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Chester County hopes museum revs up interest in area's history

A collection of South Caroina license plates dating back to 1917 is among the exhibits at the Chester County Transportation Museum, which will hold its grand opening tonight.
A collection of South Caroina license plates dating back to 1917 is among the exhibits at the Chester County Transportation Museum, which will hold its grand opening tonight.

CHESTER -- The Chester County Transportation Museum finally will open its doors tonight.

The ribbon-cutting at the 1888 train depot on Wylie Street marks the end of a nearly six-year effort to land grants, buy the building and find antique cars, buggies and bicycles to fill the 4,000-square-foot facility.

"In creating this, we were able to save more of the history in Chester County," said Nancy Anderson, a former City Council member and president of the Chester County Historical Society and Museum, which owns the depot.

The project has been paid for with grants, donations and Anderson's salary from her four years on the City Council. Her term expired in May.

The county needs a transportation museum because the Chester County Museum on McAliley Street doesn't have room for larger donations, Anderson said.

Over the years, people have offered various vehicles and even a cotton gin to the museum. Until now, there was no place to display those items.

Guests will be able to learn about the development of transportation in the county.

Among the items that will be on display are a 1925 school bus, a cotton wagon and a collection of license plates that date back to 1917, the year the state first issued them.

"I think it's wonderful," said Chester Mayor Mitch Foster, adding that the city is trying to market its history. "To bring these old cars, tractors and whatever, it just ties in real well with what we've been trying to sell."

The transportation museum sits beside railroad tracks at 157 Wylie St. The grand opening will be at 6:15 tonight. After that, the museum's regular hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays.

Although tonight's event is free, regular admission is $3 for adults and $2 for seniors and children 12 and younger. Members of the Chester County Historical Society get in free.

The museum is still accepting donations. People who wish to loan items should call Anderson at (803) 581-0910 or curator Bob Shannon (803) 377-3639.

• What's happening? The Chester County Transportation Museum will hold its grand opening at 6:15 tonight inside the 1888 freight depot at 157 Wylie St., Chester. Visitors may tour the museum and barbecue will be served while bluegrass music plays.

• Is there a cost to attend? Not for tonight's event, but regular admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and children 12 and younger, and free for members of the Chester County Historical Society.

• What if I can't make it? The museum's regular hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays.

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