Never Face the Engine!"
The Death Knell sounded for the utilitarian caboose, when Florida East Coast, following a decade of bitter labor disputes, reduced the train crew to an engineer and conductor, and parked it's fleet of cabooses in the late 1960's.
Read "In the Public Interest?" A fascinating account of one of the worst labor disputes this country has ever experienced.
To "replace" the eyes, ears and noses of the crummy crew, a plethora of high technology track side devices have been conjured to check for loose wheels, overheated journals, and dragging equipment, while overhead sensors can determine if a load has shifted.
This CSX presentation details many of these devices. And this video demonstrates a "High Car" detector!
And, of course, FRED (End Of Train Device) monitors brake pipe pressure.
"A train without a caboose is as uncomfortable as a sentence without a period."
Much has been written about the lowly caboose. Of the many colorful nicknames attached to the crew car, I favor "crummy." The crummy was at once
• An office
• Meal hall
• Observation post
• Tool locker
In all my travels aboard 76016, it never occurred to me to take photos inside the caboose, nor did I document the view from the cupola, which was impressive, especially when trailing along behind a cut of thirty or forty empty log bunks!
Fortunately for us, one fellow did document the beehive of activity that once enveloped the crew car. Jack Delano.
Jack Delano joined the Farm Security Administration (FSA) in 1940 during its middle years (1937-1942) and worked for the agency and its successor, the Office of War Information (OWI,) for three years.
He, along with a dozen or more photographers, criss-crossed the United States documenting all phases of human activity during the War Years. Thousands of images were captured, a permanent memorial to what I believe were the halcyon years for this country.
On one of his assignments, carried out in March to April 1943, Delano traveled from Chicago to Los Angeles on freight trains to photograph the railroad industry during wartime. From the dozens of photos taken on that assignment, I pulled out those shots that captured the quintessence of the caboose.
The bulk of the photos were taken from Acheson, Topeka & Santa Fe (ATSF) caboose 2038. I'll let the photos tell the story of life aboard a caboose.