PRINEVILLE, Ore. - It was used for years by the City of Prineville Railway. Nw an old, worn-down caboose has received a facelift -- and on Monday, to the delight of train-loving onlookers, it rolled through town on a flatbed truck to its new home at the town's museum.
Railway crews woke up early Monday morning and loaded up the 21-ton caboose onto a tractor-trailer at the railway warehouse on Northwest Bus Evans Road. They made sure everything was on right and tight, and they checked it twice.
The caboose then took what's likely its last trip -- not on a pair of rails: a slow, 3.7-mile journey, as residents lined the streets, often with cameras in hand, watching history being made as the caboose rolled to its final destination, at the Bowman Museum.
Marlis Jay and her husband took their grandchildren to downtown Prineville to watch the caboose, a special piece of railroad history, go by.
"It's exciting!" Jay said with an enthusiastic smile. "I told the kids, remember this: You can say, 'When I was 4 years old, I saw that happen!'"
It took 26 days to sandblast the old railway-orange paint and apply 22 gallons of fresh yellow and black paint to bring the caboose back to its original color.
Jerry Pimentel has lived in Prineville since 1963 and has taken several rides on the caboose.
"The paint job really does make it look nice," he said. "It was looking sort of shabby before, now it looks really nice," Pimentel said.
The caboose ran until 1979, bringing up the rear of freight trains, the role of a caboose that's dwindled over the decades. The railcar later served as an office for the Crooked River Dinner Train. But after that, it just sat, collecting dust and rust -- until the Bowman Museum decided it would restore the railroad relic.
"In 2018, it's the 100th anniversary of the city of Prineville Railway," said museum Director Gordon Gillespie. "So this is going to be a big part of that celebration."
And so, after a life of riding the rails, this big slice of Prineville history is in its new home, and getting ready for its next chapter.
Crews soon will be putting the final touches on the caboose, with the lettering and train number. The museum will prepare the caboose for public tours, which should begin by next year.
To learn more about the museum and caboose project, visit: http://crookcountyhistorycenter.org/caboose-project/
And to learn more about the City of Prineville Railway, visit: http://www.cityofprineville.com/railway