A new home for a special house

A Section Foreman’s house is delivered to the grounds of the Wheels Across the Prairie Museum, where it will eventually be on full display in the open area on the northeast side of museum grounds, facing the highway. Photo / Per Peterson

A rare Section Foreman’s house was delivered to the Wheels Across the Prairie Museum last week

By Per Peterson

On July 1, 1980, a massive barn donated by Mr. and Mrs. Arnold McDaniel, was brought to the Wheels Across the Prairie Museum to be renovated.

Last Wednesday, a week shy of a full 40 years later, another prominent structure was delivered to Wheels — a Section Foreman’s House from De Graff, MN — 80 miles from Tracy.

“It’s rare, so that’s a unique thing to us,” said Wheels Across the Prairie Board President Jon Wendorff. “This will be good for us.”

The 19th century foreman building, which once served as housing for the railroad foreman, won’t be available for visitors to peruse just yet. There are plenty of renovations that need to be done, including the addition of a lean-to.

“Now that it’s here, we can start to remodel the inside,” said Wendorff. “We’re gonna turn it back to 1884; there’s a lean-to that has to go on, where the kitchen was.”

So exactly how rare is the house? Wendorff said it is one of only three left in the state.

“It’s very rare,” Wendorff said.

The house, gifted to the museum by Jean Byrne, who grew up next door to the house, will ultimately be front-and-center on the museum grounds — at least from the highway view. It will occupy part of a recently-tilled up area on the northeast end of campus, just yards away from the iconic steam engine and boxcars that are staples of the museum. The house was moved by the Thein Moving Co. of Clara City and will eventually be placed on concrete footings; work on the house will likely take place sometime this year, perhaps in September, Wendorff said.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.