Father and daughter turn 1973 train car into Airbnb

Jim Dotzenrod bought a tail gear in 2016.

The previous year, Jim, 65, of Decorah, Iowa, had completely renovated a silo on his property and turned it into an Airbnb. According to his daughter Danielle Dotzenrod, 42, the silo rental was “very successful from the start”.

“He got a lot of press and he won a lot of awards,” Danielle told Fox News.

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So in 2016, when Jim noticed a collection of train cars along the road in a town about 30 miles north of Decorah, he told Fox News he was inspired to open another Airbnb.

Jim Dotzenrod, of Decorah, Iowa, bought a tail train in 2016 and renovated it into an Airbnb the same year.
(Courtesy of Danielle Dotzenrod)

“He knew it had to be something really unique,” Danielle said.

Even though the owner of the first collection he saw didn’t want to sell to Jim, he was able to find another caboose 30 miles away in the opposite direction, on a recycling yard.

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Jim bought the 1973, 52,000-pound caboose for $8,000 in the spring of 2016. He paid about $2,500 to haul the caboose to his property, he told Fox. He even had the caboose placed on real train tracks, according to Insider.

Then Jim started renovating.

Jim paid around $2,500 to transport the 52,000-pound caboose to his property, he told Fox.  He even had the caboose placed on real train tracks.

Jim paid around $2,500 to transport the 52,000-pound caboose to his property, he told Fox. He even had the caboose placed on real train tracks.
(Courtesy of Danielle Dotzenrod)

Overall, Jim told Fox he spent about $4,000 and 300 hours — nights and weekends, when he wasn't working — to renovate the train's caboose.

Overall, Jim told Fox he spent about $4,000 and 300 hours — nights and weekends, when he wasn’t working — to renovate the train’s caboose.
(Courtesy of Danielle Dotzenrod)

Jim has been a carpenter his entire working life, but since the interior of the caboose was all iron, he had a lot of work to do and a lot of heavy lifting.

“You just start cutting iron and throwing it away and replacing it with wood,” Jim told Fox of his work.

He also had to clean up the very strong oil smell with a good powerwash.

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Danielle told Fox that people came from all over the country to stay in the caboose, including as far away as Maryland and New York.

Danielle told Fox that people came from all over the country to stay in the caboose, including as far away as Maryland and New York.
(Courtesy of Danielle Dotzenrod)

Jim built the beds in the caboose of the train, including bunk beds on the first floor and a queen-size bed in the cupola. He also built the stairway to the cupola and a porch that ran along the entire rear of the caboose, overlooking the pasture.

Meanwhile, Danielle put in finishing touches, like tiling the shower and cheering her dad on through the process, she said.

“Because he’s been a carpenter his whole career, he can pretty much build or do whatever he has in mind,” Danielle said. “I focused on unique projects.”

“He really did all the hard work,” she added. “I help more on the finishes.”

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Overall, Jim told Fox he spent about $4,000 and 300 hours — nights and weekends, when he wasn’t working — to renovate the train’s caboose.

He told Fox that while he enjoyed the renovations, “I got fed up with it by the end.”

“I started to burn out at the end when I did the silo too,” he added.

In November 2016, the tail train was ready for tenants.

Although the caboose has limited space, the Dotzenrods have the beds, as well as a fridge, microwave, dual burner hot plate, dishes for cooking, bar utensils for cocktails and drinks. The train’s original driver’s chairs, which can be swapped out to look inside the train’s caboose. , or on the pasture.

According to the Airbnb listing, the tail gear has WiFi, a TV, and air conditioning, as well as a six-gallon water heater.

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Danielle told Fox that people came from all over the country to stay in the caboose, including as far away as Maryland and New York.

“Dad’s been a super host from the start, so that helps us a lot,” Danielle said. “He is welcoming and charming…He really goes above and beyond. [guests] need.”

Jim even offers carriage rides through Decorah.

Although it’s been a long renovation process for the silo and caboose, Jim told Fox News he plans to expand and open another Airbnb.

“Once it was all done, it was very rewarding,” Jim said.

For more on the caboose, here’s the Airbnb listing: CR Station tail train.

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