Restoring the Caboose for the “Mt Airy Rails to Trails”
Our staff at Little Sparkie Electric enjoys challenging projects, as well as contributing to our community. So we were only too happy to provide the electrical work to help restore Mackenzie, AKA “Mac,” the Caboose that will serve as the Visitor’s Center for the Mount Airy Rails to Trails project.
Little Sparkie coordinated with the Mt. Airy Community Fund and the town of Mount Airy to determine the electrical needs of the Caboose. They then designed and implemented the electrical system, and worked with Potomac Edison to bring power to the caboose.
They also worked with Baltimore City and Carroll County permitting and inspection departments to coordinate the various permits and inspections.
This project’s mission is to provide foot traffic for local businesses, scenic beauty for nature lovers, and a walk through the past for historians and rails fans. The Mount Airy Rails to Trails project is truly a community project, supported by community members and community businesses who share the vision of transforming unused rail beds into walking/biking paths for the community to use.
Restoring the caboose, which was retired in the 1970s and spent years traveling around the state, has been quite a challenge.
Larry Hushour, the project’s volunteer chief, notes that:
“Catherine’s been great – it’s not an easy project…it’s one where you create as you go. Plus there have been a lot of changes; but she’s been able to adapt, she’s been very flexible and generous, and willing to work with us. Once she starts something, she’s willing to see it through.”
More About Mac
Mac is a model I-5, B&O caboose dating between 1925 and 1929. It is one of 400 cabooses built by the B&O and constructed in either Baltimore, Maryland or Washington, Indiana. These I-5 cabooses were the last of the “cupola” style for the B&O as they went to Bay Window styles in the 1930’s.
This caboose most likely saw service through 13 states and was used as a “pusher” caboose for steep grades throughout the Appalachian Mountains. As a “pusher” caboose it was constructed with a concrete floor to provide the necessary strength to allow being moved by an engine and therefore weighs in at a hefty 49,000 lbs (35,000 for the body and 7,000 for each set of trucks).
The caboose was retired in the 1970’s and has traveled around the state of Maryland. After retirement, it made its way to a car dealership in Brunswick, Maryland and then to a convenience store in Frederick, Maryland. After leaving the convenience store, it sat for a spell at Grimes Trucking Company in Frederick and then ended up on a farm off Penn Shop Road in Mount Airy, Maryland, where it sat until recently being donated by the Scranton family to the Mount Airy Community Fund.
It will be a showpiece of Mount Airy’s railroad history and serve as the visitor’s center. Donations are being accepted for the restoration project by any and all interested parties. See more at: www.mountairyrailstotrails.com