Exeter caboose could be sold

Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Paul Slater and Bob Turner, of Midland Railway Historical Association, examine the caboose in Exeter to make a recommendation to the organization on the physical condition of the railroad car. They will make an offer to council before the next meeting, on April 9, if they decide to make the purchase. Kayla Monahan/reporter@cassville-democrat.com

Midland Railway ponders buying, restoring donated railroad car

The city of Exeter is considering selling the caboose located on Main Street for the past 27 years.

According to city officials, Midland Railway Historical Association in Baldwin, Kan. contacted the city of Exeter several months ago to express interest in making the purchase. However, the city's aldermen said they wanted to discuss it with members of the city, and found few opposed to the idea.

The caboose was donated to the city in 1987, under former Mayor Marjorie Hopkins.

Paul Slater and Bob Turner, of Midland Railway Company, visited the caboose to make a recommendation to the organization about the price and physical condition.

According to Slater, the caboose weighs 64,000 pounds and would be worth about $7,360 in scrap metal. He said the company's offer will have to match that.

"This caboose is in good condition," Slater said. "We should preserve a little bit of the old railroad for future generations to enjoy."

Slater said the caboose was built in 1969 and is No. 1291 of the last series built for Frisco Railroad. Only eight were made that year, and five have been scrapped.

Exeter uses the caboose to store Christmas decorations, and Police Chief Marion Jacobson said that over the years, the railroad car has been vandalized, leaving broken windows and lights.

Myrna Eisenbraun, Exeter city clerk, said the city does not want to use its funds to do routine upkeep on the caboose.

If purchased by Midland Railway, the company plans to restore the railroad car to working condition. Over two years, they would sandblast it, repaint it, fix the brakes and restore all the mechanical parts. It would then carry tourists on the Midland Railroad.

"It's sad to see it just sitting there," Eisenbraun said. "Selling it will be historical preservation; they plan to get it in working order."

Midland Railway is a nonprofit historical association that operates excursion trains on a line originally constructed in 1867 by the Leavenworth, Lawrence and Fort Gibson Railroad. The line from Lawrence, Kan., to Baldwin City, Kan., was abandoned in the mid-1970s and purchased by investors in 1987.

The Midland Railway now offers train rides, featuring an over-20-mile round trip from Baldwin City to Ottawa Junction, Kan. If purchased, the caboose will be part of that route.

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