Steel Caboose - WM 1880

Builder: WM Hagerstown, Maryland Shops
Built: 1940
Original Owner: Western Maryland Railway
Class: AAR Class NE (caboose)
Acquired: 1990s

Built to provide safe, functional accommodations for crew members at the rear of freight trains, the caboose is a symbol of the Classic Era of American railroading. Train conductors used cabooses as their offices to fill out forms, organize switch lists and do other paperwork. Other caboose crew members, called “brakemen,” would maintain a watch ahead for mechanical and safety issues from the elevated “cupola.” After being replaced by electronic monitoring equipment in the 1980s, cabooses mostly disappeared from the American railroading scene.

Caboose 1880 was built in 1940 by the Western Maryland Railway’s own Hagerstown, Maryland car shops. Along with over 50 identical sister cars, 1880 was assigned to freight trains across the WM system. After serving WM’s corporate successor, Chessie System, the caboose was eventually purchased by Jerry Jacobson and moved to his Ohio Central Railroad.

During 2014, Age of Steam Roundhouse crew members restored caboose 1880 back to its as-built 1940 look.