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April 28, 2014

Daughter takes dad for final ride

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Railway Museum co-founder and chief mechanic Jim Murray dreamed of a day when a coal-fired steam locomotive would pull passengers from the museum's Oakwood Depot through Lincoln Park Golf Course in northeastern Oklahoma City. That vision was realized the past two weekends when Gramling Locomotive Works’ Flagg Coal Co. #75 engine made a stop in Oklahoma City to give fans an opportunity to experience a coal-fired engine in person.

Steam train rides were offered at multiple times over the two weekends, with special rides on Fridays for train enthusiasts to operate the engine under the supervision of a certified engineer.

Jim Murray did not see his dream fulfilled. Murray died May 6, 2013, almost one year prior.

Greg Hall, director of Museum Activities and city of Norman street superintendent, along with other museum members, wanted to ensure Murray's daughter had the opportunity to drive the train. Anne Murray Chilton works as an administrative assistant for the museum two days a week.

“She does so much for the museum and she's always working, doing paperwork, paperwork, paperwork. We just wanted her to have some fun,” Hall said.

On Friday, Chilton drove the engine under Hall’s supervision, with her mother Anne Murray in the cab and her father's ashes resting atop the coal bin. Chilton ran the locomotive for 30 minutes, adjusting the throttle, blowing the whistle, keeping an eye on boiler pressure and constantly smiling.

“That was great, that was awesome,” Chilton said after climbing down from the train.

Gramling Locomotive Works of Ashley, Ind. transports the Flagg Coal Co. #75 around the nation by truck to railroad museums for steam engine events.

“It's a father-son hobby that's kinda gotten out of hand,” Barney Gramling said of he and his father, John, touring America and giving rides to train enthusiasts.

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