Local Museum Gets Rare Gift (VIDEO)

By Eric Olson - 21Alive

November 5, 2013 Updated Nov 5, 2013 at 12:49 PM EDT

WABASH, Ind. (21Alive) -- If you ever want to learn more about your hometown the local historical museum is the place to do it. Like the Wabash County Museum in Wabash, Indiana, packed with artifacts and stories going back centuries about Native Americans, the Wabash area was an important center of Native American culture.

There is a lot here about local industry and local war heroes and lots of stories about the areas rich railroad history. That part of the Wabash story has just added an exciting new chapter.

The museum’s newest artifact is a real gem, a historic New York Central Railroad caboose, probably around a hundred years old, a gift from a local Wabash family. The caboose was once a common sight on the rails, always the last car on the train where rail crews could sleep or relax between destinations and keep an eye out for fires, too. This was a critical function in the day when steam locomotives spat red hot cinders from their smokestacks.

“Most people have never seen a caboose and definitely have never seen the inside of a caboose,” says museum director Mitch Figert. “So we’re gonna be able to show people the inside of a caboose, what their purpose was, how they functioned, and also just have a great eye catching piece outside the museum.”

The plan is to build a mock rail depot around the caboose for teaching purposes, and to rent it out for events like kids birthday parties. It’s the teaching component that really matters, though, keeping alive the story of how the railroad came to Wabash, spurring business and industry, and keeping the good people of Wabash County connected with the rest of the world.

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