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By Carissa Sitki
Grafton’s Dinky project has been underway since 2018 and is now nearing its completion. The replica Dinky will be on display in Grafton to celebrate the history of an old form of transportation that was utilized in the area.
The Dinky was a bus mounted on a train undercarriage to allow it to travel on railroad tracks from Grafton to Alton between 1933 and 1953. At the time, prior to the Great River Road, the Dinky was the most efficient way to move between the cities.
The original Dinky is parked at the National Museum of Transportation in St. Louis County, Missouri. The Dinky being restored in Grafton is the same make and model of bus as the original Dinky and was found, out west, by Ben Allen several years ago. Allen brought it back to Grafton for the restoration efforts.
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“The city owes Mr. Allen a debt of gratitude for finding that bus and initiating the Dinky project” said Mayor Mike Morrow.
The Dinky project was started, and progress was steady, but slow. In 2018 the city contracted to erect a pavilion with train track at the Visitor Center to house the Dinky.
“The flood of 2019 and COVID stopped any work on the Dinky. We needed to revitalize the project” explained Mayor Morrow.
City employees, Nick Hutchens and Jake Weber, and their crew took up the mayor’s challenge to complete the Dinky. They worked throughout the late summer and fall to move the bus, install the train carriage, fabricate a new cow catcher, weld the front assembly in place, and paint the bus.
Richard Mosby fabricated the missing body parts out of a moldable plywood and, together with the city crew, they rebuilt the bus.
“Dave Sanford, the City Photographer, will be taking pictures this spring of people who rode the dinky. He will work with Richard to have the enlarged photos mounted in the windows,” said Mayor Morrow.
The city is planning to hold a ceremony, this coming spring, to dedicate the Dinky as well as the other new improvements and additions to the Edward Amburg Museum.