LHS senior takes on project to paint historic caboose

David Peck

A few months ago, Lovell High School senior Ireeann Anderson felt moved to do something for her community.
“I had this idea over the summer. I was trying to think of things I could do, and my Grandma (Meg Anderson) wanted to help me out,” Anderson said. “She was like, ‘You know that train behind the high school practice field, it could really use a paint job,’ and that’s kind of where it came from.
“It’s just something I felt I needed to do to give back, especially with scholarships and stuff but also just I was looking back on my life, and I realized I really haven’t done too much community service. That’s my own insight, something I just did because I felt like doing it.”
A project was born: painting the historic caboose at Caboose Park south of the Lovell High School campus on Great Western Avenue.
Anderson talked to Town of Lovell administrator Jed Nebel, and after an exchange of emails and planning over a few weeks, he and Anderson decided to go back to the original colors – red with black trim. The caboose had been painted blue and white many years ago to match LHS school colors. It was donated to the Town of Lovell for display in the park by the Colorado and Southern Railway Company in 1968.
The town power washed the caboose, and Anderson put the word out to friends and schoolmates to show up if they wanted to help.
“I told friends, and I posted on my Instagram that that’s what I would be doing, and if anyone wanted to join, they were free to. I would love the help,” she said. “A few people came up and helped me paint it.”
Grandparents Dan and Meg Anderson donated the paint, she added.
Ireeann said the wood was too weathered to sand, so she and her crew decided to paint over the existing paint as best they could.
“It really did absorb the paint a lot,” she said, “and when you went over it once you would see all of the white spots from the old paint job through it, so we had to go over it a few more times. And it was a lot bigger than it looks when you drive by it. It was a lot bigger when you’re standing next to it.”
“We wanted it to be done before homecoming,” Anderson said, so she picked the date Tuesday, Sept. 26.
The crew showed up at 4 p.m. and went to work with brushes rather than rollers, to work the paint into cracks and the weathered wood. The group painted from 4 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, and Anderson and her family finished the job on Friday, Sept. 29, working another four hours.
Those who turned out for the project included Rurik Olsen, Carissa Lindsay, Rosendo Garcia, Gavin Robertson, Cassie Heindl and Spencer Nichols, along with missionaries Elder Lacy and Elder Cowan.
Anderson added a black rose on each side of the caboose using a stencil to represent the Rose City of Lovell.
The newly painted caboose now stands proudly at the west end of the park that bears its name, spiffed up with a new paint job.
“I think it looks quite nice,” she said. “I’m very proud of it.”
The daughter of Tim and Kirra Anderson, Ireeann plans to major in mechanical engineering in college.