Stay in fully restored 1929 caboose in north Georgia mountains

CLAYTON, Ga. — Georgia is full of unique accommodations. From tiny houses to private islands to Harry Potter Airbnb listings, there’s no shortage of interesting places to stay.

Now you can add Jim Reaves’ listing to the mix. He rents out a fully restored 1929 C&O Caboose in Clayton. It sits next to his Black Bear Antiques shop.

“I’ve always been a train buff, I suppose, and had toyed with the idea of buying a railroad car to put next to my store, strictly as an attention-getter, for about 15 years,” Reaves told wsbtv.com’s Nelson Hicks. “I did searches online lots of times, but most were hundreds, even thousands of miles away, and transportation would have run into thousands of dollars just to get one here.”

But that all changed in 2016. The Whistle Shop in nearby Franklin, North Carolina, closed down. The shop had four cabooses and Reaves purchased his favorite, a 1929 C&O center-cupola all-wood caboose. It took a 90-ton crane to lift the 25,000 pound caboose off its wheel assemblies and onto a tractor trailer.

Then the real work began. At the Whistle Shop, the owner was only concerned with the exterior of the caboose. The interior had been gutted and sat neglected for 15 years. Reaves noted it had rotted stem to stern, from the siding to the decks. Only the roof was intact. Once he restored the exterior to prevent interior water damage, it sat on his property and helped draw attention to his antique shop. Then he got to work on the interior.

“As fate would have it, in May or June of 2016, before we’d touched the interior, we went to a nearby auction, and found about 200 linear feet of incredible antique mahogany fluted paneling that had been salvaged from a federal judge’s office. My plan immediately turned to the more luxurious Pullman style of the early passenger cars,” Reaves said.

Reaves designed the interior space and worked with a contractor who just happened to be a retired Norfolk and Southern railroad worker. They spent a year on the project before it was finally completed in 2017.

Originally, Reaves built it to house family and friends when they came to visit, but they were so impressed with his work that they convinced him to rent it out to guests, which he now does on VRBO.com.

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Next to the caboose is a grain silo that serves as a bath house for the rental. Reaves didn’t want to take up the space needed inside the caboose for it. The silo was found in a nearby kudzu-covered field.