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The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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July 21, 2014

All aboard! Former KC Southern postal car to get new home in Redings Mill

Getting around corners could be tight

PITTSBURG, Kan. — If all goes as planned, postal car No. 34 will take a sentimental journey this Thursday through downtown Joplin, Missouri.

It’s sentimental because this postal car has rolled through Joplin before.

“It was a Kansas City Southern postal car that went through cities in our area, including Joplin,’’ said Billy Garrigan, who has acquired the car to serve as a future home for Anderson’s Ice Cream.

“It still has all of the original signage and sorting boxes for the towns in our area. We intend to bring a lot of history to life with this car. This was an important part of Americana.’’

The car was parked for 40 years behind Jake’s Fireworks along West Fourth Street in Pittsburg. It’s new home will be in Redings Mill along Missouri Highway 86 south of Joplin.

Garrigan said he hopes to start boarding passengers next spring. Anderson’s will have a new name then. It will be called the All Aboard Ice Cream Co. Customers will enter the rail car through a depot where the ice cream will be served. The car, which has 800 square feet of space, will be used for customer seating,

Preparations to move the car started Monday. Tilton & Sons House Moving, of Carthage, Missouri, will move the 65-ton car.

“I have moved four cabooses and a railroad car from Carthage to Neosho, but it was 75 feet long,’’ said Orren Tilton. “This one is 80 feet long and that will make getting around corners a little harder.

“We’ll go down Highway 171 to Highway 43 and then right down Main Street in Joplin to Redings Mill,’’ said Tilton.

The railroad car, owned by John and Michael Marietta, was obtained by their father, John, who was a longtime collector of circus and railroad memorabilia.

“He collected 1955 on. He used the railroad car to store his circus memorabilia,’’ said John Marietta, a co-owner with his brother of Jake’s Fireworks. “He died 14 years ago this month. It has set there untouched.

“I know my dad would be happy. Billy will restore it. It was hard for dad to sell anything, but when he did he wanted to make sure it would have a good home,’’ he said.

Marietta said he was happy knowing the rail car would have children in its future.

“Kids today don’t know much about the rail service and how important it was to this country,’’ he said. “I used to ride from Pittsburg to Joplin for 75 cents each way.

“I feel very fortunate to have lived in the era I have lived in. I have seen the railroads come and go. I remember traveling to the depot in Kansas City and there would be thousands of people there.

“This is going to be good. I know my dad would approve.’’

At one time, Marietta’s father had a caboose, a dining car and a railroad car.

“My sister had a wedding reception in that car and the dining room car when she got married 40 years ago,’’ he said. “We think it went off the track in 1967 and that dad got it a few years later.’’

The car was manufactured by the Pullman Palace Car Co. The best years for the company were the mid-1920s. In 1925, the fleet grew to 9,800 cars, employing 28,000 conductors and 12,000 porters. Pullman built its last standard heavyweight sleeping car in February 1931.

Garrigan said the car was in use from the early 1930s through 1967.

“We found an employee checklist that was last signed on Dec. 31, 1967. It was signed by some guy named Ray,’’ he said.

The car features two berths where postal workers would sleep. It had two restrooms and an ice box where food and water could be chilled.

“This is a way for us to make our ice cream shop not only a destination, but a destination attraction,’’ he said. “We want to be simple, fun and affordable for people. In the meantime, it’s going to be a labor of love.’’


Kansas City Southern Mail car No. 34 will have a plaque on it that recognizes the preservation efforts of John Marietta, of Pittsburg, Kansas, a collector who acquired the car more than 40 years ago. Billy Garrigan, the new owner of the car, said, “Except for a couple of broken windows, it’s all here.’’

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