Terri Reiter, Chair; David Mills; Jacquie Buchmann; Tim Belter; Jorgan Staupe; Ken Staves; Mike Macone; exofficio: Mayor Gary Cusky & Greg Vreeland
There is currently one, "The Roundhouse", and will be four more this coming Spring: Weigh Station-Spooner Scale, the Turntable, the Sand Tower, and the Spooner Hotel location.
The Roundhouse was started in spooner as a wood building late 1880/early 1881. On august 28, 1903, the spooner advocate stated that, "the foundation is being laid for an extension to the roundhouse to accommodate the larger engines." (this is when the brick portions were added on both sides) improvements were made in 1915. in 1925, fire destroyed a portion of the Roundhouse, and seriously damaged several locomotives.
The former postal facility, 422 N Front Streetat the east end of Spooner’s downtown business district, was approximately 12,000 square feet sitting on 0.3 acres of land. Tearing down the old postal facility project is identified inSpooner’s Comprehensive Plan. It is also identified in the Cityof Spooner’sPark & Recreation Planas well as in the Railroad Park Board’s Plan.The grounds will be redeveloped into a beautiful restored green space, home to a railroad-themed gateway serving as the entrance for pedestrian traffic to the adjoining RailroadPark and museums. It will serve to tie the downtown business district to the museums, the Railroad Park, the entire historic area which is easily accessible by walking, bicycle, horseback, skiing, ATVing, snowmobiling, train and auto. Many public/private partnerships have collaboratedon this project. The Railroad Park Board (RPB), the Friends of the Railroad Park, Inc.(FORRP), the Business Improvement District (BID), investor Drew Lake, and the Washburn County Economic Development Corporation have begun working together to undertake activities to make this project succeed. Jon Alesch of FORRP created the initial design plans; the BID has donated $10,000 to the RPB to develop the gateway; the RPB is working on developing the adjoining Railroad Park accessible; and WCEDC has committed to bringing more businesses to the downtown area and into the Roundhouse, located at the Railroad Park. This project will make the downtown a more attractive and vibrant area that will justify private investment in the surrounding business properties. This project includes the demolition and remediation of the building, new construction of green space, along with a planned gateway, surrounded by a beautiful green space area to serve as an entrance to the adjoining park and museums
We expect the project to encourage adjacent owners to invest in building improvements which will increase tax base. During the construction phase jobs, the City will create jobs specifically to complete this project, and will involve contractors, their staff, and many vendors will be involved. Local lumber yards will be involved in the bid process as well. With these expected improvements, our entire City and businesses will have more employees, folks in the area with need for more shopping and eating at the City’s many eateries. It is likely that local businesses will need to hire more staff to meet the increased need. The economic, educational, and connectivity impact this project would have on Spooner, the County, and the area is significant. The centrally located site is one block from the thriving downtown shopping district; one block away from a hotel with 2 others nearby; the Railroad Memories and WI Heritage Canoe Museums are adjacent to the site. There is an active railroad track, the terminus of the WI Great Northern Railroad (WGN) located onsite. The old railroad right of way is now the Wild Rivers Trail, connecting to hundreds of miles of ATV and snowmobile trails to this area.Restoring the historic green space with railroad themed gateway would establish a safe and exciting start and end point for ATV, snowmobile, skiing, horseback riding, hiking, bicycle, road, and recreational trail trips. To the east of the roundhouse is anew thoroughfare, Roundhouse Road. The addition of two electric vehicle charge stations to the adjacent parking lot will supply a growing need to this community and will be a draw to this area. These will be the first charge stations in this area, and will be a significant draw to our downtown area. The bike racks are also a “green” provision. This project is listed as a priority by the Washburn County Economic Development Corporation for continued economic growth, quality of life management, and will help continue our unique trend of increasing our population in demographics vital to continued growth in a rural Wisconsin area.
Friends of the Railroad Park Incorporated (FORRP) is the fundraising arm, seeking grants, donations, volunteers, and opportunities
Yes, it is. This nonstock Corporation is incorporated under Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 181, classification: public educational charity, not for profit--historical societies, related historical activities parks and playgrounds (N32: organizations that develop, maintain and make available to the general public recreational areas which are equipped with athletic fields and courts, campgrounds, picnic areas and a variety of recreational trails such as bridle trails, hiking trails, off-the-road vehicle trails and snowmobile trails). FORRP shall have the power to conduct any and all such business transactions permitted of organizations of this type under the laws of the State of Wisconsin except that this organization shall not take any action or otherwise exercise any power which would potentially endanger the organization's tax exempt status as may be granted pursuant to Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, as amended. Donations to this organization will be tax deductible.
Charles E. (Tim) Belter, President: 03/22/2023 – 03/10/2026
Jorgan Staupe, Vice President: 03/16/2022 - 3/11/2025
Terri Reiter, Secretary/Treasurer: currently & 03/13/2024 – 03/09/2027
Bradley Patchin: 12/13/2023 – 03/09/2027
Michael Macone: 03/16/2022 – 03/21/2025
David Mills: 03/22/2023 – 03/10/2026
The Park is being developed through the efforts of the Railroad Park Board (RPB) and Friends of the Railroad Park (FORRP), with funding coming from private donations and grants. These groups have created a pleasing area, with extensive landscapingto clear the area north of the roundhouse, prepping for the rock parking lot, and preparing the area for the picnic pavilion, which was built late summer of 2020. Railroad-themed signs were installed in the pavilion along with electricity and plenty of lights, picnic tables, and grills. Part of the landscaping revealed the old decaying weigh station, now called, “The Del Salquist Memorial Weigh Station/Spooner Scale”. FORRP restored the building, bringing it back to its original state, and added “faux” tracks, depicting original use. The group also installed: a sign describing the roundhouse with four more signs describing sites crucial to train operation soon to be installed; three “honor” benches around the pavilion with two more installed in the Park; two new volleyball courts north of the pavilion; guardrail made of railroad ties defining the parking lot from the pavilion; and an ATV path from the Wild Rivers Trail to the parking lot. Moreover, FORRP restored the exterior brickwork on the old roundhouse! It’s a strong building, built like a tank, but urgently needed the repair as large portions of the walls could have failed and collapsed. Phase One of the repair was completed early in June, and made a huge difference in the structure and look of thehistoric roundhouse. Phase Two occurred to repair extensive damage both internally and externally that was discovered in Phase One. All of the eaves around the entire roundhouse had to be pulled off and rebuilt, more exterior cleaning and treatment of themetal parts and doors completed this phase. The roundhouse is now secure and ready for future plans, hopefully becoming a community event center able to seat 1,500 people within 5 to 7 years.
The 90 foot turntable, eight stalls of the original roundhouse, and sand tower are still standing on this property, all in restorable condition.
The City of Spooner required the Roundhouse property on August 2, 2016, a donation by the Gene Thompson Trust/Jerry Thompson Family. It is one of the few remaining structures of its kind. The city acquired the former rail yard from Wis. Central Railroad in 2008 in part from an earmark fromDave Obey. The Mayor created The Railroad Park Board in 2010to plan the park. It is planned that this park would be the hub of the city, providing a pavilion, walking/biking trails with five historical signs describing the ancient sites crucial to train operation, areas for music and festivals, picnic tables, playground equipment, parking lot, and other amenities. The Park is used for the annual Jack Pine Savage Dash.
While the City of Spooner owns the rare roundhouse (451 Roundhouse Road), located across the tracks from the Railroad Memories Museum, turntable, weigh station, and sand tower, it is the City of Spooner’s Railroad Park Board (RPB), created in 2010, that was given the responsibility to develop the roundhouse, and develop the area into a safe, welcoming railroad themed park. The Friends of the Railroad Park (FORRP) is the nonprofit 501c3 and the fundraising arm of this project, and has been operating in the community since early 2017 (originally was formed under the Spooner Development Corporation’s umbrella; however, newly incorporated on its own). The FORRP and RPB has concrete plans to eventually turn the Roundhouse into a Community Center with hopeful usage including: the Spooner Senior Center, art gallery, farmer’s market, the Chamber of Commerce, music events, weddings, and both small and large functions of all kinds. Excitingly, the roundhouse can comfortably seat 1,500 seated guests!
Plans for the very near future include: a stamped-concrete, railroad-themed accessible walkway for strollers, wheelchairs, and ease of walking into the pavilion; an information 8’ kiosk, built into the southeast wall of the pavilion; a magnificent railroad-themed archway at the entrance to the Railroad Park; painting/staining all exposed wood trim on the roundhouse; rebuilding the turntable control shack, rebuilding/renovating the turntable deck and railing, and installing an appropriate fence around the turntable that is historically correct to the era, finish clearing and installing a protective barrier with small river rocks in the interior of the turntable, and provide appropriate fencing around the turntable; installing four more “historically significant” signs; adding park “usage” signs; building an honor wall, and much more landscaping. (We have plans to build a band shell, installing it to the west of the Railroad Pavilion sometime next year.)
The railroad is the reason Spooner exists, and while fundraising, we have found strong community pride in the rail yard. Folks of all ages have hopes and dreams of restoring the area notjust for our time, but for future generations to enjoy. We have taken a blighted area with decaying buildings and made it a safe, educational, exciting area to enjoy and reminisce. Additionally, the economic, educational, and connectivity impact this project would have on Spooner, the County, and the area is significant. The centrally located site is one block from the thriving downtown shopping district; one block away from a hotel with 3 others nearby; the Railroad Memories and WI Heritage Canoe Museums and an active railroad track, the terminus of the WI Great Northern are adjacent to the site. The old railroad right of way is now the Wild Rivers Trail, connecting hundreds of miles of ATV and snowmobile trails. The restoration and opening of this site will create jobs and educational, recreational and community opportunities for all ages and interests through the addition of festivals, farmer’s markets, art shows, weddings, concerts and more.