Editor’s note: This article is one of a series of articles provided by the Champaign County Preservation Alliance and leading up to the annual Historic Home & Garden Tour. This year’s tour is an opportunity to visit eight homes, a couple museums, a garden, a church, a business and a railroad car. The tour is 11 a.m.-5 p.m. June 29 and 30 in Urbana. Pre-sale tickets are available at local banks and retailers, and a complete list is available at www.ccpapreserveohio.org
The Pennsylvania Rail Road (PRR) built an X23 Boxcar in 1913 to haul general freight. During WWII there was a shortage of cabooses, but the War Production Board would not authorize the diversion of steel from the war effort for new cabooses. So, to meet the requirement, in 1943 the PRR converted 75 wooden X23 boxcars into cabooses.
Added were windows, doors, one bunk, a booth, a cooking/heating stove, coal bin and a set of three lockers. The car was reclassified as a NX23 Caboose. The car weighs 15 tons and the two trucks (wheel systems) add another 7 tons to the weight.
This survivor is one of four known NX23 Cabooses left in the world. It was donated to the Champaign County Preservation Alliance by the Marion Parks family in 1999. After eight years of preservation and restoration work, the car was dedicated and opened to the public in 2007.
It is located in the Marion Parks Education Center at the Depot Coffee House, 644 Miami St.
The car is open to the public several times a year and is available to groups by appointment.
While neither a home nor a garden, this important piece of railroad history is important to preserve as it continues to tell the rich history of our community.
Info from the Champaign County Preservation Alliance.