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Train has left the Dewey-Radke House station in Little Falls

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd Dispatch
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Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

The Friends of the Dewey-Radke House in Little Falls have to find a new home for the train that was supposed to be installed at the 1893 Victorian house, located in North Pine Grove Park on the west side of the city.

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The Little Falls City Council Monday voted 7-1 against allowing the train to be installed at the Dewey-Radke House, with council member Brian-Paul Crowder voting against the motion.

Lori Kasella, Little Falls interim administrator, said the council voted with the recommendation from the Park, Recreation and Tree Board to deny the request to install the train on the property because of the restrictions placed on the house through the Land and Water Conservation Fund and deed restrictions. Kasella said two of the restrictions on the property are that no motorized vehicles are allowed and the land must be used for park uses only.

The vote came about 90 days after the council voted to terminate the lease it has with the Friends of the Dewey-Radke House. The friends have to be out of the property by Friday.

The Friends of the Dewey-Radke Home, which made the request to have the train installed on the property, have operated and made repairs to the historic house since 2009, when the city of Little Falls expressed an inability to continue the maintenance of the home.

The friends have painted the barn, fixed the bricks, repaired the roof, accepted furnishings donated by individuals and improved the landscape of the property. 

The Friends of the Dewy-Radke House received a grant from the Morrison County Area Foundation, a component fund of the Initiative Foundation in Little Falls, for a Dewey Radke Little Falls miniature train that was custom-built in Wisconsin by West Bend Railcar Shops. The friends also purchased train track and wanted the train display to enhance tourists’ experience when visiting Pine Grove Park, the Pine Grove Zoo and the Dewey Radke House.

Rosemary Finch, a member of the Friends of the Dewey-Radke House, said Thursday that she is disappointed in the council’s vote and sad that the lease has been terminated.

“We have worked so hard in cleaning up this home,” she said. “We were told that we didn’t do what we were supposed to do, but we did ... So many people have supported us and now we have to take it all back.”

Finch said the friends plan to meet at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Royal Café in Little Falls to figure out where the group should go from here. Finch said the caboose that was purchased through a grant will most likely be on display at the old depot in Little Falls. Finch said since it was purchased through a grant it will have to be on display at a public location.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851.

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