3/6/2014 1:54:00 PM Historic rail car moved to Oklahoma Territorial Plaza
Built in 1903 as a wooden dining car, the Metapedia was originally named the Assiniboine. It was converted to a high capacity parlor car in 1917, and again transformed in 1919 to a business coach. It was assigned to the vice president of the Canadian Pacific Railroad’s western lines at Winnipeg. This photo shows it arriving at Lloydminster, Canada, on Aug. 9, 1926. Oklahoma Territorial Plaza photo
By Van Mitchell Journal Staff Writer
Kenneth Mitchell had the opportunity in the late 1970s to restore an antiquated Canadian Pacific Metapedia business coach rail car to its former glory and made it the centerpiece of his backyard in Guthrie.
Now, the 1950 Oklahoma State University graduate has donated the rail car to the Oklahoma Territorial Plaza in Perkins for future generations to enjoy.
"I have been interested in railroads most of my life and when the opportunity came to get the Canadian Pacific rail car I took it," Mitchell said. "It is has given me and my family a lot of enjoyment through the years but it was time for someone else to take it over. I am pleased that the rail car is going to the Oklahoma Territorial Plaza in Perkins where future generations can enjoy it and get the satisfaction that I did from it."
Mitchell, who also has a caboose at his home, donated the rail car through the Perkins Community Foundation. The car was moved from Guthrie to Perkins last week by Dennis Beyl and his company Beyl Davenport House Moving, Inc. of Stillwater.
Mitchell said his interest in trains came naturally. His grandfather, Harry Newman, was yardmaster for the Santa Fe Railroad, at the time that the State Capitol building in Oklahoma City was being built.
As a result, Mitchell and his family were able to travel on railroad passes to many places, among others the World's Fairs at San Diego, Chicago, and San Francisco.
Mitchell purchased the railroad car in 1978 after seeing a listing in Trains Magazine.
In the 1970s the Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR) took the business coach cars that were built at the turn of the century out of service.
Built in 1903 as a wooden dining car, it was originally named the Assiniboine. It was converted to a high capacity parlor car in 1917, and again transformed in 1919 to a business coach. It was assigned to the vice president of the CPR's western lines at Winnipeg.
In the 1920's, the car got a steel under frame and side sheathing and was renamed the Metapedia in 1929. It was then assigned to the Atlantic region of the Canadian Pacific Railroad.
Mitchell said the car was originally purchased from CPR by Guy Trudeau who planned to use it as an office of a lumber company that he and his cousin Pierre Trudeau, the former prime minister of Canada, planned to open.
That business plan was abandoned and the rail car was put up for sale and later purchased by Mitchell.
"I had the car shipped down to Guthrie from Canada by rail," Mitchell said. "When it arrived in Guthrie it took a crew from early morning until late at night to get it stationed on tracks I had set up in my yard. We had quite a time getting it in."
Mitchell said he had the rail car renovated to include air conditioning and heating as well as plumbing for the bathrooms and showers.
"We have enjoyed the use of the car for a variety of uses," he said. "We celebrated Christmas there, held DeMolay meetings, Sunday school class events and other special occasions."
Having a rail car and caboose in his backyard didn't go unnoticed by people who drove past the Mitchell home near Guthrie Lake every day.
Among those who saw the train almost daily were Jim Garling and his wife Doris who moved to Guthrie over a decade ago.
"My wife and I were both really amazed at that rail car and caboose," said Garling, who is a musician and teaches guitar lessons. "We thought wow. We wondered how they used those over the years and how did they end up being there?"
Garling said not seeing the rail car every day is different.
"It has definitely left a big hole in the area," Garling said. "I know for us that train car is an end of an era. We used that train car when we would tell people how to come to our house. It became a landmark for directions. You couldn't miss that. In the middle of nowhere sat a railroad car."
Doris Garling concurred. "While I will miss seeing the Metapedia railroad car at the Mitchell's house, I'm pleased that they are sharing their historic car with the public and that it will have a special home in Perkins," she said. "I'm looking forward to the day that I'll be able to visit it at its new location and I'll get a peek inside!"