Million Mile Club #14724

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The Story

This old PRR caboose is on static display at Tyrone PA along with a more recent Conrail version in blue. It’s a piece of original Pennsylvania Railroad equipment officially classed as an N5B Cabin Car and built in 1941 from their own in-house design. The blue Conrail caboose was first used by the New York Central and was probably painted green through those years. In fact, plenty of N5’s were repainted in blue too through the Conrail years.

Most Pennsylvania Railroad N5 cabooses were built years ago in their sprawling Altoona Shops in central Pennsylvania or in nearby Hollidaysburg over the decades. Both of these cabooses were retired years ago and now stand on static display in Tyrone PA. As true oldtimers, it’s certain they have traveled many thousands of miles down the rails before coming to final rest here.

And there were hundreds more like these two at one time years ago, or similar. In fact, every major railroad yard had a special track or two where they were kept when not out working.

Both cosmetic restorations seen here are the work of local Eagle Scouts and they really did some wonderful work…good job!

Some Caboose History

Mostly out of use today in a time of very reduced crew sizes, a caboose was generally attached to the rear of a train. Railroad trains used to operate with a legal crew of five until recent years when the crew was reduced to two or three, all riding in the locomotive. Many times it is only two.

Sometimes a caboose was known as the crummy, which may refer to the housekeeping abilities of railroad men. It was where the train conductor had his office and a brakeman or two would be stationed. It usually had a small office, some berths, a cookstove, and was home away from home for those traveling men. The raised cupola above was used to look out over a moving train to watch for problems like smoking hotboxes, which were overheated wheel journals.

Since cabooses were mostly retired from rail service, they were replaced with a flashing rear end device or end-of-train device. It’s about the size of a small carry-on suitcase and simply known as a FRED, or an EOT or EDT. In use, it’s hung on the coupler of the last railroad car.

Here’s a single shot of the Pennsylvania Railroad N5 cabin car called Cold Caboose #14723, done the same day.

Try this caboose picture as a digital jigsaw puzzle…!

Location: not far from the old PRR mainline tracks at Tyrone, Blair County, Pennsylvania. Picture and story © Andrew Dierks

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