WAITE PARK - The buildings are all closed-up and the railroad cars are long gone, but there are still a lot of families in the Waite Park and St. Cloud area that have a connection to the old "car shop".   And now there's a plan to make sure the memory of the railroad lives on.

If you're a new comer to the area you probably wouldn't know it, but Waite Park and St. Cloud were built on the back of railroad workers.  Railway tycoon James J. Hill bought a piece of land in what is now Waite Park back in 1890 and built a rail car manufacturing plant.  It operated on that site all the way up to 1986.

Barry Schreiber is a member of the STARail organization.  He says almost everyone in town was connected to the railroad.

Now, the STARail group has a plan to keep the town's history alive.  They've bought a Great Northern X240 caboose that was built in Waite Park in 1943.  Len Jagelski says she's in tough shape right now, but with a little TLC they'll restore it back to just like new.

The caboose sits on a short track along 3rd Street in Waite Park, a short distance from the building where it was built.  Ron Euteneuer says the caboose is just the first step in an ambitious plan.

The total project is probably a few years away, but someday they even have dreams of buying the old car shop building, which BNSF still owns.

The STARail group will host a "Welcome Home" ceremony for the caboose this Friday at noon.  Anyone with a love for or a connection to the railroad is welcome to attend.

Read More:
History of the Great Northern Car Shops in Waite Park
James J. Hill's connection to the area
Waite Park's early days