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Refurbished caboose to debut at Export Ethnic Food & Music Festival

Patrick Varine
| Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016, 4:18 p.m.
Export Mayor Mike Calder (left) Jim Norris (center), and Councilwoman Melanie Litz photographed in the recently restored caboose located in downtown Export sits on the tracks at the Kennedy Avenue/Lincoln Avenue on Monday, Aug. 1, 2016.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Export Mayor Mike Calder (left) Jim Norris (center), and Councilwoman Melanie Litz photographed in the recently restored caboose located in downtown Export sits on the tracks at the Kennedy Avenue/Lincoln Avenue on Monday, Aug. 1, 2016.
Jim Norris, is interviewed in the recently restored caboose located in downtown Export sits on the tracks at the Kennedy Avenue/Lincoln Avenue on Monday, Aug. 1, 2016.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Jim Norris, is interviewed in the recently restored caboose located in downtown Export sits on the tracks at the Kennedy Avenue/Lincoln Avenue on Monday, Aug. 1, 2016.
The caboose located in downtown Export sits on the tracks at the Kennedy Avenue/Lincoln Avenue on Monday, Aug. 1, 2016.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
The caboose located in downtown Export sits on the tracks at the Kennedy Avenue/Lincoln Avenue on Monday, Aug. 1, 2016.
The caboose located in downtown Export sits on the tracks at the Kennedy Avenue/Lincoln Avenue on Monday, Aug. 1, 2016.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
The caboose located in downtown Export sits on the tracks at the Kennedy Avenue/Lincoln Avenue on Monday, Aug. 1, 2016.

When the federal government deregulated the U.S. railroad industry in the early 1980s, Dura-Bond Industries of Export decided to buy a spur of the Norfolk Southern Railroad running from Trafford to Saltsburg and create the Turtle Creek Valley Railroad.

When Export hosts its Aug. 20 Ethnic Food & Music Festival next week, borough officials will host a grand opening for a fully-restored 1939 caboose that was part of both the Norfolk and Turtle Creek lines.

The caboose, which Dura-Bond donated in 2014 to the Export Historical Society, has been repainted and repaired, according to Export Councilwoman Melanie Litz.

“It was painted green, the old Turtle Creek Valley Railroad color, and it had a big gouge in the side from an old derailment,” she said.

Dura-Bond workers donated time and equipment to help restore the caboose, which is now the traditional red color and bears the insignia of the Pennsylvania Railroad, colloquially known as “the Pennsy” and originally established in 1846.

“We sandblasted it down to the bare metal, then had it primered, painted and stenciled,” said Jim Norris, part of the family that started Dura-Bond and a former member of its board of directors.

Norris and a crew of volunteers also patched the numerous holes in the caboose's roof and redid the interior with wood paneling and pine flooring.

The car retains much of its original character, from the signals at its ends — red on one side, yellow on the other, to alert oncoming trains of the caboose's status — to the hole in the floor of the car that served as a restroom for trainmen.

“This caboose served as sleeping quarters, cooking quarters, and an office as well over the years,” Norris said.

For the Aug. 20 festival, Litz said borough officials will host a grand opening and present a certificate of appreciation to Dura-Bond.

“We're going to load it up with memorabilia and photos and keep it open all day so people can walk through and see the interior,” she said.

While it will be closed to the public for most of the year, Litz said she envisions it being reopened for special occasions.

“It would be a great place to do visits with Santa at Christmastime,” she said.

The grand opening will be at noon, kicking off the Ethnic Food & Music Festival.

For more, see ExportPennsylvania.com.

Patrick Varine is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review.

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