Photo: Brett Segar
The late Bill Segar and caboose
Monroeville resident Bill Segar passed away in 2008 at 83 years old, but his memory lives on in one unlikely way: through a red train caboose still parked behind his home. Now, Bill's family wants to share the caboose with the community as a landmark and multi-use event space for the Monroeville Community Park.
On June 13, Bill's son, Brett Segar, launched a GoFundMe page
to help raise the funds necessary to transport the caboose to the Forbes Road Career & Technology Center, where it will undergo two years of refurbishing before being moved to the park.
So far, Segar says the campaign has raised close to $3,000 of its $10,000 goal, with donations coming in from individuals as well as big organizations like Visit Monroeville, UPMC, and the Monroeville Rotary.
Segar says he and his father discovered the caboose in Youngwood, Pa. and decided to fix it up. “It was pretty much a wreck,” says Segar.
Over the years, Segar and his two brothers chipped in to help rehabilitate the neglected caboose, which, among other things, required completely gutting it and stripping four layers of paint off the outside. Ultimately, it was meant to become a place where Bill could set up and store his large model train display after he retired from his role as the engineering director for Bombardier Transportation.
“The idea was that the caboose would be the final resting place for his trains and give him something to do in his retirement,” says Segar.
Segar stresses that his father, who he describes as a “very humble person,” gave much of his time and energy to his community, including as a Gateway School District board member and as a president for the Monroeville Rotary Club, and would not have wanted the project to be about him.
“If you think this is going to be a shrine to Bill Segar, that’s not how he would have wanted it,” says Segar, adding that the most they would do to honor his memory is affix a small plaque to the caboose.
Rather, he says the GoFundMe is about preserving a piece of Pennsylvania’s history as a railroad hub, as the nearly 80-year-old caboose was used by train companies such as Conrail and Reading. Segar also doesn’t want his and his father’s efforts to bring the caboose back to its former glory to go to waste.
“It’s too damn cool just to throw away,” says Segar.
He foresees the caboose being rented out for kid’s birthday parties and other events in the park. He also wants to build a patio around it so more park goers can enjoy the site as a hangout or picnic spot.
“It’s not just going to be a caboose,” says Segar. “It’s going to be a gathering place where people can come and enjoy what the park has to offer.”
Beyond the GoFundMe campaign, Segar also welcomes the community to become involved through volunteer work, whether it’s helping with the caboose’s upkeep or donating materials.