Boxcar suites plan opening for Memorial Day
By Doug Lowe
MT. PLEASANT—Anyone who has even been smitten by the romance of the rails will soon be able to rent a very unique boxcar suite when the “railcar resort” being developed on the southern stretch of U.S. 89 in Mt. Pleasant, finally opens for business in time for the Memorial Day weekend, Saturday May 23 thru Monday, May 25.
Sitting behind the historic D&RG train station, currently home to “The Coffee Depot,” located on the highway for many years now, the new development is a “boxcar motel” of sorts, which has literally hitched-together a series of railcars to create rental suites—each with its own living room, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and deck.
Originally scheduled to open almost one year ago, a recent tour guided by Monte Bona, director of the Mt. Pleasant’s Community Development and Renewal Agency (CDRA), provided considerable evidence that the wait may have been well worthwhile.
Bona readily admits that the project, which is a public private partnership involving Mt. Pleasant City, the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area (MPNHA), and the developer, Track 89 North, has moved ahead much slower than originally envisioned, but will soon be open and ready to “accommodate as many as six guests in each railcar.”
A few years back, when the string of old boxcars began arriving on the west side of the city park, a number of citizens objected to the idea of permitting some kind of railcar motel to open up between the park and U.S. 89. But, that particular location, next to the historic train depot and caboose already parked there, was exactly what attracted the developers who were already successful operating a similar “railcar resort” further south on U.S. 89 near Marysville and the Big Rock Candy Mountain area.
To win over more supporters among residents and governmental leaders, the developers paid for a number of improvements to the city park located next door, immediately to the east. Those improvements included erecting a home-run fence around the baseball field, and replacing the few decrepit tennis courts with several pickleball courts.
According to David Grow, one of the developing partners, “By Memorial Day, we expect to have at least four units—three boxcars and the caboose—ready for rental.” Grow and his partner, George Jones, a former railroad signal man and union leader, expect to have invested some $80,000 per unit in acquiring, transporting, and remodeling each railcar. In addition, they have purchased from the city the nearby old train station and old caboose for $200,000. Also, they are paying the city’s usual fees for power, water and sewer hook ups, along with the monthly service fees.
All things considered, Mt. Pleasant has already benefitted financially from the railcar resort project. And, in the near future, the unique new attraction is expected to bring additional visitors to town while offering any visitor extra good reasons to remain in the area overnight.
Back when the first of the old boxcars were brought to town and hoisted in place, their rusty, dirty, graffiti covered appearance prompted considerable disapproval from a number of concerned citizens. Since then, the process of power washing and painting each car—in one of several cheerful colors—has made the string of railcars look better. However, the painted sides of the cars have long presented a colorful-but-blank face to the west, so that anyone driving on the highway has no view of the remodeling being done on the opposite side.
Viewed from the city park, the east sides of the railcars reveal signs of progress on those exteriors: including the decks that have been constructed and the French doors that have been installed in place of the sliding boxcar doors. Yet, from the outside one cannot see the even greater improvements made inside.
One of the more striking interior features visible overhead, immediately upon entering, is the high, curved, 10 foot ceiling, finished with lengths of tongue-n-grove wood, and extending the entire 50 plus foot length of the car. The car’s galley-style kitchen is fully equipped kitchen and has an adjacent dining area. The bathroom is large enough to have a spacious shower, while the bedroom has a king size bed, and the living room provides a hide-a-bed couch.
In the future, if rental demand becomes as good as expected, all nine of the railcars in Mt. Pleasant will eventually be remodeled like those that are already finished or nearing completion. The similar railcar resort, near Big Rock Candy Mountain, offers 10 units of various types and dimensions with prices ranging from $125 per night to $225.
Advertising for the railcar resort in Piute County boasted of having “the most unique accommodations in all of Utah.” Soon, however, that claim will cease to be true with a number of unique railroad car accommodations become available farther north in scenic Mt. Pleasant.