By Angela H. Hill
The long-awaited caboose arrived Monday afternoon at its new home on Commerce Street in Stuart. A commemoration of the Danville & Western (Dick & Willie) Railroad that once stopped here, the caboose was hauled in by a tractor-trailer truck and lifted by two cranes to a spot near the Mayo River Rail Trail.
The 40,000-pound car belonged to Charles Dillon in Madison, N.C., who purchased it as part of a playground for his now-grown children, explained Stuart Town Manager Terry Tilley. It’s in great shape, structurally, Tilley said, but needs to be painted before July when the Town of Stuart will honor the 75th-anniversary of the last Dick & Willie expedition to Stuart.
Jerry Wilson, a retired house and commercial building painter, has volunteered to restore the outside, Tilley said. “He is about the best I’ve ever seen,” Tilley said, adding that the town is grateful for Wilson’s volunteerism.
Tilley said town officials hope to also have the inside of the caboose refurbished, to include redoing the seating; adding lanterns, a railroad spike, old photographs, and lights; and installing a display video screen explaining the Dick & Willie’s significance to Stuart.
The caboose was purchased with $21,000 from the Patrick County Tourism Advisory Committee. The Town of Stuart is responsible for set-up, renovation and maintenance, which Tilley said could run about $10,000.
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