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Back on schedule, caboose not departing Broad Ripple yet

(Provided Photo, Bill Malcolm)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The City of Indianapolis is auctioning off a 118-year-old train caboose. According to a listing on, the caboose has been owned by the City of Indianapolis since 2020. It has plumbing, toilet and a shower. You’ve probably seen it if you’ve biked the Monon Trail.

The ownership and future use of the caboose has been the subject of debate and contention in recent years. The city has been trying to get the caboose off the property for several years after the previous owner stopped making lease payments.

The caboose was most recently used as a realty office, but has since sat empty. Now the city wants it gone and has put it up for auction.

A write up on the auction website says, “According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, the 118-year-old caboose has occupied a tiny parcel of city-owned land adjacent to the trail, at 6535 Cornell Ave., for a half-century. According to, the caboose was built in 1904 and was part of the New York Central Lakeshore Lines.”

“The train car became part of the Monon Rail System in the late 1960s and traveled the tracks that now form the Monon Trail. During the bankruptcy in the 1970s, the train car—along with another caboose that was later removed — were sidelined on a side spur in Broad Ripple. It has remained there ever since.”

While the auction is sure to attract attention for rail fans, others have questioned why the city did not ask for public comment or input.

Bill Malcolm of the Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance said in a statement, “IPRA asks the auctioning off of the historic Monon Trail Caboose be halted. This is an appalling move by IndyParks. Especially as there was no opportunity for public comment. It should be allowed to stay next to the Monon Trail or moved by the City to a spot in Broad Ripple Park. The 108 year old Monon Railroad caboose has sat at its current location for 50 years. We ask the City to cancel the auction and hold public comment hearings on this historic treasure. We don’t need more parking and there is no urgency. Using the caboose for firewood or giving it away for $3,000 is a tragedy. Shame on the City for such a surprising tone-deaf move after we had complained 2 years ago when they kicked Walsh Realty out of the caboose and promised to keep it at its current site as they had no budget to move it.”

If you want to bid on this piece of history, know that you have to remove it from the property and that may involve the use of a crane.

The winning bidder will also have to remove the tracks and railroad ties.

On Thursday there were 40 bids, with a high bid of $3125.

In an afternoon statement to News 8, an Indy Parks spokesperson provided this statement: “Indy Parks has decided to pause the sale of the caboose located at 6535 Cornell Ave. to reengage stakeholders and explore additional options.