By Holly Myers
Daily News staff writer
Choo choo: The Pearl Lake train is on its way around the lake.
Progress has been made in restoring the train and cars that one day will chug around the scenic lake.
Mike Witte, co-owner of Pearl Lake in South Beloit, began this track's full journey nearly two years ago when the City of South Beloit contacted him regarding a locomotive.
The locomotive was left over from the Elmhurst Stone Company that had closed down approximately six years before the call.
The city feared that children would play on the abandoned locomotive and get hurt. So, the city sold it to Witte and Pearl Lake at a very fair price.
Witte, together with long-time friend and train enthusiast, Tom Brady, said the tracks have been coming along nicely.
“It'll take time,” Brady said.
Time is something that is sometimes difficult to conjure up for Witte. He's a very busy man at the lake between campsite rentals, bee sting emergencies and so much more.
He has still managed to completely refurbish the locomotive, however, along with two cabooses Brady had found for him.
The first caboose was found in northern Wisconsin. It was a travelers' caboose that was never actually used to carry passengers.
The second caboose was found in Indiana and still has the actual parts inside from when it was first created in the 1960s.
Both cabooses and the locomotive got new windows, fresh paint and enough restorations to look like they originally did.
Brady joked that the locomotive may be in better condition now then it was 20 years ago because of the recent engine and motor work it received from friends of Witte.
“I've had so many people who were such a help to us,” Witte said.
Witte stressed that this project is more about preserving history then anything else and Brady describes the production of the project as more of a passion instead of a lot of work.
Both men seemed eager for the day the train would circle the lake and go down in history forever.
At the moment, the train is sitting on 200 feet of finished track. The actual length of the track is to stretch around the entire lake.
Witte is hoping to have the track finished and the train up and running within the next two or three years.
When asked if Brady thought the train would work when the track was finished he chuckled and said “it better work.”