Railroad Museum acquires storied caboose

Published on Thursday, 10 May 2018 20:44
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THOMASTON - The Railroad Museum of New England has acquired Central Vermont Railway wood caboose No. 4014, built by its St. Albans Shop in Vermont 93 years ago.

“CV 4014 is a wonderful example of the thousands of wood cabooses once used all over the nation,” said Railroad Museum Chairman Howard Pincus. “Cabooses were painted red or orange on most American railroads and were usually the last car on a freight train.

“They carried the rear end marker lamps, denoting the ‘official’ end of a train. Train watchers could usually count on a friendly wave from train crewmen riding the caboose.”

CV 4014 contains two bunks, a raised observation area called a cupola, a coal-burning stove for heating, two oil lamps for lighting, a sink, an ice box, a desk and chair, a pair of seats facing a folding table, and many lockers and cabinets for storage of tools, parts, coal, and the crew’s personal items, Pincus said.

“This caboose has a great history,” he added.

Central Vermont Railway built the caboose at its St. Albans shops in February of 1925 to replace a caboose of the same number that had been destroyed by fire. CV operated it in active freight service until 1973. CV then sold it to the Steamtown USA museum in Bellows Falls, Vermont.

“The caboose was transferred to Vermont Historical Railroad upon Steamtown’s exit from Vermont,” said Allen B. Pomeroy III. When Vermont Historical Railroad disposed of its equipment in 1987, Pomeroy bought it.

Pomeroy restored and maintained the caboose in Massachusetts. In 1992 he moved the CV 4014 to the RMNE yard at Old Saybrook. The caboose was part of the 1996 move of RMNE equipment to Waterbury, for the startup of RMNE’s new Naugatuck Railroad operation.

“In 1998, CV 4014 had a featured role in the History Channel series ‘Trains Unlimited - The Caboose,’” Pincus said. “Both interior and exterior shots showed CV 4014 in action on a Naugatuck Railroad demonstration freight train. Additional restoration work took place during 2003-2010, including a full repaint and a new rubber membrane roof.”

“Freight train crews used cabooses as a rolling office (conductors did their paperwork at the desk), bunk room (for rest at the end of a run), tool box (for freight car repairs out on the line), lunch room (meals were cooked onboard using the coal stove), and a lookout post for observing the freight cars during the train’s run,” he said.

“Most wood-bodied cabooses like CV 4014 were retired in the early 1960s, and replaced by more modern, all-steel cabooses, equipped with oil or gas heating, electric lighting, and more comfortable bunks. Those ‘modern’ cabooses in turn, were replaced almost at once in the mid-1980s by electronic ‘End-Of-Train’ devices known as FREDs (Flashing Rear End Devices). FREDs are still in use today, but they don’t wave at train watchers,” Pincus said.

RMNE is a not-for-profit, all volunteer, educational and historical organization that dates back to 1968. Its mission is to tell the story of the region’s rich railroad heritage through its educational exhibits and operation of the Naugatuck Railroad.

The museum is located at the landmark Thomaston Station, at 242 East Main St., Thomaston.

Upcoming excursion train operations include the Litchfield Hills Special with “BBQ, Bourbon, and Desserts,” on Saturday, May 26; weekend scenic trains at noon and 2 p.m. starting May 26; and the Chocolate Decadence Sunset Tours. Train rides will also be offered on Connecticut Open House Day on Saturday, June 9.

For more information on scheduled trains, birthday parties, and corporate events, visit rmne.org.

- Railroad Museum of New England

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol, Plymouth, Terryville on Thursday, 10 May 2018 20:44. Updated: Thursday, 10 May 2018 20:47.