ASHWAUBENON – The National Railroad Museum is giving new life to a historic train car.
The Joseph Lister hospital car, built in 1930, will open to the public on April 21 after nearly three years of restoration work.
“I think this is one of our most difficult transformations we’ve ever had,” CEO Jacqueline Frank said of the car that has been in the museum’s possession since 1988. “There were holes in the floor, holes in the walls, a mold problem. It had been fully gutted at one time. It had been vandalized. You can’t see any of that anymore … and it’s amazing.”
The Lister transported patients from Chicago to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for more than 30 years as part of the Chicago and North Western Railroad.
It was named after English surgeon Joseph Lister, the founder of antiseptic surgery.
Museum staff and volunteers relied on blueprints, advertisements and other passenger cars from the 1930s to rebuild the formerly-gutted Lister to as close to the original as possible — from the light fixtures down to the patterned carpet.
“It is always exciting to see rolling stock after a large restoration process,” museum curator Daniel Liedtke said. “The Joseph Lister has been given a renewed life, and visitors will be given the chance to see a different aspect of passenger travel relating to health.”
The car has multiple private rooms, passenger seating area and three double doors that are wide enough to accommodate stretchers. In an effort to offer patients more comfortable transportation, the Lister also featured engineering enhancements meant to reduce noise and vibration.
“Going onto a train car, immersing yourself in that history,” Frank said, “it’s like you’ve gone back in time.”
Contact Sarah Kloepping at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @SarahKloepping
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: National Railroad Museum to display 1930s Joseph Lister hospital car