WAITE PARK -- This week in our "Behind the Scenes" series on WJON, we climb aboard the Great Northern Railway and see how the railroad shaped the city of Waite Park.

Driving through town you may think the train set is just for decoration, but they represent a big piece of Waite Park's past.

"The Great Northern Car shops operated here from 1890 to 1986," says Ron Euteneuer.

Euteneuer is the treasurer of the St. Cloud Area Rail Legacy Museum. He says he has always been fascinated by trains and wanted to keep the story of the towns history alive.

"Our mission is to call attention to the history of Waite Park, why the town is here and the railroad is a big part of that," says Euteneuer.

Euteneuer along with the rest of the volunteers of STARail have refurbished the box car and caboose to operate as it was when it was built in town years ago.

"There is a lot of people that have never been on a train or in a train before," says Euteneuer. "This was a traveling office for the train crew, people use to work in here and live in here."

He says both pieces were built in Waite Park next door inside a building that has been abandoned since 1986.

"This building is called The Wood shop Plant 6 built in 1890 by James J. Hill," says Euteneuer. "So this building was use by the railroad for almost 100 years."

The Wood shop operated in three rows where crews would build about five cars on each track.

"So the tracks would go through the building and this is where the cars were built out of wood," says Euteneuer.

He says he loves to talk about the history of the railroad and hopes to turn the plant into a museum and acquire a locomotive to add to the train display.

"We have a relationship going with Xcel Energy and the Sherco Power plant they have one of those that's been retired and we would like them to donate it to us and it will be a static display," says Euteneuer.

If you want to learn more about the St. Cloud Area Rail Legacy Museum you can visit their website at www.starail.org.

A look inside the wood shop that built the rail cars for the Great Northern Railroad. (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON News)