August 16, 2023 |

Photo – Saratoga Encampment Railway Caboose – Courtesy GEM Facebook

After nearly a decade of restoration work, the Grand Encampment Museum’s 130-year-old caboose is ready for public display.

Today, at 10:00am, the Grand Encampment Museum will have the official dedication of the Saratoga and Encampment Railway caboose. GEM Director Tim Nicklas said the caboose needed a lot of work when it was donated to the museum nearly a decade ago.

Nicklas said the caboose was built sometime in the early 1890’s by a firm in New York state. The caboose found its way to the Saratoga and Encampment Railway. Running from Walcott to Saratoga and into Encampment, Nicklas said the Saratoga and Encampment Railway was built to haul copper ore from the Ferris Haggarty Mine. The museum director said the large copper mine closed before the railroad was completed in 1908. Instead of taking huge quantities of ore out of the mountains, Nicklas said the trains were used by local ranchers for the next 15 years.

Nicklas said by 1928, the Saratoga and Encampment Railway was in a state of disrepair. The museum director said Encampment residents asked the Union Pacific Railroad to take ownership of the local line with the stipulation that it never close. Nicklas said the 2003 closure of lumber mill in Saratoga meant the line wasn’t needed anymore.

In 2007, the remaining tracks from Walcott Junction to Saratoga were removed and sold for scrap.

Nicklas said the Grand Encampment Museum received the caboose from the family of Riverside resident, Gene Basher. Nicklas said Basher bought the abandoned Saratoga and Encampment Railway caboose in the late 1930’s and used it as a storage shed.

The caboose sat in a field for nearly 80 years. Nicklas said the caboose was in very bad shape when it was donated to the museum in 2015.

Nicklas said museum staff had a lot of work to do before the caboose could be opened to the public. The museum director specifically thanked Jerry Anderson and Anita Morris for their restoration efforts.

Nicklas said Anderson did extensive woodwork inside of the caboose, including installing an entirely new floor. The museum director said he was very pleased with how the restoration went. Nicklas said people are excited to finally explore the interior of the caboose.

The Grand Encampment Museum’s Saratoga and Encampment Railway caboose dedication is today at 10:00am on the museum grounds. Free homemade ice cream will be served during the event.

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