Locomotive No. 4000 was built in 1930 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. Originally numbered 3002, the locomotive was one of twelve S-4 Hudson-type (4-6-4) engines on the Burlington. CB&Q Brochure
In 1937, the locomotive was upgraded with roller bearings, light weight side and main rods, and other improvements, streamlines to look like a diesel engine, and reclassified as an S-4A. The locomotive was renumbered 4000 and names Aeolus – “Keeper of the Winds,” from the Greek mythology. The 4000 served as a backup for the newly introduced Burlington Zephyr passenger trains, often powering trains through La Crosse.
Railroad crews nicknamed the 4000 “Big Alice the Goon,” after the character of the same name in the then popular “Popeye” comic strip.
The stainless steel outer shroud was removed in 1942. Looking much as “she” does now, the 4000 ran in regular service until 1955. After one last special run in 1956, “Big Alice” was placed back in storage and nearly scrapped. Desiring to preserve a piece of railroad history, a group of La Crosse are railroaders and enthusiasts organized as The La Crosse Short Line Railroad Company. They asked the CB&Q to donate the 4000 to the city of La Crosse. After a two year fundraising campaign, the locomotive and Milwaukee Road caboose were placed on display at Copeland Park in 1963.
Donated by the CMStP&P (Milwaukee Road), the caboose 0359 was built in 1883 at the railroad’s Milwaukee shops, and last served as a “drover’s caboose” (for attendants accompanying livestock shipments). When retired in 1961, the 0359 was one of only three wooden cabooses still in service on The Milwaukee Road.
In 1991, with the support of the Preservation Alliance of La Crosse and The La Crosse County Historical Society, The 4000 Foundation lead the “Save the Tower” fundraising campaign to secure and remov ethe Grand Crossing interlocking tower to Copeland Park to become part of The La Crosse Short Line display. Protecting the “grand crossing” of four railroads: The Milwaukee, The Burlington, The Green Bay, and The North Western, the current tower was built in 1928 to replace the original structure, which was destroyed in a train wreck.
When closed in January 1991, Grand Crossing tower was the last manually operated “Strong arm” interlocking tower in Wisconsin. Replaced by modern centralized traffic control technology, the two-story wooden tower was donated for preservation by the Soo Line Railroad, successor to The Milwaukee Road.