Historical society continues project
By Holly Neumann
The Iola Historical Society is restoring a 1906 caboose that is located at the depot.
“The need to undertake a major reconstruction of the skin and frame of the exterior was identified perhaps six years ago,” said Clifford Mishler, the historical society’s president. “The project formally got underway in the late summer of 2015.”
According to Mishler, the work was primarily performed by Charlie Wasrud and his son Ben.
“Ben was largely responsible for the removal of the deteriorated plywood exterior panels and related surfaces, while Charlie was responsible for the exterior restoration,” he said. “Painting of the exterior was largely the work of members Lee Halverson and Louis Adams, who were assisted by other volunteers from time to time.”
The plywood exterior was stripped from the frame, with deteriorated studs and other structure being removed and replaced. Then they stabilized the roof surface and installed vintage car siding paneling on the exterior of the caboose.
“There were several points of weakness on the roof,” Mishler said. “And sides of the caboose had been identified as enabling rainfall and moisture to destructively penetrate into the framing and interior of the caboose.”
Mishler said they are pleased with the exterior appearance of the caboose.
“Much work remains to be performed with respect to recreating the interior to reflect how the caboose would have likely looked and been equipped when it was built in the shops of the Duluth & Iron Range railroad shops,” Mishler said. “It was refurbished and rebuilt on several occasions between then and its retirement shortly after the last operational inspection in 1978.”
The caboose was acquired by the Iola Historical Society in April 1984.
“As a short feeder line, the operating manifest of the Iola & Northern Railroad never included a caboose,” Mishler said. “However, it is very fitting that the Iola Historic Society acted to rebuild, renovate and preserve this traditional style early 20th century caboose for display purposes alongside its historic depot. Cabooses are treasured nostalgic relics of railroading among adults and children alike.”
The caboose may be viewed at any time in its track side setting alongside the loading platform of the original Iola & Northern Railroad depot built in 1894.
Those interested in viewing the unrestored interior may make an appointment by calling 715-445-5050.
During the summer months, the caboose will be open for visitors from the first Saturday in June through the last Saturday in August, between noon and 3 p.m.
The caboose is located at 205 Depot St., in Iola.