For $2,000, someone can own a piece of American railroad history.
Ponchatoula Country Market officials announced Wednesday they are listening to offers from anyone interested buying the historic caboose parked outside their building at the center of Ponchatoula’s downtown.
“We’ve actually been trying to sell it for over a year,” said spokesperson Mardi Massel. “We’re hoping to sell it to someone interested in turning it into an art studio, tattoo studio, tiny house, or anyone interested in the history of the railroad in general.”
Massel said a fire had occurred inside the caboose before it was donated to the market and it needs to be refurbished extensively.
“It needs some welding and repairs to its roof so it can be repurposed safely, but its structure remains intact,” she said.
The Ponchatoula Country Market provided historical records that indicated that the caboose was abandoned and stored in an empty lot on Hickory Street.
According to a Daily Star article published Jan. 12, 1999, a film crew working in the area for the Lifetime network movie “Any Day Now” made the first effort to restore the caboose by gutting it and installing new floors. On Dec. 12 that year, Louisiana National Guardsmen helped the city move the caboose to its current location.
Neither the city nor Illinois Railroad has been able to determine when the caboose was built. A 1945 baggage car was once parked alongside it on Northeast Railroad Avenue. Currently, a mail car built in 1912 is next to the caboose and the Country Market.
A year ago, Massel’s daughter and graduate students from the University of Louisiana at Monroe restored the railcar to look as it did during its active period. The railcar is now used as a space to rent for shop vendors.