“He brought me up here, gave me a putty knife and a can of black spray paint and had me help on wheels on the assemblies,” Brouse said.
Ten years later, he continues to work on the railroad cars “because no one else does. In my generation, no one cares” about railroading, he said. “My dad got me into it, and I want to help keep it alive. It’s an important part of our history.”
The club counts about 80 members but about five die-hards who do most of the restoration work. Brouse himself will put in 10 to 12 hours of his spare time working on the caboose, he said.
With the restoration of the White Deer Creek train bridge, club members hope they’ll see more train enthusiasts, locals and visitors. Just last week, two women stopped by who said they found their great-grandfather, a doctor, left the Valley for Montana from the White Deer depot, said Ron Johnson, a club vice president.
He also hopes seeing the cars may bring more people out to volunteer for restoration duty. “We can use just about all kinds of help,” Johnson said, from electrical work to carpentry to simply painting and cleaning.
There also is a plan to put in a switch station to move the rail cars. One of two track lines there is active and will be part of the short-line railroad heading into Great Stream Commons industrial park.
This fall, two passenger cars and a hopper will head to West Virginia, where they will be restored and become part of the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad. Brouse hopes each of the remaining cars will be yearly projects.
“I figured, let’s get the caboose done in 2013,” he said. “Then we’ll try to get the rest back to their former glory.”