The steam engine’s foundation is slowly sinking and needs to be reset and covered to preserve it for future years.
The Pioneer Park Historical Complex (PPHC) is a Rhinelander treasure, filled with local history. Engine #5, lovingly called “5 Spot”, is a narrow-gauge, oil burning steam engine that was designed and built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1925 for the Brown Robbins Lumber Company of Rhinelander. Having cut all the timber closest to the river that was used to float the logs, the Robbins Lumber Company designed this narrow-gauge engine to be able to access timber that was further from the waterways. The line was extended to Sugar Camp, Three Lakes, and Vilas County and used until 1939. The Robbins Lumber Company was later acquired by the Thunder Lake Lumber Company, who operated the engine as a log hauler and a common carrier until logging operations ended in 1941. Engine # 5 was then sold to a Mexican mining company. It served the mine until it was donated to the Colorado Railroad Museum in 1972, and a year later, it came home to Rhinelander and was placed in Pioneer Park for display. Weighing 81,000 pounds, it is the only new engine that was ever purchased by Rhinelander area logging companies and was specifically built for their use. It also became the last narrow-gauge engine used in Wisconsin, and the last common carrier in the Midwest.
While the city can budget for the basic operational needs of the PPHC, the cost to restore and maintain “5 Spot” exceeds this amount significantly. The engine’s sinking foundation needs to be replaced. This requires a crane to raise the train, remove the rails, excavate the old ties, prepare for concrete, lay the concrete pad, affix the rails, and rest the train. These restorations will cost $65,000. In phase two of this project, a cover will be built to help to preserve the train for generations to come.
Fundraising for this important project is being led by the PPHC Advisory Committee and has already begun! In order to preserve our area’s unique history, a community fund entitled the Pioneer Park Historical Complex Fund was established by the Rhinelander Community Foundation. Individuals may direct tax-deductible charitable donations to the PPHC Fund. These donations will then be used to make grants available for high priority projects at the PPHC, beginning with the 5 Spot project. As previously announced, the first $25,000 in donations to the PPHC Fund will be matched by George and Sondra Juetten! To date, $17,325 has already been raised and will be matched. To make a tax-deductible donation to the PPHC Fund, checks can be made payable to: Rhinelander Community Foundation with “PPHC Fund” written in the memo line and mailed to:
Rhinelander Community Foundation
PO Box 1523
Rhinelander, WI 54501
Online donation options are also available at www.rhinelandercommunityfoundation.com. Questions may be directed to Kerry Bloedorn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 715.550.8221. Fundraising for this project will continue through this fall, with the intent to complete Phase One of the engine project yet this year.
Please support us as we work to preserve our past and move this project full steam ahead!
The Pioneer Park Historical Complex Advisory Committee