Washington State Steam Railroads and Locomotives
Surviving cabooses in Washington
Until just a generation ago, nearly every freight train ended in a caboose. It was an office for the Conductor and his crew serving as a home-away-from home. The caboose could be seen everywhere but was also an expense for the railroads to maintain and operate. So beginning in the 1980s when new technology that allowed end-of-train monitoring by radio was introduced, cabooses were quickly phased off of most mainline trains. This move was hard-fought by labor groups but railroad companies prevailed. Through a process of attrition, the move did ultimately reduce the number of crew members on most trains. Today, we still see a few cabooses that remain in service, typically on local freight trains that are required to backup for any significant distances.
So what happened to all the cabooses? Many were scrapped but some became cabins, espresso stands, hotel rooms, restaurants, and a few even landed in museums. They dot the landscape from locations near Acme to a place near Zillah. However as age and condition takes a toll, their numbers are declining.
Brian Fritz was first contacted by Roger Kirkpatrick in 1999 after he\'d stumbled across the WASteam web site. He was looking for photos of cabooses. Brian hadn\'t taken much notice of them as his focus at the time was on steam locomotives. Brian\'s correspondence with Roger got him thinking about and looking at cabooses, and taking photos of them when he encountered them. Eventually, Brian worked with Roger on trying to pull together an accurate list of cabooses in Washington and it is presented here, along with photos whenever possible.
Included on this list are cabooses held privately and this should not be taken as a invitation to visit: please respect private property. Others are in public parks or museums and are accessible during their normal hours.
We have included photos whenever possible (this is after all an image-centric site) but because many cabooses are privately owned and on private property we have many listings without images. We are pleased to add images obtained in a lawful and respectful manner.
Many readers are interested in technical specifications such as builder, or original railroad. If these facts are known to us, they are included in the narrative. If details are missing and you have some, please send them to us and they\'ll be added.
Files were updated in June 2009 by comparing with Roger Kirkpatrick\'s list and eliminating duplicative entries and adding missing entries. Entries that are not in Roger\'s list have been retained.
In November 2011, we split \"Washington cabooses\" into two albums, one with photos and the other without, to enhance your photo viewing pleasure without losing all of the information Brian and Roger compiled in their complete list of Washington cabooses.