Rehabbed rail cars offer endless possibility
Sellers say caboose, boxcar would make good home or office, or ideal place to display model trains
If you’re driving along Harlem Avenue in the far southwestern corner of Rich Township near Steger Road, you might look to the east and be surprised by what you see.
You will see — seemingly out in the middle of nowhere — a wooden red caboose and creamcolored boxcar on a short section of railroad track.
If you go online to research the rail cars, you’ll discover that owners Diane and Ken DeLuc have listed the items for sale.
“We want them to go to a good home,” Diane DeLuc said.
The couple welcomed a visitor to their large property near Frankfort. Their land is on the east side of Harlem Avenue, in Cook County. To the west, across Harlem, is Frankfort Township, and on the other side of Steger Road is where Green Garden Township borders Monee Township, also in Will
Ken DeLuc is an insurance agent for New York Life. Diane DeLuc formerly operated a landscaping business and tree farm on the land. She used the rail cars as office space for the business.
“We did a little restoration work,” she said.
A furnace and central air conditioning unit were added to heat and cool the spaces. The two rail cars were connected, and the small space between them enclosed. The spaces were finished with fine wood trim, decorative lighting and glasswork that features etchings of old locomotives.
The space, however, lacks plumbing.
“If someone wanted to add pipes, they could do that,” Ken DeLuc said.
In online posts promoting the sale, Ken DeLuc said the rail cars would be perfect for use as a tiny home, office or rail collection. The space would be ideal for a collector to display model trains, he said.
The asking price of $45,000 includes the railroad tracks, he said.
The buyer will acquire items that come with a bit of local history. The rail cars previously were part of Enrico’s Italian Dining, a favorite local restaurant that first opened in Frankfort in 1974.
Enrico’s reopened in late 2015 at 20535 S. LaGrange Road after closing in 2012. For 38 years, the restaurant was located at the busy intersection of LaGrange Road and Lincoln Highway. A Walgreen’s occupies the restaurant’s former site.
In 2006, a predecessor of The Daily Southtown reported how Diane DeLuc, or Diane Orlak at the time, acquired the caboose
“I just didn’t want to see it demo’d,” she told the newspaper. A framed copy of the article hangs in the caboose.
Enrico’s acquired the 1912 caboose when the restaurant opened and used it as an extension of the dining room. General manager Harry D’Ercole, son of Enrico’s founder, told the newspaper the caboose added character to the restaurant.
“We added the train as something to attract attention to our building 32 years ago,” he was quoted as saying. “Four years later we converted it to seating. It was just kind of a novelty.”
His father, restaurant founder Harry D’Ercole, Sr., died in 2015 at age 89. He had previously operated a restaurant in Midlothian and had worked at his family’s grocery store in Blue Island.
The newspaper chronicled in photographs how a crane lifted the caboose off its wheels and lowered it onto a flatbed trailer for transport to where it has been stationed for the past 14 years.
The boxcar was acquired at the time and was previously used to haul freight along the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway, Diane DeLuc said. Canadian National Railway acquired the EJ&E in 2007.
“It was used by the Ball Company to haul Mason jars,” she said.
Diane DeLuc can be reached at 708-878-8899 for inquiries about the rail cars.
It’s not every day that people driving through the south suburbs stumble upon trains for sale. The asking price is about equal to what many new vehicles list for nowadays. The buyer will have to cover the cost of relocating the rail cars.
“All you need is a crane, a lowboy (flatbed trailer) and the property” to house the items, Ken DeLuc said. The deal includes the track, wooden railroad ties and even the decorative stone that forms the rail bed, he said.
“They could have the rock,” he said.
According to Diane and Ken DeLuc, of Frankfort, a caboose and boxcar they’re selling could be lifted off their wheels and transported with a crane and lowboy trailer.
The DeLucs say the full-size 1912 caboose and 1940s boxcar they are selling would make a good tiny home, office or place to display a model train collection.