By Shea Henry/Special to The News
Calling all train enthusiasts and skilled trades people!
The historic caboose on the Maple Ridge Museum grounds is in need of repairs.
You may have even noticed it there along the Haney Bypass, tarped for several years now in need of a new roof.
Many of you have even called in to the museum asking what is happening with it and might it be fixed soon. Well, that is what we are hoping for.
Canadian Pacific Railway Caboose 437115 began its life in 1944 at CPR’s Montreal Angus Shops.
With a wartime shortage of steel, it was built largely of wood, resembling a caboose built in an earlier age. The standard steel train cars were not a possibility by that time in the war due to metal shortages.
For the next 40 years, the caboose was a part of trains throughout mostly Western Canada.
When in use, the caboose housed the conductor and train crew, who would use the cupola, or look out, to spot potential danger on the tracks ahead.
During the 1980s, while still in use, the caboose got a paint job, turning the Tuscan red colour to the more standard Action Yellow that we still recognize in CPR trains today.
Only a few years after that, the caboose was retired by CPR and declared surplus.
At that time it was donated to the people of Maple Ridge and made part of the Dewdney-Alouette Railway Society (DARS) and Maple Ridge Museum exterior display.
In 1991 the caboose was installed where it is today – with great effort by DARS and the Maple Ridge Historical Society.
The hopes were, by having this piece of history right in our backyard, that it would enhance the museum and model railway experience visitors get at the Maple Ridge Museum, and even share a little bit of that train enthusiasm with the people of Maple Ridge.
The caboose has gone through several major repairs thorugh the years. In 2003, the caboose went through a series of repairs that enhanced the tours and has even had events there.
Now that the caboose is nearing 80 years old, it is feeling its age.
In its current state it is not open for tours, events, and is even more susceptible than ever to break-in attempts, theft, and tagging – which have, unfortunately, happened to this piece of our history.
We love having this wonderful piece of history here for tours, school programs, and community events.
The Dewdney-Alouette Railway Society model railway display in the museum along with the restored caboose are a huge draw for the museum. We love that it brings history and fun together with a sense of childhood whimsy to everyone who visits.
Even more than the funds required for this work, the Dewdney-Alouette Railway Society and the Maple Ridge Museum are in need of skilled volunteers to do the work.
No doubt that there are skilled and enthusiastic community members who are able to help us with getting these much needed repairs done.
If you are interested in donating your time or skills to this project, please get in touch with the Maple Ridge Museum via email at: email@example.com or by calling 604-463-5311.
– Shea Henry is the executive director of the Maple Ridge Museum and Community Archives, as well as Haney House Museum
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