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Caboose transportation plans derailed

Alternate rail options sought to bring train car to WC

— Daily Freeman-Journal file photo In this February 2019 file photo, Bob Oliver stands in front of a screen displaying the Illinois Central caboose that was purchased by the city to put on display in front of the Depot Museum. Plans to bring the caboose into Webster City on tracks on North Des Moines Street were derailed when the committee discovered those tracks had been removed. Committee members are looking for alternate area locations where the caboose could be picked up by crane and set on low-boy trailers for transport to the park.

Plans to bring a classic Illinois Central train caboose to display at the Depot Museum are still on track but officials with the Wilson Brewer Park committee say plans to transport the car via public team tracks into Webster City have been derailed.

Wilson Brewer Historic Park Committee learned about the changes in plans at its meeting Tuesday morning. Even though the committee was unable to reach a quorum, Chairman Gary Groves asked for reports on the progress at the park. No action was taken at the meeting.

Committee member Bob Oliver, a local amateur railroad historian, talked about the change in plans for the caboose. Originally, he said, the plan was to move the caboose from Angleton, Texas to the public team track in Webster City off of north Des Moines Street. Oliver said that plan is no longer an option.

“Canadian National Railways has removed that track in Webster City,” he said. “The reality is there are no longer any business tracks in Webster City on either railroad that are open for us to place the caboose.

“It sounds simple, but it’s not,” he said.

Oliver said there are many factors involved in the move. The railroad has to be certain the caboose can be set out safely and won’t hamper the railroad’s operations or companies that ship via rail.

Oliver said he and Groves and Mayor John Hawkins had looked a possible site in Eagle Grove.

“We had a good visit with the folks at AGP. They were very nice and wanted to cooperate with us. But their management decided the liability was too great to place a foreign car in their facility,” he said.

Oliver said there are two other locations in the area he will look into.

“We’re looking at these two locations where we may be able to set the caboose out on track that is safely accessible for a very large crane that can pick the caboose up, put it on low-boy trailers and move it to the park,” he said.

The caboose is ready to be moved as soon as the logistics can be resolved.

“All of the paperwork is ready in Texas. The minute we give the order to Union Pacific, the car will be on its way to Webster City, or thereabouts,” Oliver said. “They’re ready for us to move the car.”

“This has been a complicated process all along,” he said. “I believe we will be successful with one or both of the potential locations. Hopefully we’ll have some really good news for you soon,” he told the other committee members.

The city purchased the caboose nearly a year ago in February 2019 at a cost of $32,000.

The topic of the caboose seems to be of interest to many area residents. Oliver said that wherever he goes, people ask about the caboose and when it will be coming to Webster City.

“I’m glad there’s so much interest and excitement,” he said. “It’s going to happen. When the signal is green, we’re going to move right through and have our caboose.”

Oliver said he had been working with Schlofeldt Engineering and Peterson Construction about beefing up the track section in front of the Depot. A stretch of trail was installed last summer on the west side of the Depot. Sturdier rails with ties are needed for the display and for the caboose to rest upon.

“The main idea is that once the caboose is in place, it wouldn’t be possible to do the work,” Oliver said. “So it needs to be done in advance of the arrival of the caboose.”

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