What do you do if you have an old caboose laying around? One option is to donate it to a historical society.
Rybak Companies out of Osceola, Wisc. did just that. They purchased a caboose several years ago for a project that did not come to fruition, so they donated it to the Pine County Historical Society.
“Trains don’t use them any more,” said Dave Rybak. “I’m glad this one went to a group that will preserve it. Most cabooses are scrapped, but this one still has great integrity.”
A charming piece of American history has been slowly chugging out of sight for several decades. The distinctive red caboose brought up the rear of long lines of train cars for over 100 years, much to the delight of children and train enthusiasts alike. The first cabooses came into use in the early to mid 1800s and carried a brakeman and a flagman, according to up.com. The brakeman manually stopped each car individually until the invention of the automatic air brake system in the late 1800s. Finally, modern technology rendered most employees except the conductor obsolete.
A remote radio device called “End of Train” device, also known as Flashing Rear-End Devices began to slowly replace the outdated caboose and the employees who rode it in the 1980s. The device saves money for the company and allows the engineer to control the train without anyone riding at the back of the train, according to the website. A caboose cost about $80,000 in 1980 and no longer served a purpose except for small jobs. Many of the discarded cars have been repurposed or donated to museums.
A location was readied at the PCHS several years ago, but it wasn’t until September that a caboose was set up on the site, said Larry Helwig, PCHS president.
He said they are in the process of preparing to restore the caboose before opening it to the public.