McDonald’s donates caboose to Thornton

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It may be quite some time before the North Metro FasTracks line makes it to the Eastlake/124th Avenue station in Thornton, but city officials are already dreaming how that area could look.

A McDonald’s restaurant in Boulder is donating its caboose to the city, and officials plan on it becoming a piece of a future historic park in Eastlake, located in the open space area just south of the Eastlake Grain Elevator that the city owns north of 124th Avenue and Claude Court.

Diane Van Fossen, capital projects and planning manager with the city, said staff has created a preliminary conceptual design of the park that celebrates the importance of rail service to Eastlake and the Thornton area.

“The first piece of the project is to build a foundation for the caboose and have it moved to the site,” she said. “As funding is available, the city will explore opportunities to display other historical components such as historic farm machinery along this portion of the Eastlake Heritage Trail loop. Educational signage such as the one we have at the Eastlake Grain Elevator will also be developed to share the history of the caboose.”

It will cost the city about $40,000 to relocate the caboose, and Van Fossen said the relocation could happen later this summer.

Mayor Heidi Williams said having the caboose in Thornton would be a fun attraction.

“It might bring in people — people who enjoy trains — to the city who would otherwise not come,” she said.

The caboose will be the second historic feature to that area.

The Eastlake Grain Elevator, which was named to the National Register of Historic Places, is north where the caboose will be located.  

“At this time, we do not have a timeline or funding appropriated for additional features at the site,” Van Fossen said. “We do hope to have interested volunteers assist with repainting and renovating the caboose over the next few years as we begin to organize that effort.”

According to a staff report, the town of Eastlake was settled as a railway village100 years ago and was incorporated into Thornton in 1990. Eastlake has been designated as a station location for FasTracks, but because of funding issues there is no set date when that service will get there.