Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

October 28, 2013

Little train that could has new life

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — It looks to be a case of the little train that could with the efforts of many coming together to save a little piece of railroad history for Pauls Valley.

Those efforts by a number of people resulted in a full restoration this summer of a train caboose now calling home a site next to a historical train engine with both at the local depot area for all to see.

The restoration appears to have come just in time as local historian Adrienne Grimmett says it was nearly lost to time.

That’s because, she said, of the beating it was taking from the elements and other forces over the years as it seemed destined to fall apart and fade into history.

Not the case anymore as Grimmett is happy to report the donations of some and the hard work of others have essentially saved the caboose.

“It was just a mess,” Grimmett said about the historical train car.

“It was bad, in really bad shape,” she said. “We were going to lose it. If nothing had been done we would have just had wheels here.

“This one side was rotting out, and it was just falling apart.”

She was referring to the east side of the caboose.

A couple of years ago or so there was some work done to the exterior of the caboose on the west side. Up until this summer the story was much different for the other side.

According to Grimmett, the caboose itself once belonged to a couple in Ada who used it as a kind of lake house getaway.

Back in the 1990s it was Pauls Valley’s Historical Society that purchased the caboose.

With the help of Aubrey Popejoy the caboose, along with the acquisition of some train wheels, was moved to the depot area.

Popejoy is also given credit for earlier getting the engine transported to its new home from the local Wacker Park.

Some repairs were made once the caboose was moved. However, little was done to it for years leading to deterioration and the possibility of losing it altogether.

Among the culprits — a number of break-ins and incidents of vandalism. That led to the installation of a steel door to the back of the caboose.

With some of the windows broken out water leaked in from there and through a portion of the roof.

Even with the need for a little loving care, the caboose was still a big draw for visitors to Pauls Valley’s depot area.

“They just loved it, both kids and grown-ups,” Grimmett said.

As the damage began taking its toll, efforts were organized to save the caboose.

Donated wood allowed for crews, led by Acton Schiemann from the Pauls Valley area, to patch up and restore the east side’s exterior and roof.

The caboose also got a new coat of paint inside and out.

Now the outlook for the life of the historical train caboose is far more promising.

“It has the look and feel of being an old time train car,” she said, adding it still has the original wood cabinet and stove inside.

“It’s just going to make it better to keep the caboose.”