View Full Version : Caboose Use

Gregory Wallace
10-24-2003, 05:39 AM
First I have to say that "caboose" is one of the coolest words in the world. I'm going to have to remember to say it more, in any context I damn well please.

Ok... now to my question: why did cabooses go away? My understanding is that technology rendered them obsolete... but what was their main function, anyway? Who stayed in the caboose? And what replaced them?

Here's a scary thought: there are probably two generations of people who have never seen a caboose on a train, and might not even know what the word means.

As you were...

10-24-2003, 06:30 AM
As I understand them, they carried the conductor and/or brakeman. There typically was an office for paperwork, some sort of sleeping quarters and misc equipment.

The people working out of the caboose would watch the rear part of the train for fires, bandits and function as switchman for longer trains needing switching.

My explanation is rudimentary at best, but should give you a general idea.

10-24-2003, 04:13 PM
To add to that,

The caboose is still used today by some railroads as a means to have a person that can "flag" the rear of a train making a backup movement over a long distance. Transfer jobs between railroad yards are a good example of a train that might have to use a caboose on the rear for protection. As I understand it, on some railroads, coal mine jobs still use a caboose for rear protection when making long backwards movements.

The item that replaced the caboose is often called an Flashing Rear End Device(F.R.E.D.) or End Of Train(E.O.T.) device. This small piece of equipment fits on the coupler of the last car of a train, and has a flashing red light that protects the rear of the train. It also has equipment that monitors the train's air line preasures, and can relay this information to the lead locomotive via radio communications. What a boring technological advance, huh!

Long live the Little Red Caboose! http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=19090