"Wide Vision" Steel Caboose




Caboose No. 100, is a modern, steel "wide-vision" caboose built in 1973 by the International Car Company of Buffalo, New York, for the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railroad Company (more commonly known as the Soo Line). The Soo had finally entered the modern era with a modest fleet of new steel cabooses in 1966. The new cars replaced an aging collection of wooden cabooses that in some cases, dated back to the early-1900's.


The new cabooses were purchased in several separate construction orders between 1966 and 1973. A total of 145 cabooses were built, and were painted in a bright white scheme that featured an offset red cupola mounted atop the car body. The SOO name was painted in four-foot high black letters along the sides.




The new cars were a vast improvement over the older wooden cabooses, and featured a variety of amenities for train crew comfort. Electric lights replaced the old oil lamps. The coal-fired pot-bellied stove was replaced by a fuel-oil heater. High-backed vinyl seats took the place of cushioned wooden benches, and roller-bearing wheel sets replaced the old oil-filled journal bearing boxes.


The Soo "wide-vision" cabooses were constructed of welded steel that was stronger and safer than the old wood cars. The walls and ceilings featured insulation to cut down on cold, heat and noise, and the roller-bearing trucks gave a much smoother ride. A water cooler, sink and an incineration-type toilet was also fitted into the car. These cabooses proved to be quite popular with Soo Line employees, and were a familiar "signature point" to the end of many Soo freight trains.




In 1992, the Canadian Pacific Railway (which already owned a controlling interest in the Soo Line), purchased all outstanding stock and made the Soo a wholly-owned subsidiary. By the early 2000's the CP began to retire a number of the Soo's white steel cabooses. In 2002, the Morristown & Erie acquired two cars, Nos. 96 and 100. No. 96 was initially refurbished inside and out by M&E shop forces at Morristown, but the car was never placed into service. No 100 was stored at Whippany, untouched, in peeling, rusting Soo paint.


In late May 2006, the Whippany Railway Museum approached the M&E management and obtained permission to restore Caboose No. 100 for use on its Summer-season "Caboose Train Rides". In a period of about 3 weeks, Museum volunteers Terence Mulligan and Alan Wishengrad worked almost non-stop to transform a tired old waycar into a restored, renovated showpiece. Blanked-over windows were opened up and new glass was installed where needed, as quite a number of the original plexi-glass windows had become fogged over with age.



Since there were no seats remaining in the car, new bunk-style seats were constructed and installed. In the cupola, there were two "flip-over" chairs, one on each side of the car. These chairs took up a lot of room, and only seated one person each, so they were removed and new bunks were fashioned, that now accommodate about 8 people - 4 on each side. Several coats of light gray enamel brightened up the dingy interior. The exterior was completely sanded smooth and given a coat of gloss red paint. The roof was also sanded and painted black. Handrails and safety appliances are painted in "safety yellow."




The Museum was also fortunate to have a "working visit" from Gary Fox, of Shreveport, Louisiana, who was visiting Whippany for a family birthday. Gary assisted over the course of a few days with the sanding and priming of an exterior end wall of the caboose as well as the interior walls.


The Morristown & Erie had given the Museum permission to letter the car with our own herald and slogan: "Ride The Whippanong Trail." As a nod to the Soo Line heritage of the caboose, a small version of the old Soo Line "Dollar" herald has been applied to each end of the car. Additionally, the caboose retains the original Soo number, "100". The car's maiden run was during the June 18, 2006 "Father's Day" excursions, and has since been a favorite with passengers and crew alike.

The Whippany Railway Museum is a member of the Association of Tourist Railroads & Railway Museums
and the United Railroad Historical Society of New Jersey.
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Whippany Railway Museum
P.O. Box 16
Whippany, NJ 07981-0016
(973) 887-8177

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