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Caboose on track for new life in South Boston

After sitting vacant for a couple of years, the red caboose located in front of the South Boston-Halifax County Museum of Fine Arts and History soon will be filled with Halifax County history and railroad memorabilia thanks to the help of county citizens.

According to Museum Executive Director Beth Coates, several of the staff agreed it was time to make the caboose more than just an empty shell to tour but instead, more of an exhibit to share Halifax’s history.

“Finally, it’s a dream becoming a reality,” said Coates.

With renovations hopefully beginning by the first of April, Coates anticipates completion by the end of the year. 

However, it all depends on the work schedule and funding. The museum like many organizations in the county is a non-profit, depending solely on donations.

“We’d like to give a big thanks to Ron and Judith Miller who are doing all the work on the caboose,” said Coates.

The work will begin with adding air-conditioning to keep it comfortable for visitors. 

A map of Halifax will be painted on the left wall as one first enters, the right wall will hold artifacts and stories from citizens, and as one walks down the small hallway, visitors will see the HO model train on the platform among the model town.

Some artifacts already have been dropped off, and many train stories have been shared, according to Coates.

“I had a man share a story about a bank robber many years ago in Scottsburg who jumped the train and then threw the money out…years later when kids were walking the tracks, they would still find money,” said Coates. “We love stories like that and would love to get some more, or any kind of railroad story to share.”

Although the caboose has been vacant for a few years, it always served a purpose at the museum.

“We’ve had Christmas in here and tours. The kids just really love coming in here,” said Coates.

“We need any kind of railroad memorabilia, artifacts and love any kind of fun stories or railroad stories,” she added.

The museum welcomes any railroad items such as signs, maps, old schedules and pictures to add to the authenticity of the exhibit. Stories of the train’s use, stations, memories of riding to town on the trains are also welcomed, anyone with HO scale trains, cars, tracks or scenery is asked to drop by the museum Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to make arrangements to take part in the exhibit.

 If anyone is interested in volunteering to help with the renovation of the caboose or for more information, contact Beth Coates at 572-9200.

“It’s finally happening, and we’re just so excited,” Coates said.