Many Cabooses are in the collection mostly from the local area, but also some unusual gems.
Missabe and Iron Range
Cabooses Nos. 9 and 12
Both were constructed for the Duluth, Missabe and Northern in 1893 by the Duluth Car Manufacturing Company. Caboose No. 9 spent most of its 81-year life tagging on the end of commercial freight trains and in yard service. No. 12, originally a four-wheel bobber, was rebuilt to double truck design in 1910 and is typical of the cabooses used on ore trains until the advent of the all-steel type introduced in the early 1950s. Both were donated to the Museum by the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway, and were renovated by members of the Lake Superior Transportation Club. Photo by Bruce Ojard
Winnipeg and Pacific
Caboose No. 76923
Built in 1911, No. 76923 is one of the original cabooses used on the DW&P. Since it was built before electricity, the oil lamps on the walls were the source of light at night. There is a box divided in half by the sink. One half held water while the other half held ice, keeping the water supply cold. There is a large cabinet lined with metal under the cupola. By putting large blocks of ice in this cabinet, the crew could keep their food cold. The cupola is the raised part at the end of the car, and this is where the brakeman spent most of his time, watching alongside the train to make sure everything was going all right. If something went wrong, the brakeman would signal the engineer to stop so they could fix the problem. In later years, radios were installed so the brakeman could call the engineer. Not all cabooses have the raised cupola. Instead, sometimes they have big windows on their sides.
In the old days, it took longer for the trains to get from place to place. The trainmen might be gone for weeks at a time, so this was their home away from home while they were on the road. There are beds in No. 76923 for the trainmen to sleep on at night. During the day, the beds folded up against the wall and were held in place by large black hooks. There is also a pot belly stove in the caboose, with a ridge around the top that kept things from sliding off as the train jerked back and forth. During the winter, the crewmen sat around the stove to keep warm. There is even a stretcher on the ceiling so that if somebody got injured, he could be carried to safety. The conductor rode in the caboose with the brakeman. He would sit at the desk most of the time, filling out forms. No. 76923 was restored by the DW&P for donation to the Museum in 1974.
Constructed in 1886 for the Wisconsin Central, No. 99017 is a fine example of a caboose dating from this era. It was donated by the SOO Line to the museum in 1974. Photo by Jacob Zimmer
Duluth, Missabe and Iron
#205 (Steel Bay Window)
Caboose No. X452
This caboose was built by Great Northern’s St. Cloud shops in November, 1920. It was one of forty wood sided cabooses with steel underframes. The original cost estimate was for $1993.38, but actual cost was $2083.50. The caboose was donated to the Museum by Burlington Northern in 1979.
Caboose No. 1311
Built in 1913 and a very typical caboose of the era. All of the cabooses built for the NP at this time were of all-wood construction, and the cost of this caboose was $772. There were a great many cabooses in this grouping, and the type was considered a classic for the NP. Subsequent need for stronger cabooses led to them being rebuilt in the 1920s and 1930s with a steel underframe and cast bolsters. This was done in part to allow helper locomotives to be coupled on behind the caboose to help push a heavy train. This saved the time needed to place a weak caboose behind the helper locomotive. The rebuilding of some of the cabooses was done at Como Shops in St. Paul, and the shops at Brainerd, MN. In another rebuild in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the end railings were replaced with the heavier 2-inch angle iron that can be seen on this caboose. With heavy “slack” action or jerking of the train, a switchman could fall over the older, lower-style railings. Caboose No. 1311 was completely renovated by the Burlington Northern and donated to the Museum in 1973. We would like to extend our thanks to the family and friends of Dave Carlson for contributing money to the Dave Carlson Memorial Northern Pacific Fund. With their help, we were able to repaint Caboose No. 1311 in 2002.
Caboose No. 1
Canadian Pacific Railway donated SOO Line Caboose No. 1 to the museum in November 2000. Built by International Car Company of Buffalo, New York, Number 1 was one of five all-steel cabooses purchased by the SOO in 1966. These five cabooses replaced eighteen aging wooden cabooses on the route from Chicago to Minneapolis. Each of the cabooses cost $23,695, and included extended-vision cupolas. The cupolas extend roughly eight inches over each side, providing the rear crew with a good observation platform. Cabooses 1-5 were delivered to the SOO in February 1966 at Burlington, Wisconsin, then moved to the Shoreham car shop to have two-way radios and roof-mounted amber warning lights installed. The sides and ends of the cupolas were covered with red 3M reflective Scotchlite sheeting. These additions brought the total cost per caboose to $25,668.
The new, modern cabooses offered electric lighting, a water cooler, propane heaters, and revolving, high backed vinyl seats. With welded steel construction and roller-bearing equipped swing-motion trucks, the cabooses offered a safer and smoother ride than their wooden predecessors. Numbers 1-5 had three windows on each side of the carbody, which were covered with sheet metal in 1980 when the FRA required all cabooses to have high-impact resistant glazing. Caboose Number 1 was painted white, with the cupola in red and the SOO name in black 48" letters. Number 1 was used by Canadian Pacific until early 2000, when it was retired. The museum will begin restoring the caboose within the next two to three years. Photo by Scott Carney
DM & IR
Currently being restored by Max, James, M.C. Fair,with electrical work being done by Dan