Like many communities across the country, railroads and stockyards were at the center of the early history and development of New Brighton, Minnesota. Too often the things that link us to this past are being lost rapidly to urban growth and reconstruction. New Brighton is fortunate to have a Soo Line depot in Long Lake Regional Park as the headquarters of the New Brighton History Center. The Center houses the collections of the New Brighton Area Historical Society. It’s run by dedicated volunteers and is open free to the public Saturdays and Sundays in the spring, summer, and fall.
The Center’s prize exhibit is a 1950 Great Northern X-265 steel caboose that was once the break room at the national office of the Valspar Corporation in Minneapolis. Valspar donated it to the historical society in 1993 when we began restoring the exterior to its original appearance. Visitors have been able to explore the caboose and connect directly with the history of New Brighton and railroads. It has been popular with railroad enthusiasts of all ages, even for wedding photos, but has suffered from a leaky roof and disintegrating windows. Much work is needed before we can reopen it safely to the public. With our GiveMN campaign we hope to raise the $8000 needed for the restoration, including insulation, new car siding for interior walls, new windows, conductor's desk, kitchenette, and benches for sleeping. The interior will be painted with the same green color as was used in 1950. With your help we will complete the restoration in time to reopen the caboose for tours in 2015.
Visitors to our New Brighton History Center love taking their kids and grandkids through the caboose. And we often have wedding parties taking photos on or near the caboose. It continues to be a draw to our New Brighton History Center. Having the interior rehabbed will make their visit even more special!