ST. FRANCISVILLE — St. Francisville Mayor Billy D’Aquilla told the Board of Aldermen at its June 23 meeting that he is working on price estimates for repairs to the caboose located between the town and the Mississippi River on Ferdinand Street.
The caboose is similar to an Illinois Central M930 Extended Vision type used during the 1960s. With the advent of larger freight cars, the raised cupola design of the caboose was improved with a wider view for conductors.
In a letter to D’Aquilla, museum consultant Cliff Deal, of Lafayette, said the caboose’s steel construction is fairly sound but the rest of the structure is in poor condition and needs work. Deal said he sees the need to preserve the caboose as an artifact and as an attraction for the town.
Deal said the town needs to decide how it plans to use the caboose because that will determine the cost and level of repairs. He said there are two options: Leave the caboose open as it is now and renovate it so it will slow the deterioration, or close off the interior, which would allow the public exterior access and would be less costly.
Deal said he believes sealing off the interior is the better option.
In addition, Deal said he had concerns about the peeling paint, and one suggestion is to treat the entire structure with an industrial coating that would resist rust and ultraviolet damage from sunlight and could seal the remaining red paint.
The interior needs some major work, as well, with the flooring and subfloor needing replacement. He suggests sheet linoleum is adequate.
Deal said he believes the restroom should be closed off and that the worktable and chair are in good shape and should be restored, as well as the stove.
The exterior approach to the caboose also needs work, and Deal has some ideas how to make it more accessible to the public.
He said because of the caboose’s location on the approach to St. Francisville from the Mississippi River, it’s in a strategically important spot, and he encourages the town to explore funding options and partnerships that might enhance the appeal for visitors.
Deal did not provide an estimate for the cost of the repairs.