Progress continues at Wilson Brewer Park
Work includes refurbishing log cabins, preparing for arrival of train caboose
Anyone who’s driven past Wilson Brewer Park and the Depot Complex recently may have noticed there’s a great deal of activity going on.
Renovations and upgrades are continuing at the historic park this summer. Most recently, Peterson Construction has begun the delicate task of moving the original chimneys from the two log cabins onto new foundations. That work is being done in preparation for the return of the refurbished logs for the cabins.
Earlier this year, Heritage Woodwork Inc. of Clemons disassembled the cabins, log by log, and transported the pieces to their workshop for renovation. The contractor is working to shore up the logs with plans to return the cabin pieces possibly next month, according to Bob Oliver, a member of the Wilson Brewer Historic Park committee.
“The historic cabin restoration is nearing completion,” he said. The City Council recently approved additional funds to replace some of the logs which were too deteriorated to use.
“Once the chimneys are set in the correct location on the foundation, the logs will essentially just be set back in the original positions around the chimney,” he said.
When reassembled, the cabins will offer a better experience for visitors, according to Oliver.
“The cabins will have electric lighting and more all-weather reliability in the building. They will be restored to a brand new 100-year-old cabin,” he said.
Fifty-feet of railroad track has been installed on the west side of the Depot Museum. That, said Oliver, is in preparation for the much anticipated addition of a vintage Illinois Central caboose.
The caboose was purchased from a private owner in Texas. The caboose is located about 20 miles from the Gulf of Mexico.
“The heavy equipment inspectors have given the go ahead to begin moving the caboose to the Union Pacific Railroad for shipment,” he said. The train car will actually travel to Webster City on its own wheels as part of a freight train.
“We’re completely replacing the brake system so that it can be in-trained on a modern freight train operating at speeds up to 70 mph. So of course, it has to be tested and deemed safe,” he said.
The car will move from its present location, to Houston, to Omaha on Union Pacific lines and then it will be changed to Canadian National lines, shipping from Omaha to Webster City. The car will stop on North Des Moines St., near the former Electrolux plant property.
The caboose will then be moved very slowly to the park on a low-boy trailer. The car body will be lifted off of the steel wheels and will be moved separately, according to Oliver. It will then be reassembled onsite.
Oliver said he hoped the caboose would be moved to its new home sometime in August. He said that while the caboose is in excellent condition, the 50-year-old car will need some work done on the interior and exterior.
“It will be cleaned up and things will be repaired on the inside before we can welcome visitors,” he said. The outside will likely need a coat of paint, he added.
In other plans, the Harmony Center School and Mulberry Center Church will have some electrical work. Stained glass windows will be going into the church and a fresh coat of paint is planned at the church.
“There hasn’t been electrical service at the school, so that will be a big improvement,” he said.
Plans call for the courthouse to have renovations and for landscaping work to be done around the park, adding sidewalks and benches.
The final project, Oliver said, will be upgrades and renovations at the Depot.
“The Depot today is a functioning museum and it’s the focal point of the park,” he said.
A committee is working on plans to turn the depot into a better visitor’s center and a better museum for the area, he said.