It had become Lula’s faded red caboose.
But after months of the city and various groups talking about it, work is finally underway on restoring the downtown fixture, which sits off Athens Street, just south of — and quite visible from — Main Street.
Sandblasting and primer work began last week, and workers are splashing red paint on the railroad car this week.
“We’re putting on our third coat,” said Mere Barbee, Lula Area Betterment Association-Friends of the Depot president, on Monday. “... We haven’t seen that much red in a long time. It really looks great and we’re getting a lot of comments about it from people in the area.”
The caboose may get new lettering in a couple of weeks, with landscaping work to follow, City Manager Dennis Bergin said.
Overall, the work should be completed by the first week in August, he said.
“We didn’t expect (the project) to come together so nicely,” Barbee said. “We’re pleased.”
Officials started talking last year about fixing up the caboose, an iconic symbol of Lula’s rich railroad history.
The caboose, which sits next to the Lula Railroad Depot near Wall Street, was donated by Southern Railway in 1991. The city owned the car for a while, then gave it to the betterment group, Bergin said.
The main issue was that the bright red paint that once covered the railroad car had faded.
“I’ve got pictures of it back in its heyday, after it was moved here,” Bergin said in a November interview. “Through the years, it’s been neglected.”
Chris Lusink, president of the Lula Belton Historical Society, said the project is much appreciated.
“Up until now, (the caboose) has been an eyesore and here it is right in the center of town,” she said.
Lula City Council voted in May to spend up to $7,000 on sandblasting, repainting and landscaping. The project also got donations from the historical society and betterment association.