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Group to call horse park home
North Georgia Live Steamers planning to move to Conyers

CONYERS - A new railroad is coming to town that local officials hope will encourage visitors to lay tracks to the Georgia International Horse Park.

The city of Conyers announced this week it has signed a long-term lease with the North Georgia Live Steamers, a club that promotes the live steam hobby and build interest in construction of scale steam engines, diesel locomotives and railroad equipment.

The club moves to Conyers after being located at the Southeastern Rail and Transportation Museum in Duluth for several years. Bob Bagget, an NGLS member, explained that the group was without a home after the museum moved to its current location near downtown Duluth. The location was not suitable for the club to display its trains or perform demonstrations of the engines.

The group previously constructed and conducted "open run" weekends, during which the public was invited to ride on the 7.5-inch gauge, 1.5-inch scale railroad at the Southeastern Rail and Transportation Museum.

"We looked around for a new home and found the people in Conyers very receptive," Baggett said. "We look at this location as ideal for us to host regional and national meets with other hobbyists and show off our engines. We're going to bring a lot of people to Conyers."

The club plans to lay approximately 7,000 feet of track, including railroad trestles, steaming bays and a yard facility in phase one of the project, according to the terms of the agreement with the city.

Future phases include track extensions, a public picnic area, a public station with restrooms and a model train museum. The NGLS is a nonprofit organization, and although the trains will operate and transport passengers for free during weekends, donations will be accepted.

Phase one will begin this fall with a projected opening in the spring of 2009.

"The North Georgia Live Steamers is a natural fit for Conyers, a community that was born alongside the railroad tracks in Olde Town Conyers," Conyers Mayor Randy Mills said. "We couldn't be more thrilled to add this attraction to our recreational offerings at the Horse Park and tie in the importance of the railroad to our community's heritage."

The club will provide a preview of their operations by having several engines and cars on display and free rides for the public at the upcoming Big Haynes Creek Wildlife Festival at the horse park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Aug. 24.

Admission to the festival is $5 per person and parking is free.

For more information on the North Georgia Live Steamers, visit www.northgeorgialivesteamers.org. For more information on the Big Haynes Creek Wildlife Festival, visit www.bighaynescreekwildlifefestival.com.

Jay Jones can be reached at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.