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Railroad and Trolley Museum closing for Central Station development

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A popular South Main attraction is closing its doors, but hopefully for only a short time.

The Memphis Railroad and Trolley Museum, located in the Central Station, closed its doors Friday as workers set to start a $55 million construction project at the historic building.

Plans are to replace existing apartments there with a boutique hotel and other amenities.

News the museum will close for possibly till late 2017 brought young and old alike in for one last visit Friday.

Among them Tim and Linda little, from Lakeland, TN, along with grandson Hudson.

"Hudson really loves trains. So anytime we get a chance we'll bring him down here to see the museum. And we looked on the website and saw that today was the last day," said Linda.

The three-year old isn't shy about what he likes at the museum as he sits on a scale model steam engine.

"Taking pictures on the big train. And watching the Polar Express move on that track," said Hudson.

The multi-million dollar renovation at Central Station means the museum will shrink a little.

"That has caused some complications for us in that we're going to lose some of our square footage. And we're going to lose our storage, workshop and office area," said Jerry LaChapelle V.P., Memphis Railroad and Trolley Museum.

LaChapelle said volunteers will use the "down time" to upgrade exhibits.

"That will be interactive with the people, like, ask an engineer a question, and the engineer will answer your question, and so on and so forth. "

But this is also a trolley museum and lots of folks wanted to know when trolleys will be rumbling along Memphis streets again.

"We can only repeat what we hear -- that they're coming back, maybe in the Spring of 2017," said LaChapelle.

The wood, motorized coaches were pulled from tracks in 2014 after fire destroyed two rebuilt models.

Exactly when they'll return is mere speculation, but something Linda Little would enjoy.

"I'd like to see them get them back in operation."

While plans are for the museum to reopen in the Fall of 2017 construction snags could delay that date.

In the meantime, the museum is embarking on a $200,000 fund-raising project to update its displays.