The New Welcome Center!
In 2022, OCHS tackles the creation of a new entrance and "Welcome Center" in the Draeger House. Donations are appreciated! The 1897 Draeger House is a European half-timber architectural style that is being restored and reconfigured for this purpose. The building will be ADA accessible with a well-lighted entry. Restoration aspects of the project entail bringing new electrical service to the building, widening the doorways, creating a secure gated entry point and building a boardwalk and ramp to enter. The exterior trim will be painted, while the interior floor will be refinished. Some of the interior amenities will include the installation of internet service to provide credit card processing capability and WI-FI accessibility. Rotating themed exhibits will showcase various collections of artifacts and will provide a preview of what visitors will experience when they walk back in time. A permanent exhibit room of an 1800’s dress shop and millinery will provide a space to display part of OCHS’s vast textile and clothing collections.
The OCHS 1940 Milwaukee Road rib-side caboose is one of only nine that are still in existence. The Milwaukee Road built 315 rib-side cabooses between 1939 and1951. In 1940 there were only 25 cabooses built with stock numbers 01875-01899. OCHS owns number 01887. Cabooses of this era are getting quite rare and our society is dedicated to preserve this one. In 1995, several OCHS Board members were determined to acquire a Milwaukee Road caboose to compliment the Milwaukee Road Cedarburg Train Station that it had acquired 12 years prior. Several cabooses were considered, but the one that was decided upon was at Volkmann Railroad Builders, Inc. in Menomonee Falls, WI. The cost of the caboose was $3,500.00 and the cost to move it to Ozaukee County Pioneer Village was $1,800.00. Track would need to be installed in front of the train station and required the ground to be graded, filled and a pad of gravel laid down before installing the track and caboose on the site. OCHS received a generous grant from Bob and Eileen Williams, as well as a sizable matching grant from Ameritech to fund the purchase, move and install the caboose at its new location. Bob Williams, a board member at the time, considered this a grand opportunity. The caboose was loaded on a flat railcar using a crane and was transported to Fredonia, near Saukville. In 1996, the caboose was primed and painted, but there were no additional funds to restore the interior.
The interior was in very poor condition. Asbestos and lead paint were found so an abatement company has deconstructed all interior elements. Photos and documentation were taken throughout the deconstruction so that everything can be rebuilt authentically. New lockers, conductors’ desk, bunks, sink, toilet compartment and icebox will need to be crafted, using some of the original items that were salvaged, as patterns for the new ones. The bench seats will need to be repurchased or constructed using the frames and in heavy vinyl upholstery, along with the bunks. A beautiful caboose lantern was donated to OCHS and we have been offered an Estate Coal Stove (wood stove) that will be suitable for the project.
The caboose exterior will need to be repaired, patched and welded where it is rusted through, then sandblasted, primed and painted with the original Milwaukee Road orange color. Thanks to the Milwaukee Road Historical Association for letting us use the original paint chip for color matching! The lettering will need to be painted in the original maroon paint. New window frames and glass will need to be fabricated and installed. It's quite an undertaking.
Donations are welcomed and appreciated!