Serving the community since 1970

Caboose finds a new home at Shafter Depot Museum

The Shafter Depot Museum unveiled its newest exhibit on Saturday, opening a bright red caboose that was donated to them over two years ago.

James Frances, who had a passion for trains, had built his own railway of sorts on his property in Terra Bella. The display consisted of train track, the caboose, a hand pump and many other railroad artifacts.

Frances passed away in 2021, and his family was looking for somewhere to give some of his collection that would appreciate the pieces and their history. Step in the Shafter Depot Museum. The museum, headed by curator Stan Wilson, was happy to accept the caboose and set a plan to get the train car to Shafter. It was transported to the museum, and it was placed on newly laid track. Mike Romero and Daniel Diaz, of Steve Holloway Painting, also did a fantastic job on the restoration of the caboose and returning it to its vintage state.

The ribbon was cut at the museum on Saturday with Wilson, along with museum board members and city dignitaries. Mayor Chad Givens said a few words about the event, saying that it was important for places such as the museum to keep a city's history alive. "We need our children, and their children, to know where we came from, the rich history of Shafter, and how we got to be the city that we have become."

Wilson said that the exhibit is open to the public, with everyone able to tour the inside of the refurbished caboose. There are also other new items to the collection, including a railroad hand pump that is located next to the caboose.

Wilson explained that with today's technology and transportation operations, the need for cabooses no longer exists. "The public will have to go to a museum to be able to see one of these proud machines," he explained.

A couple of caboose songs were performed for the crowd by Randy and Cheryl Toews, who sang "I've Been Working on the Railroad" and "Someone's in the Kitchen with Dinah."

The honor of cutting the ribbon went to Shafter's Distinguished Young Woman Emily McGuire,. who cut the ribbon. The attendees received and up-close and personal tour of the caboose, inside and out.

The museum is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and admission is free to the public.


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