Caboose removed from Junction City, headed for northern Kentucky

Published 9:20 pm Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The caboose that sat in the middle of Junction City for the past 25 years has moved 130 miles up the line to Ludlow where it will be refurbished and cherished for its Southern Railroad connection.

Junction City Mayor Jim Douglas contacted The Israel Ludlow Historical Society and Ky. STEAM two weeks ago and told them that the caboose was available if they wanted it.

Just a week later, Ky. STEAM had raised $8,000 for the project and on Thursday, prep work began on the caboose that sat next to the Junction City Community Center.

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Andy Wartman, director of restorations for Ky. STEAM and owner of Allied Rail Corporation, which was contracted to move the caboose, said he was “wearing two hats”  – as a representative of KY STEAM and as contractor taking the caboose up to his hometown of Ludlow.

On Friday, his crew with two semi trucks pulling flatbed cars loaded up the caboose, along with the tracks it was sitting on, and hauled them away so that Junction City would have room for its new city hall which is under construction on the site.

Wartman said the caboose was built in 1971 and was one of the last modern versions of a caboose, which are no longer used by railroad companies. It also had its original radio, toilet and coal burning stove.

“We’re going to take it apart and put it back together,” Wartman said. They will repaint and repair the car inside and out, and research what decals were originally on the caboose, he added.

When the project is finished a plaque will be hung inside explaining where the caboose came from. “People will see it. Junction City will be in Ludlow. It’s never going to lose its heritage,” Wartman said.

Sitting in the shade on the front steps of the community center on Thursday, Douglas said he was glad the caboose was going to a good home. “I’m glad they’re going to use it. It just didn’t have a life here.”

KY STEAM is a non-profit organization that works to restore and relocate old railroad cars before they rust away. It’s also the same company that moved the caboose from land owned by the Boyle County Industrial Foundation off of Lebanon Road last year.

Allied Rail Corporation is located in Ludlow and specializes in railroad car restorations – it has four cars to restore already this year. “We also build customized model railroads for man caves,” Wartman said, laughing.