For many of us, the caboose epitomizes the freight
trains we remember from years gone by. From the wooden red bobber
bringing up the rear of the local passing through our town, to the sleek
steel bay window way car of the fast through freight, we can still picture
the friendly wave of the conductor as the last car of the train passes
by. The caboose served as an office for the
conductor, a place for any other rear-end trainmen to ride, and sometimes
even a bunk and cook house. Most important, it was an observation
point for the conductor and trainmen to watch the train ahead of them and
notice derailed cars, hotboxes and shifted loads before they caused further
havoc on the railroad.
Modern detectors and work rules have eliminated
the use of a caboose on most trains in the US. They may be largely
gone, but certainly not forgotten. Shortly after the Southern Pacific
eliminated widespread use of cabooses, the Rogue
Valley Model Railroad Club set up their modular layout in Dunsmuir,
California. Our exhibit was attended by many people including both
retired and working railroaders. One of these gentlemen was overheard
to comment, "Man, look at all those trains, and they all have cabooses!"
It is in this spirit that I present The Caboose
Page, a sampling of 28 cabooses I have seen and photographed over
Please click on the thumbnail picture for the
||This wooden caboose was property of the the Crown
Zellerbach Corporation and was bringing up the rear end of a string of
empty pulpwood cars passing through my old home town of Covington, La.
In a few hours its crew will have switched out the empties in Hammond and
be returning with loads for the Kraft mill in Bogalusa.
||Another nice "woody" on a local in Florenville,
La. on the Gulf Mobile and Ohio. The kerosene marker lamps really
stand out in this view.
||This comparatively modern steel, wide vision caboose is on the tail
of a northbound Illinois Central way freight at Hammond, La. on a cloudy
summer day in 1967. Note the red markers replacing the lamps on either
side of the large "porch".
||The IC was partial to side doors on their cabeese. This
one was also caught in Hammond as a "cab hop" in the winter of 1965.
(I'd like to hear from anyone out there with knowledge of IC's use of the
side door in their cabooses.)
||Fast forward to 1991 and cabooses were getting scarce. I happened
upon this trio on a side track in the SP yard in Meford, Oregon where cabeese
had all but vanished. Seems that the word had gone out up in Eugene
that, due an upcoming official visit, cabooses were to be made to disappear.
||Burlington Northern is a refreshing excpetion to the "no cabooses"
policies of most roads. BN trains operating in Oregon seem to have
a wide vision caboose like this one more often than not. Of course,
most BN trains in Oregon are also locals. This one was captured in
1994 in Albany next to the Willamette & Pacific yard.
||Some cabeese survive in special service. This former SP bay window
caboose was working with a Southern Pacific Construction Services fiber
optics train laying cable along the Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad.
The entire train was parked for the weekend on the siding in my hometown
of Rogue River, OR.
||Other cabooses were purchased from various railroads by private individuals
and survive either on or off a railroad. This modern car operates
from time to time on the Yreka Western steam excursions and has even ventured
as far north as the Rogue Valley for special events. Here it is pictured
in Montague, California with members of the Southern
Oregon Chapter, National Railway Historical Society.
||A few cabooses escpaed the scrapper's torch in novel fashion.
This "merger" occured a few miles north of Durango, Colorado right next
to the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge line.
||This vintage wooden car doesn't need any introduction to Colorado narrow
gauge fans. Not surprisingly, most narrow gauge cabeese that survived
into the 60's are still around today.
||This is my favorite caboose! Sumpter Valley 5 was built in 1926
in the South Baker shops of the Sumpter Valley
Railway and still serves on nearly every excursion train operating
on the Sumpter Valley. I've spent many a good night in "Motel 5"
after a long day working on the excursion train.
||Inside the coupola of Sumpter Valley 5 a happy family enjoys the ride
through the woods and dredege tailings between McEwan and Sumpter.
Passengers can ride in No. 5 for no additional charge on the SVRY.
Just sit back and feel this old gal rock, roll, flex and creak down the
narrow gauge track.
All pictures and descriptions Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000 by Larry Tuttle