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The end of the line for the woman who created a small town railroad museum

A southwestern Minnesota town says goodbye to the woman who turned an eyesore into a roadside attraction.

Louise Gervais had a keen eye for both the past and the future. That's what allowed her to lead a group of 4-Hers as they turned an eyesore in their southwestern Minnesota town into a roadside attraction that tells visitors from near and far about their community and its ties to the railroad.

Murray County's Board of Commissioners announced the death of Gervais on Friday, calling the founding director of the End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum an enthusiastic visionary.

It was 1972 when Gervais led a 4-H group in their Community Pride Project, cleaning up the old railroad yard in their town of Currie (population 233).

The Museums of Minnesota website recounts how the 4-H group then bought the abandoned Chicago and Northwestern Railroad depot for one dollar and moved it to the cleaned up rail yard. Over the years a couple locomotives, a caboose, the railroad foreman's home, a general store, and a one-room schoolhouse were moved there, too. Along the way the county began managing the park and museum.

Currie's railroad history

The museum gets its name because Currie is as far as the Chicago Northwestern Railroad went.

As Forgotten Minnesota explains, a plan to extend it into South Dakota was abandoned, so Currie became the end of the line. In 1901 the railroad built what's called a turntable, which was used to turn the steam engines around so they could pull a train back east again.

Currie's turntable was operated not by horses or steam power, but manually. Two people pushing 11-foot poles turned the engine around, Forgotten Minnesota says.

End-O-Line Museum says Currie's is the only railroad turntable in Minnesota anymore. It's still at its original site and it still works. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places a few years after Gervais and her 4-Hers cleaned up the site.

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