More details revealed about abandoned Amtrak train car found in Warwick

NBC 10 News has learned more about an abandoned Amtrak train car that was found in Warwick. (WJAR)

NBC 10 News has learned more about an abandoned Amtrak train car that was found in Warwick.

It was discovered in the woods next to the Pontiac Mills renovation project a few weeks ago.

While it was a surprise to the developer, a recent story on NBC 10 jogged the memory of viewer.

When Tom May saw the story, he started having flashbacks to 1979. He was hired to be the contractor to transform two old 1940s Amtrak train cars that had been repurposed and operable over the decades.

The train cars were eventually sold by Amtrak to Lou Spirito, who was a part owner of the Walt’s Roast Beef franchise. The plan was to rename the cars the Besty Williams and the Roger Williams, to become the Big Angus Barbeque Station at Pontiac Mills in Warwick, connected by a structure that resembled an old-time train station.

May recalls the hard work, to “reconfigure the seats, make tables, and drill holes in the solid stainless-steel floor.”

At the time, nearby train tracks transported the train cars to within a mile of the site. Cranes and flatbeds brought them the rest of the way.

“I put my heart and soul into this building. A lot of it,” remembers May, thinking back on the time when he was in his 20s.

But the money ran out, the business closed months later, and May was out $40,000 on the deal for his work.

One of the two cars was sold again at auction, which is now back in service in Pennsylvania and transporting rail passengers on a regular basis. The other one remained, forgotten, and now has to go.

To get the train car out of the construction site may be a bit of a logistical challenge. There are no more train tracks nearby. It weighs 75 tons and is 85 feet long.

And the clock is ticking.

When our story was posted on turnto10.com, it got the attention of the non-profit South Carolina Railroad Museum.

NBC 10 spoke with Shannon Edwards on the phone, who said, “Once these things are gone, they're gone forever.”

Arguing the current scrap market price would only be $5,000, but that donating it to its museum would be a tax write-off, Edwards said preserving history is right way to go,

“Either re-railed, or transported by truck down here,” Edwards said, adding that a viable home would also be a museum in Southern New England, as costs would be covered by donations or time and labor by interested contractors with cranes and trucks.

Everything's up in the air at this late hour. What would it take?

“Somebody who knows what they're doing,” May said with a laugh.

To learn more about leasing availability, click here. A Facebook group is dedicated to surviving rail passenger cars across the country.

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