Caboose No. 1134

    Former Southern Pacific caboose No. 1134 was built in December, 1942 and was used on freight runs between Coos Bay and Eugene, and Eugene and Klamath Falls.

    The 40-ton, cupola-style, riveted-steel caboose was one of 215 units built between 1940 and 1942 for the SP and the Texas & New Orleans railroads. They were designated C-40-3s, with the "C" for caboose, the "40" for the axle load in tons and the "3" for class or type or design. The cupola is the elevated seating area in the middle of the caboose, from which crew members could keep an eye on the train.

     The C-40-3s were the last cupola cars built or bought by SP. The cabooses were painted "all-mineral" brown with "daylight orange" ends, and this car sported at least three different types of block lettering through the years proclaiming its Southern Pacific ownership.

     It originally had four bunks, but was later converted to a single bunk. Other modifications came after a fire in Oregon City; part of the outside siding was replaced, as were the interior walls and floor by the toilet.

     Upon its retirement, No. 1134 was acquired by a private collector in Elmira, west of Eugene. It was used as an office and for storage, but fortunately for historical purposes, no major changes were made. (For safety reasons, the collector removed the ladders to the roof, but we plan to craft new ones to match the original design.) The caboose remains in virtually the same condition as it was when taken out of service.

     For example, there's still coal in the bin next to the woodstove. In addition to the still-intact woodstove, the caboose contains the bottom part of the original water container in the rear of the car. On the wall above it is a cup dispenser, complete with some vintage folded paper cups. Above each window, note the rolled-up canvas curtains complete with snap fasteners.

     Other original items include a free-standing kerosene heater, a backpack firefighting extinguisher, a first-aid kit, and several packs and storage boxes containing flags, flares, fusees and "torpedoes." Fusees (few-sees) are similar to flares, and were used to warn trains of an accident or stopped train ahead. Torpedoes were small explosive devices placed on railroad tracks and detonated by a train wheel as a signal to the crew.

     A small closet toward the rear contains a generator that used belts and pulleys to generate power from the rolling wheels of the car. Across the aisle is a large, metal-lined insulated icebox. A recessed shelf holds a radiotelephone used to communicate with the train engineer.

     Cabooses made their first appearance at the end of trains in the mid-1850s, and served many purposes. They were rolling offices for the conductor, who was "boss of the train." He would work on his paperwork at the built-in desk, and might climb into the cupola to watch for potential trouble that could range from shifting loads to broken or dragging equipment to boxcar fires sparked by broken wheels. Brakemen, switchmen and flagmen would often ride in the caboose, which also served as bunkhouse and cook shack for the crews, as well as a rolling infirmary if first aid was needed.

      It was also the crew's restroom -- the toilet is behind a door at the front end. A tank near the ceiling held water to flush the toilet and for the sink, but note both toilet and sink drain directly onto the tracks below, hence the admonition not to flush when the train was in the station or traversing city streets!

      The Oregon Coast Historical Railway acquired the caboose in 2007, using grants from the Floyd Ingram Trust of Myrtle Point and The Kinsman Foundation of Milwaukie, Oregon. The caboose sat in a grove of 40-ft. firs, so the operator of the 120-ton crane had to lift the caboose high in the air to clear the trees before lowering it onto a waiting lowboy trailer. It was then trucked to Coos Bay where another crane set it back on its wheels. Some of the trucking and crane work was graciously donated by BJ's Lumber Co. and West Coast Contractors, both of Coos Bay. Restoration began immediately, with the replacement of some broken windows top on the list. The renovations continue, with members hoping to repaint the caboose in the summer of 2010.



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