Lee Thurner and Bill Avery walk through the doors of the Crossroads Museum and Historic Depot at 8 a.m. Winding their way through each room lined with antiques and displays, the two men reach their destination.
A partially-painted landscape decorates the wall, the bright blue sky and cotton white clouds in contrast with the green trim. However, the work of art Thurner and Avery are here for is their HO scale model railroad.
“The whole project started as a means to improve visitor-ship to the museum,” said 78-year-old Thurner, “because the museum has been limited by the fact that our exhibits never change. Local people would come visit the museum, see what was here and have no reason to come back.”
To counter this reality, the museum board voted to shift its interpretive mission.
“We decided to change the focus of the museum from mainly Civil War to the railroad history of Corinth.”
The new railroad display has two bright red buttons to run the two model trains. Though the entire display is still being worked on, Thurner, Avery and the museum are encouraging families to visit the exhibit and see their labor of love in progress.
As both museum board members work together securing the faux grass and concrete, the 82-year-old Avery points to a scale model of a building sitting atop a glass display case.
“How many hours would you say you worked on that, Lee?” asked Avery.
The model to which Avery was referring was an exact replica of the depot they entered that morning.
“Well, fortunately I haven’t kept count,” said Thurner with a laugh. “It’s more than 40, I know that.”
The scale depot shows Thurner’s attention to detail with bricks individually painted and even an air conditioning unit on the roof.
“I’ve just been working on it when I have the chance,” said the model railroad enthusiast.
After tightening the final screw to the MDF board foundation, Thurner and Avery gently place the depot model over the glass among the 225 feet of HO track and miniature buildings from days gone by.
“Now, that’s pretty cool,” said Avery, as the model placed by the small railroad crossing reflects the historic rail junction just a few hundred feet away outside the museum walls.
“Cool as a frog in a shady pond,” added Thurner.
Though placing this iconic model gave a great feeling of accomplishment, there’s more work to be done. Along the display are signs signifying plans for future models representing the history of the Crossroads.
“It’ll never be 100 percent complete,” said Thurner. “There’s always more that can be done.”
Avery echoed the idea as it walked to the adjoining room pointing to a blue chalk line wrapping the room several feet high.
“We’re planning on having two O-gauge trains running around this room,” said Avery.
The future project, however, will be far from easy to accomplish.
“We’re really looking for some help in the community,” said Avery. “The O-gauge tracks were graciously donated, but they need to be restored, and that’s incredibly time consuming.”
Avery and Thurner are hoping folks in Corinth, Alcorn County and the Crossroads area who have some time on their hands would be willing to help get the new project off the ground.