A piece of history rolled its way into Boyertown on Friday, Jan. 17, to join the Colebrookdale Railroad Secret Valley Line.
The caboose, built in Altoona, Pa. in 1941, has been transported by Norfolk Southern Railway from Virginia to Pottstown. From there, it was prepared to travel along the Colebrookdale Railroad to make its way into Boyertown.
Just over a dozen individuals were invited to partake in the car’s first ride from Pottstown to Boyertown on Friday, Jan. 17.
Passengers included Nathaniel Guest of the Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust, Roger and Barbara Lehmann, Charles and Marylou Haddad of Building a Better Boyertown, Richard Tobin with his wife and grandson, Boyertown Borough Council Present Frank Deery with Boyertown Mayor Marianne Deery, John Lea of Building a Better Boyertown, Jim and Kitty Tribbett and John Pfaltz with his wife.
Its return to Pennsylvania was sponsored by the Boyertown Lions Club and the Rotary Club of Boyertown. Each club’s emblem was branded onto the caboose, marking it as the Lions and Rotary Caboose.
As a part of the celebration, Charles Haddad of the Boyertown Rotary Club and Roger Lehmann of the Boyertown Lions Club thanked the former owner John Pfaltz and the Rivanna Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society for making the caboose available to Boyertown. In recognition of this historical event, Pfaltz was made an honorary citizen of the Boyertown area and an honorary member of the Boyertown Lions and Rotary Clubs with unlimited visitation rights to the caboose.
“It’s a nice for Boyertown,” said Richard Tobin, board member of the Preservation Trust, upon the caboose’s arrival to Boyertown. “For something that old, it’s almost pristine.”
The caboose, built with no electricity, has a work table, bunks, an ice box, a sink with running water, a toilet, a coal stove and oil lamps. Reportedly, everything except the toilet has been restored to the way it was when it was first built in 1941.
Along the way to Boyertown, inside the car, passengers were offered hot cider and coffee, with baked goods, to enjoy as they took at the sights of the Secret Valley Line. While inside, passengers could walk freely throughout the car.
John Pfaltz, former owner of the caboose, travelled from Virginia to take part in the event.
“I think it’s marvelous,” said Pfaltz, “I’m pleased as punch.” In regards to how the caboose caught the attention of Colebrookdale Preservation Trust, Pfaltz says he posted the caboose on the site railswap.org in order to find it a new home. There were several inquiries made, including one by Guest. “We checked three different ones and we think this is the best location. Nathaniel generates excitement—that means a lot,” said Pfaltz, adding that the caboose needs to stay active.
“We’re the right people,” said Mayor Marianne Deery, in response the Pflatz’s explanation of choosing the next home for the caboose.
According to Guest, the trust plans to launch the tourist railroad operation in the fall. The crew is currently in training; track improvements and the construction of platforms are underway. “The caboose is a great first step,” said Guest. The Trust is currently shopping for passenger cars.
The Colebrookdale’s Secret Valley Line seeks to connect Boyertown and Pottstown--two towns that are currently undergoing revitalization.