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Tiny homes have been all the rage as home prices have climbed to new heights and people have looked for creative ways to downsize. We’ve seen many design concepts for these small dwellings — including storage units and Greyhound buses — but Jim Dotzenrod and his daughter, Danielle, recently came up with a unique one.
The pair worked together on the ultimate family project to transform a 1973 train caboose into the ultimate sleeper car. Of course, this train stays put on its home lot in Decorah, Iowa.
The CR Station Train Caboose, as it’s known on Airbnb, which has become somewhat of its own tourist destination in the small town that houses it, is available to rent for $124 a night, and has an excellent rating of 4.86 out of 5 from more than 300 guests on the booking website.
According to an interview they did with Insider, the project began when Jim saw a bunch of train cabooses along the side of the road during a drive out of town. He said he wondered if he could use his carpentry skills to convert one of them into a place where people could live or stay. When Jim couldn’t convince the owner to sell one of his train cars, he found out there was one just sitting in a salvage yard ready for flipping. So, he bought the 52,000-pound caboose for $8,000 and got to work.
Getting the caboose to its final home took some creative thinking and some heavy-duty equipment. A Facebook post shows a photo taken by Danielle when the caboose was delivered by crane and lowered upon a set of railroad tracks purchased by Jim so the car would rest steadily on a foundation.
The father and daughter worked together for six months to renovate the caboose into a tiny home. Jim worked on it nights and weekends to perfect all the fine details, including refinishing the original woodwork, the conductor’s chair and overhead handrails back to their former glory.
Danielle told Insider the work was challenging, especially since she and her dad both juggle day jobs. But their schedules didn’t deter them from finishing the project.
“My dad can do anything he sets his mind to — like, absolutely anything — but my dad is so low maintenance himself,” Danielle told the website. “So when we built this together it was a good combo because he could build whatever and have me nudging him like, ‘Hey, let’s make this as cool as we can.'”
The train caboose on Airbnb features two bedrooms, three beds and one bathroom, and can comfortably house four people for a relaxing stay. It has a full deck off the back of the tiny house where guests can sit outside and look at the beautiful farmland surrounding it, including horses grazing in the pasture that guests can even pet and feed.
Jim also custom-built some stairs that lead up to a bedroom that has a queen-sized bed for a cozy night’s sleep.
This swanky caboose also packs in perks like Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, heat from an electric fireplace, a refrigerator, microwave, hot plate, dishes, a shower and more. Despite the single-car design, there appears to be ample room to kick back and relax without feeling cramped, at least based on the photos attached to the Airbnb listing.
So, if you’re ever traveling in Iowa and want to experience a bit of old-fashioned railroad nostalgia, book a stay at the CR Station Train Caboose!