PANA, Ill. (WCIA) — A Pana man wants to revive a significant part of his town’s history. And Tuesday, he helped lay the groundwork to get it done, but they also need your help.
It all started with a model train set. Tom Latonis and his father-in-law have spent decades building it and modeling it after Pana. But now, Latonis has a much bigger project in mind. It is all about honoring his town’s history.
Tuesday, crews built a small stretch of railroad tracks outside of an old interlocker tower. He hopes it will soon be home to an antique caboose, donated by a Pana native who recently passed away.
“We had always been looking for a caboose…we even talked about it because the Pana history with coal mines. Look for a coal car to place out here. And we could just never come across anything.”
Pana really grew around that original rail corridor, but now only a few trains go through the town per day. Latonis said it is important that the town knows where its roots are staked.
“That’s the history of our town. And it’s…just sort of incredible that, you know, all this happened. And that’s why we’re all here…because of the people that came in and created these railroads or worked in the coal mines.”
This project has a time limit. While he’s already raised a good chunk of money, Latonis still needs $30,000 by the end of the month. He is hoping the community will help so he can revive this part of his town’s history.
“The contributions are coming in,” said Latonis. “But, you know, we still have a long way to go. And so we really need the public’s help to get this accomplished.”