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Pioneer Park Train Engine Moved Temporarily to Build New Foundation

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

There’s no shortage work equipment at Pioneer Park Historical Complex in Rhinelander.

Train cars and engines sit on railroad tracks underneath large pine trees. Saws, axes, and all sorts of lumberjack equipment dating back to the late 1800s reside inside the museum.

But on Friday, some more modern equipment rolled into the park.

Credit Katie Thoresen/WXPR

Two large yellow cranes were set up right next to one of Pioneer Park’s most prized possessions.

“It’s the number 5 engine which was used by the Thunder Lake Lumber Company which operated out of Rhinelander,” said Pioneer Park Historical Complex Director Kerry Bloedorn.

He and others associated with park have put a lot of time and effort to preserving the engine over the years.

“It’s been constant undertaking to keep it maintained and restored,” said Bloedorn.

But Wisconsin weather is not always kind. So to further protect the engine, the park is building a cover for it. In order to build a cover, the engine needs a new foundation to sit on.

“This rail has been here for 60, 70 some years. So that whole time the engine has been slowly sinking into the ground,” said Bloedorn.

Credit Katie Thoresen/WXPR

That’s where the cranes come in. A crew from Peter’s Crane Service in Stevens Point used the cranes to lift and the move the engine and its coal cart about 30 feet away.

It was an all-day process of chaining up the train, lifting it slowly, and gently setting it down on its temporary home.

Over the next few weeks construction crews will come in and create the foundation.

Then the cranes come back up and put the engine and coal cart back in its spot.

“After that’s complete, we can start what I call the real work of putting the cover over the top of it,” said Bloedorn.

It’s an extensive and expensive process to preserve a piece of Northwoods history.

“This is really what I call a jewel and the crown here at Pioneer Park Historical complex. It’s the only locomotive on display in the entire county. It’s a relic of the Northwoods logging and forestry heritage,” said Bloedorn.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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