In 2003, a group of railroad enthusiasts gathered to discuss the possibility of purchasing an actual caboose to be placed on display in the city. The location would be on the original railroad bed of the Milwaukee Road, which passed through the city. This line passed by the buildings, which now house the Dodge County Historical Society and the Beaver Dam Chamber of Commerce, which was originally the passenger depot for the Milwaukee Railroad.
The railroad enthusiasts traveled throughout the Midwest, looking at many cabooses to purchase. Some were wooden while others were constructed of metal. The group finally found a Milwaukee Road caboose with a metal frame and smooth sides. The caboose was manufactured by the Thrall Company of Chicago in the 1950s.
The City Council had to approve the purchase and placement. A fund raiser was conducted to cover all expenses. In June of 2004 the Wisconsin Southern Railroad Company laid two sections of track. The caboose was delivered and restoration started immediately. The exterior was stripped of paint and the interior was cleaned. All of the interior furnishings were restored and the windows were replaced.
In July 2005 a celebration was held to mark the completion of the interior. Work continues on the exterior, with the painting of the distinctive Milwaukee Road orange. Future plans include restoration of the doors, front and rear platforms and wheels.
Today, cabooses are no longer used by the railroad having been replaced by electronic sensing devices. This restoration project is a great example of city government and local individuals working together to complete a project of local historical significance.
The caboose is open for viewing on special occasions or by appointment.