IT ALL STARTED WITH A DARE.
Donald M. Denlinger, founder and president of the Mill-Bridge Craft Village (now Mill Bridge Village Camp Resort), had just placed a half-hearted bid on nineteen 25-ton N-5 cabooses being sold as surplus from the Pennsylvania Railroad in the summer of 1969. Six months later, during a late January blizzard, he received a phone call that would change his life forever.
475 tons of steel is hard to move in a blizzard, and Denlinger faced many heartaches and red tape along the way. But he remembered that while circumstances seemed humanly hopeless, there is someone above who, when we get to the end of ourselves, will direct circumstances ahead of our mortal minds limited ability to comprehend. Proverbs 3:5-6 states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Don was a believer and he drew heavily on his faith in the years that followed as he built the Red Caboose Motel & Restaurant on a parcel of land along the Strasburg Rail Road.
Hard work, sweat, perseverance and prayer paid off and the official grand opening and open house was on Mother’s Day 1970. In just five hours that Sunday, over 4,500 people toured the caboose units and got lost in the nostalgic dream that was The Red Caboose. Tens of thousands of travelers, rail enthusiasts and even locals have stayed since, making The Red Caboose Motel & Restaurant one of the most unique tourist destinations not just in Lancaster County, but in the United States!
Fast forward to February 1, 2016, when the iconic Red Caboose Motel & Restaurant was bought by father and son team Todd and Tyler Prickett, along with their wives, Debra and Katherine. They take great pride in providing an exceptional experience for every guest, every time and strive to honor Don Denlinger's legacy. "We hope you enjoy your stay!" Great things are in the works.
For the full history of The Red Caboose Motel & Restaurant, pick up a copy of “How It All Started” in The Red Caboose Gift Shop.