The Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum Foundation will host a kick-off event for a new fundraiser on Saturday, November 4, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on the grounds of the museum. The event will launch the Save the Caboose campaign which will fund restoration efforts of the historic Missouri-Pacific caboose which was damaged by fire in early 2015. Attendees can help the project by purchasing a personalized, engraved walkway brick to be installed at the caboose site. The event will also feature Temple Mayor Danny Dunn, State Representative Hugh Shine, Temple Councilmember Judy Morales, and Bennie Walsh from the NAACP. Additionally, attendees will be entertained by the Temple High School jazz band.

On January 18, 2015, three pre-teens illegally entered the museum’s caboose and ignited a fire. While Temple Fire and Rescue responded to the blaze quickly, the damage to the all-wood interior of the train car was extensive. After much research and discussion about the future of the caboose, the concept of turning the caboose into a reading & party room was born. The caboose will be transformed into a fully compliant ADA accessible reading and party room that will provide indoor and outdoor space for a variety of functions. During the week, children will be able to utilize the space to read books or study, while on weekends, the space will be available to rent for a party area.

The Museum Foundation has partnered with the Temple chapter of the NAACP to fundraise and provide labor for this project. Volunteers and museum staff have already been working to restore the exterior of the caboose. The smoke damage to the interior has been abated, so any additional funds raised will be used to complete the deck area around the caboose, the ADA ramp, and complete work on the interior.

“It gives the Temple NAACP great pleasure to a partner with the city of Temple to refurbish the caboose and bring this piece of history back to Temple. We are excited to be a part of the future caboose activities,” said Bennie Walsh, Temple NAACP Branch President. Museum Foundation President Glenda McDorman added, “This project is so exciting. It brings together many groups from our community, working together for a common cause.”

The event on November 4th will kick-off the Buy a Brick fundraiser for the caboose. Bricks with personalized messages are available for purchase for $50 or $125, depending on the size. There is also a $500 business partner category. Bricks will be installed around the caboose, and the money from their sale will support the project.