A lawsuit against the town was recently settled, and the municipality has emerged as owner of Princeton’s iconic caboose. (File photo)

A lawsuit against the town was recently settled, and the municipality has emerged as owner of Princeton’s iconic caboose. (File photo)

Legal battle over Princeton’s iconic caboose reaches the end of the line

Municipality takes ownership of historic rail car

The dust is settled on a lawsuit pressed by a local volunteer group over the ownership of Princeton’s iconic caboose.

While an agreement between the Vermilion Trail Society (VTS) and the municipality was reached behind closed court doors last fall, details of the settlement were released just this week.

The caboose has pulled into the municipality’s station, for good.

“I’m relieved,” said Mayor Spencer Coyne. “I think the taxpayers of Princeton were unfairly treated over this caboose issue and I’m glad to see it come to a resolution.”

Related: Town of Princeton still accused of train robbery

The conflict arose in May 2017, when the VTS accused a previous town council and administration of train robbery, lodged a complaint with the RCMP and filed a lawsuit against the town asking for damages as well as ownership of the rail car.

A year earlier town staff moved the caboose from its home along the KVR trail at the intersection of Bridge Street and Highway 3 — where it was placed by VTS — to its present location near Subway off Highway 3.

The municipality then placed newspaper ads, seeking a partner who might use it to host a tourism-based enterprise.

Both the town and the VTS said they could prove ownership of the artifact, which has been located at various places in Princeton over many decades including at the fairgrounds, downtown and at the museum.

According to Coyne, during a pre-trial conference late in 2020, the municipality offered to gift the caboose to the VTS, provided the society could remove it from town property before April 1, 2021.

“Council came to the conclusion that the best thing to do was to just give them the caboose…They have abandoned their claim to ownership of the caboose, and it’s still there,” said Coyne. “We are happy to put this behind us.”

The Spotlight reached out to the VTS for comment and has not yet received a response.

Coyne said he senses no appetite from council to repurpose the caboose for a commercial venture.

“It’s been neglected for a number of years because of this legal battle. Number one is just preserving it. We have to get some paint on it and protect it from the weather,” he said.

No one is sure of the caboose’s monetary value.

The original VTS claim estimated the car’s worth at $60,000, but the group sued for only $35,000 in order to keep the matter before provincial small claims court.

The settlement agreement was made during a pre-trial conference, which predicted a five-day civil trial if matters were not resolved.

Related: Five day trial needed to resolve custody of Princeton’s caboose

Coyne said, based on research, the caboose might be worth about $12,000.

According to director of finance James Graham the town had already spent $20,000 in legal fees defending its right to the caboose, and was facing a bill “in the six figures” if the matter went to trial.

History is a bit murky, admitted Coyne. “There is a lot of myth about the caboose.”

According to editions of The Spotlight, the caboose was purchased from the Lower Mainland and transported to Princeton by a resident about 50 years ago.

“It was the visitors centre when I was a kid,” said Coyne. “For me, as a longtime resident, the caboose has always been there. But it’s also, from my observation, something that has bounced around. If we can give it a permanent home and fix it up, I think that’s what it deserves at this point.”

Related: Princeton Caboose restored

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com


 
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Guy Barber in front of his jewellery store at 208 Mackenzie Avenue, circa 1915. (Revelstoke Museum and Archives photo 272)
Glimspes of Revelstoke’s past for April 8

Local history as recorded by the newspaper of the time

Downtown Revelstoke. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
LETTER: Finding Common Ground Through COVID-19

‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.’

Alchemy Studio received a ticked from the RCMP on Thursday, April 8, for staying open despite provincial restrictions ordering yoga studios be closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Contributed)
Revelstoke yoga class fined for defying COVID-19 orders

The RCMP were called to the Alchemy Studio on April 8

The Royal’s 1959 visit to Revelstoke. (Photo by Revelstoke Museum and Archives #17)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip visited Revelstoke – twice

The prince died April 9 at the age of 99

B.C's COVID-19 dashboard shows the peaks and valleys of cases prior to the record daily report of 132 on April 9, 2021. (Dashboard image)
Interior Health has record day of COVID-19 cases

132 cases reported Friday, April 9, more deaths in Vernon hospital outbreak

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

These nails were collected off the Campbell Mountain bike trails in Penticton this weekend. Someone placed them all over the trail. (Facebook)
Hundreds of nails placed on popular Penticton bike trail

A mountain biker took to Facebook to warn others about the nails

A second case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at Vernon’s BX Elementary School. (Kerry Hutter photo)
Second COVID case confirmed at Okanagan elementary school

Exposure at Vernon’s BX Elementary happened April 6 and 7

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

Highway 97 being converted to four lanes in April 1990. This photo taken in Lake Country. (Greater Vernon Museum and Archives Photo #14025)
HISTORY: How the old Highway 97 in Lake Country got new name

Pelmewash Parkway recognizes the First Nations history in Lake Country

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

Most Read