A longtime fixture at the Nampa Train Depot and Museum — a 1942 Union Pacific train caboose — is getting some well-deserved attention and restoration. The work, which is already underway, will include a full rebuild of the caboose, wood floors, bunk beds and more.
“When the restoration is done, our caboose will look like it did when it rolled out of the factory in Mount Vernon, Ill.,” said Eriks Garsvo, a local train enthusiast and Canyon County Historical Society board member. That means a coat of “freight car” red paint and new white lettering.
The caboose, said Garsvo, is one of the first built with steel exteriors and wood interiors. It’s a CA-3 class of caboose.
“Only 99 of them were built, and we have number 76,” said Garsvo. He believes just 34 CA-3s remain in the U.S.
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Aside from its rarity, the caboose is notable because its type became the standard design for Union Pacific cabooses until the 1970s.
Garsvo, manager of the restoration project, estimates the restoration will cost around $20,000. He has applied for a historic preservation grant from Canyon County. The Idaho Heritage Trust has awarded a $3,000 matching grant to the project. Local companies, including Norco, have donated cash and supplies. Northwest Lineman College also has committed volunteers to the effort, said Garsvo. He has been in contact with the Illinois Railway Museum, which has restored the same class of caboose. The museum has offered to share its photos and blueprints.
The Nampa restoration began with the removal of old flooring and walls. Removal of a plywood floor revealed the original tongue and groove wood floor. Any part that is reusable will be restored and replaced, said Garsvo. The good news for the public and lovers of old trains is that the caboose will remain open for tours during the restoration.
The caboose at the end of the train was the office and living quarters for conductors and rear brakemen. The caboose also stored “all the things that train needed to run,” said Garsvo, including oil, lanterns, flares, shovels, brooms, coal for the coal store and more. The CA-3 did not have electricity, so the coal stove provided heat as well as cooking. The old caboose in Nampa still has its original ice box — just that, a box that held a block of ice for refrigeration — and its toilet, which flushed directly onto the train tracks.
Union Pacific donated the caboose to the Canyon County Historical Society in 1988. It has been at the depot ever since.
The public can see the restoration in progress. The depot and museum, 1200 Front St. in Nampa, is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Garsvo offers tours every Saturday. Visitors can donate to the project on site, or online through the project’s GoFundMe site.
The Women’s and Children’s Alliance called, and readers answered
Thanks to all of the readers of this column who saw the recent note about the Women’s and Children’s Alliance’s Back to School supply drive and offered to help. Twenty sponsors stepped up to support the project, including several who are sponsoring an entire family, said spokeswoman Lisa Uhlmann.
“It brought tears to my eyes,” she said. “Just random people who care about our school children, not wanting them to be without supplies and new clothes for the school year.”
Good job, Treasure Valley.
On a related WCA note, the organization is the beneficiary for FitMania’s World’s Biggest Boot Camp event, 7 p.m., July 23, in Julia Davis Park. It’s a 45-minute workout followed by live music by the ReTreads, food trucks and more. The cost is $20, which includes a free T-shirt. Sign up online through worldsbiggestbootcamp.com or call 343-3688 for more information.
Happy birthday to The Cabin
The Cabin, known for years as the Log Cabin Literary Center, turns 20 this year. The staff is throwing a birthday lawn party, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 6, at The Cabin, 801 S. Capitol Blvd.
Festivities will include readings, music, a chance to chat with local writers and literature lovers, writing prompts for kids, and tours. And yes, there will be birthday cake.
Grocery Outlet food drive will support kids during the summer
The Grocery Outlet drive lasts throughout the month of July, a time when donations to food banks and pantries are usually low, but a time when kids who rely on school-based food programs are out of school and could use some help.
Grocery Outlet in Boise is partnering with the Idaho Foodbank for a special summer food drive. All donations received at the store during the campaign will go to the foodbank.
Here are the ways to help:
• Watch for specially-marked food items while shopping at Grocery Outlet. These are items the foodbank has designated as “high need.” You can buy these items and place them in collection bins at the store.
• Pick up a pre-made bag filled with high need foods and donate it at the store.
• Make a cash donation at the register. Donate $1, $5 or round up your change.
The Grocery Outlet is at 5544 W. Fairview Ave., in Boise.
Idaho Veterans Network fundraiser
The Idaho Veterans Network hosts the first “1950s Havana Nights Gala,” at 6 p.m., July 25, at the Center at the Park Senior Center at Kleiner Park in Meridian, 1900 N. Records Way. The evening will include a sit-down dinner, live music, casino games, and live and silent auctions.
The organization helps veterans who return home with a range of psychological and physical wounds. Contact Marnie Bernard at 440-3939 or Lance Santiago at 761-0313 for tickets and information. All proceeds benefit the Idaho Veterans Network.
Support Friends of Minidoka effort to rehab baseball field
Friends of Minidoka is a nonprofit organization that works to preserve memories as well as the physical site of the Minidoka internment camp outside of Jerome. Each year the group organizes a pilgrimage to the site where more than 9,000 Japanese Americans were held between the years of 1942 and 1945. Minidoka was one of 10 camps in the United States.
The group also leads restoration projects. Most recently, that involved partnering with Boise State University to rebuild one of the eight guard towers that dotted the site. The current project focuses on a somewhat brighter element of the camp, the old baseball field where internees could enjoy athletics and community. The friends group has set a fundraising goal of $33,000, said Hanako Wakatsuki, a board member of Friends of Minidoka. Wakatsuki studied history at Boise State. Her great-aunt Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston wrote “Farewell to Manzanar,” one of the most well-known memoirs of the internment era.
Friends of Minidoka is accepting donations for the baseball field on their website (minidoka.org). See videos of Lilly Kitamoto Kodama and Cho Shimizu, held with their families at Minidoka during the war.
Know a nonprofit organization with a great idea for a history project?
The Idaho State Historical Society is soliciting applications for its 2016 grants cycle.
The society’s Community Enhancement Grants program provides funding for a wide variety of purposes and projects including exhibits, publications, educational programming, events and purchasing conservation supplies.
Grants of up to $2,500 are available to assist historical and cultural organizations in preserving, interpreting, and protecting the history and culture of Idaho.
Projects funded through the Community Enhancement Grant Program must be matched dollar for dollar. Idaho nonprofit organizations whose mission is focused on history, historic preservation, or education, as well as tribal, city and county governments may apply. Grant projects funded in 2015 must be completed by May 31, 2016.
For additional information about the Community Enhancement Grant Program and to download an application visit the website (history.idaho.gov). The deadline to apply for grants is Friday, Aug. 28.
Can you help fill the Idaho Foodbank’s wish list?
Here’s the latest from the organization’s wish list.
The Idaho Foodbank needs: furniture, office supplies, desk organizers, bulletin boards, a/v equipment, camera, conference room tables, stainless steel tables, filing cabinets, dishwasher, washer/dryer, lockers, collage frames, paint supplies, gravity roller conveyer system (20 ft.), tools, drills, saws, wire, nuts/bolts, grease gun, tire gauges, garden hose, extension cords, giant bungee hooks or ratchet straps, scrub brushes, brooms/dust pans, electric pressure washer, power cord for reefer, flashlights, 10-ton jack, trouble lights, temp guns, tool box, cooking utensils, kitchen cleaning supplies, school supplies, potting soil, seeds and kick balls.
If you can help, contact the Idaho Foodbank at 336-9643 for details. The Idaho Foodbank is located at 3562 South TK Ave., in Boise.
A little story of art renewed
Reader Larry Chase told us this story about the reincarnation of a beloved piece of art owned by his friend Boisean Linda Brinton.
Brinton lost a dear friend, Natalie Brooks, to lung cancer last year. Before Brooks died, she invited Brinton to take anything in her house that might remind Brinton of their friendship. Brinton chose a colorful sculpture, aka “Mona the Pig,” that Brooks had bought in New Mexico. Brinton was preparing to carry Mona home, when she accidentally turned a corner too fast and popped off Mona’s leg. Brinton cried. She swore.
Shortly after Brooks died, Brinton made it her mission to find the New Mexico artist who created Mona and see about a repair. She researched and found a postcard with the name of the artist, Beth Menczer. Brinton called Menczer who said she’d be happy to fix the leg if Brinton could send the sculpture to New Mexico. Brinton bundled Mona up and sent her south. Brinton and her husband, who were celebrating their 36th wedding anniversary, decided to drive to New Mexico to collect the repaired sculpture. They stayed three days with Menczer, renting a little bungalow on her property that was briefly, some say, the lodging of outlaw Billy the Kid.
The Brintons drove the intact Mona home. The jeweled pig now occupies a place of honor on the Brintons’ living room credenza.