel… the city of Port Arthur, Texas, the city that oils the world.

Yet there are some who will continue to find excuses, devise reasons why “it cannot, shouldn’t be done.”

They are not builders of a better future, but prisoners of a dead, empty past, lacking the vision, the courage to forge a better future.

When the council is ready, “The Friends of KCS Engine No. 503” will be ready to offer the support necessary to restore, preserve and protect “Our 503.” This train can be the “spark” to ignite our civic pride and “can do” spirit.

I pray we will not be bound to the past and its mistakes, but roll up our sleeves, join hands and work to build a proud, stronger and better Port Arthur.

That future is as limitless, and as bright as we desire to make it!

So take note, and take heart! This ain’t the “end of the line” for “503”…

Or Port Arthur!

The saga continues.

Stay tuned.

Former City Councilman John Beard is heading the local effort to raise funds for restoring the Kansas City Southern 503.