Fire that destroyed caboose suspicious

PAINESVILLE, Ohio - A fire authorities deemed suspicious destroyed a former Baltimore and Ohio Railroad caboose that a museum planned to use in educational programs.

The caboose door apparently was pried open and the fire set early Sunday, police said. Fire officials estimated the damage at $70,000.

The caboose stood alongside the Western Reserve Railroad Association depot in this city 28 miles northeast of Cleveland.

"It is invaluable," said Mark Welch, president of the railroad association. "It was the focal point of our museum."

Members hoped the faded red wooden caboose could be used to teach children about a mode of travel that they may have never experienced, Welch said.

Nick Nenno, a member of the railroad association, said cabooses like the one that was destroyed haven't been made in more than 60 years.

The group had raised more than $200,000 in grants and donations to refurbish the depot to host model railroad shows. The fire will delay some of those plans.

Lubrizol Corp., a specialty chemicals company based in Wickliffe, donated the caboose in 2000 after using it for years as a break room for rail-yard employees.

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