LJ honors man for his efforts to secure train

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Howard Brinner: One-Track mission

By The Staff

LEBANON JUNCTION - The railroad has been a fixture in the Lebanon Junction community since 1857.


Howard Brinner thought there would be no better way to symbolize that importance than with a rail car in the town square.

When CSX decided to phase out the use of cabooses, Brinner ask for one.

The rail officials granted the wish but Brinner had only a couple of weeks to get it off the company’s property.

Then began Brinner’s lifetime quest to bring a reminder of the railroad’s importance to Lebanon Junction for generations to come.

Brinner, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 62, was honored in a special ceremony on Saturday.

The caboose was dedicated for Brinner.

Mayor James “Butch” Sweat said Brinner, along with the help of many people throughout the years, worked tirelessly to get the old caboose in shape.

David Strange, director of the Bullitt County History Museum, said it was appropriate to have the rail car displayed in the town square. In 1850, the old Louisville and Nashville Railroad decided to run a main line through Bullitt County and the line was completed through Lebanon Junction in 1857.

With the depot and rail line, Strange said Lebanon Junction was at one time the largest city in Bullitt County.

Over 1,500 troops once stayed in Lebanon Junction.

“It was the I-65 of the time,” said Strange of the rail line.

Local historian Steve Masden said Brinner immediately jumped at the opportunity to get the old burned out caboose from CSX.

Then, he went to the leaders of The Peoples Bank of Bullitt County, who leased the lot for $1 for the caboose.

People like Charlie Wise provided a crane and Jim Lucas spent a lot of time sandblasting the car. Snider’s Automotive helped to haul the wheels to the site and CSX donated the piece of track.

The goal was to have the caboose ready for the city’s 100th birthday on April 1, 1995. A special plaque was designed and Brinner raised all the money to have that completed and installed.

To raise funds for the on-going maintenance, Masden said Brinner would sell hot dogs and bean soup at various events. And he always had a group of good volunteers.

“Howard was here from day one,” said Masden. “Without his work, it wouldn’t be here.”

At the same time, Masden was sure that his friend would not be pleased with such a dedication. He would have said he didn’t need any plaque or recognition.

“I hope you remember Howard for the work he has done for us,” said Masden.

With that, longtime friend and companion Edna LeBlanc took off the covering of the plaque.

With the caboose adorned in Christmas lights, the city square was filled with happy residents and lots of kids... just what Howard Brinner would have wanted for his community.