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Published: 9/4/2003

Loose caboose finds a home

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Trains have not chugged through Whitehouse in years, but a caboose rolled into town last week.

Considered a member of the Wabash Cannonball railroad family, the caboose will be on permanent display in the village's downtown business district.

In July the Whitehouse Village Council approved buying the caboose from a private owner for $6,500, and agreed to pay for costs to move it from Norwalk, Ohio, where it had been housed at a raceway.

The caboose came to town on a flatbed truck. A crane hoisted it off the truck and onto a panel track at the display site. Wheels had been removed for the trip, but were reattached at the display site near the Wabash Cannonball Trail.

Randy Bukas, village administrator, said some renovation work needs to be done on it, such as some welding. A couple of windows need to be replaced, and some painting will be done, too. Volunteers are being sought to assist with the renovation work.

A color has not been selected for the caboose. Village officials are still researching information about different types of Wabash Cannonball cabooses.

“We are trying to locate a picture of one. We want to paint it like the original styles,” said Mr. Bukas who noted the Wabash was bought out by Norfolk & Western.

A crowd gathered to watch the unloading last week, and several offered positive comments about the village's new caboose display. Landscaping work will be done to accent the area.

There has been some talk about trying to build a replica of a former train station in the village's downtown area, but nothing definite has been decided, and Mr. Bukas said the project could be “years off.”

The red caboose was built in 1927 at the Norfolk & Western east end shops in Roanoke, Va. It weighed 49,600 pounds at one time but it tipped the scale at 34,000 pounds recently.

A local company has donated the paint for the caboose, and the village hopes to get the renovation work done before winter sets in, Mr. Bukas said.

Historically, the Whitehouse area settlement began shortly after Gen. Anthony Wayne's victory at Fallen Timbers in 1794, but it was the Toledo & Illinois Railroad, running from Toledo to Danville, Ill., which was built in 1853, that led to the cluster of trading posts, a general store, sawmill, and gristmill.

Edward Whitehouse, treasurer of the railroad, which later became the Wabash, and John Osborn, a fellow director of the line, were instrumental in platting the village. The first plat recorded was on July 5, 1864, according to information provided when the village marked its centennial.

The Whitehouse family donated property that became the village green and the town was named in its honor. Families years ago used the green for grazing of cows, but in later years it became the center of activity for fairs, socials, and other events.



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