Visitors to Strawberry Fest Saturday, June 15, will have an opportunity to climb aboard a vintage caboose.
The historic train depot, located on County Road E on Waupaca’s north side, is also home to a baggage car from Waupaca’s electric trolley line.
Once the major transportation hub for Waupaca, the Soo Line railroad depot brought in visitors from throughout the Midwest, who then rode the trolley to Main Street and the Chain O’ Lakes.
Since the Waupaca Historical Society purchased it in 2004, volunteers have been renovating the interior and exterior of the depot.
They have replaced the roof, installed telegraph equipment and added a player piano in the main lobby.
This past winter, Mike Kirk and others replaced the wooden flooring with planks salvaged from the old armory.
The caboose was installed at the depot on Thursday, May 23.
Faulks Bros. headed up the four-hour project to relocate the caboose to the depot. They worked with Anderson Crane Service.
“It is a Milwaukee Road steel caboose with bay windows,” Kirk said, noting the caboose originally served as an office for the conductor and the brakeman.
It had a desk and seats and was heated with a wood stove.
James Taylor, the previous owner, donated the caboose to the historical society. He also donated the cost to move it to the depot.
“He and his wife bought it from the railroad and moved it to their home in Fremont,” Kirk said. “He moved it again when he moved to a home on Bass Lake south of Waupaca.”
Over the years, Taylor modified the caboose’s interior to create a space for his family to relax. It now has a living room, kitchen and small bathroom.
He also added electric heat and air conditioning. A model train runs around the interior, near the ceiling.
“We ran water and sewer to the caboose site before we laid the track for it near the depot,” Kirk said. “The platform facing the west has a great view down the CN main line track.”
Kirk said the former Milwaukee Road caboose has a historic connection to the Soo Line which once operated the depot.
The Soo Line purchased the Milwaukee Road in February 1985. The line which ran through Waupaca became the Lake States Transportation Division, which is where the caboose was used.
Kirk said the caboose sustained minor damage in an accident prior to being sold to Taylor. He said the steps on one end are bent and the coupler is missing.
“We’re hoping people stop by and visit the depot during Strawberry Fest,” Kirk said, noting the historical displays recall a time when the railroad was how most visitors arrived in Waupaca.