Mr. Webster Nation another one of Minden’s longtime citizen’s was the guest speaker at The Dorcheat Historical Association’s “Night for the Museum”. This informative night dealing with Webster parish railroading history during the 1930’s – 1980’s era was another huge success. Schelley Brown said the statement made earlier by Juanita Agan was so true, “When he talks of "railroading" his voice becomes animated, and then you understand the phrase - "romance of the rails". For 42 years he was the engineer on some of the most prestigious passenger trains, as well as engineer on many freight trains. Webster Nation should have finished high school in 1939, but he stayed over to play football the autumn of 1939, and graduated in January, 1940. He began his career with the L & A Railroad in 1941 at the age of 18 and continued until his retirement in 1983. Ms. Brown exclaimed, “I was so excited about this event because the L & A Railroad was so important to our area and so many families in Minden were railroad families.” Many of those members of Railroad families and the men that rode the rails made there way back to Minden to hear this longtime friend of the rail and a man that many obviously respect. One visitor whom was wearing his L & A pin had not seen Mr. Nation in over 15 years!
An opening welcome by museum director, Ms. Brown was followed by an introduction from Mr. John Agan, local parish historian. John set the stage with a little history and the importance of the railroad to our area. He spoke of his grandfather; a railroad man and his closeness to the Nation family. When Mr. Nation took the stage a silence fell over the room with anticipation of the steam engine stories that would follow. Mr. Nation did not fail to thrill the crowd with his stories of his career of being a very young engineer of steam era trains. He was taught, he said, “By one of the best engineers there was”, a Mr. Martin that had been a railroad man since 1903. He stated that Mr. Martin was the man that taught him an important lesson. He said Martin felt these wonderful pieces of steel and steam all had different personalities and that you had to learn how to read them to drive them and appreciate them! Mr. Nation said it was a sad time in his life when the steam locomotive and the passenger trains begin to die out.
After Mr. Nation spoke many railroad men stood up and made comments about Mr. Nation and their days on the rail. Mr. James Madden took the stage to talk about the railroad of today and his appreciation for those men of yesterday and today that work so hard to keep product moving across the country. KCS Signal Supervisor; Danny Francis got a laugh with his ability to make a very realistic steam engine whistle. Schelley Brown exclaimed “This is his signal for his daughter when they are eating out. It means that the train is pulling out so you better finish up.”
Brown stated, “With the help of Phil Demaline, these speaking engagements are being recorded so that we will have a digital record for the museum of all our local history. The “Night for the Museum with Webster Nation” is now on sale for $10 as well as the last two DVD’s featuring Mr. Griffith and Mr. Wren. Sound system again was provided by Durwood Blake allowing everyone the opportunity to not miss a single word. Refreshments were be provided by Charlotte Martin and sponsored by Ty Pendergrass of Argent Financial. Janis Bryan was the lucky winner of the special gift basket that was given away at the end of the evening.
The tour of the museum followed and as always the crowds were amazed at what our parish has to offer visitors. The museum will be opening June 10th, 2008. Hours will be as follows: Closed on Monday, Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m. - noon, closed noon – 2 p.m. then open again from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday hours are 10 a.m. – noon and open for special meetings and groups by appointment. The museum has many things that need to be done and many things that need to be donated. Volunteers are needed for various duties in the museum. For more information on “The Dorcheat Historical Association Museum” please contact Schelley Brown at 318-423-0192 or visit http://www.museuminminden.blogspot.com/ .