Illinois man looking to restore 1911 Sleeping Train Car, and possibly turn it into a local attraction

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — David Parker of Bloomington, Illinois is in the process of transporting a 1911 sleeping car to his property off of Route 66.

He hopes to restore the electric passenger car, and turn it into an attraction people can come and visit.

“The car has been located at the Harristown Depot in Harristown Illinois, which is right outside of Decatur, it’s been there for over thirty years,” said Parker.

The current owner of the Harristown Depot offered the car for free, to whoever would take it off his hands.

“We have successfully cut the car into two pieces, and we’re scheduling the move in a couple of weeks, to move both pieces to Bloomington and then re-assemble it,” said Parker.

He said because he lives off of Route 66, known for tourist travel, he hopes to turn it into an attraction, to pay for its preservation.

“The two ideas that have been discussed, one is a café or a tea room, which was my wife’s idea, she’s always wanted a tea room, the other idea was like an Airbnb, where people can spend the night in it,” said Parker.

Bill Kemp, Librarian with the McLean County Museum of History, said these interurban railroad cars, essentially electrified trains, were used to transport people across communities.

“The Illinois Traction System, and that’s the car were talking about that the restoration attempt is underway on, the Illinois Traction System, later the Illinois Terminal Railroad, was one of the better known interurban systems in the Midwest, and one of the longest-running, and lasting,” said Kemp.

He said the work to attempt to restore a piece of history is remarkable.

Parker has created a GoFundMe page to help fund the restoration of the sleeping car.

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