HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – Here’s a throwback to your childhood.
The series of “Boxcar Children” books.
Many will remember the stories of the four Alden orphans who ran away and found a home inside of an abandoned boxcar. Did the stories ever trigger your imagination and make you wonder what it would be like to sleep in or to live in a boxcar?
There’s a boxcar Airbnb not far from Wichita. It’s located in the country, on a farm a few minutes southwest of Yoder. You can book it for a peaceful country night or for a weekend under the stars.
Years ago, the Schrock family found an empty boxcar at a farm auction and bought it to use for storage on their own farm.
“So, we moved it here to our farm, and we stored chickens in it and straw. That was our chicken house for probably 10 years or so,” said Amy Hoover (formerly Schrock).
Then, one day, Amy had the idea to turn the 1941 Santa Fe Boxcar into an Airbnb.
“Basically, I had an idea, and then I got my brother to help me with the work part of it. I came up with a lot of ideas, and he helped in the construction part of it because he was working on a construction crew at the time,” said Hoover.
This was during the COVID-19 year of 2020.
“My parents and my older brothers were pretty excited about it. My younger brothers kind of thought it was a crazy idea. They weren’t sure if they believed that this could be done. But that also gave me probably more encouragement to try to prove them wrong,” said Hoover.
The boxcar has a bedroom with a loft on one end and a full bathroom on the other. The loft has a twin bed, and below, there’s a queen-size bed. Nearby, the sofa folds out to sleep two more. So, the boxcar can sleep up to five.
Amy and her younger brother did all the interior work and design themselves.
“Probably the most challenging thing was finding out how much work needed to be done on it. Kind of when we started, it was just, ‘Let’s get it started and then see what needs to be done.’ And then, once we started working on it, yeah, I realized all the time it took to work on it. You know, we had to sand all the walls on the inside and add a new floor,” said Hoover.
The original interior wood walls were removed so the boxcar could be insulated, and then they were put back in place. The metal ceiling is also original. There’s a small kitchen with a coffee bar and board games, and of course, there’s a collection of “Boxcar Children” books.
“The most rewarding part was to see how well people enjoy staying here and how well that it does on Airbnb,” said Hoover.
The boxcar Airbnb hosted its first guests on the Fourth of July in 2020. It’s been open now for three years, and Hoover says it stays busy.
“Yeah, it’s been very steady since we opened. It’s been rare that we’ve had a weekend that hasn’t gotten booked during the summer and winter,” she said.
The boxcar is on the back end of a working farm, with a little bit of room to roam and a pasture for a backyard.
“People love just coming here for a night away and a getaway. You know, we have grandparents bringing their grandchildren out or a couple of on an anniversary trip or a honeymoon,” said Hoover.
The boxcar lacks an over, TV and Wi-Fi, but most guests don’t seem to mind. Hoover has well over 300 reviews from guests on her Airbnb site, and they’re almost all five-star positive reviews.
Hoover and her husband, Ryan, have purchased two more empty boxcars and have plans to renovate them soon at a nearby location. These will likely be more suited to business travelers and will have TVs and Wi-Fi.
To check out the Santa Fe Boxcar listing on Airbnb, click here.