Breaking news: Coffee caboose cranks back up

Breaking news: Coffee caboose cranks back up
May 9, 2013 Micheal Ives
By Micheal Ives, Extreme Alaska

After a winter shutdown, the Goldhill Express caboose is tooting it’s horn again.  While the former railroad car is no longer chugging the Alaskan tracks, it has found a new home and purpose along the Parks Highway between Fairbanks and Ester.  The renovated  caboose reopened this week resuming service of piping-hot designer coffees, tasty sandwiches, homemade baked goods, and treats.

The retired Alaska Railroad car has been outfitted as a drive-through sandwich/coffee shop.  Photo by Micheal Ives.

The retired Alaska Railroad car has been outfitted as a drive-through sandwich/coffee shop. Photo by Micheal Ives.

Gone are the days when this working railcar smelled of fuel and track grime.  Cabooses, once vital to rail service for track-switching, became obsolete when track-switches went to automation.  The Goldhill Express caboose saw action in Canada before being purchased and put into service by the Alaska Railroad in 1971.  It rolled for 20 years before finally being retired in 1991.  The caboose found new life in 2009 when it was bought at auction by the Osbourne family, owners of Goldhill Wine & Liquor across from the Blue Loon.  Susan Osbourne says the caboose had to shut down this winter due to slow traffic and temperatures.

The Goldhill Express caboose sits vacant in the snow waiting for Spring.  Photo by Micheal Ives.

The Goldhill Express caboose sits vacant in the snow waiting for Spring. Photo by Micheal Ives.

“It gets really, really cold in here during the winter.  We have insulated and sealed it as best we could, but it has some unique qualities,” says Osbourne.  “The skin of the caboose is metal and it shrinks up in the cold.  We end up with gaps here-and-there and winter air coming in.”

 

With spring finally arriving to the Interior, the sandwich and coffee caboose is heating up the ovens and espresso machines.  In a town full of coffee stands and drive-through options, we asked the Goldhill Express baristas why the caboose was special and worth a visit.

“We have awesome sandwiches, for breakfast and lunch.  There is a big menu and we have specials every week.  Everything gets cooked up right here in the caboose,” said barista Becca Slane.  “And we use Raven’s Brew for our coffees.  They are an Alaskan coffee company from Ketchikan.  We even sell their T-shirts and hoodies (author’s note:  SWEET!  Worth checking out.) and bulk coffee beans for fans of the brand.”

Goldhill baristas enjoying the sunshine.  Photo by Micheal Ives.

Goldhill baristas enjoying the sunshine. Photo by Micheal Ives.

And if you are pleased with your Raven’s Brew and tip the baristas, you even get a toot from the caboose’s refurbished horn.  I don’t know if there is a better way to start a day than with a caboose whistle, a hot breakfast sandwich, and a steaming latte in hand.

 

*For more information call Goldhill Express at 474-1091

*Osbourne says they will offer a free 16oz. coffee with sandwich purchase for re-opening week (May 13-17)

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