Cabooses: Part 1
P &S #168. The Pittsburg & Shawmut was one of the few
railroads that bought the AC&F caboose in quantity, and
it remained that railroad's standard caboose for over forty
years. Taken at Brookville, PA, on 9-6-70, by J. C. La Rue,
||RDG #90739. Here is one of the original
ten Reading cabooses (Class NMd, built 8-24), and what proved
to be the last NMd in service. It is freshly painted, with yellow
safety appliances and a brown roof and underframe, though the
brown looks almost black in the unfortunately underexposed view.
Taken at Shamokin, PA, on 10-25-59, by an unknown photographer.
||Ironton #8. The Ironton Railroad was
an 8-mile long shortline near Allentown, PA, that was leased
jointly by the Reading and the Lehigh Valley. Its equipment
was usually supplied by the Reading. Here is an early Reading
standard caboose (ex- 90723, class NMf, built 9-27) in a non-standard
(all red) paint scheme, in near "mint" condition except
that the cupola windows have been replaced by plywood. Taken
at Hokendaqua, PA, on 9-5-70, by J. C. La Rue, Jr.
||RDG #92926. In 1964 the Reading began
to repaint its cabooses green and yellow to match its new locomotives,
and in 1967 it began to replace the original windows with shatterproof
windows made of aluminum and plexiglass. To reduce expenses,
some of the original windows were removed and the openings plated
over. On the right side, two windows were removed, as seen on
92926 at Camden, NJ, on 9-9-73, by J. C. La Rue, Jr.
||RDG #94069. On the left side, only one
window was removed, producing this asymmetric look. Taken at
Hagerstown, MD, on 2-22-75, by D. H. Hamley.
|| WM #1816. The Western Maryland built
its first "northeastern" cabooses in 1936. Caboose
1816 is shown here with the "fast freight" ball herald.
Taken at Edgemont, MD, around 1950, by P. B. Dunn.
|| WM #1858. Here is one of the third series
of WM cabooses, built in 1940, modified with protective grills
over the windows, but retaining the "speed lettering"
that became the WM standard look in the late 1950s. Taken at
West Virginia Central Junction, WV, on 1-13-73, by D. H. Hamley.
|| WM #1850. In the 1960s the Western Maryland
began to repaint its cabooses in this bold red, white and black
scheme to match its new locomotives. This example is also at
West Virginia Central Junction, WV, on 1-13-73, by D. H. Hamley.
||WM #1828. After the C&O-B&O takeover,
Western Maryland cabooses began to appear in the snappy Chessie
System colors and to wander off-line. WM 1828 is at Punxsutawney,
PA, on 12-31-77, by D. H. Hamley.
||L&NE #581. When the Lehigh &
New England Railroad's owners decided to abandon the line in
1961, their first move was to sell the profitable branches in
the Portland cement region to the Central Railroad of New Jersey.
Portions of the line continued to operate as the Lehigh &
New England Railway. L&NE Ry. #581 was built by the Reading
in 1937 for the old road, whose paint and logo it still sports
at Pen Allen, PA, in 3-62, taken by an unknown photographer.
|| L&NE #581. When not in use, the
L&NE Ry. cabooses could easily be found in Bethlehem, PA,
in their own small yard along the river. Here is 581 in the
spartanized CNJ-style paint and lettering applied in the late
1960s. Hoods over the windows were unique to these cars. Taken
at Bethlehem, PA, on 9-16-73, by J. C. La Rue, Jr.
||LV #95003. The Lehigh Valley began to
build their "northeastern" cabooses in 1939. This
one has been restored to the original paint and lettering and
is on display at Steamtown. Taken at Scranton, PA, on 7-7-01,
by an unknown photographer.
|| LV #95027. By the early 1960s, many
LV cabooses were seen in this tuscan red paint, with the safety
slogan highlighted in orange. Taken at Niagara Falls, NY, on
8-22-64, by H. L. Juday.
|| LV #95023. Then came this "no frills"
red paint and lettering scheme, seen here at Hazleton, PA, in
7-70, taken by J. C. La Rue, Jr.
|| LV #95077. As with its locomotives,
so with its cabooses. The LV rebuilt 95077 and painted it in
this snappy Cornell red with yellow stripe and orange safety
appliances. Taken at Allentown, PA, on 10-20-73, by J. C. La
|| LV #95084. A number of LV cabooses were
repainted in a green color similar to Penn Central's jade green,
reflecting PC control of the LV. Taken at Hazleton, PA, on 12-28-75,
by J. C. La Rue, Jr.
|Article by John C. La Rue, Jr.
The "Northeastern" caboose was never called that by the
railroads that used it. The term was bestowed by railfans and model
railroaders because the design was used by railroads that operated
in the states that are today called the "Middle Atlantic"
states, nevertheless in the northeastern quadrant of the nation.
The main states were Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Maryland,
with (on the peripheries) Ohio, Delaware, and West Virginia.
The design was originated by the Reading Company in the early 1920s
as a reaction to proposed legislation requiring that cabooses operated
on through freights in Pennsylvania be eight-wheeled and at least
24 feet long. The legislation was finally enacted in 1929, with
the additional requirement that the caboose center sill be the equivalent
of that on a forty-ton freight car.
After looking over various designs, Reading management finally
settled on an all-steel version of a USRA design of 1920, which
had wood sheathing over a steel frame. The changes in the appearance
from the original design were due to the all-steel construction.
The original USRA design was offered by American Car & Foundry,
and purchased by several railroads, though it never became standard
except on the P&S.
The first ten Reading cabooses were built in July 1924, and by
the time the last one was completed in April 1948, it had become
the "standard" Reading caboose. The design spread to other
railroads that connected directly or indirectly with the Reading:
Western Maryland (1936), Lehigh & New England (1937), Lehigh
Valley (1939), Pittsburgh & West Virginia (1940), Central Railroad
of New Jersey (1942), and Lehigh & Hudson River (1942).
Read Northeastern Cabooses Part 2 »
Sources of information: "Reading Company
Cabooses," by John W. Hall; additional data from John S. Koehler.
|| LV #1776. In 1975 and 1976, many railroads
repainted and in some cases renumbered locomotives and cabooses
to commemorate the American Bicentennial. This is the relatively
simple and attractive LV effort. Taken at an unknown location
in 6-76, by an unknown photographer.
|| LV #95009. Another paint variation,
chocolate brown seen on this caboose that accompanies a locomotive
crane. It is in relatively intact condition at Coxton, PA, on
7-8-74, taken by J. C. La Rue, Jr.
|| P&WV #839. The Pittsburgh &
west Virginia had fifteen "northeastern" cabooses,
of which this is the last, built in 8-44. This beautifully restored
car probably does not have accurate paint and lettering. Taken
at Dillsboro, NC (a long way from home!), in 9-90, by K. S.
||CNJ #91502. The Central Railroad of New
Jersey, which was under Reading control, completed their first
"northeastern" cabooses in 1942, just before wartime
steel restrictions went into effect. Here is one in basically
original condition on the hump at Elizabethport, NJ, on 7-18-76,
by J. C. La Rue, Jr.
||CNJ #91540. A CNJ caboose modified (one
window removed) by the Ashley shops in August of 1970. Seen
in fresh paint at Jim Thorpe, PA, on 9-5-70, taken by J. C.
La Rue, Jr.
|| CNJ #91539. In its last years the CNJ's
paint and lettering variations began to rival the Lehigh Valley's.
This style became known as the "Coast Guard" scheme
because of its resemblance to the markings on the bows of small
USCG vessels. There were several variations. This one is at
Elizabethport, NJ, on 2-29-76 (a year in which "Conrailitis"
infected most railfans), taken by J. C. La Rue, Jr.
||CNJ #91534. A severely spartanized version
of the "Coast Guard' scheme. Diagonals could slant either
way. Also taken at Elizabethport, NJ, on 2-29-76, by J. C. La
|| CNJ #91513. Towards the end of their
careers, some cabooses were fixed up with only a little paint.
This one apparently got no more then a coat of freight car brown
below the belt rail, and a re-stenciled number. Taken at North
Bergen, NJ, on 11-6-76, by J. C. La Rue, Jr.
|| L&HR #17. In 1942 the Reading built
50 "standardized" cabooses, but with wooden sides
to conserve steel, as class NMn. At the same time, it built
eight more for the Lehigh & Hudson River Railway. This one
has had the old vertical sheathing covered with plywood. As
the only wooden cabooses on Conrail, they were promptly sidelined,
though this one still exists at New Freedom, PA. Taken at Warwick,
NY, on 3-26-76, by W. M. Matuch.