MIAMI — The caboose in MHS Key Club Park has left the station.
A fixture at “Rocket Park” for several decades, the caboose was trucked to a new resting spot in Granite, which is in far western Oklahoma, south of Elk City.
New owner Rick Sullins said he isn’t a collector of railroad memorabilia, “just a little eccentric is all.”
The caboose was surplused in 2019 and then sold at a government online auction, according to Miami public works director Kevin Browning.
He said the money is being used for park improvements.
Sullins said he owns a ranch and plans to convert the caboose to living quarters.
“I’ve got a small lake and it will be like a guest house,” Sullins said.
He said he had been on the hunt for a caboose for about five years. He found another one, but it was in Iowa.
“It’s about 350 miles (to Granite from Miami), so I decided this was my best opportunity,” Sullins said. “They’re not building them any longer so there’s not many around.
“That was the crew’s living quarters when they were going.”
The car, 9 foot-1 wide, 30 feet long and 14 feet tall, was built in 1971 by Pacific Car and Rail.
“What the city people have been telling me is the railroad set it here about 15 years ago,” Sullins said. “They had good intentions except it was vandalized.”
He said taking ownership of the caboose is a “learning experience” for him.
Someone recommended that he list it as an Airbnb rental.
“I may do that some,” Sullins said. “That wasn’t the original purpose of it.”
It’s been a logistics challenge.
“I’m in the trucking business anyway, but getting all the players involved and coordinated, it’s been quite the undertaking,” Sullins said, noting that its taken about a month to pull things together.
The biggest challenge was figuring out how to move the caboose off its mount in the park.
Complicating matters was its right under some high voltage power lines. Because of that, crane operators vetoed moving the caboose that way.
Plan B was to utilize the services of a house moving business: Patton House and Building Movers of Paola, Kansas.
The caboose was jacked up high enough to get a trailer underneath it.
“When I get it to Granite, I have a crane lined up down there,” Sullins said. “We’ve already got a set of tracks built for the permanent location.”
Transport plans hit a snag late Wednesday afternoon once the trailer was loaded: it exceeded the height listed on the permit.
The transport originally was expected to go from here on I-44 to I-40 in Oklahoma City and then on west.
However, clearance of most of the bridges along the two interstate highways is around 15 feet.
Once a new permit is obtained, the route will have to follow “back roads” with pilot cars.
Sullins has hopes to being back home by Friday.