Ever since 1984, when my father-in-law, Tom Phillips, former publisher of the Pana News-Palladium, purchased the train tower (Pana Interlocker Tower) at First and Main Streets his dream - and mine as well - was to move some sort of a train car to the property to memorialize the history of trains in Pana. At one time, across four rail lines, close to 30 trains went through Pana daily, carrying passengers and freight.
Of course, those days are long gone. The quest to bring a train car was pursued, but without results, until recently. One of Mr. Phillips’ friends and former Panaite, William “Butch” Morez, a long-time railroad employee and train enthusiasts who lived in Indiana, is the owner of a Union Pacific CA-5 caboose (Union Pacific #25267). The caboose was built in August of 1952 and retired in August of 1986. It was first donated to the Danville Chapter, National Railway Historical Society, Iroquois, Ill. It was stored on the Central Indiana and Western Railroad, Lapel, Ind. and later moved to the Morez property in 2014.
Unfortunately, Mr. Morez passed away about five years ago and his wife is now downsizing and selling the property. In an effort to keep his caboose and his memory alive, she and her family has graciously donated the caboose to the people of Pana. It will rest on the train tower property as the family felt “Dad’s caboose" show be displayed in his hometown.
We are now spearheading an effort to raise the money necessary to move the caboose to Pana, a nearly 300 mile trek.
In order to do this, large hauling equipment is needed, including cranes, highway permits and new track and ties situated at the new location. As I am finding out, this is a very expensive process, with some estimates costing close to $40,000 for the move and placement. Currently, I am able to donate $2,500 to start the funding.
So, this is my appeal to the citizens of Pana and all of those who recognize the history of trains and how this country was built. Please donate what you can to our “Move the Caboose” Fund. Donations are being accepted through the Pana Historical Society and their 501(3)-C tax deductible website. A special tab, “Save the Caboose,” will appear on the website. All money collected will be used for the move and any left-over funds will be used in restoration of the caboose.
I am asking for your donations as soon as possible because if we don’t have arrangements to have the caboose moved from the Morez property, the deal to sell the property is voided.
So, I am appealing to you to contribute as soon as possible so we can get this project underway. This will be a great tribute to the railroad workers of the Pana area, as well as to Mr. Phillips and Mr. Morez and their families.
If you should have any questions, I will do my best to answer them. Please email them to me and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Thank you for your attention. — Tom Latonis, owner, Pana Interlocker Tower