Old Railroad Car Is Turned Into A Unique Airbnb In Iowa
If you’re looking for a quirky place to stay, we’ve got the inside track on an Airbnb that could be just the ticket.
The CR Station Train Caboose Airbnb near the town of Decorah, Iowa, is a former caboose – a type of American railcar that was used to carry train crews, usually the conductor and the brakemen, at the end of a freight train.
Inside, it offers accommodation for four people – with a double bed and bunk beds – and comes complete with the original conductor’s seats and armrests.
The CR Station Train Caboose Airbnb (pictured) is located near the city of Decorah, in Iowa
Pictured is the galley before it was converted to Airbnb. A caboose is a type of American railcar used to carry train crews at the end of a freight train
Jim Dotzenrod and his daughter Danielle, who live in Decorah and have renovated the Airbnb, first heard about the galley when a friend saw it sitting at a salvage yard about 30 miles away.
Although the family is not sure where the galley, with locomotive number ‘SOO 124’, came from, they later discovered a 1986 photo of it that was taken in Clinton, Iowa, so it dates back to at least the 1980s.
Danielle tells MailOnline Travel that this particular style of caboose is called an “extended-vision” or “wide-vision” caboose because of its dome, a small protrusion with a window on the roof.
She adds that some train conductors traveling in the galley “would have used the dome windows to keep an eye on the train.”
Jim and Danielle spent $8,000 (£5,864) on the salvaged galley, and also bought some original railroad tracks to put under it as a base.
The couple transported the galley to the Airbnb site with a semi-trailer and trailer and used a crane to hoist it onto the tracks.
During 2016, it took six months and $4,000 (£2,925) for the father and daughter team to transform the galley into the ‘charming and cosy’ rental it is today.
Photos show a crane lifting the salvaged galley into place on a set of original railroad tracks
Jim Dotzenrod and his daughter Danielle bought the galley for $8,000 (£5,864). Pictured is the interior of the galley before it was renovated
Danielle says: ‘My father was a carpenter by trade. He’s retired now, but when we renovated the caboose and started renting it, he was still working full time, so he could only work on it at night and on weekends.”
The biggest challenge of the renovation was “cutting out and removing the old iron” that they couldn’t reuse in the train car, such as the iron stove and the iron platform that held the conductor’s dome seats.
Danielle explains: ‘We did reuse both dome chairs, but they are reversible. They now sit in front of the large windows and can be turned to the sitting area or out the west-facing window overlooking the horse paddock, which is especially nice at sunset.” The couple also built a staircase that led to the sleeping area.
A staircase has been built to lead to the sleeping area. It took six months and $4,000 (£2,925) for Jim and Danielle to reuse the railcar
The renovated galley. The biggest challenge of the renovation was ‘cutting out and removing the old iron’ that they couldn’t reuse in the train car
Finally it was ready to rent. “The galley was very popular from the start,” Danielle reveals.
It features a fridge, microwave, two-burner hob, crockery for cooking and barware for mixing cocktails. What’s more, there’s a toilet, a six-gallon water heater, and a shower, as well as Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and a TV.
Guests can enjoy the fruit of the raspberry bushes and apple tree on the Airbnb property itself. The caboose is opposite a horse pasture and guests are welcome to pet horses over the fence. Jim also offers carriage rides through the countryside and through Decorah.
The photo shows the conductor’s seats that used to be in the dome. “They now sit in front of the large windows and can be turned to face the seating area or out the west-facing window overlooking the horse paddock, which is especially beautiful at sunset,” says Danielle
The Airbnb kitchen includes a refrigerator, microwave, two-burner stove and dishes for cooking
Pictured is the Airbnb barware for mixing cocktails. There is also a toilet, a 6 gallon hot water heater and a shower
“Nearby Decorah (pictured above) offers guests lots to do,” says Danielle. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons
The family also owns and operates a second Airbnb near the galley called Silo on the Ridge (pictured)
Danielle adds: ‘Guests really enjoy a barbecue or a glass of wine [on] the enclosed large deck adjacent to the horse pasture. The horses themselves are a huge draw and many of our reviews include them by name.
Nearby Decorah offers guests lots to do… hiking and mountain biking trails, as well as a popular 10-mile bike trail that includes the town, kayaking and tubing on the Upper Iowa River, and award-winning breweries to name a few. ‘
Airbnb reviews have been overwhelmingly positive – one recent user wrote, ‘The galley was the perfect mix of cozy and unique!’
While a second said: ‘Our son loves trains so this was really exciting for him! They did a great job converting the galley into a cute cabin.”
The family also owns and operates a second Airbnb nearby called Silo on the Ridge, a ‘restored and repurposed’ barn silo.
The galley costs about $135 (£100) per night. For more information, visit the CR Station Train Caboose on Airbnb.