After being shipped in via flatbed trailers, the City of Blackwater welcomed the arrival of two 100-plus year-old train cabooses on Thursday. A disassembly, separating the iron wheels from the box-housing, was necessary for the trip to be successful.
"We've been working on this project for about three years or so, from the initial conception to funding to delivery, so we're thrilled the cabooses have finally arrived," said Blackwater Mayor Bobby Danner.
St. Louis' Museum of Transportation, which houses an enormous collection of transportation-related equipment and vehicles, had a surplus of items, according to Danner.
"Realistically, they knew they'd never be able to get around to restoring them. That's where we came in," the Mayor said.
Blackwater's plans to convert the mobile units into museums are due to see fruition by late spring of 2013. They will rest in the historic downtown district where Main Street crosses State Route K.
"Our Community Center is a replica of a train station and one of the cabooses will sit outside of it," said Danner.
Originally, one caboose was used on the Wabash Line, and the other served the Santa Fe.
"These are both over 100 years old. They're a different style than the iron cabooses you see in other towns. These are older. The bodies are made of wood. Our first priority is to cover them. Our second is the restoration of the outside and that'll be followed by the restoration of the inside. Overall, the insides of both are in pretty good original condition," Danner said.
As cranes, disassembly and trucking were involved, costs for shipment approached $20 thousand, according to the Mayor. Funds were raised from a variety of sources.
The city plans to use local carpenters in the restoration process. Costs remain to be seen, but the city hopes to negate the majority of them through as much volunteer work as possible.
"Cabooses – many people aren't aware of this – were workers’ quarters that travelled with trains. One of ours, once restored, will be on display as it actually was on the interior – as a place where workers lived and slept," said Mayor Danner.
The second caboose, following restoration, will house a railroad memorabilia display. Though the project is not complete, the public is welcome and encouraged to drive to downtown Blackwater to see the two museums on wheels.
For more information on the rolling museums, readers can contact Blackwater City Hall at 660-846-8811 or call Mayor Bobby Danner at 660-888-2460.