What Happened to the Caboose?

As I sat at the railroad tracks today after dropping my daughter’s friend back home (we made a midnight run to Wally World to buy the latest Harry Potter book), I enjoyed some interesting graffiti on the train.  Of course, the train stopped just after clearing our intersection.  It wasn’t enough for the bars to come up, so gave me time to reflect.  What happened to the caboose?  I miss those red cars with the engineer waving to everyone as they rolled out.  The only time you see a caboose anymore is on those cave tours when the last person in the group is designated “the caboose.”

No Caboose

And yes, it’s my kind of luck when the train STOPS right after passing through my intersection.


6 Responses

  1. I hear they put the cab. to rest because of several reasons. one is to cut payroll and the other is that the trains nowadays dont really travel as far as they used to. I think the trains that travel on our tracks only go from Nash. to Chatt. I think the trains still out west still have the back end to them.

  2. If this were the scavenger hunt photo I think I might finally be able to get one :)

  3. From Wikipedia:

    Until the 1980s, laws in the United States and Canada required that all freight trains have a caboose. Technology eventually advanced such that a caboose was unnecessary, providing improved bearings and lineside detectors to detect hot boxes, and better designed cars to avoid problems with the load. The caboose was also a dangerous place, as slack run-ins could hurl the crew from their places and even dislodge weighty equipment. The final nail for the caboose’s coffin came with an electronic box with the innocent name of “FRED,” an acronym for flashing rear-end device, or “EOT,” End-of-Train device.

    A FRED/EOT could be attached to the rear of the train to detect the train’s air brake pressure and report any problems back to the locomotive. The FRED/EOT also detects movement of the train upon start-up and radios this information to the engineer so that he/she will know that all of the slack is out of the couplings and additional power can now be applied. One can’t forget the distinguishing feature of a FRED/EOT: its blinking red light warning other trains of what’s ahead. With the FRED/EOT on the job the conductor moved up to the front of the train with the engineer and year by year, cabooses started to fade away. Very few cabooses remain in operation today, though they are still used for some local trains where it is convenient to have a brakeman at the end of the train to operate switches and the like.


    I’m Just Sayin’…

  4. Wow IJS! I was going to say the caboose is attached to my backside, but with your ample research, I’ll just say thanks! :)

    So where’s the pic Casey?

  5. My dad was a switchman for CSX until retiring. He ended up riding in the engine most of the time once they retired the caboose.

    He made the Chatt/Nash run on a regular basis.

  6. Thanks so much for this post. We are traveling from FL to UT and were wondering “What happened to the caboose?” Now we know. Very helpful, thanks again!

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