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Customs House Museum Model Train Crew receives 2018 Gracey Award


Customs House Museum

Clarksville's Customs House Museum and Cultural CenterClarksville, TN – On Saturday, May 19th, 2018 the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center held its annual Flying High fundraiser, which took place at the Clarksville Country Club. It was there that the Gracey Award was presented to the Museum’s Model Train Crew, recognizing all members past and present.

The Gracey Award has been presented annually since 1992 in remembrance of Donald and Finley Gracey, who made a generous bequest in the form of a trust fund to benefit four Clarksville institutions, including the museum.

(L) Jim Zimmer, Executive Director; Sue Lewis, Curator of Education. Train Crew, front (L to R): Kenny Hummer; Henry Livingstone; Carl Eiseman. Train Crew, back (L to R): C. David Elliott; Larry Guest; Jeff Stewart; John Blake; Teddy Blake; Randy Spurgeon, Exhibits Preparator.

(L) Jim Zimmer, Executive Director; Sue Lewis, Curator of Education. Train Crew, front (L to R): Kenny Hummer; Henry Livingstone; Carl Eiseman. Train Crew, back (L to R): C. David Elliott; Larry Guest; Jeff Stewart; John Blake; Teddy Blake; Randy Spurgeon, Exhibits Preparator.

In remembrance of their remarkable gift, and to honor the spirit in which all such gifts are made, the Board of Trustees of the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center established this special award to be presented each year at Flying High.

The coveted Gracey Award is presented to an individual or individuals for their distinguished service and friendship to the Museum, manifested primarily through gifts of time, treasure, and talent.

This year’s recipient of the Gracey Award, however, is not an individual or couple. “For the very first time, this year’s award goes to a group of individuals who have maintained a strong connection with the Museum since its beginning, delighted visitors of all ages with what they have shared, and given many of our patrons a reason to return again and again,” said Executive Director Jim Zimmer.

C. David Elliot, a charter member of the Museum Model Train Crew, came forward to accept this award on behalf of the group. “On behalf of the Train Crew, we were honored and surprised at being named the 2018 recipient of the Gracey Award,” C. David said. “On a personal note, as a child, my family was the next door neighbor of Finley Gracey.”

The Model Train Crew has been involved with the Museum since Christmas of 1988, when they were invited to build a modular layout that could be brought out during the holiday season. They then received corporate sponsors to build a layout that ran until November 1996, when the museum expanded to a second building. The current train layout was built off-site and has been growing and improving ever since. The crew incorporates changes to the layout for the spring, summer, and fall seasons for distinctive looks.  

The Model Train Crew is currently seeking additional volunteer operators, particularly for the weekly train runs on Sundays from 1:00pm–4:00pm. Donations from the public are accepted to allow the crew to operate, build, and maintain the train layouts. Donations of train equipment are also accepted, specifically for O-gauge equipment.

For more information on how to get involved, contact Sue Lewis at 931.648.5780 or or speak to a train crew member during train operating hours.

The following individuals who have served as part of the train crew include:

Current Active Crew

  • Ken Billings
  • John Blake
  • Teddy Blake
  • Larry Guest
  • Kenny Hummer
  • Carl Eiseman
  • C. David Elliot
  • Henry Livingstone
  • Jeff Stewart 

Former Crew Members

  • George Barbee
  • Bob Blaustein
  • P.O. Bledsoe
  • Earl O. Bradley, Jr.
  • Tom Coffman
  • Lynn Cooper
  • Joe Eighmy
  • Tom Grabenstein
  • Jerry Hill
  • Chuck Hillyer
  • Elliot S. Koerner
  • Larry Levin
  • Bob Lill
  • Lawrence Mize
  • Mark Nolan
  • George Livingstone
  • James “Pat” Moore
  • Bubba Shelly
  • Mark Sorensen
  • David Straka
  • Chris Taylor

About the Customs House Museum

Customs House Museum and Cultural CenterLocated in the heart of historic downtown Clarksville, Tennessee, the Customs House Museum and Cultural Center is the State’s second largest general museum. The original portion of the building was constructed in 1898 as a U.S. Post Office and Customs House for the flourishing tobacco trade. Incorporating a number of architectural styles, the original structure is one of the most photographed buildings in the region.

With over 35,000 square feet of the region’s best hands-on activities and special events…people of all ages agree – the Customs House Museum is well worth the stop!

The Explorer’s Gallery is packed with fun, learning and fantasy in Aunt Alice’s Attic, McGregor’s Market and kitchen, and of course – the Bubble Cave! Finally, get “all aboard” to see our fantastic model trains. Our volunteer engineers “ride the rails” every Sunday afternoon from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.

Regular museum hours are 10:00am to 5:00pm Tuesday through Saturday, and 1:00pm to 5:00pm on Sundays. Adult admission is $7.00, Senior Citizens and College ID $5.00, Ages 6 to 18 $3.00, and under six years and Museum members are free.

The Customs House Museum is located at 200 South Second Street. For more information, call 931.648.5780 or visit their website at




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