The 2004 Acquisition of a Iowa Shortline Caboose at the
Midwest Central Railroad.
By Jesse VanWinkle
Bellevue and Cascade caboose 055, a genuine Iowa narrow gauge car, is at the MCRR. Built by Ohio Falls Car Company around 1880 it served on the Bellevue and Cascade in NE Iowa until the line closed around 1936. It was their only caboose.
After the B&C shut down, one of its engineers bought the caboose and kept it on his property as storage. It sat outside rotting away for decades before being moved to Maquoketa in the '60s. By this time its condition was very bad.
Around 1980 Jim Schroeder purchased what was left of the car and got to work on what became a very impressive restoration. He meticulously replaced all of the rotten wood creating an exact copy of each piece. He reused what hardware he could but nearly all of the wood is new. When finished, he used the car as sort of a guesthouse.
In 2004, MCRR volunteer Phil Boreeske contacted the Schoeder family some time ago and got the ball rolling on this project. Mrs. Schoeder was moving and the family needed to find a home for the caboose. Right after the 2004 Old Threshers' reunion, Matt Crull and Jesse Vanwinkle drove to Bellevue to talk to the family and look the caboose over. The family felt the MCRR would provide a good home for the car and plans were started to transporting it. This would be the hard part. Hiring an outfit to truck it would be very expensive because the size and the location it sat in - up a steep driveway with trees around it. After much brainstorming Matt came up with a combine head trailer that we could rent. It was nearly the right length with the wheels at the body bolster of the car and it sat low enough that height would not be a problem. Mounts that bolted to the trailer were fabricated as soon as the 2004 Ghost Train was over.
In November 2004, Matt and Marvin Crull, Jerry Crouch, Larry Raid, Dan Hagist, Dave Osier and Jesse VanWinkle headed to Bellevue and loaded up the car. Mark Crull provided the truck to pull the trailer and all the tools required to fasten the caboose in place. The caboose was jacked up, the trucked rolled out and was loaded. We took it slow and everything went well. We pulled into Mt. Pleasant Sunday afternoon. The move was a big success.
It has been on the rails now for over a decade. Occasional maintenance to the caboose's running gear, body, and frame has kept this beauty in running condition. It sees service at nearly every operating event at the MCRR..
The caboose is nearly all that is left of the B&C, or any narrow gauge in Iowa for that matter, so it has made a great addition to our museum.
Midwest Central Railroad Mount Pleasant, Iowa 52641 319−385−2912 (updated 01Aug16)