Destination PA: Train Caboose Airbnb

CLINTON COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Just near Interstate 80 in Lock Haven sits the old Castanea Railroad station. The outside features two train cabooses, a water tower, and a passenger station.

However, one of the cabooses on the inside is a fully functional Airbnb. This unique stay is called the 1941 Vintage Restored Caboose.

The Clinton County Historical Society was given the caboose back in 2012 and officially opened its doors to the public in 2015. President of the historical society Bonnie Hannis said that it was something that another member suggested the idea as a way to help with income.

When you walk into the caboose, you see two twin-size beds and a microwave, coffee maker, refrigerator, seating areas, shower, and toilet. Hannis described that the idea was to keep the caboose as close to the original design as possible.

“The caboose was built in Altoona in 1941, and it was built for the Pennsylvania Railroad,” Hannis said. “We decided we wanted it to be more than just a caboose for people to sit here and look at. We wanted to keep it close to what it was like when it was an operational caboose. So, the bunks are still the same.”

The railroad was primarily used for hauling freight and getting goods to market. It soon became popular as a passenger service because of the convenience compared to a horse and buggy. Hannis describes it as a starter to developing more communities in the state.

The caboose is available to rent from April to October, with prices varying depending on the occasions in Clinton County. Guests can explore the county’s multiple places inside the room through its flipbook.

Some places Hannis mentioned included other parts of the historical society, such as the Heisey House Museum and the Barton Street School. But depending on the time of year, there are still other parts to tour, including the Piper Aviation Museum and the Millbrook Theater, the oldest barn theater in Pennsylvania.

However, the caboose is conveniently located next to the Bald Eagle Valley Trail. That trail currently sits around 6.4 miles but once completed, it should stretch over 11 miles down to Jersey Shore Trailhead for the Pine Creek Valley Rail Trail. Folks are encouraged to bring their bikes to ride the trails.

Next to the caboose sits a tower built by students from a vocational school. When folks walk inside, they can learn more about railroad history and the Bald Eagle Canal. In addition, they’ll see the old heating system within the caboose.

After folks have a good night’s rest, they can head next store to the former Lock Haven station. Inside the building, it’s an authentic model railroad interpretation of what Clinton County looked like in the 1950s.

“This is the freight room of the station in Castanea, Pa. that belonged to the New York Central Railroad that operated the line from Avis out to the coal fields in Beach Creek and Clearfield County,” said the Treasurer of the Clinton Central Model Railroad Club Philip Micklitsch.

The Clinton Central Model Railroad Club is a club that advocates for the interest of model railroading. They began their work within the old station back in 1988 and had been growing the area ever since.

The models featured different trains that would’ve been used within that timeframe. In addition, the club used Digital Command Control to have the trains complete potential assignments that would’ve occurred. That means doing hours of work to do an assignment car.

“We operate exactly as a real railroad would,” Micklitsch said. “It’s like going to work, and it takes hours sometimes to complete these tasks.”

Micklitsch said the model simulates actual events within the county, including a plane crash in Lock Haven. Guests within the caboose can see different club members operate the trains during certain hours; however, guests are not permitted to use the trains.

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Micklitsch describes how kids get all excited when trains begin to move from point A to B. In addition, the adults are interested in hearing the history of part of the county.

“It’s the keystone for what shaped Clinton County,” Micklitsch said. “The clay mining, the coal mining, all the industries the area had.”

The feedback on the caboose since opening has been positive. Hannis encourages those that stay to sign their guestbook. So far, they’ve had guests from across the nation and internationally, including Brazil, Ohio, and Michigan. Hannis describes the county as a community place.

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