When the Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture agreed to display the railcar, Duncan Phillips created “The Long Memory,” a non-profit organization that raised money to move the car to the BBCRC in South Weed and to rehabilitate it for display.

Utah Phillips carried on the folk troubadour tradition of Woody Guthrie, criss-crossing the country for 40 years in an old VW Van or an empty boxcar, logging, his son Duncan estimates, “two million miles,” and singing in countless coffeehouses and bars his songs about the working people of America.

The son of labor activists, Phillips was a “Wobblie,” a member of the International Workers of the World . He had a lifelong interest in promoting the interests of the downtrodden.

He signed with Philo records in Vermont and, wanting to be near the recording studio and have a home base between his travels, “bought an 1890s era flanger railcar from Vermont Central Railroad for $500,” said his son Duncan. A flanger looks like a caboose but has a device on its undercarriage to clear snow and ice from between the rails.

The peripatetic Phillips transformed the railcar into a home and lived in it for years, often offering it to musician friends as a place to stay. He eventually sold it, and when Duncan Phillips heard that the flanger was up for sale again, he realized that he should save it as a monument to his father.

When the Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture agreed to display the railcar, Duncan Phillips created “The Long Memory,” a non-profit organization that raised money to move the car to the BBCRC in South Weed and to rehabilitate it for display.

The car arrived in Weed in 2017 and has been worked on since then. Over the Labor Day Weekend, Duncan and brother Brendan worked with Ben Pearl and several local carpenters to complete work on the roof.

The car doesn’t have many windows, so the cupola acts as a skylight to illuminate the car. Duncan Phillips expected the crew to finish work on the roof over the weekend, leaving only some siding replacement in the rear of the car and a paint job as the major work remaining.

The brothers travel to Weed from Olympia Washington and Salt Lake City Utah in their labor of love rehabilitation work. They hope some local railroad buffs with carpenter skills would like to get involved with their project. Anyone interested can contact the Phillips brothers at ‘thelongmemory.com.’

The website name comes from a Utah Phillips quote: “Yes, the long memory is the most radical idea in this country. It is the loss of that long memory which deprives our people of that connective flow of thoughts and events that clarifies our vision, not of where we’re going, but where we want to go.”