Roann Lions cut ribbon on caboose project

Lions Club District Governor James Reeves (right) speaks during the ribbon cutting ceremony while Rick Morris, Roann Covered Bridge Lions Club president, looks on. 

By Joseph Slacian

ROANN – Representatives from the Roann Covered Bridge Lions Club and the Roann Heritage Group were among those on hand Saturday afternoon as the ribbon was cut to dedicate a caboose on display just north of the Roann Paw Paw Township Library.

The caboose, once fully restored, will allow the library to use it during its summer reading program, as well as at various other events throughout the year.

The caboose, Nickel Plate No.1142, was donated to the Lions Club by Dick Siders, who used it for many years as an office for his business in Disko. Siders said he owned the caboose for about 30 or 35 years.

Roann Lions President Rick Morris and Lions member Keith Ford were among those who spoke at the ceremony.
Morris explained how the group received the caboose and the work that went in to getting it to the state that it currently is in. He also thanked a number of community residents and area businesses for their efforts in making the project come to fruition.

“This project has been a long time in the making,” Morris said. “We started over two years ago, I believe, talking about maybe bringing 1142 into town. It takes a while to get your ducks all lined up in a row. It’s not 100 percent yet, but it’s a lot closer than we were even a month ago.”

He said when work began, it was snowing and that volunteers were extremely cold while doing the work.”

“But the outside is restored and its sitting on the tracks,” Morris said.

Ford said about 400 man hours were put into getting the caboose into the shape it is in now.

“The beams were rotten on the bottom and the top, both,” Ford said. “We had to replace all the siding and build new beams for the bottom. It has steel rods that connect the top and bottom and they criss-cross and hold the structure together so that when it is going down the road, it can flex back and forth.

“We’re probably not even halfway (to completion).

Morris said work will continue on the interior of the caboose.

“We want to restore it to as close of the original state as we can,” he said.

The caboose was built in 1908 and is one of the last 25 wooden cabooses manufactured. Cabooses became steel sided after that.

While they have hundreds of hours in the project, the two said for the most part they enjoyed the work.

“At times it got frustrating,” Morris joked, “but, yeah, we enjoyed it.”

About 20 people attended the ribbon cutting ceremony, including James Reeves, the Lions District Governor.

“This is a prime example of what happens when a local Lions Club in the town of Roann comes together with the town itself, and comes up with a joint project,” he said. “If it wasn’t for Lions, a lot of people wouldn’t have the things they have today.”
In its heyday, there were six daily trains that went through Roann, Morris said. Excursion trains went through on Sundays.
“That’s a lot for one little town.”

Posted on 2018 Nov 06