This one-of-a-kind Airbnb in Decora, Iowa gives guests major railroad nostalgia. The idea for the tiny dwelling started when Jim Dotzenrod, 65, came across a row of train cars along a city road.
He had been driving it a few times before deciding to take a look. Right then and there, he thought he could turn it over to Airbnb.
However, the owner of the caboose wasn’t looking to sell any of the ten he had, so Jim had to find one himself. Fortunately, he found one just 30 miles away in a recycling yard.
Jim managed to strike a deal and bought a 52,000-pound Cabose built in 1973 for just $8,000.
The retired carpenter found his way around home renovations and Airbnbs. But despite his experience, there was nothing that could prepare him for the challenge of transporting the railcar from the scrap yard to his property. But with the help of a winch, winch and semi-truck, he manages to pull it off.
Jim also purchased real railroad tracks to serve as the base for the 8.6-foot by 30-foot cabin once he moved it to his yard.
The first order of business was to strip the caboose to get it ready for refurbishment.
“I had to get the iron out of there, and after I damaged it I had to wash it off with the electric to get rid of the diesel smell,” Jim explained. “It was strong – it was just that lingering smell of diesel fuel.”
Then he came home with an air freshener to keep the place smelling good.
The caboose has a queen bed and a bunk bed set that sleeps up to four people.
There is a queen bed on the upper floor, while the bunk beds are on the first floor.
It also has a full kitchen with a microwave, refrigerator, double stove and bar amenities for drinks.
The accommodation has a bathroom with a toilet…
The caboz is equipped with Wi-Fi, TV and air conditioning. The living area has a sofa where visitors can relax and be heated by the electric fireplace.
Danielle Dutzenrode, daughter of Jim who helped design the place, said her father used his carpentry skills to replace Kapus’ original ironwork with woodwork.
“My dad can do whatever he plans on – like, absolutely anything – but my dad doesn’t need enough maintenance by himself,” she said.
“So when we built this together, it was a good combination, because it could build anything and had me urging it like, ‘Hey, let’s make this as cool as possible. “
Jim made a hand-made ladder, put the cupboards in place, and created space for the queen’s bed. He also built an external wooden deck that can be seen from the cabin windows. There, guests can admire Jim’s meadow, where visitors can feed and pet horses.
Guests can also ride a horse-drawn carriage if they wish.
“When we see guests sitting on the deck having a cocktail during sunset or watching the horses on the pasture, it’s nice to offer this opportunity to the townspeople,” Danielle said.
“It’s something we people probably take for granted, but it’s something they really appreciate.”
Because of his day job, Jim had to work away on his passion project at night or on weekends.
The renovation cost him about $4,000 and took about six months to complete in November 2016. He said he spent about 300 hours working on the caboose, which they called “CR Station Train Caboose.”
Jim was responsible for most of the structural changes, while Danielle stepped in to add personal touches to the space. She chose a lot of the overall design, including the black tiled floor surrounded by oak wood.
The father and daughter wanted to preserve the charm of the caboose, so they kept the original conductor chairs and handrails.
“I think that’s something we’re very proud of,” Danielle said. “There are a few other nightmares out there, but sometimes when you’re in them you don’t really realize it’s a nightmare.”
Jim added, “The outside, of course, is like a nightmare, but you have to keep a little modernity in it, so that visitors know what it was like back in the day.”
Travel into town and enjoy activities like kayaking and sightseeing on the 11-mile trail, visit the Toppling Goliath brewery in Decorah, or take lessons at the nearby shooting range.
Check out this Airbnb listing to learn more about the beautiful CR Station Train Caboose.
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