Railroad museum to unveil restored caboose next spring

The fully restored INCO No. 79231.

Photo supplied

The Northern Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre plans to show off its latest restoration project, caboose No. 79231, next spring.

The caboose has undergone a full cosmetic restoration over the last few months, thanks to a donation from Epiroc Canada and a grant from the Rural Economic Development program. The restoration was completed by Lakeshore Construction.

The unit will be badged as INCO No. 79231, indicative of its time with the local mining company.

Built in 1967 by Hawker Siddeley, the caboose was originally employed with the Canadian National Railway Company. With the removal of the caboose from regular railway service during the early 1990s, the unit was sold to INCO Ltd., where it was utilized as an auxiliary car used primarily to store equipment for re-railing procedures and helped to transport employees to various worksites across the company’s vast property in the Sudbury region.

Deemed surplus, the caboose was donated to the museum in 1998 and was eventually put on display in Prescott Park.

“It was a challenging year for the museum in 2020, with COVID-19 restrictions in place,” Stu Thomas, president of the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum, said in a release. “Our visitor season was obviously cut short, but it afforded us the opportunity to move ahead with some critical projects, such as the restoration of the caboose. We are eager to welcome visitors back next spring and share another exciting new exhibit with them.”

This was the second major project that Epiroc Canada has supported at NORMHC, recently assisting with the restoration of a retired hot metal car in 2016.

“Epiroc is proud to have supported the museum with its efforts to restore caboose No. 79231,” said Sylvie Dumais, business controller for Epiroc. “This is another important piece of our local mining history and it allows us to reflect on the mining operations of years’ past.”

Caboose No. 79231 prior to restoration.

Photo supplied

This is also the second time in recent history that the museum has received funding from the Rural Economic Development program. It also contributed to the restoration of a 1907 steam locomotive during the Town of Capreol’s centennial celebrations in 2018.

“This is exciting news for the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre,” said Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas, speaking for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “The caboose has special ties to Sudbury and surrounding communities and it is so wonderful that future generations will be able to enjoy the rich history brought to life with its restoration.”

While the caboose had previously been on display for more than a decade, its recent restoration will allow visitors to tour the inside of the unit and gain a better understanding of the role the caboose played not only during its time with CN, but also with INCO.

“We’ve really grown as an attraction over the past ten years into a top visitor destination for the region,” Thomas added. “The ability to open up the caboose to the public ensures that we have another great exhibit for next year that refreshes the patron experience at NORMHC. We are incredibly appreciative of the support we receive allowing us to preserve and promote our region’s rich mining and railroading heritage.”


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