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A caboose is a manned North American railroad car coupled at the end of a freight train.


Cabooses provided shelter for crew at the end of a train.  While freight trains are often seen traveling down rail road tracks, what many are not aware is these are work trains.  Work train meaning that the train may be delivering freight cars, pickup up freight cars and moving freight cars into positions at freight docks for loading.  This is why the caboose was so important.  It provided safe, warm housing for the crew between stops where the crew performed switching and shunting of the freight cars. 


When the train was in route to its next destination the crew would keep a lookout for load shifting, damage to equipment and cargo, and overheating axles.


Cabooses where built either as a cupola (a projection above) are standard model (projection to the sides of the Caboose car.  The caboose also served as the conductor's office, and on long routes included accommodation and cooking facilities.


For close to 150 years, crews used the caboose -- with its large windows and tall cupola -- to look for signs of trouble and handle activating switches and rear brakes.


Before the advent of battery powered brakeman lamps,  Oil lamps were used to communicate between the engine and the rear car.


The Caboose was also where the conductor kept track of papers for deliveries and pick-ups.

Those jobs are now down electronically. Rail sensors monitor cars for fires, axle problems and dragging items. The information is relayed to the engineer, who uses radio technology to control brakes.


The caboose's role as a rolling office was no longer needed.


A 1982 Presidential Emergency Board convened under the Railway Labor Act directed United States railroads to begin eliminating caboose cars where possible.


Within a few short years, the caboose had vanished from the American Railroads and today most children have no idea what a caboose might be.

History Quiz-

What is the name of this type of Caboose?

What is the name of this type of Caboose?




How many years where Cabooses used by the railroads in the United States?



What year did the Presidential Emergency Board direct railroads to begin eliminating caboose cars?


How many Cabooses are in use today by commercial Rail Roads?

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