Thursday, April 24, 2014

Repainted caboose ready for dedication a year after big move

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 4/26/2013

History buffs and railroad enthusiasts have a train to catch Sunday.

The public is invited to attend an open house and dedication of the museum’s historic Santa Fe Railroad caboose Sunday afternoon at the Old Depot Museum, 135 W. Tecumseh St., Ottawa.

History buffs and railroad enthusiasts have a train to catch Sunday.

The public is invited to attend an open house and dedication of the museum’s historic Santa Fe Railroad caboose Sunday afternoon at the Old Depot Museum, 135 W. Tecumseh St., Ottawa.

Refreshments are expected to be served during the 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. open house to unveil the museum’s “Working on the Railroad” exhibit, Deb Barker, Franklin County Historical Society director, said.

The railroad was a booming industry in Ottawa in the 19th century and into the 20th century, Barker said, and the exhibit documents that fact through old photographs and other historical items from that “important period” in the community’s history.

At 2 p.m., the public is invited to attend the dedication of the museum’s Santa Fe Railroad caboose.

“It’s been painted and renovated, and is a nice addition to our museum,” Barker said. “People will be able to go inside the caboose Sunday.”

Ottawa resident Mark Cation, organizer of the “Move that Caboose” project, spearheaded a fundraising drive to have the caboose moved from Ron and DeeAnna Kimes’ yard on the outskirts of Ottawa to the Old Depot Museum. The Kimeses donated the caboose, which they and Cation thought was built in the 1930s or early 1940s, to the museum.

Cation was successful in raising the $7,500 needed to pay for the move through donations from numerous local and area residents. And in March 2012, Coffeyville-based Taylor Crane & Rigging Company moved the caboose along the two-mile route and successfully placed it just north of the museum.

Cation, a self-proclaimed railroad enthusiast, could not be reached for comment late this week. But during the “Move the Caboose” campaign, he said he was appreciative of the Kimes’ donation and of all those who contributed funds and assistance to the project.

“There have been so many good people involved in this project,” Cation said on the day of the move. “I just can’t begin to thank everyone enough for making this dream a reality.”

Ottawa at one time was a division point for the Santa Fe Railroad, with shops, a hospital and other services, Barker said.

“The exhibit also documents the story of Mexican-Americans who worked on the railroad,” Barker said. “It’s a story that really hasn’t been told before.”

The afternoon offers something for the kids, as well, Barker said, who can learn about the importance of the railroad’s whistles, flags and lanterns, as well as how telegraph messages were sent, through interactive activities.

“Working on the Railroad” is a partner exhibit with “The Way We Worked” exhibit currently on display in Baldwin City, Barker said. The Baldwin City exhibit is part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program, she said.

Barker said she is hopeful people who visit the Museum on Main Street exhibit will make the short drive from Baldwin City to Ottawa to see the “Working on the Railroad” exhibit.  

Also during the open house Sunday, Virgil Dean, a Kansas State Historical Society historian, is scheduled to speak at 3 p.m., and Alan Cunningham, Eugene Field Elementary School music teacher and songwriter, plans to perform.

“There is going to be something for everyone,” Barker said. “I urge everyone to come out and join us.”

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