Monday, January 14, 2013

Caboose arrives at History Park

On January 14, a railroad caboose was placed on display coupled to the Southern Pacific Railroad steam locomotive alongside Senter Road at History Park creating an attraction to passing motorists.

For over a century, cabooses were a familiar sight at the end of trains. Essentially a traveling office, these vehicles provided space to complete shipping paperwork related to the movement of freight over railroads. The cupola portion of the caboose enabled crew members to watch for defections on the train and shifting of the freight which potentially could cause a derailment. With advancements in railroad and computer technology, the need for manual observation and paperwork diminished rapidly thus decreasing the need for cabooses. Today, end of trains are now marked with a flashing red light device.

Both the locomotive and caboose are owned by HSJ affiliate organization, the California Trolley and Railroad Corporation. After its retirement from the railroad and prior to its CTRC ownership, this caboose was used as a private office for a distributor on Park Avenue in San Jose before being stored the last several years in Salinas. Relocating the caboose required heavy equipment such as large trucks and a crane. Funding for the relocation was generously provided by the Rotary Club of San Jose Foundation.

Over the next several months, park visitors will witness a transformation with the caboose as CTRC volunteers perform a cosmetic restoration. The train display will be enhanced with new signage retelling the railroad’s role in Santa Clara Valley’s agricultural past. Both artifacts will be integrated into our Historic Transportation Experience educational programming for school children.

HSJ is appreciative to the California Trolley and Railroad Corporation, Peninsula Crane and Rigging, and, most importantly, Rotary Club of San Jose for making this possible.