Re­habbed rail cars of­fer end­less pos­si­bil­ity

Sell­ers say ca­boose, box­car would make good home or of­fice, or ideal place to dis­play model trains

Daily Southtown (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - Ted Slowik

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

County.

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

from En­rico’s.

“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.

TED SLOWIK/DAILY SOUTH­TOWN PHO­TOS

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.

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