Bobber Caboose - CO&E 0100

Builder:John Uher / CO&E RR
Original Owner:Coshocton, Otsego & Eastern RR

Getting their nickname from the way that a floating bobber danced in the water on the end of a fishing line, “bobber” cabooses tended to ride rough and jostle riders. This was primarily due to their short length and use of only two, “fixed” (i.e., non-swiveling) axles with four wheels.

While economical to construct and operate, bobber cabooses were dangerous because of injuries—and even deaths—to railroad crewmen who were knocked-over while working in the rough-riding cars. Also, just one broken wheel (an all-too-common occurrence during the 1890 to 1920-era) meant that a 4-wheel bobber trailing behind a moving freight train could not stay upright on only three wheels, and would immediately derail and crash.

During 1913 the Ohio General Assembly passed Senate Bill 298 outlawing the operation of bobber cabooses in the State of Ohio, with a period of time alllowed for the change-over to longer cabooses that rode on eight wheels, not four. The bobber design quickly took a backseat to larger and smoother-riding cabooses with a pair of two-axle wheelsets. Because of their small size and light weight, retired bobbers often had their wheels removed and were used across the railroad system as yard offices, crew shanties and storage sheds.

While the 0100 fits right in with the Age of Steam Roundhouse Museum’s historic railroad equipment, this caboose is actually one of the newest-built pieces in the collection.

The Coshocton, Otsego & Eastern was a little-known coal hauler which served a coal mine in central Ohio. In 1917, the CO&E became part of the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway, but was eventually abandoned after the mine shut down. The obscure little railroad faded into the history books and W&LE’s corporate records.

During the 1990s and 2000s, train enthusiast and Ohio Central Railroad employee, John Uher relaid 1 mile of standard gauge track on the CO&E’s former right-of-way near Coshocton, Ohio. He acquired a small GE diesel switching locomotive – now also part of the AoSRM’s collection – and ran short trips for family and friends along his little railroad. For rolling stock, Mr. Uher built his own caboose, primarily referencing a single photo of a similar one for guidance! Displaying a strong attention to detail, he outfitted his very accurate bobber caboose with all of the tools and fittings one would find inside the real thing.

Sadly, Mr. Uher passed away in 2010. Jerry Jacobson acquired John’s railroad equipment and moved it to Sugarcreek. Caboose 0100 still sees occasional trips around the AoSRM facility and resides safely inside the Roundhouse when not in use.